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Shake the Light

Origin book for Millicent now has a title and a blurb! \0/

Internet, I am EXCITE, as the young people say!

I’ve been saying for a while now that I was going to do Millicent Merriweather’s origin story. At first the plan was going to be to do a novella as part of the last remaining Kickstarter things I need to do–but I was also pretty damn sure that Millicent might demand a full novel.

Couple this with how I recently had a conversation with the agent to catch her up on what I was doing and to gauge her level of interest in what I’ve got on the queue for current projects. I told her about wanting to do Millie’s story–and how this would essentially be historical urban fantasy, set in Seattle in 1953. She perked up quite notably.

What was keeping me from really getting anywhere is that I needed to know what or who the primary antagonists would be. I knew I wanted to do a scenario where Millicent at age 16 had a nasty falling out with her family, and spent a lot of time wandering in search of her own city to Ward. She arrives in Seattle in 1953. Seattle is supposed to be a Warded city–but the Wards are down, and nobody in the lineage has heard from Seattle’s Warder. When Millicent gets there, she discovers why: that Warder has contracted polio and is now no longer able to defend the city.

I also knew that Millie would meet her future husband at this point: Jonathan Merriweather, who came home wounded from the Korean War, and has been considered unbalanced by his family because he’s been seeing things. Only he’s now able to see the fey, and he finds out that what he’s been seeing is real once he meets Millicent. And I knew that I wanted whatever was going on to be connected to his family as well.

Lastly, I knew that I wanted to somehow involved the submerged forests in Lake Washington, which I learned about when I read Full Rip 9.0 last year. I thought the idea of a submerged forest was creepy as hell and really wanted to use it.

But I didn’t know what the Big Antagonist would be. And I needed to figure that out before I could really try to get the agent on board.

So I started ramping up some research and trying to get a sense of what was going on in Seattle, in the US, and in the world at the time. I spent a lot of Saturday night and yesterday reading up, gathering links, and trying to get enough data to see if I could build a plot. And now I have. BEHOLD:

The first daughter in two generations of her family to carry the full strength of the Warder magic, Millicent Wray is determined to find a city of her own to protect and defend. Seattle, Washington seems like just the place, for its Wards are down, its Warder gravely ill. But as she takes on the burden of restoring Seattle’s magical protections, Millie soon discovers that malevolent forces are rising from the depths of Lake Washington, bent on claiming the ailing Warder Catherine Heino’s power for their own—and Catherine, her strength shattered by polio, is desperate enough to bargain with them. Now Millie, with her Texas-born tenacity and her trusty shotgun Butch, is all that stands between the vulnerable city and the hungry spirits from the lake. Can she lay the kodama to rest before they claim all of Seattle—and Catherine’s life—with their vengeance?

The working title for this: Shake the Light, to reference Tennyson, because the aforementioned Jonathan Merriweather loves his poetry. I WILL be working this in somewhere.

I also have a longer version of this blurb, which I’m using to build a proper synopsis. But y’all don’t get to see that, yet. That needs to stay on my side of the spoiler wall.

Here, though, are some things I figured out about Millie in the course of researching this story:

  1. Millie’s major heroes as a young woman are Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley.
  2. She left home at 16 after having a massive falling-out with her family, and spent a lot of time wandering the western states.
  3. Because of item #1, she spent a few summers working carnivals as a sharpshooter act. Girl needs to eat in between looking for her own city to defend, after all!
  4. She is TOTALLY a fan of outer space movies. Why? Because Warders can’t leave their pledged lands, and if she can’t leave the earth, she can at least eat up sci-fi movies with ALL THE SPOONS. She’s going to love War of the Worlds, and she and Jonathan are totally going to see that movie several times on dates!

This is going to be FUN. 😀