Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Great Archive of The Spymaster Fictive Universe

I got an e-mail asking about the notes I keep on what's happening year by year in the fictive world.

These are the notes. I went back and pulled out stuff that would be spoilers. I think I got everything.
Anyhow, it's in the form of a bunch of pages, one by one. I couldn't find a better way to do this.


  1. Thank you so much!!!! I'm really excited that you're taking the time to put this together for all your adoring fans:) I can't speak for everyone else, but the two things I most enjoy on authors' web sites are time lines and family trees. Maybe its the control freak in me, but I like to be able to have a clear picture of where I am in time and space. This helps!

    I'm slightly sad that the "what's happening in the world" column doesn't fit, but no matter...that's what wikipedia is for! I have lost many hours of my life looking things up there. Hypertext is a dangerous thing. Oh well though...I now know the history of the umbrella.

    Can't wait to see the rest! Thanks again!

  2. Hi Kat --

    This is challenging for me. I am not the world's most technically savvy person.

    I'm working away on this however, and I'll fit the spreadsheet onto the blog some way or other. Has to be a way to do this.

    I may end up with a set of about seven little documents.
    I'll use this post to put 'em in, I think, when I finally get all this worked out.

  3. Did we already know that Lazarus was Josiah's brother and I missed it?

  4. Hi Moth --

    It's one of those bits of background that don't really appear in the story.

    They're half brothers. They were using a couple of different names when they came to London to set up as career criminals. . . . some little matter that involved leaving Yorkshire in a hurry . . . so being brothers never came up in a general way.

    Then, for twenty-two years before the action of the story, they didn't speak to each other or admit the relationship.

    Jess, for instance, simply didn't know.

    I'm still working on getting these notes in a form that will post on the blog.


  5. Thanks for sharing this bit of your process! I just love seeing the inner workings of authors' processes.

    I've put all my characters in a separate file using my genealogy program. I did mine as part of my pre-writing and have reviewed it and tweaked it as necessary as I write.

    Are you doing this mostly for your readers, or is it something you're using as ongoing notes for your writing?

  6. Do you use a genealogy program to show blood ties -- or other sorts of relationships?

    This chart here is indeed the record-keeping program I use. It's primative technology, isn't it?

    I pulled a lot of info out, because it's about current characters.

  7. Ah!!!! Love, love, love the new additions. This is so much better than I was imagining! I'm glad you were able to add in the world history column too. Unfortunately however, I'm now really impatient for the next books to come out!

    Thanks rock.

  8. Anonymous12:34 AM

    This is wonderful. One question: is Jess Lazarus's daughter or Josiah's? I was thrown by Josiah's concealing her birth for a few weeks to cloud paternity. There was Sebastian's wonder that someone like Josiah could have sired someone like Jess -- was that a clue? Thanks for putting this up and for creating such enjoyable stories. Martha

  9. Hi Martha --

    I picture Josiah delivering the baby and wrapping her up in the cloth he's got ready and saying, 'We have a daughter,' and putting her in the arms of the woman he'd chosen over his own brother.

    Josiah claimed Jess. Making allowances for Josiah's rather sketchy abilities in the parenting direction, there's no doubt he treated Jess as his daughter.

    Was she Josiah's daughter in a genetic sense?

    Nobody knows but Josiah. It must have annoyed Lazarus no end, never being sure.

    I will say ...

    Lazarus scattered his get up and down the social ladder of Enland.

    Josiah, who had plenty of women both before and after Jess's mother, had no other children. But maybe he was just careful.

  10. I use the program to show blood ties. It has a notes section for each person, though, so I could add relationships and other relevant info as needed.

    I've got several generations, only some of who are actually in this book. I intend to use a selection of characters in a subsequent generation in my next book. Having it all mapped out (especially with so many different characters) helps me keep it all straight in my mind.

  11. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Thanks for the answer. I truly wish you wrote (perhaps I should say publish) longer books. There is so much good stuff that doesn't get in.
    As to your having difficulty plotting, this intricate chart seems to contradict that. But are you speaking of plotting on a micro (as opposed to a macro) level? I wold love to hear your thoughts on that.
    Your 2 books have been a wonderful vacation, and your characters wonderful companions, during a rough patch in life (Hurricane Ike damage, dying parents, 2 kids in college). I wanted you to know that your work is more than excellent entertainment. Thank you. Martha

  12. I've got several generations, only some of who are actually in this book. I intend to use a selection of characters in a subsequent generation in my next book.

    I love this. I love books that are part of a whole rich world, with complication and interaction running off the sides of the story and far away in every direction.

  13. Hi Martha --

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I am greatly touched to know my books gave you some hours' respite from the real world.

    There is so much good stuff that doesn't get in.

    It's kinda inevitable, I think.

    Story plays a kind of iceberg. The fictive world exists before the story and after it and elsewhere.
    We never see all. But that hidden stuff is what keeps the story we do see, afloat.

    But are you speaking of plotting on a micro (as opposed to a macro) level?

    As I see it, the fictive world is sprawling and ambiguous and dispersed.

    The 'story that gets told' has unifying elements of time and space, character and causality.

    So you choose this scene and that from the fictive universe. You're picking up maybe one percent of all the things that happen. You place these events in a logical and emotionally-satisfying order.

    That's story.

    You try to hit the high points. You're looking for moments the characters themselves will remember, years later.

    Because I'm writing Romance, the events mostly occur during the courtship period. Most action has one or both protagonists on stage. And it's elegant if most action relates to my folks falling in love.

    Which is a long, involved way to say, 'you have to plot.'

    Story is the twenty-six seashells we pick up from the beach and string on a necklace. We leave behind a beachful of broken shells and whole shells and interesting rocks and sand and the sound of the sea.

    ... being all poetic about it.

  14. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I am fascinated that apparently Maggie has 4 kids, only one of which is biologically Doyles?

    Cannot WAIT To read this book!

  15. Hi Deb --

    I should change those entries to say 'Maggie and Doyle' have a kid. ()

  16. Kim b2:12 AM

    Hi, I would love to see these images/notes but the links are broken. :(

  17. Oh dear. They do seem broken. Thank you so much for telling me.

    Let me see what I can do to restore them . . . May take a while because I have to go through my notes and remove all the spoilers.