Friday, October 28, 2011
Earthquakes and Coffee on the Keyboard
Writing Worth His Freedom
The idea behind Worth His Freedom was entirely centered in the person of the hero, Tsalrin. We have been developing the world of Gilalion for our own enjoyment since we first began dating, back in college. The character of Tsalrin, with an even less pronounceable name, has been present for a long while. We knew that he was compelling enough to deserve his own story -- he is dark, mysterious, deadly -- but nothing seemed to work. Nothing caught that spark in our minds, and we let Tsalrin alone.
Then this year we decided to set our minds seriously toward getting published. We had wanted to be novelists for a long while, but life would always get in the way. This year, we resolved, would be the year that either we would get published or else we would know that we would not ever be novelists. And Tsalrin was the character we wanted, and this time we had the perfect place for him, the perfect heroine to complement him, the perfect location for the story.
We started writing during the spring holiday of the Japanese university schedule, which was from February to March, so we had approximately eight weeks. Things were going swimmingly for a while. Tsalrin and Miria were getting along well, and in early March we were writing a scene so steamy that we had to ... take a break. The five big children were downstairs playing, and the baby was napping on the sofa. We got up from the living room where we had been writing to remove to our bedroom, and then the room began shaking. The date was March 11th. That did not surprise us; earthquakes are not uncommon in Japan where we live. But the shaking did not stop. It kept going and going. We scooped up the baby, wrapping her in a blanket, and ran outside, collecting the rest of the children as we went. Usually, in the case of a larger earthquake hiding under a table would be more suitable, but not then. Whole houses swayed. Roofs were cracking and tumbling down. There is an open field near our house, a tree nursery actually, and we went there. Our neighbors joined us as the earth continued to shake and roll. It did not last long really, but it felt like it. Then, just as we thought it was safe to go back inside, it started up again. It lasted almost as long as at the first.
When we at last went back inside our house was a shambles: books tumbled off shelves, our microwave lying on the floor in a pile of cracked glass, appliances off their cabinets, and my coffee, which I had been drinking as we wrote, had splashed into the keyboard, ruining it.
But we had saved before getting up from the table, and the document was intact, as was the computer we had been using (barring the keyboard). It helped that we kept the computer on the floor.
By the time school started back up again, a week later than usual due to the power shortages caused by the tsunami damage, the manuscript for Worth His Freedom was complete.
But we did not send it out yet. We asked a good online friend to beta-read it for us, and when she sent it back again, we finally felt brave enough to send our manuscript out into the world. Then we waited.
And only acceptances came back! We had not imagined getting to have a choice of publishers, but we went with Evernight, having gotten good personal recommendations from others who had published with them. We have never regretted that choice.
We learned some important lessons from writing Worth His Freedom. Now we skip the whole writing-in-the-living-room step. We start out in the bedroom.
And I keep my coffee away from the keyboard!
(Worth His Freedom comes out November 7th. Follow our blog and comment, and you'll be entered for a free copy of the book. Don't forget to include your email address.)