What have I been up to lately? Quite a bit!
Putting the finishing touches on novel 2!
The big thing is that I've been very much head-down on finishing my second novel, and getting it ready for querying agents. This means I've been collecting feedback from beta readers (some very positive responses this time around--people seem to really connect with the characters, which is always gratifying feedback after spending over a year with these people in my head), deciding what revisions should follow from that feedback, and then sending it off for copy-edits to make sure the text is as clear and clean as possible. I'm happy to say my editor was also very impressed, which let me tell you, pleasing an editor is no mean feat.
Personally, I'm excited and a bit nervous about this project. I'm proud of the book. It's a first-person account of a young woman who grows up in the baggage train of the Catholic army during the Thirty Years War. One of my main goals was to bring this character's voice to life in a way that would propel people through the book; they would keep reading just because spending time with this impulsive, compassionate young woman and her internal war between cyncism and idealism was so compelling. From the feedback so far, I feel confident that I've succeeded. While there are many characters in this book that readers grow to love (and hate), it's Josefine who they all highlight as the star.
But of course, whether it gets traditionally published or finds a wide market very much depends on whether people see the potential in such a story. That's something I have very little control over. What I do know is, I've written the kind of book I like to read--one that transports me to a time or place that I don't often see portrayed and makes me invest in the characters there.
Now that I have the book in shape for shopping around, I have time to give more attention to this blog. I have a few posts queued up on my approach to doing research for historical fiction, on why I ended up choosing the Thirty Years War as a setting for this latest project, and on the types of questions I like to ask beta readers (and how working in video games has informed my approach to beta reads.) The first of those should appear in the coming week, so please subscribe so you can get regular updates!
A new job!
I can't remember anymore what I've mentioned on this blog, but last year I left my long-time role as Head of Writing at Wooga to get back into more game team work. I freelanced for a while, but in October of last year a terrific opportunity came along for full-time work with a studio in Munich. I'm still living in Berlin, but working remotely on a classical antiquity-inspired action RPG.
One thing I look for when joining any project is the chance to learn new things. I think curiosity is one of the best qualities one can have as a writer and as a collaborator in the video game space. You have to be curious about how the world works, how people work, and what your colleagues in other crafts value in their work. This new project finally gave me the excuse I needed to read Emily Wilson's marvelous translation of The Odyssey, as well as to revisit two of my favorite books, Madeline Miller's Circe, and Mary Renault's The King Must Die.
I've also been digging into new-to-me material, including reading up on Greek hero cults, festivals dedicated to the gods, and burial rites. I can't say much about the project itself right now, but I'd like to start using this blog to share more of my reading list for research for my various projects, both personal and professional.
A game release!
Since I last updated, a game I worked on also came out. It's called Finding Hannah and is currently available on mobile app stores. I was a freelance writer on this title, which is set in Berlin and tells the story of 39-year-old Hannah as she tries to decide what she wants to be doing with her life. She has success, friends, financial stability, but she's left a lot of dreams fulfilled along the way. Part of her questioning involves reconnecting with her mother and digging into her grandmother's past to understand how their experiences shaped her, and what kind of courage is necessary to make a change.
I took on this project because of the chance to tell a very Berlin-centric story, and I'm happiest with how we were able to portray the city and its history in the game, even with limited resources.
Although we have no marketing budget, the game has had a good reception so far, especially among LGBTQ streamers. Hannah's queerness is just presented as part of who she is, rather than as a central focus of the plot, but it's undeniably there, and that seems to be speaking to people.