A Novel in the Works

Once again my mind has run off on a tangent with a novel: this time, I’ve returned to an old, old story that I crafted a bajillion years ago. Over time, these characters have been shaped, and I think I finally have the mental compass to write it.The story has always been loosely based on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, where seven very young conspirators lined the streets of Sarajevo, their goal to kill the archduke (and heir to the Hapsburg throne) in the name of Serbian freedom. According to most sources, they were supported by a secret organization in the Serbian Military called the Black Hand. The assassination is the catalyst of what began the first world war as countries jumped in to either police Serbia’s action, or protect their sovereignty.I’ve always been fascinated with the character of Gavrilo Princip, a teenager of 19, dying of tuberculosis, who for a moment held the trajectory of the modern world in his hands. I wonder what made him angry enough to want to kill, and what enticed him to believe that assassination was the key.

This incarnation of the story surrounds Michael and Arie, two brand new adults who have fallen madly in love with each other. Michael spends most of his time in the novel falling apart: he struggles with an authority problem, fails out of school, alienates his friends, and turns to violent means to reassert his identity. He is the one who will mirror Princip and fire the shot. Arie desperately tries to hold onto him, and the farther he slips the more she clings, until her rage as well is taken out in a conspiratorial plot: in a way, he drags her into his mess, but her inability to let go chains her to him.

I really want the novel to be about people who fall apart, and especially young people who have no outlet. I want it to demonstrate what happens when the remarkable creative rage in teenagers is channeled by the wrong kinds of people. I want it to be a love story that has all the right attractions, and all the wrong realities. I want it to be a portrait of a real city through the caricature of this sci-fi city that they live in–imaginative enough to be intriguing, but real enough to say what needs to be said. And real enough that it draws on my own real experiences of city living, loneliness, and moving through different windows of life.

This hasn’t been the only thing on my mind lately. Graduate school decisions are 100% prevalent and I’m really struggling through them. I knew I would listen to the voice of fate and the direction I was being nudged, but I’m either being really stubborn, or that voice is just tired of telling me what to do all the time.

Things for 1968 are also going slowly. I feel bogged down by work that is crowding out some of the duties that I prefer. That said, I’m learning a lot from every bit of research I do on this exhibit, and it’s really inspiring: I get to know a little bit more about why we are where we are today from this history.

But, since I have a chest cold, I leave this post with a pledge to post more often, and just a line from this novel that I’m so excited about, narrated by Jacques, one of the men who convinces Michael that he should assassinate the “archduke’:

“That is one thing our people have never been faulted on: we know a good love story, and when it walks into a room with us we can feel it just the same as when someone sticks a gun against the back of our skull. Although the end reaction is quite different, the first assumption takes us over in much the same way.”

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