The first draft of The Young City was completed at 11:17 am on Thursday, September 4, 2003, in the Dana Porter library at the University of Waterloo, just over eighteen months since I started the story, back in March 2002. The story passed the 50,000 word mark a couple of days beforehand and now sits at 53,297 words.
I consider The Young City to be more of a detailed framework than a story at this point. I will have to revisit things to install a lot of proper historical details, change elements that don’t work, and make sure the characterizations are all consistent. However, I am pleased with how Peter and Rosemary’s relationship has developed throughout the story. Here, we see the two really mature as an adult couple, working over the turbulence any two individuals have when they try to live together and build a life together for the first time. And it comes back to this point at the end, with Rosemary’s realization that she has to go back for Peter a strong emotional climax for the story.
Faith was the story’s biggest surprise, and she is now one of my favourite characters. Keep in mind that she originally wasn’t to appear at all in this story, and was an anonymous source of clothing for Rosemary. But when I realized that 1884 was the first year that women could vote in Toronto, and Ms. Stowe and Ms. Trout had just set up a medical college, Faith just stepped off the sidelines and demanded a place in the story — almost to the point where the other characters faded in comparison.
Faith might even get, someday, a book series of her own. The character is just too good to set aside. Consider her story: a woman with a strong social conscience, struggling through medical school, fighting poverty and the sexist attitudes of the men around her. I can picture a story where she has to choose between being the family physician of a rich house (whose favourite son is a romantic interest) and opening up a free practice in the slums of Corktown. Perhaps the son could pay a visit to her practise, to try and convince her to reconsider, and she orders him out…
“Well, before I go,” said Michael. “Perhaps you could examine me. I seem to have this odd cough in my chest.” And, to illustrate, he gave a few pale imitations.
“All right,” said Faith, folding her arms. “Take off all your clothes.”
He stared at her. “What?”
“Remove your clothes,” she repeated, glaring. “If I am to examine you, you will remove your clothes.” Her mouth quirked. “You could always find another doctor’s office.”
A smile crossed Michael’s face. “All right.” He stood up, slipped off his jacket.
Faith stumbled back. “What are you doing?”
“Taking off my clothes,” said Michael, unbuttoning his shirt. “If you are to examine me, I should do what you say.”
“I — I — I” stammered Faith.
Peter and Rosemary recovered from Faith’s presence, and Rosemary especially worked very well with her, but Edmund was harder to fix. Eventually he came back when I gave him an inventor’s streak and heightened the tragic nature of his character. In a Faith series, however, he’d have less of a presence — except maybe to blow up testing sheds.
I’ve started making edits to The Young City and should have a workable draft ready shortly. I’ll need some beta readers to look over the story and help me into the next phase. Any takers?
Now that the major work is done with The Young City, it’s time to return to The Night Girl. I’ve decided to ditch the lensless glasses that Perpetua wore in the first chapter. With that in mind, I’ll probably follow Erin’s advice; she now has Perpetua Viktoria Collins firmly set in her mind as this woman.
I have ideas for chapter two, introducing us to Perpetua’s mother, and starting her first day at work. I’m going to have to revisit elements in chapter one, however.
I’m struggling, at present, with deciding how much to tell Perpetua and how soon. My mother is right in that we can get more comedic tension if we delayed the revelation that Perpetua is working for goblins by at least a few pages, but I’m not yet sure how to do that. Although Earthenhouse has plenty of incentive to ease her into the goblin world, there is not a lot that Perpetua can see without twigging onto how out of her depth she is. Earthenhouse’s clients all show up on midnight, so Perpetua’s first day will comprise of four hours of quiet work, and four hours of mayhem. And she’ll meet Chim and Chum (the twin coffee-addicted gargoyles) and Howard the Troll. Chapter two will have to be the point that she’ll know she’s working for goblins, but how can I avoid telling her that in chapter one, when she sees Earthenhouse, and signs a goblin contract with spit. And I want to get Scooter (her intelligent ergonomic chair) introduced shortly.
Ah, well. I ran into similar questions working on The Young City. I’m sure I’ll cope.
The following scene takes place after the climax. Peter, Rosemary, Edmund and Faith have returned to the shop, had baths, and long sleeps. Peter, dreaming about the river, again, acts on a hunch, goes to the construction site, and see that the Taddle was completely buried the day before, and Tom Proctor, his foreman, has mysteriously disappeared. He returns to give the news to Rosemary.
Peter strode back from the construction site, his fingers twitching and rubbing together. What was he going to tell Rosemary? Too fast, he found himself at the gate to the store’s back yard. He hesitated, then taking a deep breath, he walked in.
“You are up early, Peter,” said Faith, setting a pot of water on the stove.
“Yeah.” He flashed her a grin as he glanced around the kitchen. “Is Rosemary down yet?”
“She is just getting ready.”
“Good. I need to talk to her.”
Faith didn’t ask him why. He strode up the stairs.
He found Rosemary dressed, sitting at the foot of the bed, pulling on her boots. She grunted when she saw him. “Faith tells me that the boots are supposed to be one fo the first things you put on. I never remember that.”
“Rosemary—” His throat went dry. Then he knelt before her and took her hand as she stared at him. “I-I’ve got some bad news.”
Her eyes widened.
He took a deep breath. “They’ve finished work at the construction site. Taddle Creek has been completely buried.”
She stared at him.
He squeezed her hand. “Something tells me we can’t go home anymore,” he said gently.
She patted his hand. “I know.”
Now Rosemary took a deep breath. “When Faith and I were trapped in the sewers, we found another portal, further downstream. It took us back to the present. I got to call my mom.”
Peter jerked back. “You what?”
“I called her, and found out that we’d been missing for three months,” she continued. “The portal through Theo’s floor closed almost the minute after we fell through it. They spent weeks looking for us, and didn’t find a thing. I think the portal’s been flowing downstream. And when that weird thing happened with the water? It felt like a door being closed.”
Peter gaped at her a moment. “Rosemary, you made it back home, you talked to your mother?”
“What on Earth possessed you to come back here?”
She stared at him. Her mouth quirked up.
Peter flushed. “Oh.”
They sat a long moment, staring at the floor, the ceiling, the bedspread. Then Peter looked up and caught Rosemary’s attention with a squeeze of her hands.
“Rosemary Ella Watson,” he said deliberately. The blood rang in his ears. “Would you marry me?” He was already on one knee.
Rosemary swallowed twice. Her eyes glistened and she had to wipe her nose, but her smile took his breath away. “Yes.”
Then they embraced each other, and were late coming down for breakfast.