Writing process: up the Sepik River with Harold 

I'm a little bit behind on my self-imposed writing schedule as I've been editing a lot of client work during June and July. I've started novel #2 in the Jack & Bea series, though. I thought I'd be writing to a 22-page outline I prepared, but chapter one has gone in a slightly different direction.

For the opening of On Jacaranda Street, Jack and Bea need to finish what was started in Ashgrove Park when Bea's father, the eighth Lord Ashgrove, on a relic hunting trip to German New Guinea, pilfered a treasured tribal artifact that has extraordinary powers. Jack and Bea decide they must return the artifact, and so I'm currently up the Sepik River with them as their canoe glides to the Place of the Three Rivers where the artifact will be returned. They are accompanied by the Australian kiap (patrol officer) Harold Chesterfield. I've become somewhat fascinated by the group of Aussie men known as kiaps, who were basically colonial patrol officers with wide-ranging powers to settle tribal disputes and bring good governance to districts.

Harold was going to be a minor character and only appear in the opening chapters, but he's bustled his way into going to Sydney with Jack and Bea as they set off on their next adventure.

Sometimes I write to an outline, and sometimes I don't. For Where Sunflowers Grow, I had colourful sticky notes slapped over four large sheets of white paper. Each note represented an idea, scene or plot point. I did have an outline but used the sticky notes far more, along with my research notes. For Ashgrove Park, I had a detailed outline and stuck to it probably ninety percent of the time. But novel #2 is proving to be different, and that's what I love about the writing process. Each day brings its surprises.

On Jacaranda Street is set in Sydney in 1923/1924, and it will give me the opportunity to allow Bea to experience the time period immediately after World War I when women were given a taste of freedom - women had been employed during the war, and constraining laws around property rights and marriage were changing. 

I also have a wonderful dog appearing in On Jacaranda Street. I love reading novels where the main character has a dog or cat companion. Ziggy (my smooth fox terrier) was a character in his own right in Ashgrove Park, and Ben (a quirky and handsome English Pointer who belongs to a wonderful Canadian friend) will help Jack solve a gruesome crime in Sydney.

I'm on track to publish On Jacaranda Street in October or November. Fingers crossed!

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