Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Orchids on Young Queens and Vengeance from Slave Kings

I’m writing this post on an airplane on my way back from SFWA’s annual conference and Nebula Awards.

The gathering this year shone for so many reasons—excellent programming, exciting new initiatives on the Board (I’m a Director at Large, for SFWA), and wonderful camaraderie. We really connected with each other this year and I’m revved for next year’s conference in Los Angeles.
Because of all this I’m posting on Tuesday instead of my usual Sunday SFF Seven blog. Kristine Krantz switched days with me, which I truly appreciate. She wrote about her new urban fantasy series, so check that out!

We’re talking this week about our favorite things about our current WIPs. That stands for Work in Progress, for those not in the know. It’s a standard writer catch-all term for whatever we’re working on, regardless of length or medium.

(Medium is an important factor, I’m becoming more aware, as I spent a substantial amount of time meeting with folks this last week how to set the rules for the Game-Writing Nebula Award. Parsing how narrative arcs in games of all types as compared to in novels and shorter works has me thinking about how we tell stories.)

At any rate, I’m working on THE ORCHID THRONE, which is the first book in my new trilogy for St. Martin’s Press, The Forgotten Empires. The above images are ones I used for inspiration and to encapsulate the feel of the story.

And they summarize the contrasting worlds of the heroine and hero. She is the Queen of Flowers and he is the King of Slaves.

Really, these two characters are my favorite parts of this WIP. They are the ones driving it, especially as—the way my process works—I’m discovering the world, secondary characters and myriad other conflicts as I live with them.

They’re both very interesting, complex people, each fighting to hold themselves and their “kingdoms” together in different ways. She is young, very intelligent, fascinated by science—and holding onto her virgin status to preserve the sovereignty of her throne, in possibly the last somewhat free kingdom left. He is an escaped slave, king of nothing and with a voice roughened and strained from laboring in volcanic mines. He’s entirely focused on revenge—and willing to do whatever that takes.

They’re alike in their determination and iron wills. And also in what lies beneath all that.
So it’s fun to write these people and see what happens when I bring them together, both immovable objects. Or both irresistible forces. I’m not sure yet.

Explosions to ensue.