The other day a friend reminded me that Camp NaNoWriMo starts in April and this is a great time bunk down with a virtual cabin of you and 11 other writers to smash out a project of your choice (e.g. screenplay, novel, stageplay) and genre.
Welcome to the fourth year of Camp NaNoWriMo!
We first imagined Camp simply as an off-season alternative to National Novel Writing Month, but it’s evolved into much more than that: writers choose their own projects—from novel sequels to scripts to pop-up books—and find cabin communities (and often new friends) to support them.
We call it a retreat because you can write anything here, plus see what you’re capable of when you have the time and space to create.
Last year, we introduced flexible word-count goals (10,000 to 999,999) and the ability to add your own project genre.
I've decided to continue the project I started on my plane ride to the Land of the Long White Cloud. From April I'll be posting excerpts here on a weekly basis (or twice-weekly if I keep up the steam). Hearing artists I admire like Mike Mignola admit, "Yes, I made it up as I went along" does make me feel better about playing hard and fast with research on emergency call transcripts and storage shed dimensions.
Inspired by wandering around a suburbia that demands you coast at yellow alert on a regular basis, below is the excerpt I shared on my profile; and yes, I did name one of the characters after a suburb in Canberra - it homes three of my favourite people, it's a good name.
Wish me luck, drop me a line if you're also participating -- and kick me off Facebook if you see me lingering!
Camp NaNoWriMo Excerpt
OPERATOR: "Police, what’s your emergency?”
CALLER: “They took my sister. Fuckers just took my sister, send someone right the fuck now!"
OPERATOR: “What’s your address, Sir?”
CALLER: "31 New... New Settlement Circuit. They just took her. It’s the middle of the day! It's-"
OPERATOR: “31 New Settlement Circuit, is that right?”
OPERATOR: “What city are you in, Sir?”
OPERATOR: “All right, the police have been dispatched. How long ago was she taken?”
CALLER: “The van just turned the corner. They just took her!”
OPERATOR: “Sir, do not attempt to follow them. The police are on their way to you. Can you describe the van?”
CALLER: “Navy, painted windows. Two men just grabbed her and she was shouting…. I got the license plate.”
OPERATOR: “That’s great, Sir, that’s excellent. What was the license plate?”
CALLER: "34... R-S-9... 9-Q."
OPERATOR: "Okay, stay where you are, Sir. The police are on their way to you."
CALLER: "Oh my god."
OPERATOR: "It's okay, Sir."
CALLER: "She screamed. She was fighting." [sobs]
OPERATOR: "Sir, you've done the right thing calling us. The police will need you to recall everything as soon as they get to you. They're just around the corner."
OPERATOR: "What's your name?"
OPERATOR: "Evatt. Evatt, I'm Marcel. Take a deep breath for me, okay?"
CALLER: "Yeah. Yeah."
OPERATOR: "Are you hurt, Evatt? Are you all right?"
CALLER: "I'm fine. Just get the police here!"
OPERATOR: "They're on their way, they're right around the corner. What's your sister's name, Evatt?"
CALLER: "Her - her name's 'Lana'."
OPERATOR: "How old is Lana?"
CALLER: "She's nineteen."
OPERATOR: "Okay, she's nineteen. Do you know anyone who would have a reason to take her?"
CALLER: [sobbing] "Those fuckers. I'm gonna fucking kill them!"
OPERATOR: "Evatt? Evatt, keep taking those deep breaths, okay? I'm here. I'm going to stay with you until the police get there."
CALLER: "Where the fuck are they?"
OPERATOR: "They're not far now. They're close."
OPERATOR: "Do you know the people who took your sister?"
OPERATOR: "Okay. Just hang in there, Evatt. They're almost there."
Marcel hangs up the phone and removes his headset. Suspended from the corrugated iron walls of the narrow room, the clock over his desk blinks '3:24'. Record time.
Pushing back in his chair, Marcel shuts his eyes under the glare of the single fluorescent bulb. Gotta remember to get that extra lamp installed.
A knock raps at the door, three times.
Marcel cranes his head back. "Yeah?"
They operate on a needs-must basis, inspired by pragmatism and a stingy boss with a taste for minimalism. The cell spans less than six-feet square and used to store bottled water from the previous owners. Padded with industrial insulation, it took four men the work of an afternoon to repurpose the storage shed.
There are no lights, not wanting their new guest to utilise anything to harm themselves. Well, themself or their hosts.
Their guest sits crumpled in the far corner of the shed, knees tucked to their chest, hands still bound behind their back.
Marcel crouches to one knee and pulls the dirty pillowcase from their head. He can't help but smile at the furious glare that greets him beneath that tangle of blonde hair, like starlight in the van's headlights flooding the open doors.