I thought it might be fun to share a little of the backstory for Leech, so here are a few trivia items about the book, the characters, and the logic behind it all. This list is broken into two parts, so as not to spoil anything in the book for people who haven't read it yet. Don't read beyond the break if you haven't read the book!
- Leech was written as a part of 2014's National Novel Writing Month. My friend Terry Taylor Hobbs asked me if I would join her in writing a book and I agreed, but we both thought the official NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words in one month was a little too ambitious. We set a goal for ourselves of 1,000 words per day and wrote through November. We took a month off in December, wrote in January, took another break, and then wrote again in March. The three parts in Leech were initially created during each monthly block of writing.
- The weather in Colorado in 2014 indirectly affected the weather in Leech and served as the inspiration for the snowstorm in Part One. Snow and cold also plays a big role in Terry Taylor Hobbs' book.
- In the first draft of Leech, Lillian didn't have a name. She was simply referred to as "her," but this forced ambiguity got too difficult and clumsy in some scenes, especially when she was interacting with other women in the story. Lillian was eventually given a name while I was editing the second draft.
- Like my initial plans for Lillian, the narrator isn't given a name throughout the entire book. I wasn't going to set a specific gender for the narrator either, as I wanted the narrator to be empty enough that the reader could project what they wanted onto the character, but this also got a little clumsy in some scenes. I eventually made the narrator male, but this is only directly referenced a couple of times in the book.
Here are a couple of additional pieces of trivia, but might spoil some of elements in the book. If you haven't read Leech, and plan to, you might want to wait to read the following:
- Lillian was the 26th most popular girl's name in the United States during the 1880s, although I thought she might have been born ten or twenty years earlier than that.
- The words "immortal" and "unaging" are used throughout Leech, but Lillian is aging, just at a much slower rate. She was turned into what she is now in the late 1800s and has visibly aged about fifteen to twenty years in the last 150 years. At this rate, Lillian should live to experience the 2600s.
- Lillian is essentially a vampire, but I thought it would be interesting to avoid the usual tropes associated with that myth and make up my own "rules." I could only think of two real-world animals that drank blood: mosquitoes and leeches. I went with leeches as the model for my vampires, because leeches were soft, strong, and scared me a little more than mosquitoes did.
- Similarly, the idea of a spinal tap or Lumbar Puncture makes me very, very uncomfortable, which is why Lillian drinks spinal fluid rather than blood.
- I had to search the internet for what spinal fluid tasted like and found a few conflicting ideas. What's in the book is my own best guess on the subject and I can only hope that putting "What does spinal fluid taste like?" into a search engine didn't put me on some weird list with the FBI.