First of all, I have to design a riverboat.
And not just any riverboat. The Brown River Queen, as she will be called, is to be an opulent gambling hall, complete with two casinos and numerous staterooms and three restaurants and even a stage for floor shows.
So far, my real-world model is a craft named the J. M. White. The White was enormous; she measured 320 feet long and 91 feet wide and her twin stacks rose 81 feet above the muddy Mississippi.
She was a beautiful boat. Chandeliers graced the main cabin. She had 75 luxury cabins, and her pilot wheel was a whopping 12 feet in diameter.
And when she burned late one night in 1886, the flames consumed her entirely in less than 15 minutes.
My boat isn't going to burn. The Queen will number, among her crew, several vampires, a couple of ogre bouncers, and half a dozen wand-wavers who mill around in the casinos spotting hexers and other magical cheats. Oh, and there will be a murder, on the Queen's maiden voyage, no less...
But I can't kill anyone until I get the boat built in my head. Which means drawings and maps of rooms and little scribbled notes about how long it would take Miscreant A to run from Stateroom 15 to Stateroom 27 if he was trying to carry a dismembered torso at the time.
And people wonder why writers always look distracted. It's because we're imagining bags packed with dismembered torsos and trying to decide how much they'd weigh, and how fast we could run with them.
Yes, Brown River Queen is the working title of the new Markhat novel. I'm taking everything that makes Rannit fun and throwing in a dash of old New Orleans, this time around. There will be gumbo. And perhaps even Voodoo. Spun for compatibility with Markhat's rough and tumble world of magic, of course, but the basic flavors will all be there.
So it's back to my musty old reference books. I need to immerse myself in all things riverboatish for a while, to get into the spirit of the thing. It looks like that will be fun.
And by the way, an average adult human torso weighs about 105 pounds. And no, you don't get to ask how I know...