That sweet special sauce

Get your mind out of the gutter. You know who you are.

Every book while it’s being cooked has to have a special sauce moment. Everything we write needs that little extra flavor to it, or otherwise we’d all be making the same staid cheeseburgers. And that’s fine in its own way – cheeseburgers are pretty damn delicious (insert a Randy from Trailer Park Boys reference ehre) – but readers and writers alike would get tired of it awfully fast.

See, most of the great concepts of writing have already been developed. We tend to rely on old recipes to come up with our daily creations, because those recipes have been around forever and they’re popular for a lot of reasons. Plus, it’s damn near impossible to just go and invent a whole new food – or book. So instead, we have to flavor it, to spice it up or do something a little different and memorable. It really doesn’t have to be much, just a little something unique in the blend of herbs and spices to make the book your own. Say, maybe it’s a different perspective, or a unique character, or a bit of dialogue that blossoms into this wondrous strip of bacon of a character. Something like that.

With all my books, those have been relatively simple things. The Ghost at His Back is different thanks mostly to that first line – ghosts are assholes, and not at all perfect or necessarily evil or good. With Forever and Farewell, the spice was Lauren, perhaps my finest culinary creation to date. With A Shot at Us, it was dropping the Clarence character from It’s a Wonderful Life (who I absolutely love, don’t get me wrong), and focusing on the trials of a modern couple whose own goodness was their spiritual savior. With Fundamental Obsession, it was the idea of an inherently good and sweet character who never means to hurt anybody, and yet tears his friends and loved ones apart.

Truthfully, it’s something I’ve been struggling to find with Seven Heroes, not for a lack of ideas, but because I’ve been trying to add too many spices to the soup. I want it to have more of an urban fantasy feel to it while still existing in the world of the Rankin Flats supernatural thrillers, and to that end, I thought maybe I needed to add more fantasy archetypes. I kept having this fantastic idea of an ogre-ish type character as a taxi driver, but I couldn’t figure out how that would work with the concept of the Rankin Flats world, which does have very special creatures in it, but most of whom are in hiding or disguised.

The solution was terribly simple, but I wanted it so hard to work for Seven Heroes that I refused to see it any other way. I wanted my recipe to work, damn it, and only just this morning realized the stock I was cooking with could make for two culinary creations – and that I already had some ingredients in the fridge that would make for an excellent, separate soup. See, I’ve also been thinking for roughly a year or so how to update and make special my YA idea The Extraordinary Ordinary, which despite its title, felt kind of… well… ordinary. I think I can split off most the concepts I had for the urban fantasy world I wanted to implement in Seven Heroes and drop it into the world of Extraordinary Ordinary.

TL:DR – I’m shaving off portions of my delicious roast cooking in the oven right now to make literary au jus and French dips later. Also I’m hungry. Someone bring me cookies!

Author: therealcamlowe

Writer, occasional victim of pug crop-dusting.

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