This is the next installment in a series of blogs about the stories behind the stories. This one, in particular, is about the second book in the Grace & Witherbloom series, The Flood Lily.
Fair warning, SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW. Please don't read on until you've read the second book. It's worth it, I promise!
Now, onto the second book. As I (somewhat ominously) mentioned in my last blog, this is the story that almost caused me to abandon the book altogether. It all started off promisingly enough. As soon as I completed The Girl Who Died Backwards, I dived right into the next book. I wanted an exciting opening for the book, so I set it high up in an unspecified mountain range. Two brave explorers risked life and limb to retrieve a strange artifact. I had been writing this scene in my head for a while before I typed it out as I was finishing up The Girl Who Died Backwards. I was very happy with the way it ended up, and the introduction of Henrietta Durand. So, the action moves to the home of Grace and Witherbloom. We get a little time to catch up with them before they are bounding out on their next adventure...
And this is where I stopped. I just stopped. You see, I made a very amateur mistake. I am always thinking a bit ahead of where I'm writing. I, of course, had a basic notion of what the artifact was and what it was going to do when I started. But now that I was inching closer to revealing the "villain" of the piece, I began to question myself. You see, the story idea for this one actually came from the title. Sometimes a title that appeals to me will just pop into my head. The Flood Lily was one of those. So then I construct a story around it. The basic premise of this story involves (though they are never actually named as such) vampires. I was writing this around the end of 2008. Twilight was a big deal, and it seemed like vampires were every where. And it got me thinking... does the world really need another vampire story?
True, I was going to put a sci-fi twist on it that I thought was kind of interesting and novel. Basically, the vampires were created through nanotechnology. The basic idea of the tech was to turn creatures into the perfect soldiers - undying creatures who fed on the blood of those they killed in battle. I'm sure something like this has been used in some book, film or TV show somewhere along the line. As much as I'd like to think it was a wholly original idea, there doesn't seem to be very many of those. But that didn't matter to me much at first. I figured as long as it was entertainingly done and felt fresh that's all I needed. But I spooked myself. I was so sick of vampires myself. If I had known better, I would have just kept writing. It might have taken a little bit, but I'd either have become comfortable with the idea or I would have figured out a new way to approach it.
Instead, I stopped. And I stopped for over a year and a half. Seriously, I did not write a sentence. It was an incredibly large amount of wasted time. I worked on a few things here and there, but for all intents and purposes I was no longer writing the book. Thankfully, I eventually came back to it. I just remember finding the file for the first book on my computer, and reading through it and thinking how much I enjoyed it and what a shame it was that I hadn't kept going. So I wrote the rest of the scene in the carriage before they reach the Durand Supplies building. But I was still afraid of the basic premise of the book. So I put the book away again until the end of the 2011. Another year down the tubes.
Of course, in the end it all worked out. I found the spark again. I realized that I would enjoy the story, and that was a good start. And you know what? It works. The story really works. I enjoy the initial mystery that is set-up. I like the introduction of Varias and his children. I like the sidetrip (via journal) to Tibet. I like the strange intermingling of vampires, tibetan monks and Victorian London. It's just a lot of fun to me, and I feel a bit silly that I ever worried about it.
As soon as this book was done, I dove right into writing the next book, where I had to fend off the dreaded spectre of... technobabble!