The Night Girl: My Fourth Novel


(With U2’s Beautiful Day playing in the background, perhaps?):

Perpetua looked around at the street and smiled. The atmosphere had taken on the air of a carnival. The automobiles slipped past at a snail’s pace. A streetcar pulled up and opened its doors.

Howard ambled up to the open streetcar doors, then stopped. His shoulders were too broad to get past the sides and the metal pole in the middle. He turned sideways, but he was too large that way as well.

Around them, amongst the staring crowds, the goblins danced on King Street.

Perpetua patted his arm. “Come on, Howard.” She guided him back to the curb. “I think today’s a day for walking, anyway.”

And, with that, the first draft of The Night Girl was finished in the Starbucks cafe of Burlington’s Indigo on Friday, June 15, 2007 at 5:43 p.m. Given that I officially started writing this novel on Monday, July 21, 2003, that’s a novel from first page to first draft in a period of just under four years. That’s a lot longer than my three books of The Unwritten Books sequence, but given that a lot of that time was spent revising and editing The Unwritten Girl and Fathom Five, it’s hardly surprising.

The initial word tally of The Night Girl clocked in at 49,800 words. It might climb over 50,000 words if new material gets added, but I expect the number will drop as I remove extraneous words and tighten passages as part of the editing process. That’s the way my other novels worked. Even so, at 49,800 words, The Night Girl is close to the longest thing I’ve written. Only The Young City challenges it. It’s a bit on the short side for fantasy novels, but I think it’s the length the story demands.

It’s not an earth-shattering tale, but I do think it’s my best so far. Ultimately, and I figured this out very late in the game, The Night Girl is a story about trust. That’s what each character wants, ultimately, and what each one has trouble giving. Perpetua was a fun character to write for; a departure from Rosemary, I’m pleased to say, and I hope that readers find her story to be both funny and thought provoking.

Now what? Now I set aside the story for about a week or more, and then return to it with an editor’s eye.

After concentrating heavily on the story of Perpetua, Fergus and Earthenhouse over the past six months (averaging 5,000 words per month!), it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment doing anything else, but there are other projects calling my name. I still have to whip The Young City into submittable shape, and if I get tired of that, there’s Mount Royal simmering on the back burner. And, of course, there’s all the work I have to do to promote Fathom Five.

So, I could use some beta readers. The story still has a long way to go before it’s in submittable shape, but if anybody is interested in reading an early draft of this tale, to give me their honest opinion on how the plot develops and how the characters interact, I want to hear from you. Drop me an e-mail and I’ll be in touch.

The picture above, incidentally, is entitled Gargoyle, by JoelPK and it is used in accordance to his Creative Commons license.

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