No, not real-world – although the news about the Ukraine is worrying. This is imaginary politics, which I have to admit is almost as bad.
I’ve been working on the plot for Desert Sands again. I have long commutes at the moment, and was talking to my driver (ok, husband) about the plot. I need some baddies, and although I did have some, I wasn’t happy with them (think Reavers from Firefly, except less sadistic). He suggested that I bring back my previous baddies, who are the opposite side in the war I’ve just finished writing. It’s a really good suggestion, and it really works: it brings back a previous plot and ties the new book into a bigger world; it allows me to continue with that line and show what the effects of the war were on a variety of countries and people. But…it also brings a lot of politics into the mix.
I was having a play with the plot yesterday while at my writer’s group, and it’s bothering me. I tend to be very cynical about politics and events: I think it’s because I am a student of history, and I’m very aware of how much easier it is to be defensive and insular than it is to be peaceful. I’m struggling with reasons to get the two sides to disarm; I’m having to think very carefully about how someone would de-escalate the situations that are arriving. I’m forcing myself to think about the benefits of peace, and how war isn’t always the natural progression of affairs. But when I’ve got one country that has just set off a hostage situation, another that’s suddenly got a lot of power at its disposal and is worried that said previous country will attack it again, and a third country that’s stuck in the middle between the two…it would take a lot of diplomacy to defuse it.
I also had to stop myself from – almost automatically – trying to put Toru in the middle of the situation. Instead, I get to bring in Jan, who is a far better candidate for the situation, and is going to be a lot of fun to write into the mix. He’ll work really well, and it will be the first time we’ve seen him in action as a major figure, which I’m also looking forward to.
I haven’t actually started writing yet – worringly, it looks as if I might actually be plotting some of this one! I’m also not sure of my characters; I have two or three who might go into one person; I haven’t yet got the engineers or the diplomats in my head, and they’re a fairly major part. Plus I now need to get my head around the paranoia of a military country, which isn’t the easiest. Still, all good fun.