Yesterday was a sort of triumph, I think. I say this with great caution. Spooky and I sat down to talk our way through the tangle that The Wolf Who Cried Girl (the next novel) had become. We talked, and we talked, and we talked. My purpose was simple, to pare down the very plot-heavy novel that I'd concocted back in January and December (with the aid of Geoffrey and Sonya). I started out by saying something like, "Screw the plot." Indeed, I wrote in one of my notebooks, "Plot is the enemy; mood and character and theme, these are the things that matter." So, we talked about India Phelps and Eva Canning and Albert Perrault (who has been dead almost a decade when the novel opens). We talked about fairy tales. In particular, various takes on "Little Red Riding Hood." We talked about art and artists, sculpture and stage acting. And the excess layers of plot began to fall away, so that I could see the heart of this thing. I made pages and pages of notes.
I think the greatest single "eureka" moment was deciding that this novel can be written in an epistolary form, even though I "just" did that with The Red Tree. The big difference is that in The Wolf Who Cried Girl, the story will be told by more than a single journal, alternating between India and her lover, Eva, and possibly with excerpts from Albert Perrault's Werewolf Smile, as well as excerpts from books written about Perrault. It will be a novel about obsession, both artistic and sexual. Some of the themes that dominated my original vision for the book have been jettisoned or given considerably less importance. There will be some overlap with The Red Tree, I think. Joseph Fearing Olney may be mentioned, and the writings of Sarah Crowe may also be mentioned.
The novel will be set almost entirely in Providence. India and Eva will have a loft in Olneyville, and when I realized that, despite the foul weather, I got dressed and had Spooky drive me over to Olneyville to "scout locations." I always, always do this before I begin a novel, as I always mean my settings to be real places, or abstractions of real places. I already had the loft in mind, but we saw a lot of other interesting architecture, and will be going back on a sunny day in order to see far more than we saw yesterday. All in all, Olneyville is one of those parts of Providence that reminds me of Birmingham— abandoned warehouses and factories, a desolate post-industrial landscape. Some of the photos I took are behind the cut:
India and Eva's loft (above the temp agency, at the left).
Olneyville through a rain-streaked window.
I will always be astounded at the flourishes that once were taken with such merely "functional" buildings as warehouses. A shame modern architects have gone in other directions.
We came unexpectedly upon this building, and it was a somewhat startling sight. If a building could bleed, it would look like this, I think.
Very like Birmingham, as I said.
I was especially taken with this doorway. The sign reads, "Victory Pearl Inc., Manufacturers of Indestructible Pearls." I don't know when Victory Pearl bit the dust, but the building is now used by local artists for installations, shows, and such.
All photographs Copyright by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac.
So...yes. I think this novel has finally become something that I can write.