I’ve officially completed my current work in progress — Pixie. Yay!

(I say that, but now the editing comes into play. It might actually be a few months before the story is actually completed.)

As soon as I hear more or see a book cover, I’ll pass it along!

In the meantime…

Let me tell you how I came around to brainstorming the novel and show you where it all started.

Characters

Pixie

In this case, the first thing that occurred was my discovery of one of my main characters, Gillie. I’ve written about her discovery before, though she didn’t have a name at that time.

My initial notes in 2012 had her living in a school bus with a bunch of other traveling/homeless kids. I’d also based her mythology in India rather than Celtish, but I don’t know a lot about Indian mythos and didn’t want to step on any toes.

I have a Pinterest page for Character Inspiration and went there next. There I found a photo that really drew me, and Gillie was officially born.

Last year I stumbled across the website Squat the Planet while researching cheap RV living. There I found information on freight hopping that took me off to Never Neverland!

Gillie became a freight hopper!

Lindsay

Next came Lindsay Wells. In 2012 I already figured she’d be a college student hanging out somewhere. The book begins in Portland, and there tends to be a lot of mixing between the homeless kids and local youth. It’s not unheard of for a college student to hang out in the park with those who are less fortunate.

By the time I started writing the book, Lindsay had become a senior majoring in social work. To that end, she volunteers weekly at a local soup kitchen, which is where she initially comes across Gillie.

Once more I hit my Character Inspiration Pinterest page to locate Lindsay. The photo I chose was of a reserved young woman with blue-dyed dark hair. She’s wearing a leather jacket but doesn’t seem to be a badass.

Hence Lindsay became the introverted young woman who lived on the streets a short time before clawing her way out of her circumstances. She’s a self-made woman with a severe self-confidence problem.

Locations

Portland, Oregon

A lot of my stories are set or begin in the Pacific Northwest. Small wonder since I live here!

I know Portland well. I know many of the services available to the poor and homeless, having suffered both as an adult.

You know what they say…write what you know!

This novel is about a freight hopper though, which meant there had to be some travel involved. I wanted the reader to enjoy the visceral excitement of hopping a train, the sheer boredom when things don’t go right and the environment that people in that lifestyle live in every day.

Therefore we traveled.

San Francisco, California

I’ll be honest. I think I was nine years old the last time I was in San Francisco. Everything I described there was from my experiences in other large cities and a heavy use of Google Maps. (Thank you, Google!)

I hope I didn’t do the city a disservice.

Research

Websites

Vagabonding – Reddit.com has a wonderful subreddit called Vagabond. The founder, Huckstah, has written an entire “Vagabond Bible” that is available for free. I read that think from cover to cover.

Of course, Squat the Planet linked above was another heavy resource.

Videos

On YouTube there were a number of documentaries:

American Nomads

Catching Out

Hobo Living

7 days by freight

Plug in “freight hopping” or “nomad” and you get a number of videos. This gave me a much better idea of how its done as well as the scenery involved.

Books

I also haunted my local library. I know I checked out two books, but I can’t remember which ones they were! All of them were interlibrary loans, and my library doesn’t list specifics for those.

Plot

No, I’m not going to give anything away here! You’ll have to wait until the book is out to read what happens.

But I’ll tell you that I’ve had the major plot points since Gillie’s birth.

Once I saw the photo that would be her, noted the impish smile, figured out what her background was, I knew something of what was going on.

And when I realized Lindsay would be hesitant to jump into the fray, I knew that the only thing to get her out the door and onto a freight train was the end of everything she knew.

So, something had chased Gillie across the United States and had finally caught up with her…just when she meets Lindsay.

Both women are then targeted, and they both must flee.

Here I drew upon other interests (no spoilers!) to create the antagonist that chased them.

Conclusion

As you can see by the earlier blog article, I’ve had this idea brewing since. And it wasn’t until late last year that I came up with the full plot and outline. The story only came into being when I focused on Gillie. The more I knew about her, the more I knew about the tale.

Every one of my books is different. Some start with a snippet of song. Others strike me from magazine or newspaper articles. For Pixie, it was the character discovery that inspired me.

Which sort of explains how difficult it is for me to answer, “What inspired you?” Each novel began differently.

To make matters worse, it happens so organically that I don’t really know the answer until I break it all down like I’ve done here.

What About You?

Do you have any questions about the process for Pixie? Do you have any questions about anything? I’d be happy to answer them! Click below and comment! Or email me through the contact box. I’d love to hear from you!

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