Aka what else can I do when someone throws up in their bed at 4 am and decides to sleep in mine? What with the temperature checking and emergency laundering and lack of space, I had a hard time falling asleep again. So there's two hours there of "I should figure out a plot for the novel".
Plot? Characters? I do want to have them in hand before I start. I'm one of those people who needs a Plan. It doesn't matter if I deviate from the Plan, the important thing for me is to have it.
My plan this year: totally rip off the "Legend of Crazy Monk" (2010-2012 so far) TV series, but set it in my personal fantasy version of China (and the rest of the world) that previously contained my vampire and elf "Sapphire and Steel" rip-offs. Also in the plan: kill off or retire those two characters! They've been replaced! Ha! The Queen Mother of the West has a new favorite earthly minion!
Ok, so who are the characters this year? I don't have names yet, but after some thought, I've decided they are the Phoenix Immortal (a divine gardener who does something bad, gets punished for three mortal lifetimes, then is called back into service), the Crazy Nun (no, just kidding, that's silly. But she probably was a nun at one point), the Naga (once a disciple of Manjusri, now turned evil), and the Dog Fairy (the character based on my dog.) Plus the Dead Son, the Walking Facechanging Puppet-that-is-not-the-TARDIS, the Stereotypical Village Elder Couple, and the Rat Fairy (bickering love interest for the Dog Fairy). The Rat Fairy is probably a member of the Beggar Clan, and knows the Dog Beating Stick technique, ha ha!
So what about the plot? Apparently there has to be this big doomed romance thing going on between the Phoenix and the Nun. He fails her, she fails him, and now they can both fail simultaneously before getting some kind of conclusion. It's karma? The villain is involved with them as a consequence of their failures.
Gender issues. Hmm. The Chinese phoenix ended up being female (all the dragon-phoenix pairings!) but apparently that started during the Yuan dynasty. My story starts in the late Song, and ends in the early Ming (which I probably have to rename to the "Sun Moon Dynasty" just to be annoying). The Phoenix in the story started male, went through 3 mortal lifetimes with one as a female, and later became un-sexed and asexual as a price paid to enter divine service. The Phoenix dresses as a male, but seems female to males and male to females. So I'm not sure just how "his" romance thing is going to work out.
Racist? Erp. This is the problem with fantasy worlds when you declare that one place (the cool one where you're setting the story) has dragons as emperors, but that those barbarians out there had a Goblin Khan, and the other land that mysteriously resembled ancient Persia sank into the sea or was overrun by demons, and that one over there is inhabited by were-creatures, when a look at a map will reveal their obvious real-life counterparts. I think of the controversy when one author decided to just delete Native Americans from a fantasy world and shudder. What to do, what to do... What do HUMANS represent in the fantasy world? Why use non-humans at all? Why is the "main" country inhabited by humans, while everyone else is "exotic"? Meh. Let's just say observer bias. Plus there are pockets of humanity out there, and let's pretend I rolled some dice to decide where they live.
Time for lunch...