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NaNo 2009: The Clockwork Courtesan

October 2, 2009

It’s October, which can mean only one thing: NaNo season is upon us. National Novel Writing Month itself doesn’t start until November 1, but the one-month-to-go mark traditionally brings with it the start of the yearly frenzy of planning, outlining, and desperately trying to think of endings.

This will be my fourth year of NaNo: I won in 2006 (50,440), lost in 2007 (12,000 and some) and won again in 2008 (80,300). Last year I was lucky enough to do it in the estimable company of a wonderful group of writers, the Student NaNos of our university city, who met up every Sunday in our long-suffering leader’s living room to eat sweets, drink milkshake and write until our wrists gave out. I made a bunch of awesome friends and met my beautiful boyfriend; this year we’re all going to gird up our laptops and do it again.

This year’s novel will be steampunk, heavily influenced by the melodramatic-sensationalist approach that novels of the Victorian period often took, and will involve zombies, clockwork, time travel, a whale, airships, and probably a crystal skull or two. I have a lot of start, some middle, and absolutely no end; the vexed question of how to finish will probably be on my mind a lot. What I do have in a semi-polished form, though, is the back-cover blurb for The Clockwork Courtesan:

London, 1885.

The Natural History Museum retrieves a deceased whale from the middle Thames, an expedition returns from darkest Amazonia bearing strange things, and a secret coalition of the rich and powerful plot to bring down King and country . . .

When three friends – Nikolai, Newt and Mnemosyne – stumble on the fiendish plan, what began as a mere puzzling case of fake psychics and missing heirs turns rapidly into an frenetic race against time (possibly literally) as they struggle to solve three mysteries at once.

Who killed Astrid Frax?

Where are the glass vampires coming from?

And who, or what, is concealed behind the enigmatic soubriquet of the Clockwork Courtesan?

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