Until very recently, I used to say The Future Is Unknowable, but then I realized that if I knew the future was unknowable, the future was, to some extent, knowable. I called this Pfeffer's Paradox and it gave me a headache.
I bring this up partly so you'll be impressed I have my very own Paradox, but mostly to ease into the topic of the harsh reality of the publishing industry. A few weeks ago, Houghton Mifflin completed its purchase of Harcourt, beloved publisher of Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone (well, beloved except when I'm waiting for advance or royalty checks).
How this will affect the Possible Third Book (aka P3B)? I have no idea. When I spoke to my editor about P3B (in that charming, whiny way I've mastered) back in November, I felt assured that if d&g did well enough, Harcourt would be open to discussing P3B. No guarantees, but certainly a willingness to listen.
But now new people have taken over positions of power at Harcourt, and I know nothing about them. Maybe they hate trilogies. Maybe they hate end of the world books. Maybe they love trilogies and end of the world books and hate me. Maybe their definition of success for d&g is nothing short of #1 New York Times Best Seller. Maybe they don't appreciate writers speculating about them on blogs. I dunno. In the immortal words of James Forsyte, father of Soames, "Nobody tells me anything."
A sane and sensible person would jot down a few notes about P3B and forget it, until such time (next fall, next millennium) as Harcourt expresses interest. But not me. My little mind keeps zooming along, brushing aside as much bleakity bleak as I'm capable of, while figuring out just how the end of the world would be run two years after LAWKI ends.
This is what I currently know: my heroine's name is Caitlin.
Before you go, Is that all you currently know? let me tell you, it took hours to name her. I must have gone through a dozen possibilities, all of which got rejected for very valid reasons. For at least two hours, she was Rachel, until I remembered Baby Rachel in LAWKI. Alicia got dumped because it sounds too much like Alex, the main character in d&g. Lauren got dumped because there's a minor character in d&g named that. Amy and Brooke got dumped when I remembered the heroine of my book Twice Taken was named both Amy and Brooke. I told my friend Hilarie at lunch the character was named Kayla, and then for a little while after lunch she was named Kaylie. I even considered Morgan, which was the name of my very first heroine, Morgan in Just Morgan. I thought it might be a nice, sentimental gesture. Dumped, dumped, and dumped.
So she's Caitlin, unless you hear otherwise (maybe Houghton Mifflin hates the name). And her father's a dentist. If I were cherry picking professionals at the end of the world, I would definitely save the dentists (lawyers, journalists, and Broadway producers can fend for themselves).
I've come up with at least a half dozen different ways Caitlin ends up in the acting company, with five or more of them too bleakity bleak. But I know this about the company- it's run by a gay couple, and at least one of them is a stage magician.
Which brings up a major bleakity bleak issue. Magicians have a lot of props, and touring entertainers have musical instruments, so there are things that have to be transported. I'd originally pictured a mule cart, until Hilarie at lunch asked where the mule came from. So I kept the cart and dumped the mule (I am very suggestible, especially at lunch).
What I need to know is how does the cart get transported? It doesn't have to be a real big cart, although I'd like it to be big enough to carry at least one person (I have this nifty image of one of the girls in the troupe falling and spraining her ankle and getting carried in the cart for one day until it's decided that's too much of a burden and they dump the poor girl on the side of the road, which is how Caitlin, taken on as an understudy, gets to be a regular member of the troupe. You see, by my standards, that's not too bleakity bleak, but then again there are an awful lot of corpses in d&g, and they didn't bother me one whit). I would appreciate suggestions, from you, oh beloved slowly gained readership,because, as of the moment, I have the kids in the troupe taking turns pulling the cart along, and there's a real chance of excessive bleakity bleakedness. Which, now that I think about it, I could blame on Hilarie, since if it weren't for her, they'd have a mule.
It occurs to me that I'd better be careful. Hilarie actually reads this blog (Hi Hilarie. You look fabulous!).
Heh. I wonder how Houghton Mifflin feels about mule carts. With my luck, they love them (and hate me).