Monday, May 26, 2008

If I'd Known On Fridays What I Knew On Mondays, I Would Have Been A Straight A Student

My new favorite obsession (guaranteed to be a short lived one) is checking the 10 day weather forecasts to see what's in store for Sunday, when I'll be hosting the first and only Cheap And Easy 75th Book Party. Currently the majority of available predictions are for thunderstorms, which should add a nice note of drama to the event.

When I'm not pondering where to put the umbrellas, and debating just how many bagels to buy (my friend Christy, who's using the feeb excuse of living 3000 miles away as a reason not to come, says four dozen. Do you know how many bagels that is? 52! My bagel bakery gives you a thirteenth when you buy a dozen), I've been working on the third book, The World We Live In, or WW LI, which is one world war short of four dozen bagels.

Now there's a sentence that no one will ever quote because it makes no sense whatsoever, except to me, and I trust 10 day weather forecasts to be accurate, which shows how totally irrational I am.

Christy says she doesn't think it's a good idea for me to write about the third book (I haven't dared tell her I'm thinking of it as World War 51, because, even though she's quite familiar with Roman numerals, she, unlike me, is sane) on the blog. I'm not sure why, never having given her a chance to tell me. I'm always writing about the third book, in all its many incarnations. Now that I think about it, WW 51 is a perfectly reasonable nickname, because there have probably been at least fifty versions.

But the current one is the final one. Which isn't to say that the things I'm certain of this Monday will show up in the actual book. But I figured I'd let you know where the characters are at this point.

I'll start with the LAWKI family. Matt's married and lives in the LAWKI house. He runs a school, housed in the garage. I haven't named Mrs. Matt yet, but I think they have a couple of kids. Matt never completely regained his strength/health, but he's happy. He and Mrs. Matt grow much of their food, and I'm picturing a scene where things have gotten sufficiently good that one of their greenhouse crops is strawberries, which is the first time the entire younger generation has ever seen them. The only red food they knew were radishes.

Miranda's a widow. She's a doctor, which is more like a physician's assistant than what we're used to. I'm pretty sure the late Mr. Miranda was also a doctor, and I think Miranda knew his wife also, but Mr. Miranda was definitely older than Miranda, because he has to have been old enough that Miranda's stepdaughter is almost sixteen. The stepdaughter (originally named Emma, now named Grace, but I'm really sure she's going to end up with a different name, although I can't figure out what, because I thought about Faith, only I sign the dead and the gone, Never Lose Faith, and Hope, only I sign Life As We Knew It, Always Have Hope, and the latter in particular has a whole other meaning if Hope is a girl) is an orphan, so Miranda's raising her, and as a result, Miranda is a lot less Baby Rachel obsessed than I originally thought she might be.

Wanna bet no one ever quotes that sentence either?

I think what happens to girls at sixteen is they're expected to get married and start reproducing, since if things are getting better, there's an intense need to repopulate. I also think when girls turn eleven, they go off to work in the factories, unless a family member agrees to give five years to public service, in which case the girls can continue their education. Miranda gave the five years, working as a doctor where she's assigned. Then at sixteen, the process happens all over again. Girls either get married or just maybe get accepted into the apprentice program, only for that to happen, two different people have to agree to five years service, so even if Miranda said she would, Emmagrace would still need one other person to go along. Otherwise she'll be expected to get married, following my new favorite ritual, the askabouts. Available men ask about girls, and then they're invited to kind of a party, where they check the girl out, and she checks them out as well. Miranda and Emmagrace spend the summer at the LAWKI house, where there's a whole new bunch of guys for the askabout, and while it's going on (or maybe the day before), Luke shows up.

Meanwhile, back at the LAWKI family, Jon's still married to Julie, although I'm not sure of anything else about them.

Luke (previously known as Baby Rachel) is an orphan also. Right now, Lisa died before Dad, and both died when he was a kid, and he spent a year or two in the Orphan House (trust me, you don't want to live in an Orphan House), from which he ran away when he was about eleven. He lived on the streets and in the shadows for a while, and then hooked up with the old man, a Fagin like character, who provided shelter and food for boys, while they robbed for him. At the start of WW51, the old man has just died, and Luke (who is 16 or 17 by this point) decides to go back east to the family Dad had told him about.

I think Luke is going to make much of the journey with another one of the old man's boys, who's going to die en route because someone has to. I'd been thinking Julie might die, but if I want Luke and Emmagrace to trust in the future, then I probably shouldn't kill off a major character that late in the book.

If things go the way I'm currently thinking, by book's end, Luke will agree to give the five years, along with Miranda, so that Emmagrace can enter the apprentice program.

I'd better give Emmagrace a real name very soon, because I'm starting to think of her as Emmagrace. I also need to work in any number of ghastly natural catastrophes, because even if things are getting better, that doesn't mean things aren't still awful. Strawberries notwithstanding.

Anyway, that's where things are right now, with things changing by the minute. Then again, so are the weather forecasts. Hmmm. Maybe I should call the book Lightning and Bagels.

Or maybe I should rename the party World War Fifty One!

ETA: After searching through lists of biblical names, I've decided Emmagrace's name is Eden. Like everything else in this blog entry, that's subject to change at the drop of a bagel.


Jen Robinson said...

I think I've been reading this blog too much. Because a World War 51 party makes complete sense to me.

I like how the book is shaping up.

Linda Jacobs said...

It must be amazing to write a book and have all these scenarios going on in your head! Such power!

I gave my 82-year old mom LAWKI for the weekend and she couldn't put it down!

No luck finding D&G. Is it out yet? I didn't make it to Borders but did go to a small independent book store. They did have LAWKI, though.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Jen Robinson and Linda Jacobs-

The pre-writing is always my favorite time when I'm working on a book, but it's a little crazy too. I spent much of this evening trying to decide what last name worked best with Eden (currently I'm favoring Gregg).

I can be really obsessive about these things, when I should be focusing on shopping lists and assembling the party favor bags.

The dead and the gone is definitely out in stores, but maybe just the big chains. Although now that I think about it, the Borders in the local mall didn't have it the last I looked (last week sometime). But whoever has it can sell it pre-publication date.

I really don't know if my mother loved LAWKI or d&g, but she loves me and will be at the party.

Heh. Maybe it's not me she loves so much as bagels...