February 10th, 2005



It's here. No, not the cold. I mean, yes, yes, the cold's here, too. But I mean the despair that comes upon returning to the ms. for a novel that I've been forced to ignore for a couple of weeks while I attended to other, less grandiose writerly obligations. This morning, Daughter of Hounds terrifies me. I cannot imagine how this book might be written, how I will make it work. It's too big. It's too complicated. It's too weird. It's too different. Blah.

Yesterday, I almost resolved to remove Sadie Jasper from the book. In her place, I would insert a new character without Sadie's history, without her ties to Low Red Moon and Threshold, some woman who'd never been attacked by Narcissa Snow and almost lost an arm escaping. Some woman like that. As with Murder of Angels, one of the greatest difficulties with this book is writing a novel that simultaneously addresses my desire to continue a story and b) manages also to work as a stand-alone novel. I never thought I'd be able to do it with MoA, but now I've had all these critics tell me that I did, so I apparently can do it. But it seems an even more difficult thing to pull off with Daughter of Hounds.

Of course, were I only just a little more popular this wouldn't be an issue. It's not that people don't read sequels, it's just that they only read the same sequels that everyone else happens to be reading. So, my sequels have to be antichameleons. They have to look like twigs and fallen leaves and stone and stand-alone novels so they will be noticed. So they won't be passed over because it's too much trouble to go back and read the book before.

I spent most of yesterday making notes for Chapter Three, which, with luck I'll begin today. And, as I said, I thought very seriously about giving Sadie her pink slip, so sorry, but you just haven't scored that high with our target audience. At the end of the day, and the beginning and middle, too, this is a business, a busy-ness, and surely you understand. There are plenty of other books out there. Perhaps you'll find a place in one of them. You understand. I'm a slave to the vox populi and sales figures and return rates and so on and so forth. No? Well, let me put it bluntly, then — No one loves you, Sadie. Is that clear?

But. It would be wrong for her not to be in this story. Because this is what happens next. I know that. So, Sadie stays. It makes things harder, much harder, but she stays. Maybe the book after next, the novel I write once Daughter of Hounds is done, maybe that will be the True Stand Alone that appeals to all those people who find me so unappealing (or, more likely, who simply haven't noticed that I exist as a literary construct), the book that housewives in Ohio and Wal-Mart shoppers in Kansas and retirees in Miami will be rushing out to buy. I'll be as popular as Nora Roberts. It is a popularity contest, just like high school. It is about pleasing the masses (and Soylent Green is people, and Vader is Luke's father, and Bruce Willis is a ghost, and Thomas Jerome Newton is a Martian). The bean counters are gods. If you think otherwise, you probably have a day job. And you'd better keep it.

Yeah, okay. You're right. That was sour and unsightly.

Set me aflame and cast me free,
Away, you wretched world of tethers...

Move along, move along.

I did find a photo for my Italian publisher yesterday. I did do that much.

Who knows what you have spoken to the darkness. In bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hatch to trammel some wild thing.

I truly love those lines, from the screenplay for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Grima speaking to Eowyn. If only I could write lines like that. Screw you, Nora Roberts. Sometimes, the good stuff gets through.
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