I had my best sales day ever for Charlotte Powers today; three copies sold! (Yes, all right, stop snickering, for me this is a big deal.) No idea why, but I suspect it might be that it’s in the top ten for Kindle / Superhero Graphic Novels (there’s no booky-book superhero category, I just hope no one minds me putting my book in with the comics). Apparently people actually do look at some of those lists. For a while today I was getting a sale for every thousand words I wrote on the sequel, which was fun, although that stopped after three thousand words (five thousand words total written today, I’m slowly gaining speed again as I recover from this irritating cold) (my productivity is also directly linked to my daughters’ health; they’re both recovering from sickness at the moment). Charlotte Powers is my biggest seller this month, although that’s not saying much.
Anyway, Charlotte Powers 2 is going well. It’s the most ‘gimmicky’ thing I’ve every written, I muck around with tense changes quite a bit but it’s not to be experimental or edgy or anything, I really do need some parts to be in present tense and others in past. That’s what best serves the story I’m telling. Hopefully readers will go along with me on that, there’s ample justification in-story but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be accused of trying to be clever/cute/experimental-for-the-sake-of-it on this one. Oh well. I’m happy with the way I’ve done things, which I guess is all that really matters when you get right down to it, if it works for me than hopefully it’ll work for other people too, and even if it doesn’t … well they can read someone else’s book, I don’t know. The only other way I could do what I need to do would be to write the whole thing in my usual third-person limited style, but I like the diary format for Charlotte Powers, I think it’d feel too weird going third-person with her. Besides, aside from anything else it’s just fun to write a superhero’s diary. It’s also necessary for some stuff later on–in fact, the third book wouldn’t work at all in third-person limited. Well all right it MIGHT, but it’ll be much more effective to do it in first person past/present diary format. Aside from actual first drafting I’ve been doing a lot of research and background stuff lately, it’s amazing how much research a superhero novel requires, mostly practical physics and that sort of stuff. Some of the things I need to know are astonishingly difficult to find information about, there should be a Mythbusters-style TV show exploring the plausibility of various superpowers. I know I can make my own rules up and as soon as you say ‘superheroes’ most people instantly assume a level of suspension of disbelief that allows you (as a writer) a lot of ‘give’, but I still like even the fantastic elements of my stories to be anchored in reality. Things don’t have to be real or even realistic, but they do have to feel true.
Actually, speaking of that, something I’ve noticed in recent reviews of Miya Black is comments about how unrealistic it is to have a fourteen year-old girl fighting adults and doing all right for herself. To an extent I agree, but I think this is a key element of ‘whether or not you’ll enjoy this series’: does the slightly implausible concept of a young, petite girl fighting effectively against adult men (and women) make you roll your eyes, or does it make you go ‘oh, yay!’. Because it makes ME go ‘oh, yay!’. It’s easy for me to suspend disbelief if that allows me to enjoy stories about girls kicking arse. (Also Miya’s only really good with a sword, pretty much every time she goes hand-to-hand with anyone even remotely competent they wipe the floor with her.) Speaking of Miya Black I really should release book three sometime soon, I keep putting it off because I wrote it so long ago that (to be completely honest) it’s not up to the level of my more recent output. But I need to get book three out to be able to release book four, and book four leads to book five–more than any of my other series, I think the Miya Black books show my progress as a writer. The first one’s very loose and not particularly sound structurally, then the second one shows a little improvement and I think in terms of pacing it’s really good, and the third one is … indulgent, I guess the word would be, it could’ve been a much tighter novel but at the time I just had so very many ideas–I scrapped far more than I included but even so, when I look at it now I can see clearly what I should have done to better serve the story, but oh well. Changes now would only mean more work, and I think it’s better just to give it a final proof and release it as it is, imperfections and all. Then I can move on to the fourth one, which is good, and then the fifth one is kind of … I’m really proud of the fifth one. The fourth one too, it’s got some great moments, but the fifth one is … it’s pretty cool. I worked really hard on it, probably the hardest I’ve ever worked on a book. There’s a great fight scene in it, too, perhaps my favourite of all the many fight scenes I’ve ever written.
Back to Charlotte Powers, I’ve done a lot of work on backstory lately (very little of which shows up in the book but whenever I make a reference to Something That Happened I feel compelled to explore it in at least a little depth, and my list of supers is growing bigger by the day), as well as the ‘myth arc’ of the series. Six books, at this point, and I don’t really see that changing unless something drastic happens. Power Play will be the most ‘sprawling’ of the books, encompassing a lot of different characters and showing a little of the world Charlotte lives in, some of its problems, and of course her efforts in trying to figure out just what the heck those pesky supervillains are actually up to. This means it’s the most difficult to write from a structural viewpoint (there’s a lot to say and balancing between showing all these neat ideas and keeping the story flowing can be tricky), but also a lot of fun. Effectively conveying action scenes in a diary format is a challenge too, but again, it’s fun.