– In other news, Howard Payne once more dons a suit and gets back to work
In the beginning stages of writing a novel, I just ponder the possibilities. Hundreds of potential scenes play out in my head as I’m driving to and from work and as they fade away and I hit the computer at home, I write out some of them, plot along the path they are leading me, and usually delete them. I keep some of the good ideas for later but the process is sort of like watching a tree grow at light speed. Or maybe it’s lightning, branching out all over the sky until it touches something solid and connects. Whatever metaphor works for you, I’m good with it.
As I am doing this I am researching the locations and the languages and the history of the locations and the background of the characters. For Envy.Exe I didn’t have to stretch too far for the resource materials because I had lived in Puerto Rico for five years and I actually do know how to make lace on a mundillo and I am married to the ultimate resource on flying and smuggling. So. That was pure writing with only a few pauses to check locations and facts. What I describe of the medical system there? I lived that. As I wrote about it I debated civilizing the scenes with more Western, modern “American” veneers, because I suspect many people will read it and think it’s BS. It’s not. I decided to tell the full unvarnished truth and follow the less-is-more path and take the hit.
But this book … at first I debated glossing over the Haiti elements. I know, work, and hang out with many people born and raised in Haiti. But I never ask them about the island. I had one random converstation in — I think it was on Provo in the Turks and Caicos. I met a guy on the docks who spoke French, so I answered back in French. But in less than a minute I realized he wasn’t speaking French, it was the Caribbean version of French called Creole. In French you say “How are you”, in Creole it’s “How you be?” Comment êtes-vous? vs Kijan ou ye?
We compared islands. I told him how, many Cuban families have their family treasures buried on their former properties and hope to buy back their homes and reclaim their family heirlooms “when Castro falls”. He said every Haitian dreams of digging up treasure hidden under a tree. At the time I knew nothing of Haiti, but now that I’ve researched it a little and found out that they have destroyed all the trees in Haiti, I remember that conversation and wonder if they were desperately digging for that treasure as they stripped the land to turn the trees into charcoal.
As I dig deeper into the subject, a book takes shape. Some of the ideas I had originally for it fall away and new ones slip into the framework.