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novels, OTT romance, and werewolf fun
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So, I've been flailing around for a while now, trying to figure out what novel to write next. I've already got a couple of novel beginnings to play with, if I want to commit to them; or, of course, I could start something completely new.

Last time I was in this situation, I sat down and came up with my personal list of Fun Things in Novels. Just coming up with that list got me buzzing and gave me a new idea which turned into Congress of Shadows. (Sadly, it ended up without a single cross-dressing scene or duel, but otherwise, the elements are all there.) Now, a year and a half later, I'm realizing that my list is not the same anymore - at least, I still love all those things, but I feel like, well, I've already written them. This was the problem with my 18th-century Sweden novel - I was writing it with all the same basic elements as CoS, and they felt old to me. Whenever I do decide to start that novel again, I'm going to have to write it to the specifications of a new list of what actually sounds the most fun and exciting to me right now.

I'm not sure I'm ready to make that list yet. But I've started paying attention to what I've been most attracted to lately, what's obsessed me beyond all rationality, and here it is:

  • Jane Eyre (the book itself and the movie versions - in the last few weeks, I re-read the book, watched the 2006 version twice and the 1973 version once, and will probably watch the new version again this week, believe it or not - I don't totally understand why I'm so obsessed with it right now, but it feels great, so I'm going with it)

  • Opera - which, okay, may not sound new for me, but this time, for the first time in my life, I'm going crazy for the big, bombastic, romantic 19th-century French and Italian romantic operas. This is so not me. I've always loved the dark, gorgeous cynicism of 19th-century Russian operas (Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov is my favorite opera ever) and the glittery, sophisticated, classical operas of late-18th-century Vienna. Now suddenly I find myself wanting to listen to Bellini's Casta Diva and Puccini's Un Bel Dì on constant repeat. (I've got three Renee Fleming CDs looping nonstop on iTunes.) It's bizarre, but inescapable.

  • The message? Well, I'm pretty sure that what I want/need to write next is going to be big and romantic and over-the-top, with an atmosphere so intense you could choke on it.

    And what that means in terms of story and characters? I'll figure that out next.

    Right now I have to listen to "Casta Diva" one more time.


    But first...

    After reading this interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith (and Gwenda's recommendation, which first hooked me on the concept - vampires! werewolves! Italian food! feminist fun!) I really, really can't wait to read Tantalize. Best of all, it's even set in Austin. See? Research on a possible warm place! (But OK, if there really are vampires and werewolves in Austin, then I have to confess, I'm probably too much of a wimp to want to move there...) It's already gone onto my Amazon wishlist, and the moment I've got free money again (in about a week), it's going straight into my shopping cart.

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