The first idea for Wind Age came one evening in the late winter or early spring of Anno Domini 2016. I was going home from school after a long day indoors, sitting in the back of our van, too tired to knit, just looking out the windows.
Then we came to a drainage ditch with high banks, and at the corner of it was a pile of stones, and the wind sprang up, and I looked at the clouds hanging low, and one of them was in the shape of a horse.
“The Wild Hunt,” I thought, without willing the words or knowing where they came from, though the idea of the Wild Hunt was not strange to me.
And then I started seeing pictures in my head, as we kept driving, and the cloud moved over us and its shape went on changing, and I pulled out my notebook and began to write. For the next forty-five minutes I forgot my weariness, though when we were nearly home my left hand began to cramp, and using a fork at supper was difficult, and the side of my hand was grey with pencil lead: but what came from that cloud was the idea for Wind Age.
When I set about writing the story, I thought it would open here, but then I found I was having to pack too much backstory in, and that the backstory was worthy of taking more time over it, so the equivalent passage in the final version turned out to be the middle. It also divided itself naturally into three parts.
A fair way into Part One, nearly to Part Two, I realized I had no idea how the story ended, which made it increasingly hard to build up to the climax. This was a great problem, because though I hardly ever outline anything, it helps to know how things end at least a reasonable time before I get there. I turned for help to my writer friend Jenny, and from our conversation (which did involve some ideas about poison getting tossed around) I began to see my way to the end. Without someone there, willing to discuss endings with a panicky writer at an odd hour of the afternoon (when I really should have been doing other things), the story probably would have fallen flat or never gotten finished at all.
Wind Age was a strange story to write, and probably bothered my family more than they let on in the writing of it. Most of my stories I can work on with someone as close as the other end of the couch; Wind Age required that I be the only person in the room. However, people have a way of moving around, so though I might begin by being the only one in the sunroom, or living room, or somebody or other’s bedroom, sooner or later someone would show up, and I’d have to leave. By the end of it I spent most of my time on a different floor of the house from everyone else, if possible, and grumbled more than usual at being interrupted. Oddly enough, people moved around me more than I’d expected, and though I’m sure they minded, they didn’t show it too much. Or maybe I was too deep in the story to notice. Now I like my personal space anyway, but perhaps it sounds a bit strange to say I have to thank my family for giving me even more of it? Not that they were perfectly accommodating about staying away and not interrupting. They’re human too.
Wind Age was a deeper, more frightening story than I’d ever written before, and consequently I held it close. Jenny and Hope were the first ones to know I was writing it, and the first ones to get an idea of what the story was, though at that point I hadn’t a plot in the strict sense of the word. I only revealed the plot to my sister, who usually gets that sort of thing early on, three days before I finished the first draft. (She, predictably, said it wasn’t the kind of story she thought I would write — part of why I waited so long.) My family is usually the last to read anything I’ve written. People who know you tend to have certain expectations about the kinds of things you write, and often those expectations are wrong. For some reason, one of the people who know me best (or think they do. . .) said last week that a certain kind of book was similar to my writing style. I’d read the book and was surprised. It’s been a long time since my writing has been like that — not that the book was poorly written, because it was actually quite good, but the same general style or tone. It was odd to find out that way just how much my writing has changed in a few years.
I could say quite a bit more about Wind Age, but if you want to see the cover and back-cover copy you can find it on my books page, and I’ll avoid being redundant (which is always to be avoided at all times).