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I can hold my head still

Yesterday earned the first L to stain my engagement calendar since December 31st. The less said, the better.

Anyway, because a number of people expressed interest in seeing it, here's the proposal that sold Daughter of Hounds. If you've not yet read the novel and intend to, there's enough similarity between the proposal and the actual novel that you may want to wait until afterwards before reading this (seriously). It was written on or about April 16th, 2004, although I did not begin writing the book until October of that year.



Daughter of Hounds is a follow-up to both Threshold and Low Red Moon and begins twenty years after the conclusion of the latter. Deacon Silvey, now close to sixty, never returned to Birmingham and has lived in Providence, Rhode Island since the death of his wife, Chance. Despite his grief and ongoing struggle with alcoholism, he's raised the girl whom he believed to be his daughter, the child returned to him by the ghouls after Narcissa Snow's death. However, Emmie Silvey isn't exactly who her father has always believed her to be. For that matter, she isn't exactly who she's always believed herself to be.

Since childhood, Emmie has been plagued by nightmares of a vast subterranean world inhabited by monsters and changelings in the service of ancient, unspeakable forces. In other dreams, she has been visited by a strange albino woman who rambles on about avenging angels and apocalypse and who claims to be her protector. Emmie's had a difficult, lonely childhood, living always in the long shadow of her father's alcoholism, her mother's death, and her own self-doubts and inability to fit in. And now, shortly after her twentieth birthday, she meets someone who claims to be her true mother, a woman named Abalyn Gray who's spent her life in the service of the ghouls. She tells Emmie that she was switched at birth with Chance Silvey's newborn baby.

In labyrinths hidden deep beneath the streets and cemeteries of Boston and Providence, the creatures from Emmie Silvey's nightmares hold court in their necropoleis and raise stolen human children to do their bidding in the sunlit world of men. Few of these changelings ever become anything more than messengers, couriers, and assassins. But the girl Chance gave birth to, the girl who calls herself Soldier, gifted with her father's clairvoyance and her mother's uncanny grasp of time, has grown into something much more than a mere "child of the Cuckoo." She has become a powerful necromancer who has been given an opportunity rarely offered the changelings — to stand as an equal among her inhuman ghul masters. But first Soldier must complete a final rite of passage. She must prove her alliance with the Hounds of Cain and sever her only connection to humanity by finding and killing her father, Deacon Silvey.

Shortly after revealing herself to Emmie, Abalyn Gray is murdered by the ghouls — revenge for her having shown herself to her daughter — and her eviscerated corpse is discovered hanging in the bell tower of St. John's Churchyard. The same day that police discover the body, the albino woman from Emmie's dreams — Dancy Flammarion — arrives in Providence. She soon finds Emmie and warns her that she and her father are in danger. When Emmie refuses to listen to her and Deacon drives her away, Dancy goes alone to a yellow house on Benefit Street — a house kept by undead things, whose cellar leads to the hounds' labyrinths — intending to confront the monsters herself.

The primary focus of the story will be the relationship between Emmie Silvey and Soldier, as each woman comes to discover the truth about her past. Each will reach a terrible crossroads and be forced to decide between the present course of her life and the possibilities that lie in accepting who she really is. And both will find themselves caught in the middle in a clash between good and evil, reluctant combatants in a holy war, as Dancy Flammarion sets out to rid a city of the monsters that have always called it home. Though the story is set in the near future, Daughter of Hounds isn't a science-fiction story and the futuristic elements with be handled strictly as background and setting.



Pretty awful. Fortunately, that is not the book I wrote. I think what I find strangest of all, though, is that I'm not entirely certain when or why Abalyn Gray became Saben White. Probably, when I was in Providence that summer, I found the name "Saben White" on a tombstone. In many ways, the novel that Daughter of Hounds became is the opposite of the novel described in this proposal.

Tiddley-pom.

Comments

( 11 comments — Have your say! )
sovay
Feb. 5th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
Probably, when I was in Providence that summer, I found the name "Saben White" on a tombstone.

"Saben White" is definitely a better name for her than "Abalyn Gray." Even if it reminds me of Gordon Bok's "Saben, The Woodfitter," which is a very different kind of story.

One bell, two bells, don't go grieving . . .
unknownbinaries
Feb. 5th, 2007 05:12 pm (UTC)
I'm not entirely certain when or why Abalyn Gray became Saben White. Probably, when I was in Providence that summer, I found the name "Saben White" on a tombstone.

Actually, this brings up a question I've been trying to figure out how to word properly, so as not to have it simply be a variation on the 'Where do you get your ideas?' thing...

I think that part of the endeavour's impossible, but here goes anyway...

Where do you get names from? I write occasionally, and find it hard to come up with names for characters that seem...solid. Real. It always feels either overblown like someone on a soap opera, or like I pulled it out of my ass. Which, often, I do. ^_^;
greygirlbeast
Feb. 5th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
Where do you get names from?

For me, there's no one way. A lot of them come off tombstones ("Narcissa Snow"). Sometimes place names ("Dancy"). Sometimes I just run across a name I find in something I'm reading ("Flammarion") and hang onto it until I find a suitable character. The telephone book can be useful. I steadfastly ignore names that are currently popular baby names. It's a lot like dressing well, in that a character should wear his or her or its name; the name should never wear them. Every now and then, the name is just there waiting for me ("Sadie Jasper") when I need it. So, lots of ways. But it's an extremely important thing, naming characters, and a thing to which many authors pay too little heed.
unknownbinaries
Feb. 5th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
'The telephone book can be useful. '

Oooh. Good one. The more that spins around my head, the more it looks like a 'Well, DUH. Why didn't you think of that?.'...

Thanks!

Oh, and here: Have a video of a baby coelacanth. I meant to pass this on to you yesterday, and promptly forgot.
sovay
Feb. 5th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I just run across a name I find in something I'm reading ("Flammarion") and hang onto it until I find a suitable character.

That has happened to me with several characters—Vetiver Lawrey, Aster Linneman; I think even Pelle Fisher. "Another Coming" was originally started because the names Leo, Acacia, and Quince showed up in my head as a triad and I needed somewhere to put them. I tried thematically naming characters once (Dylan and Mariana in "Till Human Voices Wake Us") and promptly realized I was not Nabokov and should knock it off.
reverendcrofoot
Feb. 5th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
Appreciate the proposal. That's a very different story then what was written and could have been very good, a different path.

Oh and I forgot to mention it when I made some of my comments for DOH.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for not treating your readers as idiots. My one hate in reading interconnected books is that a lot of the time the writer assumes you haven't read the previous books and recycles information a constant reader would already know. You do not do this, or if you do, ya keep it to the minimum.

And Happy William S. Burroughs day... If that is a sort of thing you celebrate.

greygirlbeast
Feb. 5th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
And Happy William S. Burroughs day... If that is a sort of thing you celebrate.

Oh, indeed.

My one hate in reading interconnected books is that a lot of the time the writer assumes you haven't read the previous books and recycles information a constant reader would already know. You do not do this, or if you do, ya keep it to the minimum.

Well, I think it helps that I've never thought of these as books in a series. I want them to stand alone, and for that to work, you can't really do any sort of info-dump recapping. Though I enjoyed the books a lot, this sort of thing drove me nuts in J.K. Rowling's novels.
stsisyphus
Feb. 5th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
...here's the proposal that sold Daughter of Hounds.

You realize, of course, that this will be the synposis for the movie should it ever have the resounding misfortune (i.e. Greek-Tragedy-Level "misfortune") to be raped by a mainstream producer and director. Yea, I shall even endeavor to channel a film critic from the year 2021 to comment further on this.

...

No, that was just too awful. There are some things I cannot inflict on humanity. Suffice it to say that there were mentions of Ashton Kutcher as Deacon, Dancy as a Secret Agent, and...(shudder) Gun Kata.

Brian DePalma would just make everything needlessly Freudian. I've seen a review of The Black Dahlia which was evenly tempered between scathing and insightful. They pretty much washed the movie as any sort of narrative but instead, in typical DePalma fashion, focused on the film production as some kind of analogy to DePalma's vision of Noir and Hollywood history in general. In fact, several aspects of the film were reviewed to have been intentionally sabotaged (Josh Harnett as a noir cop?), or made completely untenable in order to distance the audience from the story.

I don't much remember it, but I believe it was excerpted in Utne Reader, I'd guess the Sept/October issue.
galateadia
Feb. 5th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine has loaned me Daughter of Hounds to read. So far I'm about half way in. I keep meaning to email you about the strange coincidence in a certain character's name, as it is my last name also, and a not too common family name either. I know it would be too much to ask, but I wonder who the character is based on, and/or who you know that is related to me.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 5th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
I know it would be too much to ask, but I wonder who the character is based on, and/or who you know that is related to me.


It's not too much to ask. Which character?
jtglover
Feb. 5th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting the synopsis! It's always a pleasure to learn more about how you write, and it's encouraging to see how far a professional writer's final product can shift from the initial plan. I'm glad the novel ultimately went the way it did, but part of me thinks it would have been interesting to see Soldier the Necromancer.
( 11 comments — Have your say! )