Anyway, she asked me how HA was going, and that's when I made my semi-fatuous little genre writer comment.
But as soon as I said it, I knew it wasn't true.
I'm in the first third of the book, and Henry, our hero, is essentially stuck in the Imperial Palace of Constantinople, masquerading as a servant. (That's the Palace, before the jump.) Now there is something keeping him there - a bit of knowledge that he wants to have - but there's also something encouraging him to get the hell out...think beheadings, but worse.
I've already established that Henry is the most reluctant of heroes. He'll help out the occasional well-intentioned stranger, but he's not going to risk his life for anyone but his close friends. Not if he can help it, anyway. So I realized, as I sat there chatting with a veteran of the publishing world who has some thirty more years of experience than I do, that if I made life even more difficult for Henry, he'd just bolt out of the palace faster than a Cathar out of the Vatican. I needed something more to keep Henry trapped inside.
So there's this beautiful, mysterious servant girl who had him hauled out of the sea and deposited inside the Palace. Before today, she was his unquestioned ally. But now, I'm thinking she's also his jailor. What could be more Byzantine than to have her be both?