What has easily been one of the most interesting years of my life rolls on at a good clip. (I’m suddenly reminded of the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”)
I’ve just completed the third draft of the fourth Wolf Dasher novel, Ghost of a Chance. Begun in Kansas and carrying through the move this summer to Ohio, the first draft alone has been a huge part of my 2014 experience. I think the writing of this one is going to be one of the definitive parts of the year for me.
Ironically, it’s helped keep me sane. I say, “ironic,” because writing a novel is a hard, exhausting process. Trying to do something that monumental while simultaneously moving cross-country is, well, we’ll call it brave to make me feel better.
However, as my life (and my family’s) was turned both upside down and inside out trying to get all of our stuff and ourselves from Kansas to Ohio, while simultaneously ensuring the children got to spend time with their other parents, I found a little time every day to get out my computer and write. I could forget about the madness happening around me and focus on Wolf’s world. It was comforting.
I was worried about all the discombobulation of my life leading to an unfocused, meandering tale that wouldn’t be very exciting to read. It was a lot more difficult than usual to keep track of the development of the story this time. Ghost of a Chance is the longest book I’ve written (it’s over 126,000 words and has 51 chapters), and I was afraid I’d drifted off-topic. This was further complicated by the fact that I ended Roses Are White with three cliff-hangers, and I spend the first 14 chapters of Ghost of a Chance wrapping those up.
But I’m pleased with how it’s turned out so far, (my editor will be taking another crack at it starting today). As you might imagine of a novel that has to tie up events left hanging from the previous book as well as tell its own story, Ghost of a Chance has a complex plot. Much more so than previous Wolf Dasher books, it is told from multiple viewpoints. A lot of things are happening at once, and they don’t all appear to be related at first.
As the novel progresses, the various plot threads merge into a cohesive story that is about the very survival of elves and Alfar itself. There are a lot of big reveals in it. I finally unveil who Mustique Starfellow’s mysterious master is, what the Sons of Frey and the Freedom Patrol have been up to all along, and the nature of the strange corruption that is causing the land to die.
On a micro level, many of the characters are profoundly changed by the events of both Roses Are White and Ghost of a Chance. In particular, May’s father, August Sunstrider wrestles with grief — both his and his wife’s — and attempts to try to put his horrific losses into some sort of context that doesn’t destroy his faith. Aqib Dragonblade — who has the broadest arc of change from his first appearance in Red Dragon Five to his role in Ghost of a Chance — also is profoundly altered by his faith and the events of the novel. Cyrus Eagleflight, a very minor character in State of Grace, has an increasingly larger part in the saga and must come to grips with his own prejudices if he’s going to succeed in his new position as Captain of the Elite Guard.
Ghost of a Chance is a big novel in a lot of ways — both in the tale it tells, its placement in the overall progression of the story arc, and the personal issues with which its characters grapple. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out thus far. I’m floored I was able to pen something this enormous while trying to move.
The book will be out in October. I can’t wait until readers get a chance to dig into it too.