I am either reflective or babbling in a stream of jumbled thoughts.
I did not intend to write Armageddon’s Princess (formally Your Little Sister).
There I was, off my high of editing the last half of Bunny Trouble (I edit going backwards). I was also engaged in writing my YA fantasy, The Baby Dancers.
One night at the end of December 2008, drinking wine in a quiet house while everyone was sleeping, I sat thinking about my first literary love of words, science fiction. And how I so very much loved Across Realtime by Vernor Vinge, specifically Marooned in Realtime, the last installment.
A murder mystery like no other, Marooned in Realtime is one of the best books I have ever read and is such a wonderful serving of science fiction; it almost hurts because your imagination sings so loudly when reading it.
Could I write a mystery, I wondered? Murder most foul, while done to death (ha ha!) is so appealing because of the inherent conflict in murder, the chase, the discovery.
I do not like many things about murder mysteries. The predictability, which I know is in demand for the genre, but is a turn off for me. How a gun appears in a novel and suddenly it is epic stupid and a thousand other clichés.
But my mind kept wandering back to Marooned in Realtime. I started to wonder: if I liked to read sci-fi murder mysteries, would I like to write them too?
So into my trusty word processor I went and WHAM! I wrote one of the best opening chapters I have ever written. It was unique. It had a strong voice and a strong main character. It oozed with conflict and raised more questions, for the reader, than it gave answers.
Right there I knew I had something, for I pulled that first chapter completely out of my butt. The main character was a little crazy because something bad happened to her in “the war”. But what? I had no idea. Just as suddenly, I was world-building at fast pace, and the world I created sang to me.
She was married. Four times. At once. The society she lived in was an echo from the times of war: indeed, the survivors defined themselves by the technology they choose not to use. She was simultaneously more than, and less than, human: a woman so wounded even her sex drive was artificial.
And the crime. It was brutal, terribly evil, a vile act that threatened to rip apart her sanity. Lexus was a woman and I instantly gave her a crime that was a very affront to everything that defines what it means to be a woman. Worse, she encountered it before, but the war intruded on her prior investigation. Now here it was again, when she wanted to forget all about the war, so long ago.
That crime gave the novel a distinctive voice. It was gritty, yes, but beyond the crime the novel was light hearted and fun. It was sexy and provocative because the main character was sexy and provocative. But the crime covered the main character like a perverted oil slick just underneath the surface in a pound of still water, and drove wedges in her carefully rebuilt sanity from the horrible, horrible war.
With a month off to contemplate why a particular chapter was giving me so much trouble, I finished Armageddon’s Princess in five months. And I am just not in love with the story, but I also am quite enamored with my writing.
That is arrogant, I know. But the writing is so electric! For some reason I wrote this in first person present tense. It was not a conscious choice, it just seemed like it fit with the stylistic choices I was making. And the result is a very tight 100,000 word novel with a relentless pace that sometimes left me breathless as a reader. The voicing is so unique that occasionally it seems like someone else wrote it, if that makes any sense.
So I love this book. I love it very much. I could write Lexus Toulouse science fiction murder mysteries until the day I die. My imagination overfills my cup of life, and I drink of it with both adore and greed for more.