by Roshani Chokshi
Books are downright delectable. My favorite books often remind me of pieces of cake. Delectable, mouth-watering, joyous and — ultimately — a treat. Something to look forward to, to hoard down to the very last bite. I aspire to make my books like cakes for readers. I want you to feel all that I do…and yet…the process of making a book cake is MESSY AS ANYTHING. Flour everywhere! Oh crap, I put in salt not sugar! I’ve cracked the eggs wrong and there’s bits of shell floating in and #$&#(*%&@ I’m going to have to start all over. Phew. (That was an exhaustive metaphor, thanks for sticking around to the bitter end.)
Writing THE GILDED WOLVES proved to be a very messy book cake, and yet it taught me a lot about writing in layers. This was the first project I’d attempted with an ensemble cast, and each member of that cast was an individual layer to the cake. There are four POV chapters in The Gilded Wolves. When I’m writing a POV chapter, it’s an act of sinking into that character’s mind, pulling on the sleeves of their fears and wants, tightening their cap of dreams and nightmares over my own head. And yet, those POVs don’t exist in a vacuum. The best way to get to know your characters is to have them talk to each other and that meant holding onto different emotions concurrently. Which, to me, is like trying to bake a cake all at once. It’s just not going to work. Instead, I had to learn to trust the process. I wrote this book in layers. Meaning, the first draft was a broad sketch of the world and plot and motives.
The first revision focused on the individual characters and clarifying their intent. The second revision focused on the interactions of characters within the different POV’s. That took a lot longer because I had to think about what each of them truly thought or felt at any given moment. The third revision was making sure that everything fits seamlessly, and that the world was not at odds with the characters and vice versa. To date, this is the most complicated cake book I’ve ever attempted. The ironic thing is that this process only taught me how to write this particular cake book. Every cake book is different. Alas. At least they’re tasty.