I have such a novel idea gathering now, even while I’m deeply immersed in writing another. And because I’m writing this blog I’ve been more intentional than usual lately in noting the way that gathering process works.
I have known from the moment I finished writing Little Dog, Lost that I wanted to return to the town of Erthly and to the characters I created there, and so I have been carrying the town and the characters in my head long after I would ordinarily have put them to rest.
The character that stayed with me most strongly was Fido, the leash-walking, dog-dominating cat. I had created him in part from the memory of a cat we had when I was growing up. She didn’t make friends with dogs so long as they knew how to behave as Fido does. Nor did she walk on a leash. All that was made up. But Fido’s fierceness came directly from her. One summer day when we were away from home, our cat chased the paperboy down the hill and tore a big piece out of his sock. When a neighbor heard the yelling and came to help, our cat chased him down the hill, too. And here is where she gets closer to Fido: my brother once saw her riding a dog’s back right out of our yard. It was that last memory—passed on from my brother—that gave me my starting point for creating Fido.
So when I began thinking about writing a sequel, I knew that I wanted to revisit that wonderfully obnoxious cat. (It says something about human nature that obnoxious characters are a great deal more interesting than nice ones are, both to write and read about.) I also knew that returning to Fido would require showing him as we have already seen him to keep his character consistent but also developing his character further to discover aspects of Fido the first story didn’t reveal. And so, thinking about that other dimension that might be found in Fido, I decided that it would be great fun to see him fall in love.
Fido in love? How wonderful! And so the new story gathers richness and complexity long before the first words ever find their way to a page.