The concept of “the muse” fascinates people – readers and writers alike. As if a spirit takes control of an author’s mind and body, the theory goes that a story emerges to demand attention, and the author must comply with its wishes. This idea applies to an entire novel all the way to a short story, from one character within a plot line to a whole host of characters acting out.
I wish I had a concrete explanation for this occurrence. Or a mystical revelation about it. But I don’t. I only know the truth of it – that perhaps an idea popped into my head that I own, but then the story and/or characters take it in different directions. I certainly know I control it, that it is my creation. But I also know that it goes astray sometimes; that characters and ideas decide something outside my original concept, and I lack the power to return to what I wanted.
Here’s my most recent example for you.
In January, it came time for me to start my next novel. I decided to continue the tales of Simon the Elf, because Santa Is a Vampire had recently been published and I talked to a number of people about its sequel, including those at my release party. But whenever I started to outline the plot, my vampires from the Realm of the Vampire Council interfered. I ignored them. I did research for my Simon book. I outlined it. At every step, those vampires reminded me that I left them off at the beginning of a war at the end of The Vampire’s Protege. How could I?!
I explained to them, over and over, that first we needed to do the reprint of Book III. Then I would return to their new story. So I tried to go back to Simon. But they were angry. Insistent. To the point I finally gave up. All the work for Simon’s sequel went back in the drawer, and out came the work for the fifth book in the Realm of the Vampire Council.
Every logical thought, every concept of where I wanted to go, pointed to Simon. And I’m still excited about that sequel. But the muse had other ideas. The muse pushed and pushed until I obeyed. So here I am, currently working on Book V, The Vampire’s War. Happy to say, the vampires are happy again. Or at least they stopped pestering me and instead launched into their latest stories.