It really is great to have so much feedback on the content of a Discovery Draft. (And nobody rewrote, so you are now expert beta readers.) So here are some of the questions I’m working on now as I continue making up stuff that will have to be fixed later, along with some character notes that you can tear apart.
I’m pretty good with Nita. I still have to smooth out her emotional arc in these scenes, but by the end of breakfast the next day, she’s coping and changing, which is good because there’s more stuff coming her way. I can easily see her looking at her personal life and deciding to concentrate on her professional life instead and getting back to work (good for the plot). And getting angrier; she’s always been snarky and fairly ruthless, but she while she may snap at people, she doesn’t lose her temper. So I can see her taking on more and more surprises and getting angrier and angrier at all the people in her life who’ve lied to her and finally breaking, and then just going after her enemies like Hell unleashed. That’s gonna be fun.
So okay, he died in 1506 and was buried with his short sword (“In Italy, the upper classes favoured a short sword called a cinquedea the blade of which was broad at the hilt (supposedly five fingers wide: hence the name) and tapered its entire length to a sharp point. It came in a range of sizes”)
because it was a work of art. Here’s Nick’s half-brother Cesare’s sword:
So twenty inches long, worn on the back, buried with him, and FOR A REASON TO BE DETERMIMENED LATER, shows up on Demon Island now. Hey, DISCOVERY DRAFT. I need that sword in the story.
The stuff where he’s jealous of Rab is stupid and has to go. It’s too soon in the story and he wouldn’t be jealous of Rab anyway. He wouldn’t be jealous of anybody. The guy has an ego the size of medieval Italy, and he knows Nita and Rab. C’mon, Jenny, stop with the dumb tropes.
So his body is coming back because of a combination of the drug and his awakening memory, muscle and otherwise, which create a loop. I know what the drug is, it comes from this plant, although in real life the plant is a kind of purplish red instead of blue. I also added “Resurrectionis” to the scientific name which Google translate tells me is right and yet does not sound right. I’m still figuring out how it works, but I can fudge it because I’ve already got devils and demons, a Lazarus plant is a small leap after that (especially since it really is called a Lazarus Bell in real life).
I know what happens with Nick, it’s these pesky historical details. Plus how to tell the reader that he’s really 500 years old without stopping to do that, just as part of the ongoing action.
Keres is essentially Nita’s mom even though she’s only four years older. Even as a pre-schooler, she protected her little sister from her mother (with lots of help from her brother and dad), she’s been running the funeral home since her early twenties (right after graduating from college) so death is no big deal, and she’s lived on Demon Island all her life so the strange is not a big leap forward. I like the idea that Keres is basically a simple, joyful person who inherited her mother’s strong will, independence, and sexual curiosity and coupled it with her father’s strong will, ruthlessness, sense of justice, and basic goodness. I love Keres, but she has no arc in this book, she’s just Keres. SOMEBODY has to be sane in this story.
Mort is the male Keres, same parents, same upbringing, same close relationship to his sibs. He’s a little more easy-going because as a male he hasn’t had to fight as hard, but anything that threatens anybody he loves brings out the Mayor in him. Mort is also not going to arc much. There has to be a reason that Nita didn’t grow up to be bitter and vicious with her mother’s attitude toward her, and that’s Keres, Mort, and the Mayor, all of whom love her without reservation and think she’s fabulous.
Mitzi has issues that are not all her fault. Her mother is basically the church lady with a side order of monomania, her father didn’t like her, and there’s some stuff in her geneology that contributes to her general SuperBitch persona. But she has good qualities, too: she’s strong, independent, sexually curious and not guilty about it, and active. And she’s very good at her job because the people she takes out really were causing problems, they just weren’t, for the most part, demons. Of course she’s also a murderous sociopath, but you can’t have everything.
The Mayor has depths, but he’s basically the Politician You Wish You Had: he takes responsibility for the people on his island, he’s ruthless in protecting them, he balances the budget, he compromises as much as he can, and he gets things done. His story is really in the past, he’s become who he’s always meant to be, so he’s not going to arc.
Button is genetically predisposed to believe in demons, so while her initial reaction is not good, she adapts more quickly than Nita. Button is a fairly simple person with simple goals in a very complicated situation, so her reaction is to first simplify everything. And if it won’t simple down, she’ll just shoot it.
Rab is Rab, a force of nature, following his curiosity wherever it takes him, embracing new things. This point in time is a choice for Rab; he really likes being an agent but because Nick elevated him and Dag as a team, he’s reached the top of his job arc unless he becomes Devil, a position he wouldn’t have as a gift. Earth appeals to him, but there are drawbacks. Mostly he’s just trying to help everybody survive the current multiple revelations and disasters. It’s why he brought a tranq gun, twenty gallons of scupper, and Nick’s Visa.
Dag was ambitious, and then he met Daphne. Love has hit him hard, and he doesn’t know what to do about it, so he’s trying to navigate between her and Nick while his hormones are pinballing and horrible things are happening. I’m a little concerned because I have two love story subplots but I’m not giving up either one of them, so I’ll just have to cope.
Daphne is another strong-willed woman who goes after what she wants, in this case Dag. She has a laser-like focus on her goals, so things that other people would find completely disruptive she categorizes as either related to her goal or not related to her goal. The not related stuff can wait until later. Do not cross Daphne.
Max, although he will never admit it, wants to be Nick when he grows up. He’s loyal to Mammon because Mammon has been extremely good to him–they have almost a father-son relationship although the balance of power has been shifting as Mammon ages–because he’s also practical with a strong sense of justice if not a respect for law (two different things).
This is a team story:
Nita and Nick tag team depending on what aspect they’re working on: Nita knows the island and Nick knows demons. The team has to be fully formed and operational by the midpoint.
This is going to be a long book. Argh.
And then there are the antagonists, which is what I’m working on now.
Anybody know how Nick’s sword which is in a tomb in Italy ends up on Demon Island? I’m also not sure how Lazarus Bell works (it’s DISCOVERY DRAFT, I’m discovering), and about twenty other things. So back to work.