Archivist Wasp 3/Patreon/etc

As you probably know by now if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve started writing the third and final Archivist Wasp book. The publication history of the first two books was a little weird — I wrote Archivist Wasp as a standalone, with no plans to continue that story, but then two things happened.

First, I got a much larger positive reader reaction from that weird little book than my impostor syndrome and I had ever expected. For whatever reason, people were resonating with this antisocial ghosthunter and this screwup of a ghost and their awkward enemies-to-friends quest into the underworld. I’m very much a write-the-book-you-want-to-read author, so the fact that anyone, let alone so many of you, clicked with this story is still, five years and change after the fact, remarkable to me.

Second, I tried to write other things. I swear. I managed to put together a pretty long short story, but even that was within the same world. I have a whole folder of ideas I came up with for nonrelated ideas while Wasp was going through edits and the long wait between sold book and actual book, but I couldn’t get any of them to stick. Instead, what started happening before Wasp was even released was that the second book started assembling itself in my head. A second book I had zero intention of writing. But a second book that was insistently, persistently, aggressively there, and very badly wanted out.

So I started writing it.

It wasn’t the bizarrely smooth process that drafting Wasp was. I wrote it and tore it apart and rewrote it several times, trying to figure out what the bones of a second book should look like. I hate, with the passion of a thousand burning suns, the second-book thing where you have to spend a whole chapter catching up on what went down in book 1 before you get let in to the story. It always feels awkward and clunky and forced to me for some reason. So I had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to do that in book two–by now with a working title of Latchkey, which stuck–in a way that felt organic and right to the characters and the progression of the story in a way that was, if not seamless, at least something I could live with. So what ended up happening was I chopped out the first three chapters of my draft and started the book in the middle of what had been chapter 4. Meanwhile, the rest of the book got two line-by-line rewrites in which I printed out the draft, sat down with it in front of me, and retyped it line by line, which sometimes is the exact thing you need to figure out where something is broken or not quite smooth or a scene is told out of order or a line just plain sucks and you can (hopefully) do better. During this same time I parted ways with the publisher of the first book and was trying to shop the second book around to a new home, which is extremely hard, but was eventually, against all odds, successful. But at a cost: many readers of the first book are still totally unaware of book 2, released in summer 2018. But it exists! Which is what my brain needed, in order to let go of it and write other books. (And hey! A short story! Totally unrelated to the Wasp stuff!)

(What’s hilarious and kind of sad to me is that periodically I get accusations from readers saying I essentially sold out, that I wrote Latchkey “for the money,” which is a thing I never should have done because “it was so good as a standalone” and I essentially ruined the story by continuing it.

Couple things to unpack here.

One: even if I did write it “for the money,” so what. This idea that writers (and visual artists for that matter) shouldn’t try to get paid for their art in anything but exposure bucks is absurd. I have seen people straightfacedly say that pirating movies is Wrong but pirating books is okay because “it’s no different than borrowing it from the library.” Which is really, emphatically, outrageously incorrect, but an assumption I’ve heard more times than I can count.

Two: the idea that a person wrote the sequel to a book that very few people have heard of “for the money” is objectively hilarious. These books, as all my books, are labors of love, full stop. If I wanted to write something “for the money,” it wouldn’t look even a little bit like Latchkey, or like Wasp for that matter.)

Which brings us to the present. Again I find myself with a folder full of ideas for books I haven’t written yet, and again all my extremely helpful brain wants to do is finish off Wasp’s story. But I know I have pretty much zero chance of traditionally publishing it, and that like always it’s going to be a labor of love, maybe even more this time than usual. Eventually I’ll probably put it on this site for free with a tip jar (unless by some miracle I can find a home for it elsewhere, which would be nice as I am notoriously bad at self-promotion and marketing and as such would be an absolute disaster of a self-publisher) but for now I’m putting it up bit by bit on my Patreon as I blunder through it in realtime. It occurs to me I may not have mentioned on here that I even have a Patreon? (Like I said! NOTORIOUSLY BAD.) Anyway, I do, and it’s got a couple years’ worth of stuff on it by now, including loads of Wasp extras like deleted scenes and Patreon exclusives–for instance, I had a number of requests to write up some of the myths that get mentioned in Wasp in their entirety (the stories about Catchkeep, Ember Girl, Carrion Boy, etc.) so a number of those are on there and will probably never see the light of day elsewhere. Lately it’s been the bits of Wasp 3, working title Catchkeep, and I’ll probably keep putting those up there until there’s a (very messy) draft. After that, who knows! But right now, with two books forthcoming and eating my whole entire brain, this is about the level of productivity I can handle. So Wasp 3 it is. We’re doing this thing.

Anyway, I made my Patreon really simple to subscribe to–it’s pay-what-you-want for all access to everything, no paywalling anybody out of specific content. The account got flagged as 18+ but that’s only because of some draft chapters with curse words in, no actual adult content of any kind. They don’t let people do giveaways on there for some reason, but I’ve been periodically mailing surprise extras to randomly chosen supporters (most recently I gave away 5 advance copies of my new book Firebreak, due out from Simon & Schuster/Gallery/Saga in May 2021, and I’ll be doing that all over again with review copies of my middle-grade debut Jillian vs. Parasite Planet and author copies of both as they become available).

Anyway, this has run on a lot longer and with way more tangents than anticipated, so that’s it for now. As always, thanks zillions to you for your support–it means I get to keep on writing the exact books I want to write, no matter how weird and unmarketable they are. 🙂

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