G is for—Gangsters
When I first got the idea which would become the Hexslinger Series, I was deeply in love with Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York. I did scads of historical research, wrote a bunch of fanfiction you can probably find pretty easily (as usual, I was almost the only person doing so), and started putting together a completely different book that I will probably return to, though not immediately. But nothing caught fire. Maybe it was the scope, or the fact that you need to be far more careful in terms of metropolitan geography than you do when writing a Western, because in the latter case it's an option to just claim the interiors of Arizona and New Mexico are mainly empty space unless you tell the audience different. By the time I got to A Rope of Thorns, however, I had to come up with some new hexes, and my mind defaulted to Gotham. Thus was born dapper pimp Three-Fingered Hank Fennig, late of the Glorious Know-Nothing Order of Native Americans, along with his three lovely Missuses, Clodagh Killeen, Eulalia Parr and Roberta Schemerhorne. Fennig, being well-used to gang dynamics, supports Rook and Ixchel overtly while studying them for flaws he can press on if needed, especially her; his true interest is in the city Ixchel sees mainly as a flabby meat by-product of her quest to restore the Mexica Fourth World, not least because it's the only place he and massively pregnant Clo could ever raise their probably-hexacious baby without being afraid they'd be tempted to suck it dry. And in A Tree of Bones, these considerations only become stronger, making Fennig and company a surprisingly integral part of the plot.
H is for—Hex City
Like I said before, storytelling is alchemical; nothing stays the same, and really, nothing should. So while I'm not entirely sure if I knew from the start that I was going to shatter one of the key assumptions of the Hexslinger-'verse by the end of A Book of Tongues—the idea that “mages don't meddle” because there are simply no circumstances, ever, under which they might be able to work together—when A Rope of Thorns rolled around, I found myself in the unenviable position of having to figure out how a place like New Aztectlan/Hex City would actually function. Who would seek it out, and why; how would it be constructed; what would be the division of labour; how would the mechanics of the Ixchel-imposed Oath be enacted. I had had the impression that there were occasionally circumstances under which hexes would agree to work together, but that those were few and far between because at any moment, either of those involved might turn on the other. But once the Oath itself was sketched out—in A Rope—I began to see the ways that it might be modified or twisted to fit a bunch of different circumstances. Thus the “problem” of both Hex City—ie, the fact that its inhabitants want it to survive more than they want its founder to triumph—and how the Oath might be translated out into the wider world of hexes who don't happen to be New Aztectlites becomes front-and-centre in A Tree of Bones, with hopefully interesting results.
Tomorrow: I and J!