Several weeks ago, I finished writing the first draft of a new novel called Fill the Empty Spaces. This novel started as a way of processing the passing of my mother at the beginning of December; although she and I didn’t have the best relationship, the realization that she was no longer around hit harder than I’d thought it would. Through much of my life, until my writing brain stopped functioning in 2015, writing was how I processed, how I coped, and sometimes how I kept myself alive. Although I didn’t write much of anything for six years, now that I’ve started writing again, it has once again become one of my ways of dealing with and understanding life. And, in this case, death.
(This isn’t the final cover, it’s just something I’m using to keep myself in the story’s mindset.)
When I started writing Fill the Empty Spaces, I didn’t know it would turn out to be a novel. I thought I was writing a short story. But Del Nethercott, the main character/narrator, had other ideas. So did Lochlan Moroney, the character who becomes Del’s close friend and possible love interest. At the beginning of the story, Del is only about a month past losing his longterm partner Austin, who was killed by a drunk driver. The last thing Del’s thinking about is a new relationship; he’s barely functioning day to day, and his grief over Austin consumes him. The story extends through a few months, until four or five months after Austin’s death, and we witness Del’s healing–though of course he’s still grieving–and the beginning and blossoming of his connection with Lochlan. At the beginning, I thought Spaces would turn out to be contemporary; Lochlan threw a metaphysical/paranormal loop into the story that wound up being a key part of the story. And so the “short story” became a novel.
As I said, several weeks ago, I finished the first draft of Spaces. Or so I thought. To be honest, when I said, “The end,” I wasn’t actually certain it was. I’d reached a point in the story where it felt like I could stop and hold something over for a follow-up book, probably from Lochlan’s point of view. The story didn’t end with a “happily ever after” or even really with a “happy for now.” It ended with “Del, you aren’t ready for a relationship, so let’s stay friends until you *are* ready and then see what happens.” The book as I ended it at that point was not a romance (nor did I intend to say it was; I was very clear in talking about it that it was a novel with romantic undertones).
This past week, I started editing the manuscript. I’d done some editing as I worked on the first draft; I didn’t do much plotting or brainstorming before I started writing, so some of the things I put in the story didn’t work or dragged down the pacing too much to remain, so I’d yoinked those as part of writing the first draft. But there was still work to do.
By the time I reached the end of what I’d written, though, I knew I had to continue the story. Ending it with Del and Lochlan agreeing that they would enter a relationship when Del reached a point in his grieving process that he could handle having a new partner was good, but it wasn’t where Del and Lochlan wanted to end the book. So I finished editing what I’d written and started writing more.
As it stands now, two days into the process of continuing the story, I don’t know where Del and Lochlan want to end up. I’d like to see the book end with them in a relationship, but that’s going to depend on how Del’s grief and healing progress. And with what happens to each of them in the meantime. It’s been a long time since I started writing a book with the mindset of “let’s see where this goes,” and I’m enjoying doing it again, even if these two guys do keep throwing wrenches into the process.
Fill the Empty Spaces is currently planned for release on October 12 of this year. I’ll keep you updated!