Like the prelim cover for Heritage? It’s pretty reflective of the book, so it’s science fiction with horses and dogs. And despite his Martiniere veneer, Mike Martiniere is still an Eastern Oregon cowboy because that’s how he was raised. Even if he does come from a rich and powerful family that controls an international consortium. But Mike has to face up to what the heritage of being a Martiniere means, including who and what he is–the clone of a powerful, vicious, and autocratic man, Philip Martiniere, who saw Mike as a disposable means to achieve immortality. Mike is Philip’s thirteenth clone attempt, and the only one to survive his progenitor.
I’ve been living in Mike’s head since August. Unlike most of my books, where I start at the beginning and work my way through, The Heritage of Michael Martiniere has been written in self-contained short pieces written to address certain themes. In fact, one of the major chunks, the interactions between Mike and his great-granddaughter/niece Lily*, were amongst the last pieces written because I couldn’t get my head around Lily for quite a while. Once I figured Lily out, the whole last section of the book came together and was written more or less linearly. Let’s just say that I finally figured out how to incorporate some inspirations from watching Swan Lake into a story.
*(um. It’s complicated. Mike was adopted and raised by his biological son Gabe after being rescued from his creator/progenitor Philip at the age of five. Lily is the daughter of Gabe’s son Brandon)
I’m jokingly calling Heritage “literary science fiction,” because while it’s near-future and has technological/cyberpunk elements, it’s also very focused on relationship, emotion, and what it means to be a clone to that clone as he grows up and has to deal with all the BS that goes with being a clone. It unfolds bit by bit, piece by piece, as Mike comes to terms with the physical, psychological, and political toxicity of his progenitor Philip…and to some extent, the Martiniere family. Mike is a very broken person because of what he inherits from Philip. But so are the people who raise him.
Yesterday I finished the first revision, which for me means taking paper edits of the rough draft and incorporating them into the main document. It’s the beginning of walking away from the story. It still has to go to edits, but the essential act of original creation has been completed.
For some reason I’m finding it hard to let go of this creation. Last night I actually came up with ideas for two more books in this setting…one, Broken Angel, about Gabe, and the other, Rescue Angel, about his sister Justine. Not ready to write those stories just yet but they could end up being a 2022 project. All the same, I have to wonder if the degree to which I immersed myself in the world of the Martinieres is due to the nature of the story, or the nature of writing something like this during Covid? I did achieve a lot while writing these books–approximately 270,000 words in the trilogy, Heritage at 115,000 words, and assorted short stories at around another 30,000 words. So close to 400,000 words this year, all in one world. That’s more than I’ve continuously written in a single setting before now. Part of this was due to the decision that I wanted to write the whole darn thing all at once before doing something else, unlike in the past when I was alternating Netwalk and Goddess’s Honor books.
Covid is a factor, all right. Without my other usual activities, this year in writing has basically been go to the computer, futz around on line, write for a while, go do some other stuff, then write some more. However, that decision to work in one world until I reached an endpoint in the major story arc was a huge chunk of this year’s production and it’s affected me in other areas.
I haven’t made jewelry. I haven’t made any quilts.
It’s just been writing, riding the horse, and getting out into the woods.
But now that I’m having to detach myself from the Martinieres, I’m finding it hard. Like I said…at least two more possible books. At least. And while I’ve written this world from the top layer, there are lower layer pieces that could be written as well.
I hate to say goodbye, but in the next week or so, the last pieces of this world get wrapped up and move from creation to production.
I’ll miss them.