Guest post by A.E. Decker
The first draft of The Meddlers of Moonshine took me thirty days to write, and turned out to be over a hundred thousand words long.
Hey, there was chocolate on the line. A few writer friends and I were holding our own personal NaNoWriMo to see who could get the most words on page in a month. That was two years ago, now. At that point, I’d sent The Falling of the Moon to World Weaver Press, but hadn’t heard a definite reply. I was simply writing the next book in what would become the Moonfall Mayhem series because I knew this world had more stories to tell. And because, again, there was chocolate on the line. Which I won — you don’t get between me and chocolate.
I wish I’d saved that first draft in its entirety to see how much of it ended up in the version of Meddlers that has just been published by World Weaver Press. I remember some things that were lost, such as a strange clock tower with a spooky bell that rang whenever someone lied. (I think Catch broke it by page nine.) I also toyed with spoofing detective novels — I’m a diehard Sherlock Holmes fan — but the plot thread got too complicated and had to be snipped. I change or delete whole paragraphs when I redraft, so unlike many authors, I don’t end up with deleted scenes to treat my readers with.
So, what did remain, when I was done snipping and editing? Plenty of mystery. A spooky, run-down chateau, and a mad scientist’s—or, rather, alchemist’s—lair at the top of an old tower. A glowing black dog ripped straight from the pages of The Hound of the Baskervilles (See? I got in a Holmes reference after all!), and a ghost boy only Rags-n-Bones can see. Plus, as readers of my earlier blog might remember, Meddlers owes much to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Some authors write from one big idea. I feel more as if I collect a hundred dust motes and roll them into one great ball of ideas. The pleasure — and trouble — for me involves putting together the many diverse plot threads and making them work. I hope it’s enjoyable to read, too.
The Meddlers of Moonshine is as much Rags-n-Bones’ story as it is a continuation of Ascot’s from The Falling of the Moon. Unlike the first book, Meddlers is split between their perspectives. Getting into Rags-n-Bones’ head was surprisingly easy. He is such a sweet, earnest, straightforward person that his sections of the book, frankly, became easier to write than Ascot’s. It took me a while to figure out exactly how she was going to deal with a certain fellow clad in black leather...but you’re going to have to read the book to find out who I’m referring to.
The most difficult part was getting the title right. All of the titles involve “moon” somewhere, and I liked “moonshine” for Rags-n-Bones, but finding something appropriate and memorable didn’t happen until I began the second draft a year ago. (The second draft, incidentally, took far longer than thirty days to complete!) I wish I recalled the “aha!” moment when I came up with “Meddlers,” but it’s gone from my memory. However it happened, once I had the title, and the idea of the secret, titular group, all the plot threads began knotting themselves together — leaving just enough dangling to pull you into the next book, of course.
The next book? Yes, while you’re (hopefully) snuggling up with a cat, a cup of cocoa, and a copy of The Meddlers of Moonshine, I’m busy at work on book three, Into the Moonless Night. This one will feature Catch as co-protagonist, and all I can tell you at this stage is that his mind is a lot twistier than Rags-n-Bones’. Into the Moonless Night will spoof Tolkien, The Hunger Games, and the whole “chosen one” trope as Ascot and company travel into the dark heart of the Clawcrag mountain range to confront the return of a prophesied evil.
Of course, nothing will go as expected. It wouldn’t be amusing if it did, would it? I hope you’ll be eager to continue Ascot’s journey Into the Moonless Night. By the time you’re reading that one, I’ll probably be working on book four! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, curl up and enjoy The Meddlers of Moonshine, set in the brisk little steampunk town of Widget, situated in Moonlight Valley. Keep an apple on hand for the local ghost.
A. E. Decker hails from Pennsylvania. A former doll-maker and ESL tutor, she earned a master’s degree in history, where she developed a love of turning old stories upside-down to see what fell out of them. This led in turn to the writing of her YA novel, The Falling of the Moon. A graduate of Odyssey 2011, her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fireside Magazine, and in World Weaver Press’s own Specter Spectacular. Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Come visit her, her cats, and her fur Daleks at wordsmeetworld.com.
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