Friday, October 10, 2014


I'M JUST OVER 75,000 WORDS in the first draft of The Tattooed Rose. It's been a struggle. I go through this every time I hit the middle of a first draft. The end is not yet in sight, and I have a lot of ground to cover. The thing that helps me most is to not be daunted by the huge task it seems, but to focus on what I need to accomplish scene by scene, to get me to those major plot points I had constructed in my head so long ago.

When I had this great idea for the trilogy, the last book, The Tattooed Rose, was the most sketchy in terms of what I wanted to accomplish. I knew how the story would end, which translates into - these major things need to happen, and I'll figure out how to get there as I go along.  Well, I'm now hitting 'getting there' and dealing with 'going along'.

I have said this on Suzenyms before, that this book has been the biggest challenge for me to write. That's been an understatement. I have had to learn a lot about the 1550's, the slave trade, Trans-Atlantic shipping, New World Exploration, the major political players involved (Spain, England, Portugal, France), piracy and privateering, Caribbean history, geography and gold sources, old and new world plants, transplanted West African religions (modern-day voodoo, the gods, houngans and bokors, etc.). Even though the trilogy is based on an alternate world, I need it to be reflective of our own.

I'm not complaining. I love learning about all of this stuff and applying it. But it has been an effort and at times, I wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew. I've also run into things I didn't expect. I've had to create certain characters to push the plot where I want it to go, and it's not just a matter of making them up. (Who would have thought that I'd have to research West African names specific to a particular area of Nigeria and the Bight of Benin, for slaves from opposing tribes?) Or, that old secondary characters I thought would not be major players become so in The Tattooed Seer, and even more so in The Tattooed Rose? And finally, that this last book would enter into some very strange environments and head spaces - even for me.

It's not the trilogy I expected to write, entirely.

But therein lies the discovery of it. When I am finally done, I hope it will be everything I had envisioned and more.

I am under contract for three books. I'm looking forward to fulfilling that goal and bringing the trilogy to its logical conclusion. But I am also toying with the idea of a fourth book that takes place ten years later. In the meantime, I will continue to work on Rose, and wrap up the trilogy as best I can.

- Susan.

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