I've been reading lots of advice for how to market my book (as you know), and of course the first advice that everyone gives is "write a book." Often it's followed by the advice of "write another book." And I want to. I'm ready to. I'm ready to get to work on the next Madison book (again, as you know because I think I mention it every other day). What I hadn't consciously realized until today was that my subconscious has been working on a completely different book.
Over the last several days, in the back of my mind as I'm reading, driving, talking, watching TV, researching, (okay, you get the point) little snippets of characters have bubbled to the semi-surface of my mind. Characters that are dark, almost evil. Hardened. No-nonsense kind of characters. The kind of characters that would chew Madison Fox up and spit her back out without a second thought. Characters that would never be encountered in an Adventures of Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer novel. Characters that demand their own stories. It was only today that I realized that I was having these musings. I was reading along in a great book that I highly recommend (Sunshine by Robin McKinley), and this character came out of nowhere, and while I'm still reading, my subconscious dissected it and dismissed it as not quite finalized, not quite ready for, well, birth. It was bizarre watching this happen in my own head. I mean, who else is in here with me? Apparently someone dark, rather cynical, and a little bit of a perfectionist.
I think that I was aware on some level (obviously) that these character bubbles were happening, because I've had a really hard time falling asleep these last several nights. Something inane will catch my fancy, and then I can't rest until I've built a story around it. For instance, last night I thought how weird it'd be if everyone was dead but my character--especially how weird the silence would be. (For those of you who don't know me and don't know about what I call my Stand fantasies, this is a fairly common thread of thought that can occupy me for hours on a car ride and which Cody has been subject to more times than I'm sure he would like. In my Stand fantasies, started because I watched most of the made-for-TV rendition of Stephen King's book The Stand nearly 14 years ago, 10% of the population, including me, survives a terrible disease/disaster and then we're left to fend for ourselves in this grossly underpopulated world. In every scenario I've contemplated, it's the real me, and I spend my time picturing the animals I'd rescue from homes--and when I would stop rescuing them because they'd probably all be dead--where I would go, what crops I would grow, what libraries I would raid, what staples I would hoard--which is where I try to figure out what I consider a staple to be, as in, do Hershey's dark chocolate bars count?--and what skills I would try to teach myself to regain the standard of living that would henceforth have been denied to me by the death of everyone out there who knows how electricity works and how to build a house, etc. Like I said, this can go on for hours and is a discussion for another day.) Well, the other night, I thought about it only this time with a character in my place. It made it a whole different daydream. I pictured this character running down the middle of the deserted boulevard near my house, with only the sounds of the crickets and owls and the soft tread of her boots on the pavement--and the crunch of predators in the bushes. There'd be no car noises, no hum of electricity, no horns, no crazy neighbors having too-loud sex at inconvenient times at night. Just my character. All alone. In the silence.
As you can tell, there were some noises bothering me, too, but the story that was building caught my fancy. I tried to cast Madison into that role of the woman running down the street, and she didn't fit. It was a scene for a different person entirely. Someone hardened in a way Madison will never be.
You see, it's clues like that that should have told me another story was brewing. It's been so long since I've thought of anything other than Madison or Areia, it took me a while to realize what was happen. Now that I know, I'm eager to find out what this next story will be.