by Toni L.P. Kelner
As of 4 AM yesterday morning, I have finished writing Blast from the Past, my eleventh novel. With so many novels under my belt, one might reasonably assume that I perfected my writing process. Ha! Not even close! The sad fact is that every time I write a book, it's a whole new ballgame.
One of the biggies this time was the time it took me to write it. Due to circumstances and my own poor planning--and mostly it was the poor planning--I wrote this book faster than I've ever written a book before. My previous book, Who Killed the Pinup Queen?, took me about four months, and that was pretty tight. I wrote Blast from the Past in two and a half months. By the way, I don't recommend either timeline. I'm a really bad planner.
Next was the background. Tilda Harper, my protagonist, is a freelance entertainment reporter who specializes in "Where are they now?" articles. In the previous two books of the series, she's tracked down TV stars and pinup queens. This time, I was working with movie stars and comic book writers. So that meant I had to research who new worlds. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It was a lot of fun. But it was something new.
Then there was the setting. Tilda lives in Malden, MA, and she's usually found in Boston or Malden, or maybe New York. This time, I put her on Cape Cod. This was the first time I set a novel in a place I haven't spent lots and lots of time. I've been to the Cape several times, but not recently and not for long periods. That meant that instead of relying on my memory, I was hitting travel sites on the web a lot more. At least I based my fictional inn on a real one, the Chatham Bars Inn, where I did spend a weekend.
Finally, I wrote this book a little differently. Normally, I do not write sequentially. I may work on Chapter 5 one day and Chapter 2 the next and then hop to Chapter 17. This time, I only did a little bit of hopping around at the beginning. Then I went back to the beginning and wrote straight through to the end. I'm not sure why it worked out this way.
The fact is, I often don't know why my writing process mutates. I've just learned that what works for one book might not work next time. I'm not sure if that makes it more of an adventure, or more of a pain in the rump. Maybe a bit of both.
At least there's one key lesson I did bring along from the previous experiences. That's the fact that I knew that I had written ten novels, and so I could trust myself to write an eleventh. Now that I've written eleven, I'm pretty sure that when the time comes, I'll be able to write the twelfth.
Note: Blast from the Past, the third in the "Where are they now?" series, will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in February of 2011.