*lights a campfire and hands you a marshmallow*
Howdy partner… I mean… ehm, welcome to my blog. We’re not in the Weird West, I know, but I’m going with a theme here.
So, the Coyote books are coming out… and as usual I HAZ EXCITEMENT!! (and a teeny tiny bit of stress, that comes with me making things complicated, but more on that later)
Many of you are already familiar with Coyote, because quite a few people have bought the novella. (If you haven’t, don’t buy it now, unless you’re keen on getting something that will be out of print soon… again, more on that later)
With each book I write, the Coyote-verse expands and becomes more a part of me. I love playing around with the different genres within the setting. A little bit of magic mixed with a lot of strange technology, how can this not be fun?
Coyote came to life many moons ago *cough* when I was a young lass in my early twenties. My friends and I wanted to play a game called “Deadlands” and I created Coyote as my character. In hindsight I think I was very much influenced by the image of Drew Barrymore in ‘Bad Girls’, but I don’t think I was conscious of that at the time. Only when I watched the movie again years later did I have an “Light Bulb” moment.
Coyote was an enjoyable character to play. Aside from her personality, I don’t actually remember much about her, I can’t even remember what background I attributed to her. She didn’t actually become ‘Charlotte Webb’ until I wrote the novella. (Yes it’s my little nod to the novel, whether you like it or not, I really love the name)
I made a few drawings of her around that time, maybe even a few years later, and posted those on my amateur artist page on Elfwood. People really took a liking to Coyote, there’s something extremely fun and sassy about her, and a lot of other artists asked me if they could draw her too. I love Coyote ‘fan-art’ so naturally I encouraged it.
From the very beginning knew I wanted to write a story about this character, and in 2012 I decided it was the right time. I was going to write a short story for an anthology. The theme was science fiction, and I had some great ideas for Coyote.
However, the story wouldn’t be told in under 4000 words, and I ended up with a novella instead. Now I’ve rewritten that novella and turned it into a novel, because that would suit the series better.
I made some very conscious decisions when writing the Coyote-verse. Even though I had no idea what Steampunk was when I started, I knew I wanted to mix realism with magic and technology. At the same time I tried to paint an almost stereotypical picture of the wild west. Yet at the same time I wanted to surprise the reader by adding hidden meaning to the setting. My goal is to bring the unexpected within the expected.
Maybe I succeed, maybe I don’t… that’s up to the reader.
Though the setting is weird west, I don’t think it rules the stories. I believe that Coyote is accessible for all types of readers, not only those who like Cowboys and Indians, so to speak. I wrote the setting around the story, not the other way around, and the books are very character driven.
One of the most challenging characters for me was (and still is) writing Caesar. He started off as a sidekick but is growing into much more than that. I wanted an underdog, so I chose a former slave. Since I’ve never been a slave, black, or a man, I’ve had to write his character completely from empathy. It was important to me that Caesar was a contrast to Coyote, so where she was loud and very present, I wanted him to be calm, quiet, and almost invisible. I decided that being born into slavery probably didn’t do his self image too much good, but I didn’t want him to be a victim either, so I gave him an inner strength. To me, he’s one of the most beautiful and complex characters in the series, and I can’t wait to see how people respond to his
Writing Coyote is easy. I tap into the life-loving, brazen part of my personality and just go with it. I was extremely sad when the novella first came out and someone said “Oh I’m so over the ‘tough chick’, it’s been done.” Personally I like to think Coyote is more than that. She’s tough, true, but she’s flawed too. I wanted to write a character that girls could look up to, without making her ridiculously perfect. She’s a person, not a superhero.
In the Clockwork Dragonfly I touch upon the ‘larger plot’ that will be spread out over several books. I plan to write at least five, but who knows, if they become a success, and I have more stories to tell, I’ll write more. I don’t want the series to be watered down and uninspired, so unless I have a lot of ideas, I won’t write more than five.
This year, after I had written the Clockwork Dragonfly, I decided to rewrite Coyote: The Outlander. This has made the whole publishing part a little trickier, and I won’t lie… it’s made me go bug-eyed with stress a few times.
Why did I do this? Well, initially because I was considering selling the series to a slightly larger press, but they only accepted full length novels. I really want to get these books in the actual shops and on the shelves, so if someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, I shall take it.
It did trigger something in me, and I decided I didn’t like the idea of this series starting out with a novella. My OCD determined that the series should consist of books that are roughly the same length.
I had to rebrand ‘Coyote: The Outlander’ anyway. The artist who made the beautiful cover decided tofocus on other elements in his life, rather than his art, and I needed covers that all fitted together.
Luckily the wonderful Paul Chapman wanted to help me out. This would be the perfect opportunity to change the first book, and turn it into a novel. I’m keeping the name, because it fits.
If I’m completely honest, this wasn’t as easy as I thought. I didn’t want to destroy the story of the first book, and I didn’t want to add ‘forced bits’. The sequel was already written, so I had to keep that in mind too. Plus that I’m a chronological thinker, so in my heart I was already writing book 3. Suddenly I was back in time, and I had to keep in mind that certain things had not happened yet. It was a real struggle, but at the same time, I got to give the world more color, and I loved it. My biggest regret had always been not doing more with Caesar and Tokala in the first book, and now I got to add little bits of information. I even managed to write Jim McLeod –my Scottish friend, who I promised to give a cameo in all my series—into this book.
It felt very gratifying.
So now the book is more than twice as long. There is still a lot of the old book in there, but even those parts have been rewritten and re-edited. I think it’s a better book for it. But that’s just my humble opinion.
There was another ‘snag’ in this whole ‘rebranding’ idea.
Boy, this part is giving me ulcers. I can’t even tell you. First of all, the date for the Clockwork Dragonfly has been set. December 12th 2014. The book is near ready, so we plan to go ahead with publishing it. Advanced Readers Copies have been handed out, and the book party is planned.
But… the Clockwork Dragonfly is a sequel. It was written after the first version, so it doesn’t need the ‘new’ Outlander, I don’t want to urge people to buy the novella (DON’T!! wait for the new book) This makes it more difficult, because I of course want people to buy the Clockwork Dragonfly when it comes out, and not wait. I’m aware of how unhandy this all is.
I have been working my derriere off to get the Outlander out in time with the Clockwork Dragonfly, but I don’t think we can make it. Hopefully it will be out the week after.
Another thing that bothered me was that people who bought the novella now will be missing out on the new content in the new novel. We considered putting them up under the same ISBN, but we’re not allowed to, the book is too different.
Tip My Hat is going to come up with a nice giveaway to accommodate those who brought the novella, and would like to read the full novel. I don’t know what yet, but I’m sure there will be an announcement soon.
So, it’s been a complicated journey with the Coyote series, but hopefully it’s going to be smoother sailing from here. Next year I’ll write the third book “Coyote: The Rip Walker.” I can’t wait to get started on that one. I really do love this series, and I hope the readers will too.
For now I still need to find the target audience for Weird West / Steampunk books. I know Coyote has a few loyal readers… and if you are one of them, I would like to thank you for your support.