I wrote Amiga as my NaNoWriMo project in a chaotic 2016. In an even more chaotic 2020, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again. This time, I’m writing about a subject that I’ve struggled with for 44 years, the murder of Mary Ann Henderson.
I attempted to write about her death and how it affected us for years. I came close to putting it into fiction with The Ghosts of Reseda High. I finished the book, took it through several beta reads, but it never quite gelled for me. I decided not to publish it. But as you know, I never throw away anything I’ve written. I always find ways to reuse material later on. In the case of this new book, Amiga provided the key.
For my NaNoWriMo project, I’m bringing back characters from Amiga. You’ll see them when they were in high school, and you’ll find out what happened to them after the events of the book. A minor character in Amiga will play an important role in my story. So, this project is more of a spinoff than a prequel or sequel. It will also be connected to The Remainders, a book that is now in submission. My new book will round out my Reseda trilogy.
Like Amiga, this new book will talk about the past, but it is grounded in contemporary issues. My main character will be affected by COVID-19 with personal and financial losses and how it forces her to reexamine her life and a terrible tragedy that continues to haunt her. I also want to talk about some of the darker aspects of growing up in the 1970s, including homophobia, misogyny, and racism. But it won’t be all doom and gloom. I plan to put in a cheerful modern teen, poke fun at 70s fashions and trends (and myself as a teen), and throw in a few references to Slaughterhouse-Five.
I suspect that as in 2016, I’ll need to keep writing while the world changes. That’s a benefit of having a disciplined writing regimen like NaNoWriMo. It keeps you focused, and that focus offers comfort and perspective.
Stay tuned. I will have more to say about my new book as it progresses.