Hey, everyone! You may remember that for the past few months I’ve been doing the Beautiful People link up with Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. However, I didn’t do one in September because… Cait didn’t post the questions. But just when I was starting to think that one of my favorite blog link ups had left the internet forever, lo and behold! Cait and Sky are back this month with a new set of questions, and a new theme for October.
What exactly is Beautiful Books?
Beautiful Books is a special October theme of the Beautiful People meme hosted by Cait and Sky. It’s designed to help authors share some fun facts about their current work-in-progress/NaNoWriMo project. From Cait’s blog:
Sky and I host Beautiful Books so we can focus on our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book. Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!
DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that everything here is or will be canon in the future. I have spent a fair amount of time developing these characters, but some stuff is still unclear in my own mind, so I will try to answer the questions as best I can.
Also, the project I’ll be using for today’s post is still unfinished/super secret, so some details about the characters and plot will have to remain secret for now…
Shell, the first book in a YA sci-fi duology.
Current status: First draft is complete, and the beginning was completely overhauled and a few major plot changes were made since I last talked about this project. Currently I am focusing on writing the first draft of the sequel before I continue editing Shell.
1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve had the idea for the majority of this year, which is about how long I’ve been working on the book.
Shell was originally inspired by this video about hackers, which was created by one of my favorite YouTube channels, the Game Theorists. It’s a super cool (if slightly unnerving) look at the vulnerabilities in technology and how hackers can exploit them, and it really got my creative juices flowing!
2. Describe what your novel is about!
Without giving away too much, Shell and it’s sequel are about a black-hat (criminal) hacker who is recruited by the British government to fight for the good guys. Along the way, she gets betrayed and makes new friends and all that good stuff. 😛
3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I went ahead and made a photo aesthetic for Shell (which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now). None of the photos are mine. They’re all from either Unsplash or Pinterest.
Also, I probably haven’t talked about this before, but I love creating playlists for stories! I’ve narrowed it down to just three songs that I’ll share with you today, but I feel that these songs express the some of the themes and atmosphere of Shell very well.
Shell Aesthetic Playlist:
How We Do It by Lights
Car Radio by twenty one pilots
Real Life by Aaron Sprinkle
4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
Here are three of the major characters in the book, with a quick profile for each.
The Main Character: Mae Ki-Nari
Quick profile: Sarcastic, smart, disconnected from the real world around her. She has difficulty relating to people in real life. She spends most of her time online. She loves music; it’s her safe space.
(I did an entire Beautiful People post about her, which you can find here.)
Dr. John (last name as yet undecided)
Quick profile: Distant, detached, treats everything (even emotions) in a purely scientific manner, but he is still a very kind and considerate man. He’s a scientist for the British government and lives for his work.
Quick profile: Strong willed, intelligent and commanding. Secretary for the director of the Secret Service (or is she?) She has a motherly, ‘tough love’ attitude with Mae that Mae strongly dislikes.
5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
Yeah, no, definitely by howling. 😂 I don’t really know? I guess I am not very prepared??? Why am I surprised by this fact??? I don’t really do anything to prepare, I just open a Word document and stare at it and die???
6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
All. The. Things.
Okay, true, but more specifically I am looking forward to exploring all of the themes and issues dealt with in the book (see the answer to question 10), and also writing a character with anxiety. Mae deals with social/general anxiety throughout both books, so writing her is challenging, but I am quite enjoying the challenge.
7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting
The beginning of the book is set in Ontario, Canada,
my favorite place on Earth. The rest is set in London, England.
A fair amount of Shell currently takes place inside a single building. (I say currently because of course this could change at some point, but I’m not sure)
Shell takes place in the near future (mid 2030s), so I have a fair amount of liberty with the details of the settings, but I’ve still spent an extensive amount of time on Google Maps (especially Street View) researching the placement of certain London landmarks.
8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
I don’t want to give too much away, but Mae definitely isn’t happy with her new job working for the British government, and she is actively trying to leave. Obviously, however, a lot stands in her way (I won’t say exactly what, because spoilers).
9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Again, I’m afraid it would be way too big of a spoiler to tell you exactly how she changes… but I guess you could say that she starts to come out of her shell a bit. 😛
10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I hope to deal with a lot of themes and issues in the duology, including something I am very interested in, which is the idea that by communicating so much over the internet, people use empathy and find it easier to dismiss, attack, or hurt people online than they would if they were speaking in person. Some other themes include our perceived personas online vs. who we really are IRL, as well as a discussion of internet surveillance and other fun stuff like that. There are actually a fair amount of heavy topics that come up in the story (meaning that these books will probably need several rounds of very intense editing to make sure I address everything properly… 😓)
How do I want readers to feel? I’m not exactly sure. I’d like to deliver thrills and excitement, as well as a thoughtful commentary on serious internet stuff (and also hopefully show the reader how anxiety feels, and how it affects everyday life). So, yeah, some pretty hefty goals, but I figure aiming high never hurt anyone. 😅
Thanks so much for reading my Beautiful Books post! I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful Books post.
As always, this fabulous meme is hosted by Cait and Sky.
Oohh a playlist!!! Music is literally my favorite aesthetic- building thing but I’ve never really thought about doing it for my writing projects. That’s so super cool!
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I’m so glad you like the playlist! Yes, I love finding different songs that express an aesthetic. It’s so much fun!
I’m so glad I’m not the only one who writes like that! (I say, with my story up on a separate tab)
Your story sounds so interesting! I actually just finished “Warcross” by Marie Lu, which is also about hackers and future tech!
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Yeah, I often go into writing with like zero planning or preparation involved! I like discovering my characters and story through writing, instead of through planning or plotting. I find that plotting too much actually makes it harder for me to sit down and write.
How you prepare is sooo relatable. Haha. I outline a lot but still relate to the staring at a word document and dying part. I LOVE the sound of your novel, especially the themes you want to convey. Sounds super cool and super interesting. I love a good book about hackers. Good luck with your writing!
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Yes, quite a few people seem to be able to relate to my method of preparation 😅. Thank you so much! I’m glad you like my ideas. Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂
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I love your theme so much ❤ It's a really important message, especially right now.
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it sounds fascinating!! I love the idea, and a book with themes dealing with the internet, our online personas and social anxiety would be really interesting. Good luck with NaNo!! Good job with all the research too, I commend you for spending so much time on Google Maps, 😀
I love how you added the playlist! I love spy tales – your story sounds really cool!
Glad to see I’m not the only person writing about a complete first draft. Everyone else seems to be writing about their NaNo first draft. It makes me want to do it so bad, but I also want to revise this project. It’s a dilemma. 🙂 . . . I also probably should have added that disclaimer to my post as well. I’m going to need it. . . .
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