My current WIP, the book after The Paris Affair, is set in London in October 1817. This is the point where the Malcolm & Suzanne chronology takes a parallel track to the Charles & Mélanie chronology, with Malcolm and Suzanne experiencing a lot of the same revelations and events as Charles and Mel, though under different circumstances. By the end of this book, Malcolm and Suzette won’t quite be where Charles and Mel are after The Mask of Night (they’ll be rather more raw), but I should be able to write the book I planned to write after The Mask of Night.
The book I’m writing now is a book I’ve been both excited and nervous to write. It’s challenging to revisit key moments in Malcolm/Charles and Suzette/Mel’s relationship and try to make them fresh. But I’m also finding it fun and fascinating to explore those revelations from different angles. The book is set in 1817 and parallels some events from both Beneath a Silent Moon and Secrets of a Lady. The plot that surrounds those revelations is very different – Colin isn’t kidnapped, Kenneth has already died, Malcolm and Suzanne are investigating a very different mystery from either of the other books (centered around Simon’s theatre and a mysterious manuscript that may be by Shakespeare), and Malcolm learns about Suzanne’s past in a very different way. Today I decided that the revelations would unfold in a different order, with Malcolm learning about his parentage before his learns Suzanne’s secret, which shifts the emotional response and reaction for both him and Suzette.
But part of the change is the characters themselves. I know them better now. I’ve explored more of their history. Malcolm is more aware of his own role as a spy, the compromises he’s made and the moral dilemmas he’s faced. I’m still working out what this will mean for his reaction, but it means it will be more complex than Charles’s torrent of anger and hurt. I know the texture of Malcolm and Suzanne’s relationship and just how strong a partnership they had, which, I think, will also shift Suzanne’s reaction as well and how they work through their problems.
I jumped ahead and wrote the first draft of their big confrontation yesterday (with Scrivener, I find I write more out of chronological order). I have a lot more thinking and exploring to do, but I hope the result will be satisfying and illuminating both to readers who’ve taken this journey with Charles and Mélanie and readers who are experiencing it for the first time with Malcolm and Suzanne.
I’ve just posted a new letter to the Fraser Correspondence from Aline to Gisèle again, this one written after Waterloo.