In case you missed it, Jen and I wrote a book together called Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. It took us two and a half months and was a wild ride. Renaissance Press loved it and will be publishing it in Fall 2022. It’s the first in a trilogy or quadrilogy, called The Gates of Westmeath.
I took some time to finish Elizabeth 4 and now Jen and I have started writing book 2 of the Gates of Westmeath.
We finished the first two chapters this week and I’ll be starting on chapter 3 today.
We’re super excited and can’t wait to share the first book with you. So excited we made shirts for the whole family.
It’s had the adorable (and awkward if in public) side effect of having the kids screaming “Assassins family!”
Kennedy and Jason, in their first iterations, appeared in our D&D game in 2010. Kennedy Fairfield was Kennedy Lake, and she was a kindergarten teacher who had an affinity for guns. Jason Johnson was Giles Momoa, and he was a Mafia leader that the player characters had to interrogate. Kennedy rolled a natural 20 and did something fancy, getting his attention, and they flirted and eventually became romantically involved. The other players liked him too, and he kept coming back into the game. When that game ended, we played a superhero game, and Jen played Giles’s niece, a 6 year old water creator named Chelsea who couldn’t control her creation. She appears in our book as Brooke, Jason’s niece. After that game ended, that was it; we put them all aside.
Fast forward ten years, and we didn’t really remember the storylines from the game, but the characters really stuck in our heads (although we had forgotten most of their names, other than Kennedy’s first name). And then we started discussing potentially writing a book about them, together.
We started off by talking about it A LOT in Fall 2020. Then on Jan 1, 2021, we sat down and wrote jot notes for the first Act. We split the book between us by main character and alternated chapters (minus a couple places in Act 2). When we finished the first Act, we made jot notes for the second. And again for the third.
We have a separate document for the cast of characters and important locations, with descriptions about each so we could stay consistent.
We wrote in Google docs. After each chapter, the other person edited, and then Jen read it aloud to Keladry (4.5yo). She picked up on a lot of repetitive words and typos that way…
It worked really well for us, but we understand why it wouldn’t work for everyone.
We finished the first draft on March 14, 2021.
More than half of the words Jen wrote were written on her phone while nursing Adrien (18-20mo) to sleep!
Lots of writing late at night happened. Éric would bring his laptop to bed and write while Jen was nursing Adrien (when it was his turn to write). Occasionally, we’d get a nice chunk of time in the middle of the day when the kids were playing well together, and we could write.
One memorable occasion, Jen wrote 4k words during our daughter’s virtual school day while she (Dragon) was paying attention to the teachers. :O
It’s set in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which is a real place, but in real life is a small farming area. In our book, something significant was discovered there and a very large city popped up very quickly (think 3/4 the size of Montreal, about 1.1 million people) in the 1970s. The sister city is Demers, Quebec, which is about the same size. There are about 60 high schools in Westmeath.
We wanted a fictional city so that we could add areas, streets, and stores without worrying about real locations. There are certain areas that are based off of real-life locations (Kennedy’s apartment is based on the apartments at Lees in Ottawa, for example).
The characters were originally from a table top role playing game we played in 2010 and at the time, Éric wanted to have a city that could be a pastiche of Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Gotham.
The book is set in 2002 to avoid conflicting or crossing over with too many elements of the rest of the Aetherverse, specifically events that will happen in summer of 2016 in book 7 of Elizabeth Investigates Her Last Bow.
Beyond wanting to avoid giving away the series ending (not to mention not wanting to deal with the pandemic) we also were in late high school and early university at the time and have some fond memories.
One of the first things we did when writing this book was build a 2002 playlist.
I had already started writing my first chapter, and Kennedy had entered a bakery. I thought, shouldn’t there be music playing? What music would have been popular in September 2002?
Cue a post on Facebook asking about our friends’ favourite artists from twenty years ago. (Twenty? What?)
We bought a bunch of CDs to supplement what we already owned, and built an epic playlist to listen to while we wrote to add atmosphere. An entire scene in chapter 5 wouldn’t have been there without this playlist.
Bands and artists we listened to, in alphabetical order:
Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys, Aqua, Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Bloodhound Gang, Britney Spears, Bryan Adams, Cake, Celine Dion, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Chumbawumba, Coldplay, Creed, Daniel Bélanger, Dave Matthews Band, David Usher, Destiny’s Child, Enrique Iglesias, Enya, Éric Lapointe, Evanescence, Faith Hill, Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack, Flogging Molly, Foo Fighters, Garou, Goo Goo Dolls, Great Big Sea, Green Day, Jagged Edge, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Page, Jewel, Kevin Parent, Len, Live, Macy Gray, Meatloaf, Midday Blackout, Natasha St-Pierre, Nelly, Nelly Furtado, Nickelback, Nightwish, Nine Inch Nails, Norah Jones, Pearl Jam, Phil Collins, P!nk, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Reel Big Fish, REM, Remy Shand, Ricky Martin, Robbie Williams, Rush, S Club 7, Sarah McLachlan, Savage Garden, Seal, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Sky, Smashmouth, Spice Girls, Sum 41, Tea Party, Third Eye Blind, U2, Vanessa Carlton
As you may have read in yesterday’s post, the book Jen and I wrote in winter 2021 has been accepted by a publisher. Renaissance Press is growing fast, lots of amazing authors, anthologies, and books. I wasn’t sure they’d have room for us.
This is going to be my 7th book (Book six Coffee Shop Between the ‘Verses comes out on September 15th.) and I’m always nervous about submitting. This is the first novel that I’ve submitted only to Renaissance, normally I go through the motions of sending them to agents, editors, and contests. I submitted Everdome to a dozen agents and twice as many companies. I received two nice rejections and a lot of silence. I realize that’s what it’s like to be an author. So glad Renaissance accepted this book and that we didn’t need to try to get it out to other, less open, publishers.
One of the joys of this book is the enthusiasm and excitement of my co-author. Her enthusiasm keeps me on track and excited while her excellent writing forces me to up my game. We each have strengths that compliment each other.
I assumed it would be very easy to tell who wrote what parts, but our styles must mesh well because most of our beta readers couldn’t tell which sections were mine and which were hers. I think that’s really cool and I look forward to writing more with her.
Now that this book has a contract we’re hoping to start work on the sequel soon. I’d like to get a little further into Elizabeth 4, which is taking me forever. So I’m hoping mid September or early October. Meanwhile, Jen has started a spin-off novel and we’ve written a short story collection.
Things are about to get really hectic here. Dragon and Jen have decided that it’s best for the kid to go to digital school full time in the Fall. That means a complete change in bedtime schedule for both kids. I foresee a lot of meltdowns and lack of sleep in late August and early September and that’s just for me.
Hopefully we’ll all be vaccinated by Christmas and Dragon can do her last semester of Kindergarten in person.
A council of seven members that owns lands and businesses in the Oldtown district of Westmeath. They are prominent members of the Community and the Council dates back to the original founding of Westmeath.
Westmeath Agricultural Research Cooperative (Westmeath ARC)
A research and development agricultural facility, they hold the patents to countless hearty crops and pest resistant strains. One of the world’s top agricultural researchers, Dr Amita Dubois, runs the cooperative.
It is funded by the Oldtown Council and its crops are used as a form of food bank and low income supplementation.
A subsidiary of Aesir Holdings, they own an empty warehouse and small fleet of black vans. It is suspected that they are a front for something, but unsure what.
Unidentified Tech Companies
In the sixties, several large tech companies moved facilities to Westmeath due to military contracts. With the tech companies came people, infrastructure, schools, and other businesses. In under fifteen years, Westmeath went from a backwater town to a metropolitan city.
The tech companies are extremely paranoid and have built massive city block sized campuses that have security walls around them.
One of the most elusive crime groups in the country, it is known to only operate in Westmeath, Toronto, and Quebec City. The Syndicate is brutal to its enemies and controls a lot of the smuggling and human trafficking in its territory.
One of the country’s most notorious, and hard to shut down, gangs. They operate each city as a cell with no one knowing the national leaders. They mostly deal in drugs, thugs, weapons, and robberies.
The Daemon Bikers are Westmeath’s largest drug dealers. They deal in everything. They are known to make deals rather than go into a turf war.
This is a new religion that believes that a great power, they call the Key, will unlock a gate to a new world where they and the devout will be given their eternal reward. They seem to mix Christian, Norse, and science fiction concepts.
They are known to be violently devout.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel church
An Anglican Church first built in the early 1900’s. The Reverend is known to be extremely accepting. This church is also an Aetherborn sanctuary.
Siblings of Death
A cult of trained assassins that believe the way to paradise is on a wave of blood. Once they are hired for a job they do not stop trying.