The birth of Dexter Moon.

I fell asleep last night thinking about the first few scenes of my novel (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten all the really cool stuff I remember coming up with–mostly one-off lines of dialogue, I think), and woke up this morning utterly convinced that today was the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I that I needed to get up and start writing, now.

Sadly, it’s still day-before-NaNoWriMo, and thus, all my writing impulses have been thwarted.

My 2008 NaNovel is entitled Dexter Moon, which also happened to be the title of my 2007 NaNovel. The two have nothing to do with each except for that, however. My 2007 NaNovel ended up changing in form and tone quite a bit after I came up with the title and a main character one cold (ish) night at the Fort Lauderdale beach. If I ever do anything more with that novel, it’ll likely end up being a short story or novella titled Betty Spark. But I loved the title, and loved the name, and just really wanted to write that novel, as well. In some ways, perhaps, it’s another way of holding onto my mother, who also really liked the title and the name.

(The name Dexter Moon, by the way, was directly inspired by Dexter Flowers, an author who contributed to an anthology Baby Remember My Name, which I read just before beginning NaNoWriMo last year. I loved her piece, but I especially loved her name, and I would have stolen it verbatim if I could’ve, although I think I actually love Dexter Moon a tiny bit more. I think it works better as a title, at any rate.)

This year’s Dexter Moon also comes from a visit to the beach, though in this case it was a vacation on an island off the coast of South Carolina. I started playing around with an idea of a woman who somehow starts to see ghosts, and who needs desperately to move out of her ex’s apartment. It’s a story that’s intended to be sort of darkly humorous, which fit the title. I saw a woman who looked like a Dexter in a car next to ours as we were driving back, and figured I was pretty much set. 

And then I started thinking about boarding schools, and how much fun it would be to set a story in a boarding school. Not that I’ve ever been to boarding school, but I had a couple of friends in college who had, and it always intrigued me. 

I have this idea that in order to write a good, interesting, unique novel, you really need two good ideas that fit together in an unusual way. Holly Lisle would call it a twist, but it’s not that, exactly. For example, my 2006 novel came about because of these two ideas: a race of werewolves that are almost entirely female, and a woman who’s driving across the country because she can’t stand staying in one place. The idea of a race of female werewolves in itself was interesting, but it didn’t really lead itself to conflict. However, throw it in as background to a cross-country road trip, and I had a story that’s unlike anything else that’s been done. I think, anyways. 

So here were my two ideas: Dexter Moon, seeing ghosts, trying to make money so she could move out on her own, and another girl in a boarding school somewhere, who was also seeing ghosts. It’s when I fit them together, and decided that they would have the same name (thus keeping the title of the book…) that it really turned into something special.

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