Writing a Novel: My Fluid Process

As most of you are aware, Trillian Anderson is a pseudonym. Some of you know who my other author name is, which is great! (Hi, folks and fans! Love you!) As Real Me, I often discuss my process and how it changes.

My approach with the Dae Portals novels has been really weird even for me. In a lot of ways, the Dae Portals books are better than Real Me’s books. (I’d hope so! Real Me has quite a few books under the belt, and I’ve learned something new with each and every one of them!)

The Dawn of Dae and Unawakened really take me by surprise each and every time I work on them. Alexa Daegberht is such a remarkably wonderful character to write. Of all of the characters I’ve worked with, she’s the one who resonates with me the most. She’s not me, she’ll never be me, and I’d never do the things she does as a general rule. She does, however, explore facets of society and the world I find interesting. She’s a character who grows a little bit every time I sit down and work with her, which is an amazing thing.

She’s a figment of my imagination, but she’s the type of figment that makes me think. How would a character overcome all of the things she has? Why would she keep fighting on?

What makes her real?

I’ve written a post about my process before, but as time has gone by, I’ve learned a lot of new things about myself–things I doubt I would have learned had I stuck with Real Me’s books alone.

When I wrote Dawn of Dae, I had several goals in mind. I wanted to write something serious, I wanted to write something fun, I wanted to write something exciting. I wanted to write a book where I could step out of the real world for a little while and find magic–magic so out of this world it’s impossible. Most of all, I wanted to take the impossible and, for a brief moment, transform it into the plausible, the possible… and the believed.

I wrote Dawn of Dae wanting to capture the experience of going down a rabbit hole. Not only did I want to go down that rabbit hole, I wanted to paint contrasts. Black and white. Good and evil. A society torn apart and rebuilt.

I wanted to create a woman people could relate to despite being in such a vastly different world–a world built on the terrifying events of our lifetime. In the opening of Dawn of Dae, I wrote this:

Baltimore was a big place, and it took me an hour to navigate my way through the city’s heart, skirting around the fringe I had once called home. On the surface, it was a clean, quiet place with carefully trimmed lawns, neatly pruned trees, and flowers contained in concrete planters.


The scars of rebellion pockmarked the brick buildings, a reminder of the violence Kenneth Smith and his cohorts had stamped out years ago, turning a slum into the elite’s paradise.


Once upon a time, the Inner Harbor had been the entertainment district of Baltimore, a place prone to rioting, a place everyone, no matter what caste, could go and gamble away their money or find other pursuits, many of them illegal. Sporting events were popular—if you could afford the entry fee.


I couldn’t, and Kenneth Smith counted on that. He didn’t want me as a client, anyway.


He wanted me as one of his hounds, a dog of his endless drug war, hunting down his non-paying clients, sniffing out dirt on them, and either luring them into one of his little traps or otherwise acquiring his money. The method didn’t matter; the money did, and that was that.


I hated the Inner Harbor; if I had a pack of matches, I wouldn’t have hesitated to light one up in the hope of burning the whole place to the ground. My temper soured the closer I got to the little townhouse located where the fringe began and the elite’s playground ended.


No one in their right mind would have believed, not even for a moment, that Baltimore’s charming, ruthless, and despicable criminal mastermind lived in such a dingy place, and that was exactly the way Kenneth Smith liked it.

I wrote Dawn of Dae when the people of Baltimore were rioting. I grew up near Baltimore. With the events affecting so many of my friends and the little family I have, I wondered, I worried, and I feared what waited for the average person.

I stopped, and I thought about it for a while. I took a look at what was happening now, and I asked myself one single question: What if this never ends?

The Dawn of Dae features a future Earth based on what is happening now. It is, in my mind, one of the worst things that could happen to America.

Alexa, in so many ways, represents the elusive American dream, and she’s one of the few left who hasn’t had the ambition and hope for a bright future beaten out of her. The conflict of her personality and the rigid society she has belonged to all of her life became as much of a battleground as the world adapting to the emergence of the dae.

Writing these books makes me think about the present, the past, and the future. Seriousness is welded to hilarity, and the strange becomes the normal, leaving the normal as the strange. The juxtaposition of elements challenges me each time I sit down to work.

Unawakened is a different type of story. It’s a lot harder to write than Dawn of Dae, which allowed me to stretch my imagination to its limits to make the impossible possible on the page. Unawakened continues to stretch my imagination, forcing me to ask questions.

Alexa grows each day–and she follows the theme of conflict. She builds herself up. She crumbles away to instability, yet she fights on, showing her true strengths as she faces adversity.

Her confusion, her uncertainty, and her instability partner with her incredible drive, which sets her apart from so many others. Unawakened explores the nature of people, wrapping seriousness in the absurd, the magical, and the surreal.

Writing Unawakened has presented me with so many challenges. It’s work. It’s hard work. Some days, I sit at my computer and spend 15 hours writing a chapter. Other days, the words flow. This week, the words haven’t flowed at all. If anything, I’ve contemplated whether or not I truly wanted to keep writing.

Writing is hard. I fell off the horse on Monday. I flopped about in the mud on Tuesday, hopelessness and fatigue wearing down on me. Tuesday is the day I spent 15 hours to write most of a chapter. Today, I didn’t even finish a quarter of a chapter. I floundered in the mud and choked on it, but I found something even more important than the number of words I added to the story.

I fell off the horse, but Thursday, I am getting back in the saddle. The fatigue is still there. The hopelessness is, too. The little demons on my shoulder urging me to quit haven’t been silenced, but I’m making the active decision to ignore them. I have more riding to do, and tomorrow, I will embrace my failures, my uncertainties, and lack of esteem. I’m not going to quit, because I want to see how Alexa will surprise me. I want to keep exploring this world ruined by the extremes. I want to explore Alexa’s faults.

Writing Unawakened has been an adventure–and a trying one at that.

Writing out Alexa’s confusion is so hard, because she questions herself, she questions her world, and she questions everything she has done in her life.

In all of the books I have written, I haven’t ever written someone quite so human. I’ve also never written something quite so weird, either. I mean, really? Sentient mac and cheese?

In the course of writing this novel, I have stepped out of my comfort zone many times, and I’m so glad I did.

Unawakened has been a difficult book to write. I’ve made excellent progress. My editor has been hard at work on the book, and as she identifies the things needing to be fixed and pointing out the areas I need to flesh out and bring to life, I adjust the book. This is the first book I have ever actively edited while writing.

I love writing this book this way. I have far more confidence in it for the change in process. When I read, there’s nothing I hate more than a second book that is just… not up to the standards of the first. I want Unawakened to be an even better book.

I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to think. I want to see the world from a different perspective–from a perspective of a person with totally different desires, dreams, and ideals than mine. I want to embrace the magic of this strange new world.

Most importantly, I want you to laugh with me, cry with me, think with me, and see the world in a different way–yes, with me.

I want to go on a journey with you.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get back in the saddle, and this is what I want my day to look like when I’m finished. Realistically, I want doing it all today, but I will sit down, and I will try. I will work hard. I will ignore those demons, I will smile through the good and the bad. I will hope for luck, but I will do as I have always done: I will work hard. I will try to make my own luck.

This is a part of my day tomorrow, and I smile in anticipation of the places I will go with Alexa, Rob, and Colby.


Yes, I’m also rewarding and bribing myself with books should I reach my goals.

While I work, isolating myself from the world so I can bring this world to life, I will hope for a miracle.

Yeah, I’d like to be a bestseller. Definitely. I’m not going to lie. Hell yeah I want to succeed at my career, my love, and my passion. Yeah, I want people to find my books, love them, write reviews about how much they loved them, and share them with their friends, too.

But most of all, I want to keep writing. Thursday, I will stand back up, dust myself off, and write.

Thanks for reading, book lovers. Your enthusiasm, your love of creativity, and your imagination is an integral part of why I write.

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