Imagine a story about Melody Baker, an unemployed woman living in New York City. She has a PhD, huge student debt, and no professional job prospects.

Close-up of blond woman at microphone, looking off to the side, smiling
Deborah Ann Woll speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Photo by Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons).
(Picture Debra Ann Woll playing her in the movie version. She’d be perfect in the role.)

Out of desperation she applies for a research assistant position upstate—and finds herself smack dab in the middle of a political campaign run by cynical operators, eccentric aristocrats, and absurdly horrible partisans and hangers-on, all scheming to elect an unwilling but convenient old-money recluse who has these quaint ideas about integrity, compassion, and justice.

(Hugh Laurie would top my casting choices.)

Close-up of man with short hair, holding a microphone, pointing his finger as if making a significant point
Hugh Laurie at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Photo by Jeroen Komen (Creative Commons).
That’s the high-concept pitch of The Candidate’s Maid, a darkly satirical novel I wrote in 2012–2014. I put my heart into Melody’s personal journey of becoming herself—from insecure post-student dreamer attached to a career that no longer exists, burdened with shame over her failure and denial of her sexuality, into a woman who sees clearly herself and the world around her, and claims her own destiny and her own identity.

After several drafts, I hired a professional editor. The manuscript at that point was admittedly something of a disorganized mess, so I wasn’t all that surprised by all the changes suggested. But the editor also took umbrage at the often absurd events, protesting that they were unbelievable: Lobbyists calling for arming school teachers, even students? A senator caught in a fatal sex scandal nobody even blinks at? Someone getting illegally evicted from a New York City apartment? A political party running amok toward its radical fringe? Someone caught in the middle of a nationwide scandal landing a seven-figure book deal? “None of this could happen,” said the editor.

That was 2014. And here we are today. (Semi-pro writer’s tip: Satire and humor are hard enough. Everyone has different taste about what’s funny. Be sure your editor at least gets the joke.)

At any rate, there was no doubt I needed to rework the draft. The editor had pointed out something I already knew: Melody’s arc still wasn’t clicking. And that’s what I focused on. And when I got the story to where it seemed to work, a wild idea occurred to me: Why not publish the book in serial form? After all, the political season was heating up. The timing seemed perfect.

So I reworked the story into five distinct novelette-length parts and started releasing them, one by one.

The Candidate's Maid: A Spy in Stilettos, by Laura Lis Scott
First was <strong>A Spy in Stilettos</strong>.
The Candidate's Maid: The Colonel's Secret Service, by Laura Lis Scott
Then came The Colonel’s Secret Service.
And then the 2016 election happened.

Everything ground to a halt. I was stunned and disheartened. The last thing I could do was laugh at the absurd toxicity of our politics. I moved on, picking up again the science fiction novel I’d been working on previously. I wrote some short stories. And I tried not to think about the two novelette-length books whose satire has been outdone by our sad reality.

Yet I did write these books—and the novel of which they are a part—and I hate just leaving them there, unacknowledged like disowned children. I do love Melody. She’s me in a lot of ways. But to continue? I’d need to reset the entire scenario.

So I ask you, what would you do?