In honor of Valentine’s day, I thought it would be fun to create a fake dating profile for Daphne. This ended up being way more involved than I originally imagined and I might go back and edit this at a later date (it’d be awesome if I could somehow get artwork for a profile pic at some point) but for now, enjoy!
I thought it might be fun to post a short random quote from what I’ve written of the novel so far with zero context. I determined this quote using a random number generator to decide what page and paragraph to pick from. I’d like to say I got this on the first try but I had to go through a lot of “he nodded” and “she shrugged” and long rambling possibly spoiler-y paragraphs before I found one that was short and worked well enough out of context. If I decide to do this again later I’ll have to figure out a better system. But for now, from page 28 paragraph/line 4:
“Do I get mauled to death by a werewolf or something?” Hannah joked.
The Demon of New Salem opens on Daphne Pendragon struggling to put her life back together a year after a devastating loss shattered it like glass. When we meet her, Daphne has already had enough adventures to fill a whole series of novels, but it is here, picking up the pieces, trying to rebuild what’s left of her life, making the decision to return to New Salem after ten years of exile, where Daphne’s story really begins. Still, all those untold adventures are a huge part of Daphne and good, bad, or so ugly they need to be buried so deep they’ll never see the light of day, these stories make Daphne who she is and they all (or at least some of them) deserve to be told. And because Daphne keeps her past locked up as tight as she possibly can (not to mention the fact that her telling these stories to another character would be clumsy and impractical from a writing standpoint) the only way these stories will (probably) get told is through flashbacks.
Originally, I was going to insert flashbacks where they were needed and in no particular order. Truth be told, this probably would’ve been easier to write—albeit messier and perhaps even confusing to read. Instead, after much internal debate, I’ve decided to use flashbacks to tell a second, cohesive story that will run parallel to Daphne’s present. This is hardly a new or original idea but it is definitely how I should’ve been using flashbacks from the start. Initially, however, I didn’t want the flashbacks to play such a huge role in the story, I wanted them to slowly reveal some of Daphne’s past in pieces and then move on. In some ways, this might’ve worked better—at least, the original flashbacks I’d already written were put in in response to certain triggers in the main story and in at least one instance I referred back to a flashback in a later unrelated scene and now that the flashbacks are being rewritten certain questions answered in the original flashbacks will have to be left for later books (yes, this is hopefully going to be a series but I refuse to think too hard about that at least until I get book one written) and certain present scenes will probably have to be re-worked to fit the new flashbacks. Sometimes writing is a straight line… and sometimes you get messes like this. Oh well. It’s a good thing I love it.
Then, of course, there’s the problem of needing a cohesive story to tell through flashbacks that works with—and runs parallel to—the main storyline. It took a lot of contemplation and deliberation but, in the end, the answer was actually pretty obvious. If The Demon of New Salem is about Daphne trying to rebuild her life, what better secondary story to tell than the story of how it fell apart? Through flashbacks, you’ll see Daphne’s last AEGIS (secret vigilante organization, possibly more on that in a later post) mission before everything falls apart. It’s a storyline that, though I didn’t plan it, connects with the main story arc in a critical way. Funny how that happens sometimes.
Happy New Year! Do you guys have any resolutions for the New Year? My New Years resolution is definitely to post more regularly and to be more diligent in writing The Demon of New Salem. On that note, welcome to the first Town Line Tuesday of 2018! For this first post in the New Year I thought I’d share with you my work-in-progress summary of The Demon of New Salem. Hope you enjoy.
I spent a while trying to figure out what I should talk about in this week’s Town Line Tuesday (shh it’s still Tuesday on the West Coast, it counts). As the first official post in the series, I needed it to introduce this project to you in a way that would hopefully reel you in and keep you coming back every week for more and, in turn, help me stay motivated to write this novel. In that vein, I thought about starting off the series with a summary of the novel… but then it came to me, where better to begin Town Line Tuesdays than where The Demon of New Salem began. Usually when I set about writing a new story I start with a concept, something that sets up the world I’m creating and drives the plot. However, in the case of The Demon of New Salem, I instead began with a singular character. So that’s where we’ll start, with Daphne Pendragon.
Part 1: Powers
With bright purple eyes and the rather unsettling ability to read people’s souls—everything that defines who they are: their past, their personality their secrets, and occasionally a limited glimpse at their future—through touch, Daphne Pendragon has never had the luxury of believing she’s normal. And yet growing up in a town where any sort of supernatural ability is outlawed hardly affords one the ability to believe she might be special either. To Daphne, her gift—or curse as she sometimes prefers to call it—is something that just kind of is what it is, there is no training to make it stronger or learning how to control it so it doesn’t run her life, at most she can suppress it underneath gloves so it’s not constantly bombarding her senses. So Daphne’s story, unlike many super-powered protagonists’, is not about learning how to use or control her powers, whether to act as some sort of chosen one to defeat a great evil or not (Not. Definitely not. Daphne would laugh in anyone’s face if they tried to tell her she was a chosen one). By the start of the novel Daphne is well-traveled and has already seen and experienced a lot in the way of the strange and supernatural and due to the nature of her powers she knows people, their ins and outs, the good and the bad, something that simultaneously makes it easier and more difficult for her to connect with them—easier for her to know who to trust, harder for people to like or trust her—so she tends to know more than the typical protagonist. Where she is blind, however, is herself. She knows how to use her powers but she doesn’t know where they come from. She’s met a lot of Supernaturals but never in her travels has she come across anyone else like her. She can sometimes see people’s futures but try as she might she can’t quite…. Well what’s the point in having these powers if she can’t save anyone? Daphne’s story is about trying to find out what she is and what her place in the world is. Daphne’s story then, like anyone’s, is ultimately who am I?
When I was working on creating Daphne and her powers, I wanted to give her a magical gift that would be simultaneously powerful and almost useless. What I mean is, I didn’t want to give her a traditionally useful gift like telekinesis or spell casting. Anyone can use moving objects with your mind or creating something out of nothing as a weapon, I wanted something that wouldn’t necessarily be useful in a fight but that, in certain hands could still be considered dangerous. In other words, I wanted an inactive power. At the same time, traditional telepathy and precognition are both overused and potentially overpowered—if a character can hear another’s thoughts a lot of obstacles in the plot could be too easily avoided and it’s the same with seeing the future. So in order to create something unique and to avoid the problems of overpowering my protagonist (although admittedly the latter is one I struggle with a bit, I am constantly tweaking Daphne’s power and making sure it works in a uniform, limited way) I began with basic telepathy.
I loved the idea of a power that was knowledge-based rather than strength-based so telepathy seemed a good place to start. But, like I said, reading minds is hardly unique, so I thought about what, besides the brain, Daphne could “read.” What I came up with was, of course, the soul. Reading thoughts is all well and good but anything you found there would be based purely on opinion—when you read someone’s thoughts you’re seeing how they see the world, or, more interestingly, themselves, you’re not seeing how the world or the person whose thoughts you’re reading actually are—but if you read a person’s soul, their very essence so to speak, you see them as they really are for better or for worse. Of course, while more rare than telepathy, soul reading isn’t entirely unique either; I needed something that would make this power uniquely Daphne’s.
In television, when a person with telepathy or precognition’s power is presented, it’s more often than not presented as a visual sense—something the character sees if not exactly with their eyes. Daphne’s gift, however, is a tactile one. Rather than seeing into a person’s soul, Daphne feels it through her sense of touch and I use tactile descriptions to illustrate her power throughout the novel. As an added bonus, being limited to skin-to-skin contact for the power to work helps to keep Daphne from becoming overpowered. Another way in which I keep Daphne limited is that Daphne’s power has a major blind spot. Herself. Daphne can’t read herself in anyone else’s soul: she can’t see how her presence in someone’s life affects his or her life; she can’t see her own future; she can’t see whether the person whose soul she is reading loves her or hates her; and if her life is too tangled with someone else’s in places, she may not be able to get a full reading of them. As I said before, I’m still working out the kinks in Daphne’s abilities as I write but I truly enjoy doing so and I’m really proud of what I’ve managed to work out so far.
One of the reasons I love working with Daphne’s power is that I believe I can use it to create some really interesting relationship dynamics between Daphne and other people. After all, if you know someone inside and out at first handshake there is immediately going to be an imbalance of emotional connection between you and them. I wonder what it must feel like to instantly fall in real, honest love based on knowing someone better than you know yourself with someone to whom you are a complete and total stranger.
“This is a really bad idea,” she says to herself, standing before the sign that marks the town line.
Welcome to the first-ever Town Line Tuesday! What’s that you ask? As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing a novel. My first novel in fact. Like many young writers (at least I assume I’m not alone in this), I’ve got a slew of half-started works on my laptop hard drive dating back to my teenage years that for one reason or another (weird half-formed ideas, overly complex plots, plots that are too simplistic, boring characters, etc.) have been abandoned and left to gather dust. The Demon of New Salem, as I’ve tentatively dubbed this project, is different not only because I’ve grown since my first stumbling attempts at writing but also because it haunts me in a way that the others didn’t. This story completely took over my entire college career to the point where I developed a serious case of writer’s block for anything that didn’t involve my main character. Daphne Pendragon, the aforementioned protagonist, is a ghost that follows me wherever I go, simultaneously a comforting presence and an annoying one. I can’t watch TV or read a book without thinking about how Daphne would interact with the characters, when I come across problems in my daily life I often wonder how she would handle them, she’s a constant reminder of this thing I’ve set out to do. All that being said, those previous abandoned attempts taunt me, tell me I’ll forget about Daphne just like I’ve forgotten them. So, to answer your question, Town Line Tuesdays are going to be a place for me to discuss The Demon of New Salem and, hopefully, hold me accountable to actually finishing this novel.
I’ve decided to call this series of posts Town Line Tuesdays because in The Demon of New Salem, the town line that surrounds the fictional town of New Salem, Oregon plays a critical role in the story (plus, you know, alliterations are fun). New Salem’s town line defines the town in more than just the literal it-defines-the-physical-shape-of-the-town sense. It is the mysterious and magical boundary that separates New Salem, a supposed haven for Humankind from the rest of the world where Supernaturals–creatures such as vampires, werewolves, fairies, demons and angels–run rampant as the denizens of New Salem would put it. The town line makes New Salem what it is, it is the town’s very backbone though its origins and the whys and hows of how it works are shrouded in mystery. For Daphne, who is neither human nor entirely supernatural but something in-between, the town line is where she must make a choice: turn around and return to the life she’s built for herself–an admittedly tenuous and unstable one but a free one nonetheless–or cross over the line and face the town that raised her, built her, and ultimately exiled her and maybe find the closure she needs to finally stop running
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to do this kind of post, terrified of putting my ideas out there and no idea of what I would even talk about here if I did. Like Daphne, I stand at the town line, safety behind me and the unknown before me and–like Daphne– despite the illusion of choice I’m left with only one thing to do: cross over. I still don’t know exactly what will be discussed in these posts, maybe some small excerpts, maybe some character insights, maybe some world building, probably some discussion about my process, the obstacles I come across and how I get through them (writer’s block sucks y’all), but I’m excited (and scared as all hell) to invite you on this journey with me.