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January 2008 Review

Writing News

Although I should be working on “The Return of the Sixpack,” I have done very little over the holidays after completing the cover. I want to make a couple of changes, but I am conscious that these changes will be fixed once the book is published, and so I want to be sure that I get them right before I go on. The changes are only subtle ones to bring the story and characterisations in line with the previous books. In particular I want to get the character of Chen-Soo right. Although she is first introduced here, she features most strongly in “The Tale of the Comet,” and so any changes I make in “Sixpack” will have a knock on effect in “Comet” later on. One of the things that I have got bogged down on is whether to make her more of a villain than a hero. At the moment Chen-Soo is very much a sympathetic character with good intentions. She is definitely a “white hat” rather than a “black hat” in the cowboy film tradition, if you know what I mean. This was how I originally saw her when I wrote “The Tale of the Comet.” However, that was before “The Friendly Ambassador,” during which some very interesting, but what could only be considered to be “grey hat,” female characters emerged. I liked that mixture of good and bad. They were not clear cut heros, and yet they were very sympathetic characters that you could care about and be sad for if they met a sticky end. I want Chen-Soo to be more like that, but the environment she is in does not provide for the same background. For Tai-Gil and Ann-Ra in “The Friendly Ambassador,” the war background gives them the ability to be warlike and aggressive. They are soldiers, killers, and are seen to kill, and there are some unsavoury moments when they are first encountered. But their characters come to the fore as we gradually get to know them, and so both characters gradually soften without losing their original integrity. Chen-Soo doesn't have this opportunity. In “The Tale of the Comet” she is very much cast as a good/hero character, even though there is some reference to a darker past. There isn't any room in the story to add any further character development other than to suggest this darker past. So that leaves me with “The Return of the Sixpack.” Here I have the opportunity to explore Chen-Soo's character a little more. She is quite complicated after all, and I am not sure whether this comes across enough. There are certain things that occur in her life that mould her character and affect her behaviour. Her relationship with Bey-Jai is also only touched on. I want to expand these a little more and spend more time “in her head” as with other characters. This is in line with the changes I made to “The Lost Girls,” where we now get to see what is going on in the minds of both Kai-Tai and Soo-Kai in much the same way as we did with El-Quan and Tai-Gil. These additional explorations/descriptions are not difficult to include, the problem is fitting the additional events which have only been implied up to now into the story as it is. I want the changes to be seemless, I don't want to slow the story down or have to insert a big prologue stuffed with everything I need. But the other problem is that I also don't want to overstep the mark. If I do I could easily make Chen-Soo too hard and unsympathetic. I just have to pitch it right.

Isn't being a writer a pain in the bum?

As mentioned last month, I have entered some of my books for awards. These are the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Awards, The Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Books, and The National Indie Excellence 2008 Awards. I have entered “The Lost Girls,” “The Friendly Ambassador: Walking with the Enemy,” and “The Look of Love.” I feel that these are a good cross-section of my work, with both science fiction and romance included. I don't know if anything will come from this, but anything that helps to get my books noticed can't be a bad thing. Well, at least I hope not.
 

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