I’m onto Chapter 26 of my WIP and up to about 195,200 words, over 40% of the way done. I’m taking my first full courseload of graduate-level work this semester, so I won’t have as much undivided writing time as I’ve had. I know I’ll reach the 200,000-word mark during this ROW80, but I’m not sure I’ll manage to finish Part II before March. I think it would be nice to aim for 250,000 words by the end of Part II. Although my initial guesstimate for my Russian novel sequel was 300,000 words, and it ended up at 406,000!
I love that this book is giving me a chance to research and write about places I’ve never dealt with before. I’m in Kutaisi, Georgia now with former orphanage girl Alina, who’s been ordered to get to Isfahan, Persia to save her life. First she’s going to go to Armenia for her old friends Ohanna and Izabella, Ohanna’s daughter Siranoush, and Izabella’s mother (whom I finally named Maral), and they’re all going to get to Persia from there. Somewhere along the line, they’re going to touch base with Inna back in Kyiv, and their storylines will link up once they’re in Isfahan together.
I’m really enjoying learning about the rich history of Kutaisi, and wish I could spend more than one chapter set in Georgia. Now I’m even interested in learning some Georgian, though it’s probably not a good idea to attempt learning that alphabet when I have a hard enough time remembering the Armenian alphabet. And at least the Armenian alphabet makes sense, to my Western brain. It’s a lot different, but at least I understand what each character means. Georgian almost looks like an alien language, since the letters don’t look like things I’d recognize as letters.
For a dramatic twist, I’ve made it so that Alina is pregnant with her first child, but her husband doesn’t know it. Not only that, but this is their first child after almost 10 years of marriage and childlessness. I don’t know why, but I’ve had a number of couples dealing with childlessness. I hope that’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy, since I’m already 33 and past my most fertile years! Her child, born in Persia in December 1937, will be named Tamar, after Georgia’s greatest queen, who ruled during Georgia’s golden age.
And since I love making matches, I also hit upon a really touching, appropriate second husband for poor Inessa, now a 27-year-old widow with two young children and about to discover herself pregnant with the third child she and her murdered husband Roman were trying for. Inna’s brother Vitya, who’s just lost his own wife and who’s left his younger child with Inessa for wetnursing. Inessa is still nursing her 3-year-old, so Inna volunteered her name as someone whom they could trust.
I love taking so many seemingly disparate story threads and tying them all together. And to think, in my notes from 2001, I had Vitya getting shot during the purges and Inessa’s uncle who raised her dying in his sixties. Those story threads worked in my head back then, but now that the book is actually taking shape, they don’t fit so well anymore.