Because it’s been 4.5 years, which is long enough for a post-mortem.
Over the past five months, I’ve been gradually releasing chapters from my 2016 novel, The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, re-edited, and with accompanying visual headers to denote each chapter. It’s part of a prolonged process I’ve taken on to revise and republish novels I’ve previously written on Nigma Box. Now that I published the entire novel, I wanted to discuss it in detail, going over its origins, my inspirations, my intentions, and my overall thoughts on what was my second full-fledged novel after having revisited it. So without further ado, let’s dive into The Malice of Abigale Quinlan.
…Or at least that’s what I want to say, but before beginning, I must stress that I wrote this post under the assumption that the reader has read Verde’s Doohickey, Natalie Rambles About Verde’s Doohickey, and The Malice of Abigale Quinlan. I know that is a tall order, but in order to talk about this story and my creative process, a lot of context is necessary.
Part 1: Birth Unto Malice
On August 15, 2015, I released Verde’s Doohickey. At age 20, I had finished my first full-length novel and even though the story had some major issues, as I detailed in its post-mortem, that was still an immense accomplishment for me. However, I had no intention of leaving Verde’s Doohickey as a standalone novel. Far from it. I had ideas for years, an entire series dubbed The Novus Logs rocking in the back of my mind, and was more than eager to get to work on a sequel.
Now, pre-production work on the sequel technically began long beforehand, as I was spitballing ideas for sequels, successors, and long-term character development with The Novus Logs since January 2015. But as far as The Malice of Abigale Quinlan was concerned, the solidified idea took form as I was wrapping up my initial draft of Verde’s Doohickey, and I was struck with two desires. First, to create a story that was considerably different from Verde’s Doohickey while continuing the story. And second, much like how Verde’s Doohickey was my attempt at revisiting ideas, characters, and concepts seen in A Vile Doohickey, I wanted to do the same with my 2014 novella My Life as Abigale Quinlan.
Verde’s Doohickey was a wish-fulfillment fantasy that doubled as a low-key and calm introduction to the world, characters, and circumstances that made up The Novus Logs. I wanted it to be a chill and bright story with no extrinsic conflict. And it was… for better or for worse. Mostly for worse. But while I could have continued the story from there, and followed the established characters as they continue to go about their school days, I was exhausted by the lack of conflict in the story and how mellow everything was. I like stories with clear and charismatic antagonists. I enjoy making some powerfully fucked-ass shit. And while this was a pleasant change of pace, I wanted to move onto something darker.
Now, I naturally was not going to make it darker for just the sake of it— I’m not that much of a hack. However, I wanted to take this continuous story of mine into a different and more distressing direction, and I hoped to accomplish that by taking everything that was established in Verde’s Doohickey and doing away with it. I wanted something that took protagonist Jad Novus away from his friends, away from his hometown of Oransen, away from everything he knew, and away from his body once more. I wanted to tear into the inferiority and self-dissatisfaction that Jad admitted to harboring during the Session 16 and 17 of Verde’s Doohickey.
When it came time to figure out how to make this happen, I did not so much as think about how as much as I was serendipitously reminded of a project that I had wanted to revisit for a while. I had the perfect opportunity to re-explore with a bit more wisdom, a touch more skill, and an extra 30,000 words to work with, and without skipping a beat, I took it.
This revisited project was My Life as Abigale Quinlan. A novella that represented something of a turning point for me as a creative writer, as it was the first work that I felt properly implemented my interests and fascinations around a story with narrative girth. It was not a poorly structured stream of consciousness like Intertoids and Nari’s Log, and it was not a structured story first and a Natalie Neumann story second like its prequel Raiyne’s Whimsy.
Instead, My Life as Abigale Quinlan told the story of straight cisgender white guy Jad Spencer as he wakes up a thousand miles away from home in the body of a brown-skinned lady by the name of Abigale Quinlan and quickly learns numerous things. That Abigale swapped bodies with him, that she went on a school shooting rampage with his body, and that she perished during this rampage, leaving Jad stuck in the body of Abigale Quinlan. A character who, in this story, is a terrorist responsible for the deaths of millions, can reshape matter, is immortal, and sees an electronic hologram of a sassy AI by the name of Peatrice. A character inspired by Selda from the erotic manga Trans Venus by Tamaki Hisao with a name taken from a Zelda NPC.
Over the span of several days, the story sees Jad learn about his new powers, explore his new body and its meter-long retractible dick, and eventually get apprehended by the US military, who torture and abuse Jad until he snaps. Through trauma, despair, and the belief that he is destined to become a demon, Jad discards their identity and adopts both the moniker and persona of Abigale Quinlan, choosing to continue her legacy of terrorism and destruction… Before finally getting caught by the US government and shot off into space.
While the story was lousy with problems, odd creative decisions, and poor narrative transitions, it was a glorious cocktail of ideas I have been infatuated with ever since and is a story I look back on fondly, unlike a lot of my earlier work. As such, I broke the story down into its core elements, removed a few, added in a couple more, rearranged things, fleshed them out, and adapted the concept for both the new character of Jad Novus (the NEW Jad Spencer) and the world of Verde’s Doohickey.
Once I had my objectives set and outline written, I set out to create the story and from a certain perspective, things went swimmingly. I began writing it in August 2015, finished my initial draft before Christmas, and released the novel on January 20, 2016. However, the story that I ultimately wrote and walked away with was far from what I originally intended on making, and despite the expedient development time, I had a bitch of a time writing this story.
Originally, The Malice of Abigale Quinlan was going to be called The Malicious Abigale Quinlan, and the trepidations and happenings of its storyline were dramatically different from what was seen in the final product.
The Malice of Abigale Quinlan is ultimately the story of a young person losing everything they held dear and being branded as a monster on several levels while being innocent of all crimes and misdeeds. All until their resolve shatters into nothingness, they become corrupted by malice, they do something unforgivable, and they are forced to face the consequences for their inability to stand up to insurmountable odds.
Meanwhile, The Malicious Abigale Quinlan was set to be a story about a young person being sent through hell and losing their sense of self. Being tormented, berated, and abused until they allow their very sense of self to die, and gleefully becoming a relentless killer. It was dramatically darker, more morose, and more similar to My Life as Abigale Quinlan, but in the worst possible ways.
The following are just a few of the changes I made to the story while writing it:
- Peatrice was originally not going to be a character, and his role was going to be fulfilled by Abigale Quinlan, who was like Peatrice, but 20% as goofy, and 300% ‘eviler.’
- The Flare family, including the unnamed father and mother, Kenneth and Eleanore Flare, initially played a major role in three chapters.
- The original ending involved every one of Jad’s friends either dying or committing suicide because of how horrified they were of him.
- Jad was originally going to use his Real Booting powers to resurrect his dead friends but would fail, and ultimately re-murder his friends to put them out of their misery. This would have driven Jad insane and triggered him to use his Real Booting abilities to transform the entire world into a new world while simultaneously killing billions of people.
- Lou Underwood was originally going to be a major character during the second half, and murdered by Jad, along with Raiyne.
- Dick Kikansky was going to be brutally murdered by Jad.
- Abigale Quinlan’s absorption ability was not part of the original draft and only introduced when the initial ending concepts were tossed away.
I could go on, but the most interesting nugget I found when reviewing my notes was how Jad was originally going to have a dream wherein he tore off his mother’s skin, cut off his penis, put on his mother’s skin, and then masturbated using his own disembodied penis. Shit was fucked up, and there is a damn good reason why I changed the story so dramatically over time
The process of rewriting, revising, and trying to salvage this mean and malice-rich story into something cohesive and not-miserable was an arduous procedure that left me looking at this project with scorn back in 2016 and inspired me to end The Novus Logs prematurely. I fucking hated this story by the time I finished it, wanted to give up so many times along the way, but persevered because I wanted to come away from these hundreds of hours of planning and writing with something to show for it.
However, that was 4.5 years ago, and now that I was able to revisit the story, re-edit it, and fix minor things I did not like about it… I completely turned around the story. I genuinely think that The Malice of Abigale Quinlan is a good story. Not a great story, and certainly not a story without a number of problems and odd creative decisions. But if I think that Verde’s Doohickey is a 5/10 story, I consider The Malice of Abigale Quinlan to be a 6.5/10. Not amazing, but definitely solid.
How did I come to this conclusion? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. There are things about the story that, by my bias metric, work, and work well. But there are a number of remnants of another story, ideas that I desperately clung onto, that prevent this story from being as good as I wanted it to be. What are these things? Well, I hate to be reductive like this, but… let’s just talk about the bad and the good.
Part 2: Mx Novus and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
The Road to Oransen: The first eight chapters of The Malice of Abigale Quinlan feature protagonist Jad Novus trying to return to Oransen in an effort to reclaim their life after it was forcefully taken from them in oh so many ways by Abigale Quinlan. During said eight chapters, quite a lot happens. Jad meets Peatrice, learns a lot about what supposedly happened in Oransen, meets up with the characters Gregg and Juniper, gets new clothes, goes on a date, and kills a bear.
My intention with this stretch of the novel, which makes up nearly half of the total word count, was to weaken Jad. To subject him to bad situations, to have Peatrice constantly berate him, and to immerse Jad into discomfort in order to justify how he breaks later on in the story. However, the quest to get to Oransen is one fluffed with pedantic details, the events are not ordered in the most thematically sensible way, and I spend way too much time explaining just how Jad gets from point A to point B, as I am a stickler for fickle details. Hell, the only reason why there was not a good page dedicated to Jad going to an airport was because I have not been on an airplane since 2005 and did not want to research what it was like to visit an airport in 2014.
Raiyne Underwood: You know how I said that The Malice of Abigale Quinlan was heavily based on My Life as Abigale Quinlan? Well, in saying that I neglected to reinforce that My Life as Abigale Quinlan is actually a sequel to another novella I wrote by the name of Raiyne’s Whimsy. The story follows Raiyne Underwood, a young woman who joins with her uncle Lou to battle monsters that cross over into their rural town via magical portals. She was a bookworm, responsible, and good with guns, but the story ends with her body being possessed and altered by a person by the name of Wheatley Quinlan. Once Wheatley possesses Raiyne, they begin to take on the name of Abigale Quinlan, and are the same Abigale Quinlan seen and referenced throughout My Life as Abigale Quinlan.
When I was working on the earlier outline for The Malicious Abigale Quinlan, I wanted to revive the character of Raiyne Underwood as somebody different than Abigale Quinlan, as a sort of rival character. I wanted Raiyne, and her uncle Lou, to have a history with the malicious miscreant and react to Jad with hostility once they saw his new body. I wanted this for two reasons. To give Abigale Quinlan a greater sense of history in the world, and to bridge the story from the Oransen phase to the military base phase. Raiyne was always going to vouch for Jad, help him receive better treatment, and that is what happened.
But when you stop for a moment and view Raiyne’s character in isolation, she is an English teacher who Jad knows very well, the sole friend of Caroline Steticks, Jad’s mother, a former supernatural terrorist hunter, and somebody with connections to local military bases. It all sounds so freaking stupid, and… it is. While I do think I handled the writing for Raiyne fairly well, her character is designed to fulfill specific functions and keep the plot moving along.
I would not mind this as much if I foreshadowed her better, or mentioned that she was a former soldier someplace else, but I didn’t. Hell, I could have done that when re-editing Verde’s Doohickey or The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, but that would not have helped her role form feeling so arbitrary, dissonant, and mechanical.
The Military Base: When initially writing My Life as Abigale Quinlan, I watched an anime series by the name of Elfen Lied, and while I did not fully appreciate the series at the time, which has since become one of my favorite anime of all time, I was utterly inspired by the first episode. The sight of a superhuman woman escaping from a heavily secured military base, and murdering the ever-loving FUCK out of everybody who crossed her way. So I decided to implement something similar in my story, to have Jad escape from a military base after being captured, using their powers to murder everyone!
I loved writing that scene and wanted to do something similar in my outline of The Malicious Abigale Quinlan. However, as the story was revised and reiterated into The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, the whole military base thing just… started to become a weird red herring. Jad is brought to the base, it breaks him, it allows Abigale to indoctrinate him into her beliefs, and it has a clear purpose in the story. It is where Jad is treated like a criminal and a monster, and where he becomes a monster… but not really. Jad does not kill anybody, he actively avoids it in fact, and is focused on escaping the base. The purpose of this base could have been fulfilled just as well by a regular old police station, jail cell, and a tranquilizer dart… which would have also made a lot more sense than a high-tech underground military base that just so happened to be a few hours away from Oransen.
Actually, I could have cut out Raiyne, the base, and everything associated with it, have had Jad do something to get in jail, have them escape, and then go through Encounter 18 to 20 while skipping over… three chapters worth of content. But then the ending would come across as just… random, the story would lose Encounter 13, which helps contextualize Abigale Quinlan in this world, and while I could have had Jad still be shot by cops, they would have had no reason to keep him in a regular old jail cell. Immortals really are a problem for the military and the federal government to keep under lock, and not public county-based peacekeepers.
See, this is an issue that I could not have just done one thing to fix. I would have needed to do like four… or six things if I wanted to cull away this narrative wart.
Abigale’s Abilities: Since I established Abigale Quinlan as a character, I have been inconsistent with her skillset and powers. She was always an immortal with the ability to reshape matter based on her own imaginations via a process called Real Booting and the ability to cause explosions with a snap of her fingers. She was always strong, quick, and agile. She has always been incredibly intelligent. But in earlier versions of her power set, she had the ability to secrete pheromones that made people either attracted to her or treat her with hostility.
Why did she have this ability in the first place? I don’t know. But when planning The Malicious Abigale Quinlan, I planned on it being revealed that Abigale Quinlan always had full control of her body the entire story, and was merely allowing Jad to control her body, while directing his journey in subtle ways. This included releasing pheromones that would cause some people to react to Jad with hostility and cause others to be overwhelmed with lust.
This was all another way to break Jad, to shatter his morale, and to have people treat him in ways he would not have expected. However, in shuffling around everything for The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, this idea remained as a loose end, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. At first, I considered just ignoring it; dismissing the wild reactions from Gregg, Juniper, and Anita as just behavioral quirks. Instead, I had Verde casually mention the pheromones thing during Encounter 20, because that is the only place I could fit it into the story.
But then there is the other side of the coin, how Jad learns about their powers. I went back and forward about when Jad would learn about their immortality and Real Booting, and the approach I settled on involved Jad getting attacked by a bear, killing it, and then turning the bear’s body into a kawaii-ass bear jacket. This entire sequence is something I was adamant about keeping in the story even though it raises so many questions.
In the actual story, this serves as a way for Jad to learn about their immortality by way of Peatrice, but Jad simply forgets to ask Peatrice about the bear jacket he is now wearing after being shot down once. I did this because I did not want Jad to learn that he could create anything using the power of his mind, as then he would not have a reason to go shopping with Juniper among… other things.
I could have cut the entire bear fight out and fixed this problem… but I said fuck it. I wanted Jad to fight a bear and start wearing a dope bear hoodie. So that’s what I did.
Mystery and Survival: So, the biggest worry in Jad’s mind as his adventure in the body of Abigale Quinlan begins is whether or not his friends are dead. Due to the hectic situation, and Jad not remembering their phone numbers (because he is a millennial), he is unable to find out if they survived, and must mull in mystery for the first half of the story. All before visiting the house of his peers and learning, quite simply, that they are all fine.
While this reveal works, it lacks much of a punch. It is a flaccid affirmation that everything is a-okay, and Jad has little difficulty getting into contact with his friends. He talks over them using the preferred video chat platform of 2014, does not get to rejoice in the physical comfort of being around those he loves, and… then his friends leave the story until Encounter 18.
I could have handled the implementation of Jad’s friends better, should have probably killed one of them off for dramatic effect and character growth, but again, this story is haunted by the ghosts of a story that was never finished, and in The Malicious Abigale Quinlan, I planned on handling Jad’s reunion with his friends completely differently. So, yeah, this could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve been better if I had planned better and stayed determined, but I didn’t. Still, it’s not a massive storytelling foible or anything.
I don’t think that any of the problems I mentioned are story-breaking, and that is part of the reason why I look at this story in such a relatively positive light. Because the issues are mostly dumb arbitrary fragments from earlier drafts, and the rest of the story is pretty good.
Part 2.5: Premium High-Grade 69% Malice on the Rocks
Cyber-Bitch Peatrice: Writing unique and distinct characters is not my strong suit. I know very few people in life, look inwards when searching for personalities, and gravitate towards a few archetypes derived from some part of my 3D real-ass human personality. These archetypes include, but are not limited to, the straight-edge, the analytical, the timid, the bitter, the psycho, and the Genki. Of this group, I most prefer writing for Genki characters, as it gives me an opportunity to dig deep into the mesh of references, garbage, and silly nonsense that I have fluttering in my brain.
In Verde’s Doohickey, the Genki role was fulfilled by Maxxisaurus Omega Flare, who is still my favorite character to have ever written. She was a constant upper for protagonist Jad Novus, and he routinely appreciated the silliness and kindness she exuded. However, part of the reason Jad was so receptive to Maxxie is that she was a lifelong friend of his, and Maxxie knew to never overstep her bounds. She recognized when things got serious and put her friend above her personal happiness.
In writing Peatrice, I quickly discovered that I was effectively writing a bizarro/evil Maxxie. A character who uses goofy diatribes, nonsense comments, and disturbing anecdotes to annoy the protagonist, to chip away at their will, and nudge them into unfavorable acts. Much like Maxxie, Peatrice is important to Jad and they are close to some degree, but they lack any history and neither respect each other. Peatrice is using Jad for his own entertainment, while Jad is using Peatrice for information and guidance, as otherwise Jad needs to go through their pitiful situation alone. When times are hard, Peatrice only seeks to agitate Jad, to push his buttons, and to build the animosity he feels towards him. All with the ultimate goal of weakening his resolve and bringing him into despair. A goal that Peatrice succeeds in halfway through the novel. He drives Jad to the point of violence, departs from this novel with joy, and is silently yucking it up in the background while Jad’s life and mental state continue to crumble from here on out.
As a character in the story, I think he works very well. And from the perspective of the writer, he was also an absolute delight to write for. Even during my re-editing process, I still found myself giggling and laughing out loud as I re-read some of his best lines. And if I wrote something that made me laugh years after the fact, I think that is a sign that I wrote something damn good.
Jad Novus and the Tale of Despair: I really should have quantified how much of this novel is devoted to Jad Novus moping around, worrying about things, or wallowing in despair, because he does that constantly throughout the majority of the story. And while this could be seen as a sign of repetition and tedium, I consider it to be an essential part of the story. Jad begins the novel having lost everything and spends the rest of the story trying to cling to what little he has left. His name is synonymous with evil, his body is dead, his home is forever scarred by tragedy, and his friends are unaware of the truth.
He has every damn reason to be depressed, to worry, and to feel despair. And I made certain to emphasize this and beat this fact in. The entire story is about his resolve being destroyed, hope being shot down, and things getting worse when they were set to get better. It is all to lead into the final stretch where Jad is captured by the military, physically abused, and treated like a criminal because of his body. When at this low, he is exploited by Abigale Quinlan, who uses his despair to further her own goals. Thus leading to the ultimate conclusion of the story. Where Jad has lost hope and believes a false narrative whispered to his weak mind by a devil with a honeyed tongue.
I think this is a good character arc, with sprinkles and hints of hope being thrown in, brief respites of fortune, but they only go to make the preceding misfortunes sting all the more. He gets a ride away from the rest stop, but is left out in the snow. He returns home, but is all alone. He meets up with somebody who can help him, but he winds up being branded as a criminal monster murderer.
It all plays out with a deliberate thematic purpose and, barring issues I identified with the pacing and certain plot points, I think the story’s structure is very solid. Every chapter has something novel to offer, the story is always moving forward, and the story avoids meandering on any one event for too long, with the closest example probably being the exposition dumps offered by Peatrice early on. But I tend to give exposition a pass when it comes to pacing because, well, I like it when a story stops and explains things to me.
The Ending: The Malice of Abigale Quinlan concludes with failure. Jad becomes the monster he appeared to be. He compromises his morals and principles in a fit of desperation. The antagonist silently rejoices in the background, never letting their presence be known. And the place that Jad called his home, along with the primary setting of Verde’s Doohickey, is destroyed. Jad loses his sense of self and is blessed with an escape from this horrible reality, returning to where this whole story began, with Verde Dusk.
Verde is apologetic towards Jad, but the damage is done, their friendship is sullied, and Jad is too consumed with self-hatred and despair to offer her any forgiveness. Their relationship ends, Verde is left alone, and in a fit of desperation, at the sight of this immense failure, she takes her own life.
The ambiguous narration at the end of the story tries to reassure readers that this is not the true end, but it remains a definitive conclusion nevertheless. A tale of evil winning. Of malice corrupting. Or bringing a misery that causes people to forfeit their lives. It is dark, depraved, and I am very happy with how it turned out. However… it wasn’t always this way.
Part 3: Yahd-kun & Earth Vore
In re-editing The Malice of Abigale Quinlan for its 2020 release on Nigma Box, I made significant changes to the original ending of the story by rewriting the second half of Encounter 18, all of Encounter 19, and roughly half of Encounter 20. I did this for both quality purposes and because of how much I absolutely despised the ending from the original 2016 release. Conceptually, it is not all too different from the ending seen in the 2020 release, as both involve Jad going on an absorption rampage at the Flare household, waking up in a destroyed Oransen, and crumbling to the ground in despair before being confronted by Verde. However, the difference is in the fine details.
In the original version, Jad did not transform into a hulking flesh monster, mirroring the monster he had become after being indoctrinated by Abigale Quinlan. Instead, he transformed into an idealized version of Maxxie and brought everybody at the Flare household, all his friends and their families, together for a giant hug before he absorbed them. As this happened, Jad becomes overburdened by a migraine, and his senses fade as he becomes one with everybody he cares about.
Jad then wakes up amid rubble, sees that Oransen has been destroyed, and before he can begin exploring the area, he is met with a pulsating headache as his mind becomes filled with voices. The voices of… every living thing on the planet. “The birds in the sky, the fish and life swimming through the ocean, the bugs beneath the earth, all plant life, fungi, and so forth. None were spared.”
Jad killed literally everything that could be killed and left Earth as a lifeless husk of a planet. He did so by transforming his body into a relentless mass of fleshy tendrils that tore through the planet and is now the only living lifeform on Earth.
As Jad couples with this realization, the voices in his head become murmurs and he is met with the voice of Abigale Quinlan once again, who congratulates Jad for his destruction, saying that he surpassed her expectations and thanking him for the pleasure that reverberated throughout her body as Jad consumed every living thing on the planet. As Jad realizes this, he breaks and begins throwing himself at jagged rubble as a means of punishing himself for committing ULTIMATE GENOCIDE, and he goes insane. His mind leaves his body, and his story in this world ends.
He then returns to Verde Dusk, who apologizes to Jad profusely for subjecting him to such a horrific experience, but Jad is not receptive to her apologies. He is too warped and frustrated by this experience to forgive Verde, and after she pours her heart out, warns Jad of the bad future that may await him, Jad walks out the door to Verde’s pocket dimension and leaves her be. Where she becomes overwrought with despair and kills herself while singing a modified version of Komm, süßer Tod. The story ends, concludes definitively, and there is no implication that anything will ever come after this story. God is dead. Hope is dead. This was all a waste of time. Get fucked, bitch.
I was angry when I wrote this ending. Angry at this story. Angry at the whole idea of The Novus Logs. And I wanted to burn it down, to destroy it, to leave it in such a shitty state that it could never be continued. I spent years thinking about this ending, about whether I should amend it, if I should just do a full-on retcon, and… I did. I made an ending more thematically appropriate, more personal, and more contained. I closed the door of this story but left a window unlocked for a future installment, and I do have every intention of continuing this story. But before getting into that, I would like to take this opportunity to explain what I wanted The Novus Logs to be circa 2015. Because I promised I would do that in Natalie Rambles About Verde’s Doohickey.
Part 4: The Original Novus Logs
I envisioned The Novus Logs as a long-form decalogy (trilogy but with 10 things) that would follow an ensemble cast of supporting characters that would primarily follow titular protagonist Jad Novus, a fairly unremarkable young person whose world is flipped upside down when they meet a God-like being by the name of Verde Dusk. It would be a coming of age story where character development was stipulated through fantastical formative experiences based on the Scenarios that Verde puts Jad into. Whether it be being isekai’d into a fantasy world unlike their own, given a device beyond the capabilities of modern science, or forced into a situation that would push Jad into an uncomfortable situation where they would need to assess their very sense of self.
There were a lot of stray unrefined ideas I had for the story that I did not properly catalog or organize. As such, I do not fully recall what The Novus Logs was going to be. It was this constantly changing mesh of ideas where I planned one or two stories ahead while leaving any ideas beyond that rather vague and open, as I knew I would not get around to them for quite some time. However, it was always going to be a story about how one should never crumble or give up in the face of adversity, the value and power of friendship, and people trying to be the best version of themselves they could be.
However, saying all of that might be giving myself too much credit. There was no master plan. I had no divine keikaku. I had a vague idea, I was making shit up as I went along, and all that I really knew for certain were story concepts and Jad’s character arc.
Jad’s long-term character arc began with them realizing that they don’t especially like themselves, especially when compared to their friends. Jad finds themselves to be talentless by comparison and feels like something is lacking. I established this in the final chapters of Verde’s Doohickey and my plan was to burrow into this feeling of inferiority, allow it to grow and gestate until Jad Novus falls into a pit of despair, is left actively admonishing themselves, and reaches a breaking point. A revelation where they realize what they truly want out of life (to be a woman and to have a creative skill they can hone and invest in), and finally win against the insurmountable force, the villain, who had defeated them with such ease in the past. The villain known as Abigale Quinlan.
This would have represented the overall arc to the first 5 novels in this 10 novel series, while the second half of the series… really would not have any arcs as far as I could tell, and it was mostly a vessel for story ideas that I thought were compelling back in 2015. What were these ideas? Well, based on my recovered notes, the ideas for the remaining 8 parts of The Novus Logs went a little something… like this.
The Dominant Abigale Quinlan: This story would have been a direct sequel to The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, and center around Jad Novus undergoing a gradual physical transformation from their usual self into Abigale Quinlan over the span of several days. The first half of the story was to be a steady transformation affair heavily inspired by the classic TG manwa A Girl in My Dreams, showing Jad as they go about their school days, fully cognizant of the events of Malice, and mulling over the reality before them. All while having bizarre dreams of a happier and brighter life and waking up to discover his body altered in slight ways he is ignorant of due to his overbearing depression. As the transformation goes on, Jad becomes aware of it, but nobody else seems to notice, claiming that Jad has always been a bit more feminine looking.
As this transformation progresses, Jad realizes what was going on, and tries to fight against Abigale as her mind begins to invade his, and she takes control of his body. Once Abigale exerts full dominance over Jad’s body, Jad is left to bask into what his life could be, living as a bright young woman by the name of Jadigale. The story would end with a day in the life of Jadigale, as she applies herself in school and extracurriculars, mingles with her loving mother and father, and spends time in her large circle of friends. As Jad sees this idyllic high school life, his resolve and desire to fight for his right to life diminish. By the end of the story, he willingly gives his life to Abigale, admitting her superiority.
Genocider J: After failing to combat and defeat Abigale Quinlan twice, and falling into a deep depression due to his own perceived inferiority, Verde sends Jad into yet another Scenario, where he wakes up in the body of a young woman in a world filled with charred corpses. As he wanders through this strange world, he meets up with a woman in the body of a sharply dressed gentleman by the name of Zedaki and humanoid robot known as a Jetter.
Once the three are together, they learn that an individual by the name of Justicar Jay has begun their plan to Re;Juvinate Earth. This involves placing the top 0.1% of all human minds into the top 0.1% of all physical human bodies and killing the remaining 99.9% of the population. All in order to create a superior ‘race’ of humans to rebuild society after mankind continually teetered towards ruin.
The story would involve Jad, Zedaki, and Jetter traveling throughout this world as it is being altered by large autonomous beings known as J-Bots that demolished cities, toiled the Earth, and established new settlements for the surviving 8.5 million human beings. All before Jad and Zedaki would meet Justicar Jay face to face, who reveals himself to be an alternate future version of Jad Novus, who became spiteful of their own inferiority and used divine powers given to them by Verde to reshape this world in their image.
After this revelation, Jad would realize that his deeply seated inferiority is detrimental, and go on a prolonged debate with this alternate version of himself, before eventually realizing that it is foolish to compare oneself to others, and that they are also a transgender woman… for reasons never specified in my notes.
Abigale Quinlan Strikes Back: This story would follow Jad as she fights back against Abigale in a bad alternate future where Maxxie, Zoe, Shiaka, and Caroline are dead, Abigale has taken over Jad’s body, and Jad is a spirit possessing Vivi Gaimz, who in turn becomes an electric fairy that can hack into electronics. Jad then brings Gem Stone, Anita Neukar, and a new character named Ryley Blitz together to battle against Abigale and her Elite Three. This group would consist of Bryce Novus (Jad’s criminal father), Urabe The Black (android assassin from beyond the stars), Maple The Ultimate (transforming Japanese woman with superhuman abilities).
The story would have this ragtag group battle against Abigale’s underlings indirectly and sporadically. Feature Jad killing his dirtbag father in a brutal all-out brawl. See the group, namely Gem and Anita, befriend Maple as an ally. And have Vivi hack into Urabe’s body, making it her own. Once the underlings were defeated, the story would culminate in a climactic battle between Jad in Vivi’s body wearing power armor made out of Urabe’s body battling Abigale after she murders Jad’s original body and returns to her original form.
The final battle between Jad and Abigale would take place in space and would conclude with Jad tossing Abigale into the sun, where she would burn for billions of years until the sun dwarfed into nothingness.
Funky Fresh Futanari Fusion Fiasco: With Jad having completed their arc against Abigale Quinlan, the remainder of The Novus Logs would focus mostly on Jad and her friends going on fantastical adventures as envisioned by Jad’s three primary friends. This first installment would follow Maxxie as she is allowed to create her own highly sexualized world where characters merge bodies and minds, and then do a bunch of sex and masturbation stuff, which helps Jad grow beyond his asexuality, and basically turns all characters involved into pansexual perverts.
I literally have only a paragraph of notes regarding this story, and nothing in them gave me any indication of why I thought this story was a good idea. Especially because I listed Terra, a prepubescent minor, as a major character.
The Robo Trigger: This story was to be a fantastical isekai tale following Jad, Maxxie, Shiaka, Zoe, and Terra as they ventured into a sci-fi world where humans are legally required to trade in their biological bodies for robotic ones. It would have followed Jad, Maxxie, Shiaka, and Terra as members of the cyborg resistance who are fighting against the regime mandating that organics are a thing of the past. Or at least I think so.
I lost my most of my notes for this story (a likely casualty from moving Google accounts), so I can only vaguely recall what this story would be. And the only other thing of note I can recall was how it would be revealed that this world was actually a paradise envisioned by Zoe Zing, who admits he feels only contempt for his human traits and interests, praising machines and wishing the world could be made only of the rational and the programmed. Honestly, this idea was probably never going to go anywhere to begin with, and I barely care about it now.
Project Sunshine: This was poised to be a prolonged tale of transformation and isolation that would cast Jad, Maxxie, Zoe, Shiaka, Haruki Kurokawa, Caroline, and more into a small mansion located in the Rocky Mountains where they were isolated by a dense forest that looped in on itself. Every day, the group would wake up in a different body, either transformed through a body swap or a more general transformation that changes their race, age, sex, and so forth.
It was also apparently meant to be a character study for Shiaka as she dealt with the latent trauma she underwent back in elementary school, as detailed in Verde’s Doohickey. Again, this was so many projects beyond what I was doing that I only had vague ideas. Nothing conclusive or definitive.
Vincent’s Dawn: This would have been less of a novel and more of a short story compilation, involving Jad and Verde going through the memoirs of Vincent Dawn. It would function as a prolonged origin story for both Vincent Dawn and Verde Dusk, in addition to a summary of the novellas I made before Verde’s Doohickey, recapping and summarizing them cohesively while fleshing out the vaguely detailed character of Vincent Dawn into a tragic figure. All of which would have concluded on a cliffhanger, with Verde’s body being hi-jacked and transformed by the resurfaced persona of Vincent Dawn. Jad, using something Verde gave her earlier, would then to stop Vincent Dawn and winds up going into Vincent Dawn’s mind.
While I never got around to writing this exact story, I did detail, catalog, and summarize the history of the characters Vincent Dawn and Verde Dusk in my novel The Saga of Vincent Dawn, which I released in January 2019, and plan on remastering in the foreseeable future
Verde’s Dusk: As the direct sequel to Vincent’s Dawn, this story would pick up in the abstract recesses of Vincent Dawn’s mind and follow Jad as he travels through 12 of his memories as part of a serialized short story collection wherein she would visit a fantastical world with one familiar character, and undergo something either traumatic or hopelessly deranged. By clearing these 12 trials, this “Duodecim of Devilish Debaucheries,” Jad would split the personalities and minds of Vincent Dawn and Verde Dusk into two separate entities.
Once the two are split, Vincent Dawn kills himself while Verde decides to turn over a new leaf for herself. She puts away her pocket dimension and begins to live in Jad’s world, choosing to get a job, a social life, and to put her days as a divine maker of worlds behind her in order to enjoy the sort of ordinary life she was never able to. This story would have ended with an epilogue five years later featuring Jad, Maxxie, Zoe, Shiaka, Terra, Vivi, Anita, Gem, Ryley, and Verde all getting together for an annual party, talking about their first jobs out of college, and their hopes for the future. Thereby ending the story of The Novus Logs on an open but conclusive note.
Part 5: The Saga of Dawn and Dusk – Update 2020-08
That is what I had originally planned for The Novus Logs, but that was back in 2015, and since then everything I originally set out with this series has been revised or thrown away in its entirety. However, The Novus Logs have not been abandoned, and I have every intention of continuing the stories of Verde Dusk, Jad Novus, and the rest with future novels. All as part of a 10 novel series I am working on by the name of The Saga of Dawn and Dusk.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “Creating a 10 novel series is a terrible idea, especially for a writer who failed as spectacularly as you, Natalie.”
And you know what, that’s a fantastic point. I should not be focusing on creating a grand saga given my current level of skill and experience. However, if I may offer a counterpoint, I am already halfway done with this series.
Yes, The Saga of Dawn and Dusk is a series that consists of 10 novels and I have previously completed and released 5 of them. Said novels include Verde’s Doohickey, The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, Psycho Bullet Festival: The Odyssey of Abigale Quinlan, The Saga of Vincent Dawn, and Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth.
I plan on continuing the series with Psycho Bullet Festival 2222, The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan, Psycho Shatter 2000: Black Vice Mania, Psycho Shatter Alternative: Maple Loves Senpai Kiwami, and a story tentatively titled Novus X.
What are these stories about? I’m not telling. I do have extensive notes and outlines for some of these novels, but none of them are past the conceptual phase at this moment, so I will not divulge details about them until they are something tangible.
How do they tie together as part of a single series? Well, The Saga of Vincent Dawn cleanly leads into Verde’s Doohickey, which leads into The Malice of Abigale Quinlan. From there, things get messy because of Encounter 20 of The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, which sees Verde executing Cataclysm.exe. This causes the VDVerse, a system introduced and explained in The Saga of Vincent Dawn, to fall into chaos, strips Verde of her powers, and shit gets wild. I will detail exactly what happened in Psycho Bullet Festival 2222.
The important thing to note as of now is that Psycho Bullet Festival: The Odyssey of Abigale Quinlan, Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth, and their respective worlds are the end result of Cataclysm.exe. They do play a role in the larger story, but they are ultimately standalone stories by design. Or, if this is all too confusing, here is a flowchart of how these stories relate to one another:
This may seem imposing and beg the question of what the recommended reading order is, but so long as you adhere to the recommended reading that I list before each novel, you should be able to understand what the hell is going on.
Now, when am I going to release these remaining 5 stories? Well, I want to release Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 on 2/2/2022 at 22:22 for obvious reasons. After that, I hope to release one novel a year. Then The Saga of Dawn and Dusk can finally be put to rest. But before all of that can happen, I need to finish re-editing and creating art assets for Psycho Bullet Festival: The Odyssey of Abigale Quinlan and The Saga of Vincent Dawn.
Crikey, I really got distracted, didn’t I? I was just supposed to vibe and yap about The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, but I went and talked about my pending plans for future projects. Oh well. That’s all I have to say about this novel of mine, and if you have any further questions, hit me up in the comments below.