September 25th, 2009


Perfect isn't easy, and I don't want it.

So I've been chatting with various people—now that the first rush of book release crazy is blessedly behind us—about Rosemary and Rue as a book, Toby as a character, and where I think the series is going. This has led to several of my friends confessing, usually while looking slightly sheepish, that Rosemary and Rue is Not A Perfect Book. It is, tragically, Not Without Flaw. And to this I say...

Thank the Great Pumpkin.

You see—bear with me, I swear this is relevant—I'm a Counting Crows fan. Their first album, August and Everything After, was perfect. Maybe not every song, maybe not every lyric, but as an album? Perfect. The sort of album you can listen to over and over again, finding new things, making new discoveries about the way the songs fit together, the stories that the lyrics are telling...perfect. So naturally, when their second album was released (Recovering the Satellites), they got basically panned. Why? Because Recovering the Satellites was a bad album? But it wasn't. It was actually a really good album, with a lot of really good songs. So what was the problem?

The problem was that it wasn't perfect. And once you've been perfect, people are going to start expecting perfection every single time. It's the dilemma of the student who manages straight As on a report card—once may be amazing, but when you bring home that B+ next quarter, there are going to be some pointed questions directed your way.

Now, I do think that a few of the things some people view as flaws will become less flaw-like as the series goes on. At the end of the first episode of Veronica Mars, you don't know who killed Lilly Kane, who raped Veronica, or what happened to her mother, now, do you? I'm absolutely working to make sure every Toby book has a satisfying conclusion all its own, but there are going to be some narrative threads that take a long, long time to be resolved. I'm actually crazy-careful with my timelines, and with making sure that all my guns are on the mantelpiece as soon as they need to be, just so there's no "but wait, there was no six-fingered man in the plot last season."

Yes, I will tell you who killed Lilly Kane.

Yes, I will tell you who raped Veronica.

Yes, I will tell you why every little piece of importance is important. But it's going to take a while. And I will, thankfully, probably never be perfectly perfect in an individual volume...although I, like the Counting Crows, really hope that my album (or series, as the case may be) is close enough to perfect when it's done that the flaws are forgiven.
the mourning edition

Word count -- DEADLINE.

Words: 3,102.
Total words: 52,290.
Reason for stopping: end of chapter ten, I need to sleep.
Music: angry goth rock.
Lilly and Alice: sprawling on my bed like throw rugs.

It's time to get serious about Deadline, which is due at my publisher in June of 2010, and is only about halfway finished. Luckily for me (and for the way I work), eight months is both sufficient time to finish things cleanly, and sufficiently little time to feel like A Real-and-True Deadline, thus causing my good little girl "turn your homework in early" genes to kick all the way in. Ideally, I'll be most of the way clear of this book by Christmas, and be able to spend my holiday break sitting at Tony's kitchen table, doing cleanup and adjustment. Because that's just how we roll around here, yo.

Anyway, this installment marks two major milestones. First, the book is now more than 50,000 words long. Yay! 40,000 may be the point where a novella becomes a novel, but for me, 50,000 words has a strange, iconic power that I simply cannot deny. Second, the three volumes in the Newsflesh trilogy are novels divided internally into books. This installment marks the end of Blackout Book II (Vectors and Victims), and begins Book III (name to be disclosed when I decide which of the possible options it actually is). Feed is four books and a coda. Blackout is either going to be five books and a coda, or Book III is going to be extremely long. I don't know yet, and I'm really excited to find out.

I felt this book come all the way to life tonight. For a zombie novel, that's a good thing. The engine's on, and the car is purring.

Let's see what kind of damage we can do.