I have this love/hate relationship with the A&O books. Some characters are easy for me — Mercy, Adam, Bran — and Charles. Anna . . . I love Anna, but she fought me every step of the way through Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground. It's like I can't get a real handle on her until I'm all the way through with the third or fourth revisions &emdash; and then I have to change everything again.
This book should have been the worst of them all: first of all it takes place in Boston. I'd never been to Boston. So why did I choose it?
I try to avoid the 'Hand Of The Author' as much as I can. Anna and Charles have already had adventures in most of the places I know: Montana, Seattle, Chicago. I suppose I could have set Fair Game in Portland or Eugene Oregon, or Texas (where I have at least visited). But that seemed like I was placing a limit on the story. New York, home of US publishing, is already represented by a huge number of fantasy writers. My daughter was walking by while I was struggling with a good location and she said, "How about Boston?"
Okay. Boston it is. (Lovely city. I'm sure glad I got a chance to visit!)
Then there was the house. I should have known it was going to be a disaster from the first day, when the backhoe pulled the neutral feed and we fried a fair number of the electronics in our house (fairwell, sweet microwave). There was black mold in a roof that should have been vented when the house was built that meant our "little remodel" turned into "it would have been better if we'd burned the house and started from scratch" and a contractor who . . . yes, well uhm.
For the better part of seven months I couldn't write a word that was worth keeping. I had the story worked out, but the words were worse than dreck, trickling out in odd scenes that didn't seem to have much to do with the story. My husband and I, our dog, four cats (lost two of them during this time), bird and two snakes moved into my 10X30 office trailer (with doors that pop open when the wind blows) that already had my office in it (no bathroom or running water). The machinery driving by ensured that the poor (not well sealed) trailer got its daily four inches of dust over everything.
We finally fired the first general contractor — and found an awesome man to replace him. It was a revelation: things got finished (and they were finished right!), experts were hired (real roofers! real plaster men! Yay!) And suddenly I could write again. For the first time since the original novella, Anna was helpful from the beginning and held my hand all the way through the final chapters.
I am very pleased with Fair Game. It marks a change in both series, a move from exploration of Mercy's World (and that of Anna and Charles) to the world is changing.
Changing times, as Coyote might say, lead to interesting adventures.