I’ve thought about NaNoWriMo a fair amount this year – largely that I need to finish the first draft of my fantasy novel in time for this November. (I had planned to take December off and finish handwriting by the end of Feb so that I could spend March typing it up. That never happened. I’ve added no further words to it since November ended.) This is still my goal – and a target for my seven week summer holiday. If I don’t manage it then, I may never do so. Despite the loss of momentum, I still feel for the characters and know that the story needs to be told, but I’m very good at not doing anything about many things.

However, I hadn’t known what my next NaNo project would be until very recently, when an idea of old resurfaced in my head (and later here) and kicked something else off. A bad pun later, and a new character was born.

For a long time, I’ve held a cyberpunk setting in my head. It’s based on a futuristic London, and is dystopian and largely abandoned, but there has been no apocalypse. Instead, it’s a logical progression of what could theoretically happen to the city, so I can show what might happen to its inhabitants. Now that I actually live in London, I imagine the characters will be slightly more realistic. I had tried to write a novel set there in my first year of uni (do you notice a running theme?), from which this is an introductory extract:

// The sun was setting, although where on the horizon was anybody's guess. The choking grey smog that filled the London sky had reduced the level of natural light striking the narrow street to near zero; the orange blur of artificial light from rusting streetlamps cast a perpetual gloom over the suitably named Twilight Zone.

// But it was not just light which failed to penetrate the dusky gloom of the smog. Digital signals could not reach the London streets, and the analogue had long been turned off. The once busy metropolitan areas were now virtually deserted. Corporate factory-warehouses and niche businesses were all that remained.

The plot of that novel somehow manages to fuse Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime with a video-game obsessive with a love of House of the Dead, but I’m not sure if that story will ever be told. What I do know is that I love the setting, and think I’ve finally found a few other aspects big enough to tie into a full novel. (The aforementioned idea of Bill’s story is still probably going to be woven in.)

If you’ve not read Paper Mushrooms, I urge you to do so before continuing.

I thought about the normal systems that must be put in place so that people can live in the difficult environment when a lot of the technology we are used to ceases to be of use, and thought that a system of snail-mail will actually need a proper postman. I laughed to myself at the idea of Postman Pat swapping Greendale for the cyberpunk wasteland, then the name Pat shifted to Pet – short form of Petra.

With that, Petra, cyberpunk postmistress was born. Go back and reread the story and think of the kind of woman that would cope with conditions like that.

You’ll hear more of Pet in the near future.


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