Yesterday I wrote the first draft of what may be the last chapter of After Christmas Eve. The ending has always been a little hazy in my mind. Because the story continues, part of the challenge is deciding where to stop. I decided when I sat down to write it that the last chapter would revolve around two of the main characters hooking up for dinner a few weeks after the climax of the story to tie up all the loose ends.
I had no idea they would be so glad to see each other or that so much would have happened since they last saw each other. Their conversation took off in a completely unexpected direction. I was shocked! Once again, the characters in my novel have made it abundantly clear whose story this really is.
The most exciting and admittedly freaky thing about writing a novel is the way the characters take over the story. In Until Thanksgiving, this mostly took the form of surprising revelations about connections between characters. The freaky part is going back to add something to foreshadow this revelation and finding that the clues are already there.
I’m not writing the story–I’m channeling it…from somewhere. Don’t ask me where it comes from. I call it my inner romance novelist. It’s my story in the sense that my experiences shape and influence characters and what motivates them to do what they do. But a big part of it comes from someplace else.
With my second novel, perhaps because I’ve learned to go with it, the characters have run roughshod over my ideas. Minor characters highjacked the plot every chance they got. Until I stopped portraying him as someone twice his age, the protagonist refused to cooperate and had all but disappeared from the story.
I was more than thirty chapters into After Christmas Eve when I realized the main character had gone silent. So I went back to page one, adding chapters to flesh out details about him that I’d only skimmed over before. He was so happy with the changes that he told me a secret known to just him and two other characters.
The secret is revealed in the first draft of the last chapter. The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that the revelation belongs in After Christmas Eve. Again, there are hints throughout both novels I didn’t know were there. Now I’m starting to think the big secret should be the premise for another novel: Happy Valentine’s Day.
A Halloween to Remember is coming together in my mind too. It’s going to be a coming out story set in the late 1970s that will include Trauma Car and a long distance relationship requiring trips between Lexington and the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Any resemblance to real people and events is ENTIRELY coincidental.
There’s an as yet untitled Independence Day story in the pipeline too that will somehow revolve around the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. Writing this one will be a challenge because of the research required. I’m toying with the idea of relying on something other than a serial killer for tension and stakes with this one too.
All that’s months and months away. Today you can pre-order Until Thanksgiving from Dreamspinner Press here. In case you’ve forgotten–and because I never tire of seeing them, here’s the blurb and cover.
Josh Freeman knows his best days are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in takeout boxes, half-smoked joints, and self-pity until his best friend gently kicks him in the ass and encourages him to try out a new job in Washington DC—at least until Thanksgiving.
Though DC has its share of troubles, specifically in the form of a murderer targeting gay men, Josh soon discovers its charms as well. Unlike his old home, DC is crawling with men who want to date him—apparently he’s not as overweight, out of shape, or over the hill as the man he once loved made him believe. In particular, Josh would love a chance with relocation expert Thad Parker, but Josh is sure Thad is seeing someone, so he looks for love elsewhere. He tells himself he and Thad don’t have anything in common anyway.
Then Josh learns Thad really is available. Maybe they can work it out after all. Suddenly the future seems bright again. Of course, Josh doesn’t know he’s the murderer’s next target….
The inner romance novelist that stayed silent for decades has finally found a voice. I’ll keep you updated on our ongoing relationship issues. Just another reason you’ll want to pop back in for another visit to…
My Glass House