NaNoWriMo is COMING * and it’s time I shouted about my project.
And I will actually shout, because I’m so frustrated with this darn monstrous creature. Already. NaNo hasn’t even started yet. Excuse me while I book tickets to Jupiter and relocate there AWAY FROM THIS BOOK.
Oh just kidding. It’s going to be great. Because attention: I AM WRITING A HAPPY BOOK. Even if it kills me. Which so far, it definitely is. But I love to challenge myself and I had a brilliant idea for a “happy contemporary” and this conversation ensued:
Me: Everyone keeps telling me to write a happy book.
Brain: But stabby things????
Me: We would have sunshine and sass and cupcakes and squishy awkward first-crushes.
Me: It’ll be great.
Brain: *HYPERVENTILATING INTENSIFIES*
Me: With a little stabbing at the end.
Brain: You’re right, we can do this.
So let’s review this: (A) the plot has been giving me a hellish time, (B) I am lusting after a pirate story which I’ve outlined but is not in line to write until 2017, and (C) I’LL WRITE SOMETHING HAPPY GOSH DANGIT AND SHOW THE WORLD I CAN DO ANYTHING. **
This will be my 3rd NaNoWriMo and if you’re looking at me like I’m some sort of confused radish who’s just spouting off random letters — never fear. I’ll explain “THE NANO” to you. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and basically is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I love NaNoWriMo for the camaraderie of knowing thousands of writers across the globe are crying together. Nice.
* I hope you read that in the same tone as the Starks of Winterfell say “winter is coming” and then paused to look at the oncoming snowstorm with a chilly but brave expression with your gorgeous locks flowing gently in the breeze as you watch White Walkers come to rip your head off. I’m not telling you how to LIVE. I’m just sayin’ that’s how you should read this phrase.
** In case we haven’t met: Hi. I’m Cait. I typically write 100,000-word dark fantasy novels were EVERYONE DIES GRUESOMELY. But this “slight” genre switch shouldn’t be a problem.
You don’t have to be doing NaNo to participate. But you do, however, have to hop in a small circle reciting “Cait Is Queen” 7 times and then bake a cake in my honour and eat it under a full moon if you want to participate. Just saying. We like to keep things lowkey around here.
1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
My novels are generally my brain saying “I WANT TO WRITE ABOUT THIS AND THIS AND THIS” and then I have to piece it together. The things often don’t seem to go together? But I make ’em. #queen
For The Boy Who Steals Houses, I wanted to write about (A) a homeless boy, (B) a big family, (C) the idea that you can be surrounded by people but still be alone, and (D) pizza. *
I’ve had this outlined for 3 or 4 months. And OF COURSE I just fell through a plot hole and couldn’t get up 5 days before NaNo. Who’s crying in the corner? THAT’S ME HAHAHAHAHA. (help)
My comparative titles could be:
* I generally write fantasy okay?!?? I DON’T GET TO WRITE ABOUT PIZZA OFTEN SO I’M MAKING IT A PRIORITY IN THIS NOVEL. Life without pizza is no life at all.
2. Describe what your novel is about!
- It is a Goldilocks retelling. #genius
- There is a boy named Sammy who sneaks into houses when their occupants are on holidays and lives there. Eats their food. Steals some stuff. Pretends he’s not homeless/unloved etc. etc. My smol child of sorrow.
- Then comes the day he miscalculates terribly and ends up in a house that is rapidly filled by a very. VERY. EXTREMELY. large family.
- I told myself I will write a light contemporary so no explosions (I feel my soul withering) but THERE WILL BE STABBING EVENTUALLY.
- There is also: much food, pizza expeditions, a partially dismantled renovated house, many hellion brothers who do nothing but eat and grow, and a girl who will possibly stab you with a paintbrush.
- pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza
- The entire aesthetic of my pinterest board is yellow. SEE HOW WELL I’M DOING BEING HAPPY HERE? I’m trying so so hard.
- I’m also monstrously excited to write about a large family because I know what’s up with them. I’m from one. I’ve got this.
3. What is your book’s aesthetic?
Come stare upon my pinterest storyboard.
4. Introduce us to your characters!
- SAMMY: who is a 15-year-old floppy gangly sort of fellow of bad impulsive decisions and who is super sweet but kind of violent simultaneously and desperate needs to belong to someone.
- MAX: who is the love interest and has four annoying older brothers and is babysitting small children for the ENTIRE SUMMER and is not pleased because she just wants to art. She is salt and vinegar, very shouty, and feels like she belongs to too many people.
5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, chocolate, howling, etc.?)
- I write a very detailed outline. And we’re talking SCENE BY SCENE. And although my process has changed quite a lot recently, I did do a post on how I plot last year. It involves shouting and glaring at inanimate objects and fearsomely whispering, “But the bathtub can’t be blue in all logic” viciously during mealtimes so my family start thinking about moving interstate. Without me.
- I make a FABULOUS pinterest board. (Translation: I procrastinate a heck of a lot on pinterest.)
- I imagine every scene before I write it, so I go over these leading up to when I’ll start writing the book.
- I inform my family I WILL BE UNAVAILABLE ENTIRELY. With, you know, the usual instructions of “disturb me on pain of death“, and “bring me cinnamon cupcakes at will” and “if I forget your name don’t be offended I just have more important things on my mind like my book and myself”.
- I chocolate. It’s a verb now. If you disagree, FIGHT ME.
6. What are you looking forward to about this novel?
FINISHING. HAHAHAAA. Okay okay, fine. Stop looking at me like that. I do enjoy the process of writing when I’m doing it, but anticipating it? It’s exhausting. I want a nap and I haven’t even started yet.
ANYWAY! I’m looking forward to writing: sassy banter and tragic boys and getting to use modern appliances like CARS and WIFI and SANDWICHES because I’ve written 230,000-words of fantasy novels this year and it’s getting a LITTLE TOUGH surviving them without WiFi.
I also have a scene specifically planned out where Sammy is discovered living in a house he does not own and GLITTER IS THROWN IN HIS FACE. So he must run away covered in glitter. Dude. That is a foolproof method for catching criminals. Follow the trail.
7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
- It basically takes place in THE HOUSE which is half renovated because Max’s father is a builder and why complete a job if you can leave walls half open for kids to put trampolines under and jump out of?
- It will be covered in preschool macaroni art projects and glitter attacks and 2 years of unfolded washing and a huge oven so you can bake at least a million chocolate chip biscuits at once.
- It’s painted a buttery shade of peeling yellow.
8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Sammy’s goals is: FIND A FAMILY AND FEEL LIKE HE BELONGS.
Sammy’s problem with finding this goal is: STEALING A FAMILY IS NOT STRICTLY LEGAL.
9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
- His hair will get longer.
- Because that’s what happens when you don’t get a trim.
- And also hopefully he’ll learn to stop running away from people who confront him about That Dark Violent Thing He Did In His Past.
- He might get a family.
- HE MIGHT NOT.
- It honestly depends on how mean I am at the time.
10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Themes are: (A) being lost even when you have people, (B) running away from problems is a no go Joe and (C) violence is not the answer but throwing glitter in your enemies face is.
AND DANG IT I WILL MAKE THIS BOOK 80% HAPPY IF IT KILLS ME AND IT MOST LIKELY WILL SO IT WON’T BE HAPPY ANYMORE BUT I AM DETERMINED TO WRITE A HAPPY BOOK!!! DETERMINED!! ARGH.
OKAY FULL DISCLOSURE: I have an open ending. A REALLY OPEN ENDING. You will never entirely know what’s going to happen to Sammy after I type the ominous words of “THE END” and you will hate me for it, and most likely come after me with small blue pickaxes and shake them ominously while yelling for an epilogue. But I will not give in. My goals as an author are (A) to cause suffering, and (B) to make you ask questions, and (C) to make you immediately go out and cook whatever dish I’m harping on about in the novel. This time it’s PIZZA. Good luck to you and me both.
This is an unusual book for me, BUT I’M STILL EXCITED.
I’ll likely tweet snippets so make sure you’re stalking me on twitter. And I’ll likely be done in 3 days because I’m awful like that.
COME HITHER TO ME, NANO, LET’S DO THIS.