Afterlife of the Party

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. We’d like to blame it on being swept up in NaNoWriMo madness, but we finished our NaNo story on 19th November. This year was different for us. This year we only wanted to write a novella, so aimed to write the 50,000 words required, rather than trying to beat last year’s target of 95k. The novella, The Malignant Dead is based on a short story we wrote about a plague doctor in Edinburgh in 1645. It’s actually inspired by the true story of Edinburgh’s plague doctor, George Rae, except with added horror. It’s not our first historical book, but it is our first historical horror. We haven’t read a lot of historical fiction of the 17thC because it mostly seems to be historical romance (if written by a woman) or about battles (if written by a man) and we wanted to do something different and recapture the love we had for history when learning of the gruesome tortures during the Tudor period.

We now have a taste for it and have decided to write a historical horror novella for every NaNoWriMo, as it combines two of our favourites things – horror and history. The next one will be about witchcraft and we might do one about the Resurrectionists. We haven’t thought that far ahead.

There is one disadvantage to finishing NaNo so early – you spend the rest of the month feeling left out. At least with our novels we had our own targets to beat so we could empathise with the pressure. This year, as we knew we were only doing the 50k, there was no pressure at all. We worked at our normal pace.

But as it turned out, there was a massive advantage to finishing early. The day after we finished, (Wednesday) our grandfather (Grampy, we called him), was taken to hospital.

He died the next day.

At 92 years old, it shouldn’t have been a shock. He’d been ill since the Saturday but showed signs of improving on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday he’d deteriorated. But we thought he’d recover. We were already arranging shifts with our sister and mum so he would have 24 hour care. Then on the Thursday, the hospital rang us, telling us he’d taken a turn for the worse and we should come down.

He died before we got there.

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe what a wonderful man he was. One of the things we loved most about him was that he accepted us the way we are. He never once asked when we were going to meet nice men and settle down with 2.4 children. (Never!) Or asked when we were going to get ‘a proper job’ (Never! Wonder if anyone asks J K Rowling this). All he cared about was that we were happy. He’d often joke about getting piercings and dyeing his hair to look like us. One of our favourite memories is of him doing an impression of his friend trying to talk after toffee had stuck her false teeth together 😀

So that’s why we haven’t blogged. Because we’ve had nothing to say. We’re no strangers to grief. In fact, we know it so well we could enter a Mr and Mrs contest and take home the cash prize for charity. Though we have no mantlepiece for the carriage clock. The hole Grampy has left behind proves how much he was loved. 92 years wasn’t long enough. The world is a darker place without him.

Apocalypse Now

The end is nigh. Well, the end has arrived. No, not the end of the world, there’s still a few more days left, apparently. But we have reached the end of our new novel, Bleeding Empire and that is sadder than the world going up in flames, or being devoured by zombies, whichever comes true. Personally we’re trying to drum up fear for the Dinopocalypse. It’s not catching on.

We reached the grand total of 107, 869 words yesterday, making it our shortest first draft ever. It’s a relief not to have a 150-200K novel waiting to be hacked up more than a character in Saw. Being written in 35 days also makes it our fastest novel yet. Although at the beginning it was tough, and writing the first 10 chapters was like trying to get blood from a sunken vein, towards the end the words were flowing like they were being pumped from a severed artery. And we didn’t want it to end.

That’s the trouble with writing a novel so quickly. The book is ready to end before you are. It’s a bit like drinking Red Bull – you’re still enjoying its tasty amber nectar and before you know it, the can is empty and you find yourself shaking it for the last delicious drop. Or maybe that’s just us. We felt like we were only just beginning to know the characters, to get into their heads and explore different aspects of their personalities, and we were enjoying the journey even though we had no map. We were falling in love with the whole idea of the horsemen, planning our bookmarks, our graphic novel, perhaps even artwork. And it was over. The book was ready to be finished. It didn’t matter how much we weren’t ready to be parted from it, there was nowhere left for it to go. Nothing left to say.

Except The End.

Writing Bleeding Empire was different to any other novel. For start, we did some research. Usually we research afterwards then alter the book so we can get on with the fun part first. But because we didn’t really know much about ending the world (which is terrible considering we plan to take it over one day), we did our research whilst writing the book. Sometimes, we’d stop in the middle of a scene, do some quick research then carry on. We were then able to use it as part of the plot, to help us when we got stuck. If you read our post about doing NaNoWriMo, you’ll know we had no ideas, except it was about the four horsemen and that most of them didn’t have names or characters. So doing the research whilst writing helped with ideas. We also know a hell of a lot more about diseases than we ever wanted to.

We’re desperate to start redrafting it, to add in all the bits we feel are missing. We need to add darkness, more descriptions, strengthen their characters at the start when we were just getting to know them. Famine hasn’t quite reached her full bitchy potential. There’s still more nastiness for her to unleash. But not yet. We know we have to wait, get some distance so we can return to it objectively. So, once we saved the final chapter, did we take the evening off to relax, maybe play Golden Axe 3 on the PS3 and just forget about writing for the rest of the day? Nope. We immediately started on Bad Romance, the sequel to Gunning Down Romance. *cracking open Red Bull* It’s how we roll.

War of Words

NaNoWriMoIt’s November and after we’ve dried our tears because we won’t see Halloween for another year, it’s time to once again, take part in NaNoWriMo. Last year we wrote Field of Screams, which was based on our short story of the same title, which won Writing Magazine’s ghost story competition in 2010. Yes, we’re still living on that past glory. It was a comedy, so it was easy to write. This year, we’re doing something completely different. It’s called Bleeding Empire and is a horror/urban fantasy based on the 4 horsemen coming to earth and wreaking havoc. Except in our case, there are 5 of them and 2 are women. If you left it up to men to destroy the world, they’d screw it up. Or forget something 😀

Last year we didn’t have any real plans, but we were excited to see if we could do the challenge. We were pretty confident we could, because we usually write a novel in 6 weeks. Our challenge though, was to hit the 50k in 17 days, because we were going on that ill-fated trip to North Wales on the 18th for our ghost tour. We filmed that disastrous trip and you can see it here – Watch out for the bit where Travelodge hides from us in its own car park. Our cheeks still glow with shame every time we think about it.

Anyhoo, by the end of the 30 days, we’d hit 80, 300 words. This year, we want to beat that. Except we have no plans and are writing each chapter completely blind. It’s not easy like Field of Screams was. And we almost feel forced into it. By our own choosing, of course. If it wasn’t for NaNo, we’d have no intention of writing a novel, even though it’s been a year since we wrote one. We were redrafting Scott the Zombie and finished five days before November, then we were distracted with Halloween. So NaNo was bearing down on us like a demented snowball.

We’re not going to fight the snowball, we’re going to let it sweep us up in its icy embrace and drag us all the way to the finish. We’ve managed to write 15K already, which isn’t bad considering the night before NaNo started, we were still trying to figure out Death’s character. Should he be male? Female? Male and female twins? So you can see how prepared we were for this. In fact, the only preparation we did, was to choose the font for the chapter headings & future front cover. We hadn’t even picked the font we were going to type in. Fun fact – each novel gets assigned its own font, which is matched to the novel and the first draft and any future ones are printed out in that font. We’ve always done it this way and always will.

Writing a novel with absolutely no plans may cause panic for a lot of writers. We love the freedom it gives us and it’s worked for us so far. So we’re going to hand the reins over to War, Famine, Pestilence and Death and let them steer this carriage of creativity to the end. We just hope one of them knows where they’re going.

Our friend Kris, has challenged us to recite this dedication on our blog. We will confess, we haven’t memorised it, we copied and pasted it 🙂

O Goddesses of Olympus, Musai

O Apollon, father of the lyre

This work I do in your name

This work I do for your glory

Shine your inspiration upon me

That my efforts might honor you better

O Hermes, the silver-quick and clever

O Mercury, messenger and guide

This work I do by your discretion

This work I do by your tools

Stand beside me always

That my words might be bright and clear

O Dionysus, cause and surcease of madness

O Zagreus, embodiment of ecstasy

This work I do as your servant

This work I do as your messenger

Be within me as I write

That I might be without myself and range more widely

Hai Musai!

Io Memnosune, Titan Muse and memory incarnate!

Io Caliope, mistress of the epic!

Io Clio, keeper of history!

Io Erato, voice of lust!

Io Euterpe, mistress of song!

Io Terpischore, inspiration of dance!

Io Melpomene, bringer of tears!

Io Thalia, who causes laughter!

Io Polymnia, source of all hymns!

Io Urania, who keeps the secrets of the stars!

Io Apollon!

Io Phoibos, lord of the sun!

You who slew the serpent Pytho

and who inspire the prophesies of Delos!

Bright son of Metis and mighty Zeus!

You in whose name I issue prophesy!

Bringer and healer of plague!

Io Hermes!

Io Dolios, divine trickster who, new-born, fooled Apollo and Zeus alike!

Slayer of watchful Argos

Great messenger of the gods!

You Of the Gateway,

Guide of both the living and the dead!

Io Ram-bearer! Io Champion!

Io Dionysos!

Io Bacchos! Yourself, your Mask, and your worshiper: one!

Bringer of madness and ecstasy!

Lord of the vine and instructor in fermentation!

Twice-born, Twice-died, Thrice-lived!

You of the Mysteries!

In whose name I pour all libations!


And we’re off! Started turning Field of Screams into a novel for NaNoWriMo this morning. As you can see by the pic, Red Bull and cauldron shaped shortbread biscuits we made helped enormously. Did a workout in our attic gym to keep minds and bodies awake then started work at 10:30. By 12 we had 2185 words done. Already beaten our target! Not only beaten, but completely pulverised. If it was a person, we’d be up on assault charges 😀 Then had to take a massive break to see our psychologist, do some shopping, rant at the empty Tesco photo desk because we’d done our photos then couldn’t process them because there was no staff there. Ranted at the kiosk guy then muttered curses all the way home. Then it was time to give the iguana his bath. But we’re back at work now. Well one of us is. The other one is on here, swearing at Facebook because the photo upload is totally crap and if FB isn’t careful, it will be sent a handmade glitter bomb. Yeah let’s see how joyous they are picking glitter out of their keyboards.

Anyhoo, good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo. We’re doing a ghost walk on Friday. What better way to celebrate the first week of writing a ghost novel? Hopefully we’ll see some ghosts. We don’t believe in ghosts but really want to see one. We’re weird like that. Maybe we can grope and assault others people in the group and blame it on the ghosts. Don’t tell anyone what we’re planning otherwise they won’t believe us. Better start practising our innocent expressions.