It is October 1st!
The NaNoWriMo official website is (hopefully) only minutes or hours away from unveiling itself for the new year, and that means I can officially begin the prep I totally haven’t been working on for a week and a half! I’ve never kept track of the October part of the process before, so I’m actually kind of excited to see what will evolve and grow in the 30 days before the 30 days, as it were.
For now, I have The Mirror Hunters.
This title, like everything else I come up with before the beginning of November, may or may not be subject to change.
I started this novel with four prompts: assassins, the seven deadly sins, mirrors, and mazes. Having just finished Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy not too long ago, the idea of writing about assassins seems immediately appealing. I’ve just seen one way the concept can go, why not have fun looking at it from a different angle?
I don’t place much value on being original for the sake of being original, but it’s also not very interesting to keep rewalking the same paths. Weeks’ assassins felt very archetypal to me – they’re contract killers, respected in the underworld but hardly the sort of people ordinary folk would want to invite for dinner. Other people have shone other lights on their assassins; the Assassin’s Creed assassins aren’t so much hired killers are they are idealistic vigilantes who don’t mind slitting throats to make the world a better place. I’ve also seen assassins portrayed as little more than mercenaries who prefer quick fights over bodyguard duty, or assassins who work as the clandestine arm of some government agency or other …
As I was mulling it over in the shower, I realized that the one thing I’d never seen before was a story where being an assassin was something you could proudly say on the street, and have people look at you with nods of approval.
So that’s what I’m going to write.
Of course, there are plenty of good reasons why ‘dude who gets paid to kill other people’ isn’t normally the kind of career a person can boast about. For one thing, that basically means it would have to be legal to put hits out or accept contracts to kill people. Legalized murder isn’t exactly the sort of thing that encourages stable, moral societies – and I really don’t want to write about a cracked dystopia where the mob rules and life and death are chips in the middle of someone else’s poker game.
There have to be rules, there have to be morals, and they have to be the kind of rules and morals the average reader can understand or I’m going to lose everybody (including myself).
One author came to mind when I was contemplating how to navigate these murky waters. Jacqueline Carey did an interesting job of turning prostitution into a noble and sacred art, as well as crafting some political tangles I thoroughly enjoyed the unravelling of. Obviously, I can’t treat the killing of random civilians the same way that she dealt with the offering of sexual acts for compensation – orgasms and death, slightly different end results there.
Still, it’s a stepping stone.
What I needed more than anything else was a way to make my assassins more helpful to society than they were harmful – a fairly tough requirement, given that their main function involves killing society for fun and profit.
Well, what if they were also arbiters of justice? Not just the hand of the law, the way I’ve seen before, but if somehow the assassins themselves were a means by which social order was preserved? Not even social order, that’s too tenuous; taking a page from Carey’s book, I think my assassins will be the weapon in the hand of a higher power. Assassin-priests, who do god’s will even as they take your bag of gold to slit the throat of that guy who looked at you funny the other day.
I think I like where this is going, and the religious angle gives me something I think I can use to hook onto prompt number two, the Seven Deadly Sins.
Next up: religion!