Zachary writes a blog called The Journey Book. He's published two blog posts about NaNoWriMo this year, you can read them here and here.
Twitter handle: @Trinza
Is this your first time participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what made you take the plunge? If you're a vet, how do you feel about tackling it yet again this year?
This is my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I feel excited about taking part again this year. The enthusiasm from the community is infectious and, while I'm not a really competitive writer (as far as word count goes), I love the drive I get to push ahead when I see everyone's numbers going up and up.
What's your project about?
Tentatively titled "The Masks of Valdune," I'm writing a fantasy novel that I like to think of as Sherlock Holmes in Fantasy Land. It's about a thief-turned-detective who has to solve the murder of his lover, and it's every bit as fun to write as it sounds. The idea for the novel came from a short story I wrote called The Right Game, which was published in the Autumn issue of The Colored Lens. After writing the short story, I just knew I had to return to the characters for a full-length project.
How are you approaching NaNo? Are you in the midst of a writing frenzy, or do you have a carefully thought-out plan?
I always plan as I go. I have a vague idea of where I want things to end, but I'm sort of writing in a mad dash now, leaping from point to point and scribbling a bunch of notes down as I go.
Have you learned anything from this experience so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with other NaNoWriMoers?
My advice--and I think the whole lesson behind NaNo--is to keep writing. Write even if you only have five minutes, write if you don't feel like it, just keep going. Don't look back. There's so much time to look back when you're done and you'll have so much more fun once you learn to just let go and write. Whenever, wherever, and about whatever. That was the first lesson NaNo ever taught me and, without fail, it's one I learn again and again every year.
Here is a short excerpt from Zachary's current project:
Crumbs of flaked wax scattered across the table, broken from the seals of letters, joining a scattering of coins: a golden dram here and there and a handful more of silver groats, gathered in haphazard piles. Avery sat before the fire, a bottle in one hand and the latest parchment in the other, the quiet murmur of conversation in the tavern joining the crackling of the flames.
Dear Mr. Avery Croft,
I and several of my staff have tried to make contact with you in person on several occasions, though I fear my message must not have been made salient to you.
For the sum of more than fifty golden drams, I humbly request your attention to an issue most pressing. A matter of a very grave and personal issue has arisen that requires the expertise of one such as yourself.
Please find enclosed a token of my gratitude for your attention.
I look forward to seeing you presently.
Turning the letter over, Avery admired the back of the parchment through the light of the fire, noting the watermark dyed onto the page. Waving the paper below his mouth, he inhaled, strongly: soot. He rubbed his thumb across the parchment and, having smudged the word sincerely, set the paper down again. Picking up the envelope instead, he shook out the three copper pennies, letting them roll across the table and fall onto the ground.
Avery threw the letter into the fire.
Avery threw the letter into the fire.
“I thought I might find you here,” Davis said, stepping before the fire to peer down at Avery’s table. His hair had grown long since last Avery had seen him, and he kept it combed neatly back and tied behind his head, only a single golden strand falling before his face. “Worried I would, even…” He eyed the bottle of brandy Avery held.
“Did you know that Alabaster Lamon is going broke?” Avery asked, sitting back in his chair and filling his glass with brandy again. The bottle was half empty. He set it back in his lap, legs folded over to make a nest for it.
“Alabaster Lamon the merchant? No, I didn’t, but he just—” Davis paused, passing a hand across his face. “Damn it, what does that matter?”
“I imagine it matters a great deal to him. He wrote me a letter promising me fifty gold pieces.”
“He doesn’t sound very broke to me,” Davis said tightly, frustration mounting in his eyes.
“He wrote the letter using ink made of soot, if I don’t get my guess. Gall ink must be getting too expensive and he doesn’t want his friends to know the predicament he’s in yet. The fifty gold pieces don’t exist, I have no doubt. Did you hear his wife was recently murdered? One might start to think she was the one making all of his smart business decisions. I think he wants to hire me,” Avery said, staring into the flames where the parchment was curling, blackening. “Probably only wants the murderer caught so he can take him to court and claim a blood price to shore up what’s left of his ships.”
“Yes, your deductions are very impressive.” Davis waved off the thought with a flick of his hand. “You weren’t at the funeral today, Avery. Caelie is dead and you—”
“Yes, I know that,” Avery said quickly, filling his glass again as quickly as he drank it. “Caelie is dead. My not going to the funeral is probably the last favor I’ll ever be able to give her.”
“A favor?” Davis bellowed, loudly enough that the rest of the room stifled—even the fire nearly stifled for the madness in his eyes.
“Tell me, how would it have been were I there? Excuse me, King Charles, I’ve just come to pay my respects,” Avery began in a very proper, tight voice, a hand pressed to his chest for sincerity, “You’re a wretched man, but your queen was lovely, oh and by the way I was sleeping with her.”
“Shut up!” Davis said sharply, having the sense to be quiet this time as he leaned across the table to grip Avery by the arms, upsetting his glass and spilling brandy down the front of his vest. Davis eyed the rest of the room, waiting until they returned to their quiet mutterings.
“And I’ll bet her mother had her hair all pinned back, the way she used to make Caelie do when she was a child? She always hated that. I’m certain they put her in a dress! And you would have me sit there and frown and act the perfect little respectable, sad man? Screw off, Davis. I’ve no need to go to your little masquerade and act like anyone there really knew or cared for her.”
“I did,” Davis spat the words, pushing himself back from the chair and folding his arms across his chest. “And the king did, and you did. If you were even half a man you would have gone. Did you mourn her at all?”
“I’m mourning her right now,” Avery said, lifting his bottle of brandy and moving to pout from it. Pausing, he drank directly from the bottle instead, letting it burn his cheeks and fill his chest with fire.
“With brandy?” Davis asked, his lips twitching as if he might laugh at the incredulity.
“Not just any brandy! It’s very expensive,” Avery said, saying the words slowly so as to not slur them when he pulled the bottle away from his lips. He raised it above his head and peered around the chair, back towards the bar. “Isn’t that right, Edward?”
“Five drams a bottle,” Edward the bartender said from behind the counter, hardly looking up from his task of drying wine glasses with a white cloth. “That’s his second bottle,” he added with a sigh.
“And I’ve already paid for three more,” Avery said cheerfully.
“You’re an ass,” Davis said.
“Speaking of which, I thought we weren’t on speaking terms?” Avery settled back into his chair, topping off his glass with the last of the bottle and setting it down. From the table he fumbled with what was left of his letters—more of the same, more pleading bleeding heart cases—and fed them all to the fire. “Something about my being an ass.”
“We’re not speaking,” Davis said as if speaking to a slow child.
“Hm,” Avery said, eyeing his glass and then shutting one eye to squint up at Davis, outlined by the fire so that his grey eyes seemed to nearly glow in his tan face. He raised his glass and took a sip. “Must be powerful stuff.”
“I came here for Caelie,” Davis said, snatching the glass from Avery’s hand and drowning what was left of it. He threw the glass then into the flames, and the sound of its shattering quieted the room again. Smoke hissed out from the hearth as what was left of the brandy sizzled away, filling the room with a sweet, acrid scent. “She’s not around to call you out when you’re being an ass anymore; I know she’d want someone to. I thought I could, but I’m done. Enjoy your life, Avery.”
“You make it very hard to, you know that?” Avery leaned over the back of his chair, calling after Davis as he walked towards the door. “Now what am I supposed to drink from?”
It took harassing—and a silver groat—before Edward came over with the next bottle.
Avery lounged across the chair, his head turned back into the armrest, watching the papers burn in the fire as he nursed the bottle. The people in the tavern returned to their senseless chatter, Davis had finally left him alone, and he had no more letters to tend to. For all of that, for all that his mind should have returned to the senseless fog of mindless noise and drink, he couldn’t find any peace, only a sour feeling in his stomach. The brandy tasted bitter on his tongue, and it made sweat bead around his brow as if he were drinking from a torch.
Caelie was dead.
Well, thanks for participating, Zachary! I wish you all the best on completing this project. My oh my, that Avery sure is an intriguing character.