We’re eleven days into NaNo, and I’ve written almost 24,000 words. I thought I was moving at a pretty decent rate until my disgustingly speedy friend Cait finished her novel in seven days. It’s National Novel Writing MONTH, Cait, not National Novel Writing Week. NaNoWriWe doesn’t have the same ring to it. But stepping away from my word-envy, Cait and Sky have released the second set of questions for their ‘Beautiful Books’ series.
1. Be honest: how is your writing coming?
Fairly well. Over the weekend, my word count suffered because I had no inspiration, but it came back this morning and I wrote almost 3,000 words within the 2 hours after I woke up, so here’s hoping that keeps up. Fortunately, I have a very kind family, and my magical friend Rana sent me a care package with coffee, hot chocolate, and teas to keep me going. The coffee and the hot chocolate are gone.
2. What’s your first sentence/paragraph?
“Water is in my lungs. It’s all around me, pushing me down, closing in over my head. Sunlight filters through the blue surface and can’t reach me. Nothing can reach me. I open my mouth to scream, and I watch the last remains of whatever breath I have filter into bubbles and float away. My heartbeat pounds in my ears, and the pressure sharpens, stabbing through my head. I’m dying, and nobody can hear me.”
3. Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book? Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)
Indeed I do. It’s interesting, this novel, because it has one of the smallest casts I’ve ever written. There are basically ten characters, with the main focus on two of them. After writing my Salvation series, which has my largest cast to date, it’s quite a change.
Left to Right: Ingrid Dayton, Grayson Kinger, Leila Dayton, Hyde, Kayla Dayton, Gerard Dayton.
5. Share a snippet that you really enjoyed writing.
I can’t put the whole novel here, so I have to give you a few of them. I can’t pick just one.
Maybe it’s the things that seem surreal that are the most genuine. The raw, bleeding, colorful, loud, exaggerated things are true, and the faint colors and blurred lines are false, trying to trap us in mediocrity.//
It’s been two days since the hospital and I’m curled up on my bed, staring at the crumpled letter from Julliard. My violin is next to me, propped up on the pillow like another human being. It’s been sitting there for an hour while I try and pull together enough courage to attempt to play it. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. I still know the notes. I still understand music, the language of it, the way it speaks. It’s just that it no longer speaks to me. Everyone but me can hear it. It’s like music turned its back on me, like I did something wrong and it refuses to speak to me, ever again.//
Candy, a recent hire a few years older than me, waves from behind the counter. “Hey, Leila!”
“Hey.” I smile at the customers lined up and hurry around back.
Candy taps my shoulder to make sure I’m looking at her, and says, “Or should I say, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” She grabs me in a hug and I can’t help the breathless laugh she squeezes from my lungs.
“It’s not Christmas yet! It isn’t even Thanksgiving!”
She backs up and shrugs. “It’s in two days. I can say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
“I think most people say ‘Happy Holidays’ now,” I say. “It’s much more PC.”
“Screw PC,” she says, waving a tattooed hand as if flicking the thought off her shoulder. “Merry Christmas it is.”//
I step into the elevator and push the button for the ground floor and feel the room around me lurch and begin descending. When I was six or seven, I was afraid of the elevator. I was positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a monster lurked somewhere outside the box, in the elevator shaft. I had watched a lot of Hitchcock and Twilight Zone episodes with my Dad by then, which fueled my imagination into conjuring up a monster with no eyes, a mouth that took up most of its head, and eight legs with hands instead of feet.
I drew it once. It was awful enough that Mom made me throw it away and told me not to draw monsters anymore.
And as the elevator comes to a grinding, vibrating halt, the monster springs into my imagination with surprising dexterity and color, considering I haven’t thought about it in probably ten years, maybe more.
I wonder if it was just a particularly rough halt, but the doors don’t open.
I glance down at Fred.
Fred glances up at me.
Most people in this situation would pull out the emergency phone and make a call to the front desk. I pull out my cell phone and lean against the wall, putting a text together. When I send it to Dad, it reads HELP! ELEVATOR STUCK! CAN’T CALL FRONT DESK!
It won’t win any literary awards, but it gets the message across.//
6. Now that you’re writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?
It has its moments. For instance, Leila decided to kiss Hyde much sooner than I’d planned – her decision the result of nearly two hours stuck in an elevator. Small changes like this crop up, but the main storyline has stayed true to its original form.
7. Is there a character or aspect of your plot that’s difficult to write?
This has never been an easy novel to write, as depression, suicide, and slavery are never ‘easy’ subjects. The characters are complex, but I can see where they come from, which makes them easier to write than some. I know their thoughts, the way they feel about life. I don’t need to guess. They tell me.
8. What’s your favorite aspect of this novel so far? Favorite character?
I really enjoy the feeling of this novel. It’s a pink dress with a leather jacket, concrete buildings softened with snow, grunge and grit and pastel colors. It’s a juxtaposition of light and darkness in so many ways, and I love it both aesthetically and philosophically. I really enjoy writing both Hyde and Leila; Leila has a snappy sense of humor but she’s a peach princess with a heart of Disney, and Hyde is a sharp, cynical, surprisingly soft-hearted individual.
9. Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and characters?
10. Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?
I’ve had Taylor Swift’s 1989 on repeat all month.
11. Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?
12. How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)
Beating my arch-nemesis, Kyla.
13. What’s your favorite writing quote or piece of writing advice?
“Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman
14. How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?
So tell me, fellow harried-author-people, how goes it for you?