So a while back I finished a final-ish draft of The Hierophant and handed it over to my editor for a good once-over. I’ve been occasionally re-reading parts of it at the office when I’m bored, and I’m very pleased to say that I still love it. I haven’t fallen into the post-partum hatred that a lot of writers tend to get for their work when the finish. Instead I’ve thrown myself into the sequel, The Tower, and for the past few weeks that manuscript has been blossoming with a color and depth I could have never imagined at the start. I am so happy with it, where it’s going, how deeply spiritual and moving it has become. Sure, these are technically YA books… but they are so much more. I can’t even begin to express how much I am in love with it.
I would say that writing books like this remind me just how much I truly love the process of wrting, how much I would rather write the stories I love than do anything else in the world… but all my novels have made me feel like that these past few years. The Hierophant was just the beginning, a fast-paced love-affair that left me rejuvinated and exhilirated. The Poppet and the Lune was a different kind of love, a long-lasting, deep-rooted magic, like unconditional love. And now The Tower… it is something new. I can’t quite explain it yet. Maybe it’s too soon.
Anyways, I use a series of dream sequences in this book, and before you wrinkle your nose at the over-used device realize that a great deal of the main character’s evolution comes from intense internal struggle, exploration, and transformation. Also, eff you man I love reading/writing dream sequences. They’re tough to write, to get just that right level of dreamy weirdness without losing coherency, and I really appreciate when an author writes a good one. Plus, they’re like totally meta [insert hipster scoff].
So, anyway, now that I’ve defended my preference for this particular literary device… as snippet:
It’s warm. October warm. Blanket warm. The sun falls on me, golden droplets on my shoulders. I stand planted in the shore, gunmetal waves lapping at my toes. I’m staring at the churning water curling back on itself even as it pushes forward. Every now and then it washes a little higher, over my feet, about my ankles. It pulls a little sand out from under me when it returns to the sea.
I sink. The waves get higher. My shadow lengthens in the sun.
Somewhere behind me a shadow lurks that I cannot see.
“You brought it with you,” my mother tells me, standing at my side, watching the shadow instead of the sea. She’s young, and pale, and beautiful. A beauty among the dead.
“I can’t get rid of it,” I admit. I want to look at her, but I’m afraid she’ll vanish if I do.
“What would you do with yourself if you did?”
Her question prods at me in a way I wasn’t ready for. (Yes you are, Ana. You are ready for whatever comes your way.) “Nothing.”
The waves rush at me, spatter me with sea-spray, salty foam sticking to my calves.
“And if it stays?” My mother wonders.
This time when the sea exhales upon the shore its inhale is long. Too long. Getting longer. Where the water is swirling away from us there is a deep ocean-blackness somewhere beneath, sucking in the shore. I think there is a hole in the world, swallowing it up.
“I can’t get rid of it,” I say a second time, feeling the wet sand around my ankles slithering towards the whirlpool, tugging me along with it as the world begins to tremble and shift. When its pull becomes too strong, I stumble, sliding into the water, reaching back for my mother, risking her disappearance.
She catches my hand and holds tightly, as solid and real as the roiling maw opening before me. And then Karenina tilts her head forward and stares down my arm and into my eyes.
“Then you will have to give it what it wants,” she says, and lets go of my hand.