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Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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Stargate Atlantis

Question Answer

In the Year End Wrap-Up and Questions post, petercline asked: What was your most difficult book to write from a creative standpoint?

The first one that leaps to mind is The Death of the Necromancer. It was tricky in several different ways.

It was set in the same world as The Element of Fire but in a later period, so I had to show the same city but how it would have naturally changed after generations of construction, demolition, and growth. It's more cosmopolitan, it's grown well out past the city walls, rich areas have become rundown, rundown areas are being turned into rich areas. The mystery plot was a bit tricky, with the characters having to find out not only what was happening now but how it had been affected by the past. (Though the scene at the beginning where they find the hole in the cellars and realize that someone has opened a crypt that was buried under a demolished great house is one of my favorite bits.)

Nicholas was also a very difficult main character to write. He's basically the person who would have turned out to be the world's Moriarty, probably doomed to kill or be killed by Inspector Ronsarde, except for his foster father's intervention. He's not really a sociopath, but his natural inclinations are in that direction, and writing his reactions to things didn't come natural to me. Whenever I got stuck on the book, it was usually because I'd written Nicholas as having an emotion or something that didn't work for his character. The example I use is the scene where they drive the coach into the square where his foster father was executed years ago. At first I had him not looking at the scaffold, and the whole book just stalled there. Finally I realized that he would have come to the square over and over again right after it happened, until he could look at that scaffold and not show or feel anything at all.

I didn't have that problem with Madeline or Madele or Isham or Crack or any of the other characters. Reynard was probably the most fun to write. (Even though I had the problem with the copyeditor who tried to take him out probably because he was gay.)

I wrote The Death of the Necromancer because it was the kind of book I really wanted to read, and couldn't find anywhere. The books I found that were sort of in that vein were just really unsatisfying. Writing it, I figured out that was probably the case because it was a hard book to write. But it was worth it.

(You can find the first chapter and other info on my web site here.)

Oh, and I'm still taking questions if anybody has any others.

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How would you recommend someone who has mostly written shorter works go about trying to write something novel-length, assuming they wanted to try? Are there any major potential pitfalls they should be aware of before jumping into it?

It was definitely worth it. The Death of the Necromancer is still not only my favourite of your books, but one of my favourite books, period.

I absolutely love the world you created for the Books of the Raksura. How do you go about building a world (inhabitants, customs, physical world, etc.) for one of your books? Any special source of inspiration or methods that work for you? Or any tips for those of us who are a little intimidated by the task?

You know, I wonder what happened to that moron copyeditor? I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when s/he got read the riot act about what her/his job did and did not entail.

I think she had a friend in the company protecting her. I got the same copyeditor on Wheel of the Infinite, and she did almost as bad a job. That copyedit had to be thrown out again and re-done too. After that I don't know what happened to her.

I did see a thing on Facebook a few years ago, where a copyeditor no one had heard of before was going on about how she was the "second editor" and had as much editorial input as the acquiring editor, and all the actual editors were incredulous that this woman was able to get work, if she was.

I got the same copyeditor on Wheel of the Infinite, and she did almost as bad a job. That copyedit had to be thrown out again and re-done too.

How do people like that keep jobs? Gee, you've made double the work for someone else, and set back the publishing schedule...good job! ::shaking head:: And yet, there's always one, every place you work.

Yeah, if I'd done things like that on any of the jobs I've had, I would have ended up fired and homeless. I don't know how some people get away with stuff like that.

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