Well, they’ve sawed down all the trees. The shady spot where I sit to write my books… is gone. They haven’t cleaned up the mess yet, either, so there’s nowhere else to put my chair.
I’ve written 15 books, sitting there. I don’t write fiction indoors because a) it’s nuisance phone calls every few minutes, and b) it’s good for my soul to be out there with the birds and squirrels, grass and flowers and trees, God’s creation all around me. There’s no substitute for that.
Turning this place into a desert, one tree at a time… or, in this case, all at once.
This scene is from the very beginning of Book 2, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar: Jack and Ellayne, having rung the Bell, find the assassin, Martis, swooning on the snow. Drawn by Kathleen.
I love the idea of having young adults fiction illustrated by young adults and children. I’ve been posting pictures drawn by Katheleen and her sister, Kerolyn, 9; they live in Brazil. If we ever get to the point where we can do a second printing of Bell Mountain or any of its sequels, I wonder if I can get one or more of these drawings included.
Well, back to work for me! I’ve got to write a cover blurb for Behold! and start the next chapter of Ozias, Prince in Peril.
Ah, there it is! Kirk DouPonce’s wonderful cover for the next Bell Mountain book, Behold!
Those fearsome-looking men are some of King Ryons’ chieftains, former Heathen who are now servants of the true God. But who’s the old lady? And how has she provoked such an alarmed reaction from the chieftains? A few of you will be able to guess rightly; but if I’ve played my cards well, most of you will be surprised!
I must resist the temptation to spoil the surprise by telling you what it is.
Hopefully we can get Behold! available to you in time for Christmas. But that’s not in my hands.
I’ve been very busy this afternoon. I have to edit Behold! and provide some material which our artist, Kirk DouPonce, can work up into a cover.
But we do have a hymn request from Susan–Speak to the Mountains, by Chris McClarney. You might find the lyrics reminiscent of a Psalm.
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis
I was in a jam last year, trying to write The Ocean of Time. I knew it would require a double climax, but I didn’t know how to pull it off.
For no conscious reason, I began to reread Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Not that I was trying to follow him, or imitate him–but suddenly my own book got very much easier to write! I managed the double climax, and by the time I was done, I thought I’d written my best Bell Mountain book ever.
Now I’m writing Ozias, Prince in Peril–and it looks like the guide that has emerged is C.S. Lewis’ trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength). This conviction has been strongly reinforced by a study of the trilogy, Deeper Heaven by Christiana Hale. So while I’m writing my own book, I think I need to be reading these four books.
Not to copy them in any way–that’s not how it works. A writer who tries to do that will damage his art. Actually, I’m not quite sure how this works. Somehow Lewis’ stories are giving me a clearer vision of my own. Writing novels is kind of weird, that way. I sort of wanted to revisit Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels, but the pull of Lewis’ trilogy is too strong to resist. Something’s telling me just to go with it. I was temped to call it “my instinct,” but that gives me too much credit. I do ask God to guide me in my work; and I think my prayers are answered.
Ellayne at work in Book 2
I’ve written almost 100 pages of my new book, Ozias, Prince in Peril, and have had to meet a whole new cast of characters–’cause it’s 2,000 years before the events described in my other Bell Mountain books.
I Love My Characters
I say I “meet” my characters because that’s what it feels like. It’s like they’re already there, waiting to come into the story. I take pains NOT to pattern them on real people. Let that mask slip just once, and your book is toast.
Queen Maressa has already shown herself a top-flight villain; but can she outwit Lady Gwenlann, the scatterbrained wardrobe mistress who controls the late king’s spy network? (“Scatterbrained” is only an act.) There’s the little fat man, Mallen, who heads a troupe of actors: Maressa wants to buy them. And of course Queen Parella, Prince Ozias’ mother, written off my Maressa as “that goose-girl,” but with a lot of gumption to her.
Dagnabbit, writing a novel is fun! And if it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong.
So what’s it like to write a novel?
I had a new insight into this, yesterday. For me, writing a novel is like playing chess against an invisible opponent about whom you know nothing at all–nothing but the moves of his chessmen on the board.
I used to like to dope everything out in notebooks before I wrote a word. Four of those books (horror novels) got published. Forty didn’t. So now what I do is just ask God to give me the story and to guide me in telling it. Mostly I just pick up my pen and get to work. Let the invisible opponent surprise me! Most of those surprises turn out to be things I can use. Had one just the other day that really got me grinning.
I did have to write a lot of thankless unpublished novels before I ever sold anything. At the time I thought it wasn’t fair. But maybe those books were a gate I had to go through before I could get any farther down the road–tollbooths, as it were, along the highway. (Ooh, that’s corny!)
The lesson I’ve been taught is to welcome the surprises… and build on them.
I wonder if that applies to real life.