I've started walking down this so-called tunnel, blasting off on Chapter 1 on Sunday night and completing Chapter 3 on Tuesday. I'm about 10,000 words in, and so far the story building feels a bit slow. Part of that is because I am trying to make it clear what Delia's history is; she has an entire book behind her now, and a lot of that stuff was very important in making her who she was and motivating her in the present. But I don't want to as-you-know-Bob it and I don't want to spend the first three chapters feeling like I'm scene-setting, so I've been following Delia around as she's in limbo. She's waiting for a letter from the king, and her future depends on his answer.
I relate to that a bit now, considering the first book of this series is on submission to publishers and how they answer will control my future. But let's not make this about me. (She says, on her personal blog.)
Writing Teenage Delia is interesting. Child Delia from Book 1 did not often present with youthful innocence, but she did have an inexperienced quality about her--a naïveté that helped readers understand her world through her discovery of it. Her drive for excellence in her fairy school surfaced early, and her idealism was not particularly tempered by her shallow wisdom. Not achieving her dreams sometimes involved tantrums. She sometimes took out her frustration on people close to her (though not in dangerous ways). And she learned a very hard lesson: Sometimes when you're the best at what you do, you still can't win.
So now, Teenage Delia is waiting for her opportunity to come to her, and in the meantime her mother is growing frustrated with her daughter's reclusive nature. Delia's mom wants her to do something productive in the meantime, but Delia's pride prevents her from accepting magickal work that she considers beneath her. (A fairy valedictorian's got to have standards! Right?) She's far more interested in independent study than in being social or getting involved, and as this book begins, she's definitely got the teenage sulk completely mastered.
|That's my girl. Haha.|
But the not-so-irrelevant stuff involves Delia struggling with conceptualizing herself as an adult; sure, most teenagers go through this, but she's lived a strange dichotomy all her life, being a child prodigy and achieving some adult rites of passage long before her time, while still being emotionally and physically immature. She has a certain attachment to that wunderkind identity, and now that her adult life is on the horizon, she's disappointed at not accomplishing everything she wanted while she was still a child. She hates the idea of being a woman right now. She's fighting it a lot.
And the other not-so-irrelevant thing that's cropped up is Delia establishing some perspectives on her human heritage. She's classified as a fairy by society because she did inherit magick from her mother, but she's half human, and this is a huge part of who she is that she's never explored; she was raised as a fairy by a fairy, and has no idea what "human" even means (except that people usually assume she is one because her physical appearance is almost entirely humanlike).
Now she's encountering humans more often, and her conception of humans as the have-nots of the world is taking a huge hit. Fairies have weaknesses she's rarely noticed because she lives in a society that circumvents them. Getting a job in a human part of town results in instance after instance of Delia discovering the down sides to her fairy heritage--and it's not just that people think she's a weirdo or that people sometimes fear magick-users, though she gets to see that too. This whole thing is really interesting to me after an entire book taking place within fairy culture. I hope it's interesting to my readers too.
Anyway, that's where I am now. In closing I'll just share a few quotes from the WIP that I particularly like.
An exchange immediately after Delia's mother makes her do chores and she's clomping around in her boots:
“Try not to do it so cheerfully, Delia,” called my mother in response to my stomping.
“I love you, Mom!” I chirped, pushing both index fingers into my cheeks to simulate the dimples I didn’t have.
Mother and daughter sparring again when Delia tries to go in the backyard in her petticoat:
“Can you at least put something decent on before you go outside?”
“Or what, the cow will be offended?”
Delia choosing an outfit, because she's basically the fairy version of a goth girl:
All in black, of course. Mother hated when I wore black. So she generally hated when I wore clothes.Delia being uncomfortable when her mother gave her a compliment:
She truly believed I was beautiful—after all, I was hers, and for all my attachment to long hair and black clothes and unfairylike behavior I was still an exquisite miracle to her—but I knew the truth. I wasn’t beautiful. Fairies thought I looked suspiciously human, and humans thought there was something peculiar about me.
They were both right.
Delia and her mother having a conversation in the marketplace:
“I’m going to punch Beatrice in the face.”(For the record, Delia would not actually punch Beatrice in the face. Beatrice, however, has punched Delia in the face before. When Beatrice was twelve and Delia was eight.)
“And what good would that do?”
Dialogue, presented uncommented:
“I shall meet you at the entrance in an hour, Delia,” my mother said, drawing my attention away from bad dreams and violence.
. . . All righty then.
Delia on transition to adulthood:
I wanted to be a little girl again.
Being an adult contained enough pain and disappointment for the blood that came with it to seem perfectly natural.
An unsympathetic co-worker reacts to one of Delia's rare vulnerable moments:
“Just save those tears to salt the meat once you're done crying about it.”
When Delia explains that she can't breathe properly in a smoky tavern because of fairies' oversensitivity to "impurities," she and a co-worker have this conversation:
“Guess that means you’d also be easy to beat in a drinking contest?”
“It wouldn’t be a contest.”
When Delia tries to explain the difference between illusion magick and transfiguration magick and her co-worker complains that it's too complicated:
“I went to circle for six years. Fairy education isn’t just a bunch of wand-waving and sparkles.”
The last line in the last chapter I have completed:
It was just a fact of my life that people tended to start fights with me. I couldn't help it if I tended to react by finishing them.