Mermaid’s Madness

We set aside Viable Paradise for a moment to promote Mermaid’s Madness, Jim Hines newest book in the Princess series. Jim has graciously agreed to entertain questions from his incredible legion of loyal readers, and being one of his minions in that regard, I’m happy to post his answer to my question.

To see all of the questions Jim has posted around the internet, link to Happy Mermaid Day! The website link up above will reveal not only awesome information about Jim, but also pictures of the book cover for Mermaid’s Madness, so you can identify it through binoculars in the wild at your local bookstore.

Now back to…um…5000 words by Thursday.


Q: In the Princess series, what makes you choose certain characters as protagonists, and certain characters as antagonists? What princess have you enjoyed working with the most thus far?

A: In Stepsister Scheme, I wanted to start with three of the most popular princesses, so teaming Cinderella up with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty made sense to me. Making the little mermaid into an antagonist was trickier. In many ways, her story felt the most tragic to me, even before I started messing with it. Whereas my three heroines found one another and formed their own little family, Lirea (the little mermaid) is very much alone. In some ways, she’s what at least two of the other three princesses could have become had they taken a very different path.

Red Riding Hood was an easy one, and came entirely from a throwaway line in Stepsister about Red Hood becoming one of the most feared assassins in the world. Once I wrote that line, I knew I needed a showdown between her and Talia!

As for my favorite princess? It honestly depends on which book I’m writing, or even which scene I’m working on at the time. In Mermaid, I love the glimpses we get at Talia’s personality, things she normally keeps hidden. As I’m working on book four, I’m having a blast writing about Snow White as she [redacted for spoilers]. But then I’ll write a scene where Danielle’s family is threatened–either her husband and son, or her adopted family, it makes no difference–and I absolutely adore the way this normally quiet woman goes into full-on angry lioness mode.

Rain, Travel, Books

See Cath travel. Travel, Cath, travel. Travel, travel, travel.

Watch it rain. The rain is wet. Cath likes rain.

See Cath eat. Silly Cath! Don’t eat a donut for lunch! No food. Oh well.

See Cath read. Cath reads Ballad. Ballad is perfect. Cath likes Ballad.

See Cath read. Cath reads Superpowers. Superpowers has good characters. Superpowers has editorial comments.

Cath goes to a party. Cath meets interesting people. Hello, Steve Bucheit! Nice to meet you.

See Cath sleep late. Tired Cath! Cath was up at 3:30 in the morning.

Cath waits for workshop. Should Cath go see a lighthouse today? Should Cath work on the troll story?

Cath must think. Think, Cath, think. Think, think, think.

(I’ll probably do a little site seeing today before things get really, really busy. That was a long travel day yesterday!)

Buckets and Knives

Is it worth it, then?

Besides getting ready to be away, and I am honestly on the cusp of away, the other activity I have engaged in this week is to read over the troll story, see what I have so far, and see where I need to go next. I’ve written books like this before. I want to go back and shore things up for the idea I have, rather than try to remember 20 things to add in later.

I’m not…displeased. It seems to work, and there are some surprises that my subconscious inserted that turn out to be just what I needed. The pages that I have represent steady work on the project since April, with the exception of about a week on Oliver Toddle. It’s not going at the pace Substance did, but few things do. I remind myself that this thing is writing itself at the speed it’s writing itself, and for a day job writer, I’m kicking butt and taking names on speed.

Here’s where the bottom falls out. I don’t know if writers are like buckets with holes in the bottom or what. I’m averaging a nice writerly thing about once every 5 months, give or take, and I get warm fuzzies. About a week or two later, I don’t feel like I’ve accumulated these nice writerly things. The bucket seems empty. I want more. I want to finish the troll story, send that out, and see if it’s the one. I want to have a book deal. It is all about filling the bucket.

My usual strategy in the face of impatience and angst is to count my blessings and remind myself of patience. It’s also to think of how close things are, and how much progress I’m making. You follow the journal. You know. I won’t bore you with enumeration.

However, there are times that you just want to scream. Times when you know you’re on the edge of something, getting an agent or a book deal, and the uncertainty of not knowing if makes you want to beat your fists against your savage breast (can we say that in 2009?) The no I can almost deal with more easily than the dance on the knife edge of not knowing.

So many of you tell me that this is the career, never knowing for sure about…everything, watching the knife glimmer and twist, hoping you don’t fall off the edge as it turns on you. Hoping that the writing ends up where you want it to be. Hoping that eventually it’s all going to pan out, whatever that next step in your career you want to take is. The book deal. The agent. The numbers. The next book. The advance. And so on.

Is it worth it? Especially since there seems to be a hole in the bucket, and the stuff you put in leaks out?

It seems to be, even then, because you guys keep dancing on the uncertain edge of the knife with a persistence that amazes me. I keep doing it too. I am discouraged and tired at points, but I keep going. Just like an addict?

There’s a point where we must believe in ourselves and not care about that sharp, sharp edge. I think if we stopped poking the bucket with the knife, maybe things would be different, and we could be more zen. Maybe.

Back to deep breathing and attempting to wait until it’s the right time for the cosmos. I’ve hammered my fists enough for now, and if I haven’t, I’m going to a support group for writers all next week. We can all be pathological together.

Meanwhile, you get a free ticket to angst here. I’ve succumbed to one moment of weakness. If you need to, knock yourself out.