Discussing DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS with Lou Aronica
like each of my writing projects to provide new challenges. I find myself significantly more engaged if I'm doing at least one thing with a new book that I haven't done before. For DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS, the novel I just published with Julian Iragorri, that one thing was substantial -- and therefore endlessly interesting.
DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS is the story of four people from four different times whose stories converge in a way that has a profound effect on the protagonist. Writing a novel with multiple viewpoints wasn't the challenge. My last novel, BLUE, had three main characters. What was going to prove difficult here was that all four stories needed to remain completely separate for most of the novel. How were we going to move four stories forward at once? More important, how were we going to do it in a way that felt cohesive and interesting to the reader?
One way was to draw connections between the characters. All of them came from the fictional South American country we created. Three of them had some level of interest in metaphysics. Three of them were fascinated with business and finance. Another way was to attempt to make the individual stories as propulsive as possible so the reader didn't spend too much time wondering why they weren't connecting. There's no shortage of drama in DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS. Alex is running a major company and jousting with his estranged wife. Vidente is reading the futures of others while trying to make sense of the vision she's had of her own death. Khaled has moved from a distant land, discovered that his wife and children have been murdered, and completely unexpectedly fallen in love. And Dro is trying to use success at MIT as a springboard to an influential career as an economist while also navigating a torrid affair with a woman who is his country's most famous international figure.
Ultimately, it came down to dropping enough hints along the way to let readers know that they were reading all of these stories for a reason. I'd like to believe that the payoff DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS delivers justifies this unconventional storytelling technique. We're of course intensely interested in learning how others feel about this. One thing I know for sure, though, is that this was a challenge that kept me fully engaged through the entire writing process.