Notes from the NaNo Sausage Factory: Week 1

One of the great joys of writing Possum Kingdom was the process of discovery it took me on between August and November of last year. It quickly grew into one of the longest works I’ve ever undertaken without a plan. I knew nothing about the characters or the journey they were on; for the first time in my writing career, I was letting them tell me. When I arrived at the climax, I was probably as surprised as they were to learn that neither Aislinn nor Marcella were who they said they were.

I doubt Streets of Abaddon will be any 50,000 words, nor should it be, since Possum Kingdom is only 16,300. (I’m already starting to consider bumping up the timetable for the third sequel I have planned.) But I’m rolling with the same process of discovery I used on both Possum Kingdom and the dystopia I wrote over the summer, and I’m finding it’s just as fun now as it was this time last year.

Here are some things I’ve discovered along with narrator Theo:

  • The key to the plague ravaging Boston’s homeless may have been forged in the Iraqi desert, if the story of a haunted young homeless veteran named Al is anything to go by.
  • Just because Theo, Abby, and Emilia averted the threat from the revenants in Possum Kingdom, doesn’t mean they’ve gone away. They’re still here — and they’re holding Theo accountable for his actions.
  • There’s a place for an old nerdy love of mine: the science of epidemiology, which might just stop the threat.
  • Leonard, the young African-American therian last seen in Harvard Yard, has taken up the #BlackLivesMatter cause. What might this mean for future events?

Another thing to consider for the revision, is whether I actually want to tell these stories from multiple points of view, rather than just Theo’s. For example, with an unfolding immigration theme in Streets of Abaddon, I’m wondering what Abby might have to tell me from her perspective as an Abenaki native. With that theme likely continuing into the next sequel, Emilia, a Salvadoran immigrant, may also have a few things to say. Then again, so might Leonard, descended from African therian slaves.

As always, one of my goals in writing this series is to touch on important social issues of our day — but I can’t speak for everyone’s experience. I hope you’ll get in touch if you think I’m missing something, wrong about something, or haven’t adequately covered something!

 

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