Word Count: 25,085/80,000
Summary: After having toured with Arcanium for over twenty years, Valorie is considering leaving Arcanium. Her long-time relationship with Bell, the one in charge of the demonic circus, has been invalidated by a lack of deeper love, if not a lack of passion. Her interim lover, another demon, keeps straying with the circus’ mermaid. Valorie’s feeling neglected and unwanted for anything more than her ability to twist herself into knots.
When the heavily cursed fire-eater John shows willingness to do anything for Arcanium and its inhabitants to make up for the crimes he committed against them, Valorie takes the opportunity to exorcize her frustration.
She finds the mutually beneficial arrangement surprisingly satisfying…until her fiancé from twenty years ago stumbles across the circus and discovers where the woman meant to be his wife disappeared to.
Valorie isn’t my favorite person from Arcanium, but damn if she isn’t fun to write. Just goes to show that you can dislike the person (although I like her more when I’m writing her perspective, because I know her better than anyone else has yet known her) and love the character. She’s not concerned what other people think of her, and so she can be abrasive, but she’s also interesting in so many ways.
Contortion sets itself apart from many of the other novels in several ways. For one, like Ringmaster, Contortion is written from the perspective of a veteran cast member. But Contortion doesn’t introduce anyone new to the circus, so I have to find a different way to show the circus for what it is, pulling back the curtain in more subtle ways.
The other things that’s different about Contortion is that the main characters of previous novels have been humans trying to come to grips with the demonic side of Arcanium and resolving it with their humanity. For Valorie, she’s been saturated with the demonic side of Arcanium. She’s embraced it for her own self-preservation and because she’s been given no good reason not to. It’s her humanity that gives her pain. Plot twist. :)
I’ve set this novel’s word goal relatively short at 80k words. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went a little over, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it went a little under. Part of this is because there’s less Arcanium introduction. I’m not going to count my chickens, but at this point I doubt it’ll reach 90k. Which is a relief. I think my head would explode if I took on another over-100k job.