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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Truth in Fiction a.k.a My Next Novel

I've always had trouble blending any part of my real life with my fiction. I know I've had a post or two in the past about incorporating animals into my work, and you all see how well I stuck with the horse-centered story that I started last year (one of these days, I'll finish Lightning; I'm determined). I love realism, but putting the equine world on the page has always been a strange kind of struggle for me. I think I'm too close to it; I can't look at it artistically. Which is a shame, because when I tell family and friends that I'm writing, they always want to know if there are horses involved. I'm pretty sure saying "no" to this has turned some people away. So I've been wondering, short of writing some kind of nonfiction piece - and trust me, no one wants to read that - how I could incorporate some of my real life into my fiction. How do I blend equestrian themes into the kind of novel that appeals not just to horsewomen, but to fiction readers in general?

I left the question on the back burner; I wasn't going to force it. Sometimes, that's the best thing to do; things have a chance to simmer. The blending feels natural that way, more flavorful than if it was raw and rushed. And I finally arrived at my answer.

My newest project - tentatively titled Whatever Remains - is a very character-driven mystery. I'm about 20K words in and things are clicking and pinging and moving along at that new-story, fast-then-slow, hold-my-breath pace. I'm really enjoying it, and I'm hoping it will end up being my next release, maybe even late summer/early fall if I can get Made for Breaking finished.

In Remains, lead character Ben Haley has a complicated past with ex-girlfriend Jade. Ben was already a lock in my mind - he had a minor cameo in Fix You - but Jade was shadowy. I knew who she was, but not what she did. One day it hit me: she was a rider. A dressage rider. She and her BFF Jeremy were trainers who'd let their personal lives prevent them from running off to Florida and devoting all their energy toward the Olympics. And it just felt right: the horses and the farm and the whole equine landscape, unfurling slow and green as the backdrop for this murder mystery. There's something animal and visceral about a murder, and using a farm as a setting gives me that metaphor in a cool way. It's fun. And, bonus, I don't have to research anything equestrian; that lifetime of experience is going to come in handy.

So, here we go, readers, off on the next whirlwind. I really want to blog about Remains as I go along, so...I'm going to. I hope you'll join me.

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