I’m at that point of trying to decide whether I should expand my manuscript for Hungry Ghosts into a trilogy. At 368 pages, it’s already a little long. The Beggar’s Opera was 311 pages, and The King’s Indian is 304. But right now it’s a complete story, and to turn it into a two or three book series means killing someone else off.
Which has me thinking once again about how to plot a murder.
Hungry Ghosts splits the action between Canada and Cuba. Detectives in both countries (Inspector Ricardo Ramirez in Havana and Detective Charlie Pike in Canada) are investigating the murders of prostitutes, not realizing that the cases are related. It seemed to me that if someone was going to kill prostitutes across Canadian borders, there would be nothing to stop them from hunting when they were on vacation. In the past, some of my plot-lines have been a little prescient; I hope I’m not right.
But there are lots of subplots in this book, and expanding on any one of them won’t be that difficult. It’s deciding which one to run with that’s slowing me down.
In my other books, I knew who my victim was before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) although sometimes the perpetrator changed as I went along. Here, I have enough subplots to expand the book, for sure, but whoever gets knocked off wasn’t in my mind when I started writing.
Will it be Chief Bill Wabigoon, the chief of the Manomin Bay First Nation, who was a gang member in his youth? Someone at the Aboriginal blockade of the pulp mill in the Manomin Bay First Nation traditional territory — perhaps Malcolm Byers, the rather smug CEO? His lawyer, a character who at this point is only in my mind, but who I’ve already come to despise?
Or will it be someone in Cuba –maybe an attempt on the Minister of the Interior’s life? Perhaps another prostitute after Ramirez considers the case closed?
Hmm. I’m a little stumped.
How do you decide who to kill off in your books? Do you know who the victim will be before you start writing, or does it evolve? How do you feel about trilogies? Let me know — I’m interested!