I looked up from the roll-top desk in my paranormal office and sighed.
Lisa Burton, my robot personal assistant was lounged out on the couch. “What’s the matter?”
“I added fourteen-hundred words today and it looks like Lizzie’s story is going to come up a little short. I still have to add her big tantrum at the end, but the President and the courts are messing with me over that. I have no idea how student debt is going to play out.”
“Then make it up. You have the basis in fact that you’re always harping about.”
“I know, but I’m not completely in the swing again.”
“These are supposed to be short novels. They seem to be character driven, so you know, drive that.”
“I am. I keep thinking up junk for a story about three books down the line and just need to focus.”
“I’ve been your PA for enough years to know how it works. Just let it happen. You have a brand new book on the shelves and you can wrap this one up later. Go back to Mari’s story for a while.”
“I need to do that, too. There’s just this missing piece for the future storyboard I can’t quite get a grip on.”
“Maybe we can help.”
I snapped around so fast I nearly fell over.
“I don’t have time for your antics right now.”
“Actually, you have nothing but time.” Libraria, the leggy blonde, took her time slowly leaning over the coffee table to put her books down.
Conversia slid into my easy chair, stretching her legs out full length of my ottoman. “Tell us about the problem. I’m sure you’re due for a break. Sounds like a decent word count already.
I wheeled my chair over. “I really want to write this Asian afterlife tale into the Hat Series, but there are some problems. I want to respect the differences between Japanese, Chinese, and other cultures, but I also kind of want a bit of all of them. If I explain that the afterlife has everyone all together, maybe I can get away with it.”
“What’s the story about?” Wiki turned her iPad mini my direction. “I can look some things up for you.”
“It’s the Chinese version of Armageddon. I’ve already discovered the lore from it. I want to steal some from Journey to the West and made some notes there.”
“I have a complete, unabridged version.” Libraria tapped one of her books. “What seems to be the problem?”
“I also have a ghostly character who is Yakuza. That’s Japanese. Lizzie fights monsters, so I’ve been looking into Japanese monsters. Some Asian things are scary as hell, like the one whose head leaves it’s body at night and flies around with its entails trailing after it. All of them are big on demons, too, so I need to consider some of that. I also don’t want the same old thing for Lizzie to deal with and have other characters to consider.”
“I think you should take a tour of Asia,” Conversia said. “Just the Pacific coast. Talk to some of these people. I think you’ll find a lot already blends together, despite the source. There are a lot of variations as well, so you can meld and merge to your heart’s content.”
“You’ve been trying this for years. I’m not going on an extended trip with you.”
“We could make it fun.” Libraria practically sang the last word.
“Stop that. I’ve already pushed it back and another year isn’t going to kill me now. I have two books before that one. I just have to figure out how to—.”
“Why’d you push it back?” Wiki asked.
“Because I came up with another cool character, and it would be perfect to use him. His intro is in a different book, so it has to come first. Then I have to figure out how to write a musical competition show and not have one of the judges come across like Simon Cowell. It’s a chance for Lizzie’s band to climb out of the doldrums a bit.”
Wiki flipped her iPad around to display a creepy picture. “Jiangshi.”
“Not that. Jiangshi is also known as the hopping vampire. He hops because of rigor mortise, and sucks souls instead of blood. Some legends have it as more of a zombie. Lots of variables, so you can put your own spin on it. Cool stuff with vinegar, yellow paper, and something called Joss paper. He’s afraid of a rooster’s crow. Maybe she can fight these things.”
“My cool new character is actually a rooster. I can work with this.”
Libraria selected one of her tomes and started flipping through it. Stopping at Joss paper.
Conversia said, “Maybe I can set up a Zoom meeting with an actual Shaman for you. Do you speak Cantonese?”
Lisa stood up. “I’ll put on the coffee. I can tell where this afternoon is going.”