So this is a thing started by Paper Fury and Further Up Further In as an excuse to flail about NaNoWriMo projects. (Aside: if you have never been to Paper Fury’s blog, what are you doing with your life, friend? It’s the best blog ever and I want to be Cait when I grow up.) The original post is here if you want to check it out, but the low-down is this: there are questions about the project you’re working on. You answer them.
I am technically not writing this book for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been working on it for a few months now, but I will be writing it during NaNoWriMo so, you know what, that’s close enough. Let me have this.
Question 1: What inspired the idea for your novel and how long have you had the idea?
I have had this idea for OVER A YEAR NOW, but there’s usually a huge gap between when I have ideas and when I actually start acting on them. I was reading speculation about Magnus Chase (Even though Magnus Chase had already been published, I was reading speculation from right when it was announced. Don’t look at me like that. I totally have a life.) and it presented this idea of Norse gods making humans fight instead of actually solving their problems themselves and I got this idea for something like gladiator matches except gods bet on human lives and settle arguments that way. The idea has hugely evolved, but that’s the seed that was planted.
Question 2: Describe what your novel is about.
Nooooooooo. I’m so bad at describing what my novel is about. It usually goes something like well, there’s this girl and she’s fighting for this guy but like if she dies he loses and also the guy’s best friend hates him and wants to know what he’s up to because he’s a little shit. Aren’t you intrigued? No? Well, luckily for you, I was actually forced to write a real synopsis, so here it is:
There is a city in the desert.
Cut off from the outside world for ages, magic survives in the city of Ki – at least, among the upper classes, who settle arguments by wagering the lives of champions transported from the outside world to fight to the death against each other.
When Korleno Siledena, the last living member of one of Ki’s oldest families and the city’s eternal thorn in the side, takes Willa Parker, a sixteen-year-old girl with no martial arts experience to be his champion, people wonder what his ulterior motive are. Known for winning arguments with arson or murder, Kor suddenly deciding to do exactly what everyone else has always done is more than a little suspicious. And then there’s the generally accepted fact that Korleno Siledena always has an ulterior motive.
Nobody knows Kor better than Havah Weydwersos. They were once best friends, back when she was just a poor girl working her way up the food chain, and she knows that whatever Kor wants, he wants for himself and nobody else. Nobody hates Kor more than Havah Weydwersos, either.
In an increasingly unstable city, Kor and Havah will enter into an increasingly treacherous game of chess, the prize being a young girl slowly losing touch with reality. And if Ki happens to get destroyed in the process, who cares?
There. *takes a bow*
Question 3: What is your novel’s aesthetic?
Excellent question. The only problem there is that I’m shit at using Pintrest so what is an aesthetic? I’ll give you some quotes (famous quotes, not from my book).
There is shadow under this red rock,(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),And I will show you something different from eitherYour shadow at morning striding behind youOr your shadow at evening rising to meet you;I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Water, water, every where,And all the boards did shrink;Water, water, every where,Nor any drop to drink.
I met a traveller from an antique land,Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,Tell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;And on the pedestal, these words appear:My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal Wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away.”
And there you have it!
Question 4: Introduce us to your characters!
Willa Porter: 16, female, wakes up in an arena and is told she has to fight to the death. Intelligent. Also slowly going insane.
Havah/Hava Icolas/Weydwersos: Stone cold badass. #betterthanyou Worked her way out of poverty, so might secretly be Alexander Hamilton. Definitely has resting bitch face, which happens to be the only face she ever seems to have. Is she happy? Is she sad? Is she about to murder you with the two swords, three concealed knives and one six-shooter she carries? Who knows?
Korleno, Senos Siledena of Ersin Alhaba: Self-centred egomaniac who happens to be from one of the most important families in the city. His title should really be master of sass. Used to be Havah’s best friend before he
Nur: Havah’s servant/spymaster/family friend/surrogate little sister. Thinks the world is a nice place full of fundamentally good people. Has an adorable niece. Likes the idea of revolution.
Leya, Senas Ewisanos of Katelesa: Political prisoner. Thinks the world is a horrible place full of fundamentally bad people. Used to be super kind and optimistic before the world broke her.
Don’t I have lovely, happy characters? Don’t you wish you were one of them? I should be in charge of the world.
Question 5: How do you prepare to write?
Umm… I don’t? I’ll get an idea, sit down, start writing, realize I have no idea what I’m doing, abandon said idea for months to years, return, start writing again, realize I should have made an outline first, make outline despite the fact that I’m a quarter of a way into the book, continue writing.
Question 6: What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Writing the end. Everything goes to shit and I get to kill a bunch of people, turn nice characters into hardened murderers and set a city on fire. AKA, my life goals.
Question 7: List three things about your novel’s setting.
- It’s in the desert. It’s almost always sunny and there’s never enough water.
- The city has serious classism issues. There are five legal classes of people (Is this a caste system? What’s the difference between class and caste?) and everything revolves around what class you are. Even what language you speak depends on what class you are (I’m part French-Canadian, and this was a real thing in Quebec in the early twentieth century. There are still echoes of it today. For example, I live in a bilingual city on the Ontario/Quebec border and, when you pass construction crews, they’re almost always speaking in a very Québécois French.)
- It all takes place in a city. Not a world. Not a country. A city. I love visiting cities and I think too many fantasy novels take place in the Land of Ruralness, so I really wanted to have a city. With neighbourhoods! And public transport! And slang!
Question 8: What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Goal: getting home.
In the way: being in a city hidden from the outside world nobody is allowed to exit, the fact that Kor has plans for her.
Goal: He’s not going to tell you.
In the way: Havah and the fact that she really, really doesn’t like him.
Goal: Not being executed for treason today. Also, a better world, but that’s been put on a back burner.
In the way: The rampant classism in the city.
Goal: A better world for the lower class.
In the way: Like, the entire army.
Goal: Revenge against the people who tortured her sister for days on end while making her watch.
In the way: Being a political prisoner not allowed to leave the house, under 24/7 guard, and, oh yeah, the entire army.
Question 9: How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Willa goes crazy. Nur learns that the world isn’t as good as she thought it was. Leya learns that not everybody is completely evil. Havah smirks this one time. Kor gets sassed back.
Question 10: What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Like I ripped out their heart and ate it for breakfast because that’s the sort of shit I do. I want them to be screaming about the ending and the twists that they never saw coming. I want them in broken little puddles on the floor. I want them cursing my name and begging for the next book. You know, normal writer stuff.
So, that’s my book. Did I mention the title? I think I forgot to mention the title. It’s called The Hidden City, and, hopefully, it will break the readers, not me (because I frequently feel like it’s going to break me).
Good luck with all your NaNoWriMo projects!