It’s pretty rare that I put real people in my stories…although I did a post on characters, my characters tend to be a mish-mash of traits and personalities and whatever falls out of my head onto the page. I don’t put my friends into my stories (at least, in any overt sense) because they’re too real – I would never be able to get the complexity and character of someone that I know in real life onto the page, and usually I don’t even try. I know parts do come out in my writing, but that is mostly unintentional.
However, I met someone over the weekend who I know is going to stay in my head and come out as a character. Because it was the first time I have met her, I got an immediate first impression: she’s fascinating, complex, insecure and passionate, with a quiet reserve and then sudden deep cracks of intensity, and smile that absolutely lights up her face. She’s so unlike most of the people I meet (who are all very nice and interesting, but don’t necessarily grab my attention in the way this person did) that about an hour after I met her, she came and sat next to me and started talking about buying yellow shoes, and I simply said, “you’re going in one of my books. I don’t know how or who as, but I have to write about you.” And so far, she’s still talking to me, so I think she’s ok with it…
I was thinking about it on the train, and decided that she doesn’t really fit into any of my current books or plots: she would be a central character, someone who pulls everything else around her. In real life, she works in an antique map shop…and bing! goes my head. Mapping. That fits in with the Victorian-era discovery urge; that fits in with Obak and Iilde, who are exploring the seas; that fits in with the Fliyers and the new technology and the expansion of travel.
So I have a new book to start: a book that looks at the idea of wanting to explore the world, to understand and to map. I can follow the trade routes across the deserts; I can bring my flying squadron back from the war with Aleric, so old characters can join with the new ones. I can bring Catter in, with his links to Toru and his interest in the archives. I can get my explorers to follow the paths that are being spread across the worlds by the electricity lines, to want to see what’s over the next horizon and then commit that to paper, to return and slowly fill in the gaps in their world.
Tentatively titled “Heights and Horizons” – I want another word at the beginning but can’t think of one, so I’ll stick with that for the moment!