So my novels usually spring from two things: an idea and a mood. The idea is usually a single scene that springs into my imagination somewhere along the way. Once that scene comes to me, I play around with it in my head, fleshing it out, usually before there is any real sense of character or an overarching plot.
For example, with the Mary of the Aether series, the scene that was clearest in my head from the get-go is now the climactic scene of volume three, Mary of Starlight. It's the scene that takes place on Mount Magazine. Before I had even written the first book, that scene was the one I was running over and over in my mind. In a way, the whole series flowed out of that scene.
Now, at some point as I sit down to start a novel, that idea meets up with a mood. These two things aren't always initially connected. The mood tends to reveal itself as I work out the overall plot. It doesn't always arrive embedded in that initial idea.
For the Mary of the Aether series, the mood was definitely one of angst, which Webster's defines as, "a strong feeling of being worried or nervous : a feeling of anxiety about your life or situation: a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity."
The interesting thing is that the novel I choose to write at any particular moment usually coincides with the mood I am feeling in life at that particular time. Actually, it is usually an exaggerated version of what I'm feeling, but nevertheless, in order to really get into a novel, I have to be on a similar emotional wavelength. When that happens, the writing of the novel becomes profoundly cathartic.
And although my novels are never really autobiographical, I can usually go back after I've written them (or while I'm writing them) and see what things in my life were getting thematically regurgitated into the story.
However, because of this, I think one thing I really have to be careful of is creating a mood that is relentless. I think this is a risk when a novel is a cathartic experience, when you are really digging down to a specific emotional root while creating it. But on the other hand, if readers are worn out by the end of the book, then perhaps the happy, or semi-happy, ending will mean more to them. At least, that's how I approach it.
In other news, Children of the Mechanism is out now. The publisher corrected some formatting errors and typos that got into the e-book, and reviews are starting to appear. So far, they are really positive, so that's good.
Anywho, that's all for now.