Behind the Scenes: Inherent Cost

by Alicia Cameron

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    Writing Inherent Cost was utterly exciting and exhausting! More than any other book I’ve written, this one has stretched out over time, location, and setting in ways that none of my other books have done. My normal book-writing process looks a little like this: get some inspiration, come up with a loose plot, write a little bit of an outline, and then start filling in, almost from beginning to end. The first book in the series, Inherent Gifts, was written from the first to last page over about four months, without ever taking a break. For Inherent Cost, the process was turned on its head. I started with a handful of scenes, written when I wrote the first two books, and put aside because they just didn’t fit yet. That handful of scenes sat, untouched, for the better part of a year before I returned to them, giving them the love they rightfully deserved. I wrote the majority of the plot for the Cover for Inherent Costfirst draft while I was at a local hospital, visiting a friend who had a mysterious growth in her stomach. I have no doubt that the medical setting influenced much of what I wrote.

As much as I loved parts of the story, there was just something “off” about it. It didn’t flow, it didn’t always make sense, and the transitions from one scene to another were sort of “blah.” Two editors and about eight hundred revisions later (okay, I think it was closer to 18, but you get the point), I am proud to say that it is “on!” If I went back in time and told my previous self that I would not only write a third book in this series, but that I would spend so long editing and refining it, I would have told me that I was out of my mind! I think current me agrees. This book has always come in leaps and bounds—my record for a single day’s word count was just over 12,000, but I’m guessing a lot of those words got cut. Normally, I write with some sort of plan; for Inherent Cost, it was more of a passionate explosion. The stories were just so alive, so vivid in my mind, and I dumped them out as quickly as possible. Even during rewrites, I would spend hours or days thinking, plotting, planning, and discarding, only to come upon a wonderful plot idea, which I would type out as quickly as my fingers could jab the keyboard.

This book, more than the others, also required a good deal of research. If anything, I needed a better understanding of politics. I had a lot of guidance from the team at ForbiddenFiction in this process, which was vital, because my last encounter with politics, government, or history was back in the tenth grade. I also spent a lot of time researching online, trying to find societies to model mine after. In the process, a lot of the social justice and disease-related elements seemed to meld into one issue, and the Ebola Virus epidemic in 2014 helped me to structure a lot of my medical thoughts. I created the “rotting disease,” loosely based on this epidemic. The public panic and the human rights offenses that were committed in the name of stopping the spread of Ebola seemed fitting, and placing it in a world where human life was already undervalued seemed the perfect opportunity to say more about the story but also about our world.

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