October: Wild Court paused, Dusk in editing

September and October were – strangely – pretty good months for writing. I reached about 90k words, or two-thirds of the way in, to Wild Court and then paused again. I’m not quite sure why this one is being so troublesome, but it’s falling into neat thirds, with a year-long pause between the first and the second, so I really hope this isn’t the case for the second and third! That said, it did allow me to go back to Dusk, the sequel to Parasites, which I started mapping out in early 2020, just as the pandemic started.

I’ve got three different introductions to Dusk, and no clear favourite. Thankfully, the rest of the book is much less troublesome, and after a fair amount of work, it’s now sitting at just north of 105k words (about the same length as Parasites) and I can just about claim that the first draft is finished.

There’s a lot of work to be done; there are at least two parts that just don’t work – one of them is just quite flat, and the other is a plot section that needs relatively major reworking, but I’ve got my eye on them, and they’re first and second on the list of a one-page word document entitled ‘Major Edits’. Admittedly, this document does seem to incorporate minor edits as well, but I suppose I can always retitle the file when I’m done with the major stuff.

All in all, I’m fairly pleased with how it’s come together. Kael and Alessia, along with the other major car crews, embark on an important mission to launch satellites from faraway worlds, gathering intelligence on the structure of the universes, while Basteel and Slyph head across Lyra to Vulpes, Lyra’s farming city, where there may be appearances of a creature worshipped as a deity on the city-ship of Carthusian. Of course, nothing is straightforward on either the rescue mission or the journey across the surface of a damaged asteroid to reach a planet formerly inhabited by a super-evolved species of aliens… 

It’s all compounded by a new threat, a robust and malevolent species seemingly incapable of diplomatic relations, throwing Lyra’s plans into disarray.

I’m not quite sure of when it’ll all come together – I doubt it’ll be this side of New Year, but it’ll certainly be early 2022 at some stage, and I’m also quite excited by the prospect of releasing both hardback and paperback versions, now that KDP allows both, alongside ebooks, of course.

I’ll keep you posted with any details about release as we get closer to the time, but for now, that’s about all. 

Naming Conventions

I feel a lot of pressure when naming things. In the early stages of writing, I tend to change names quite a bit until they really ‘take root’. Characters are particularly bad; if I make a mistake, I’ll have to write this character’s name for another 100,000 words. What if it doesn’t suit them? What if it just sounds silly?

Thankfully, Kael and Alessia (from Parasites) seemed to ‘fit’ quite nicely. Alhambro sounds suitably respectable (and vaguely piratical) and Basteel is such a solid-sounding name that I was happy with it straightaway. I generally felt that the Lyrans were a pretty straightforward people, so that (in general) shorter names were pretty practical. There aren’t a lot of them left, so why bother with long, flowery names (none of them have middle names, for example).

I initially had a few issues with naming the characters in Wild Court – more on this closer to release. I find places a bit easier and take inspiration from a lot of different sources; the logic-defying space station in Parasites, Carthusian, is from the wonderfully named Carthusian Street near the Barbican in London (and does originally refer to a religious order, rather fittingly).

The ‘dull’ planet names in Parasites were something of a relief to me – it’s terribly convenient that the explorers of Lyra chose such boring labels! But again, they work and make sense to me and perhaps more importantly, to the wider plot of a very logical, time-poor people.

I guess all writers have hang-ups; I’ve always found the first paragraph of anything the hardest, so will sometimes skip it, write the second onwards and take the pressure off (and then come back to write it once I’m in the flow). It sounds bizarre, but sometimes that first paragraph just gets stuck in your head and doesn’t quite want to come out!