Mostly I’ve been keeping this project under wraps. It’s time to pull back the edge of the burlap and let you peek underneath.
A year or so ago I started working on a series of YA (that’s Young Adult) fantasy novels — a four-volume series. It’s the largest creative project I’ve ever attempted, and I have to say it’s going very well. Last July I finished the first volume, The Leafstone Shield, and started scouting around for a literary agent. Finding an agent is a frustrating process! Agents are deluged with submissions from aspiring writers, and don’t even have time to dig through the mountain of emails. While waiting for responses, I started working on the second installment, The Ribbonglass Tree.
Toward the end of the year, through an unlikely series of coincidences, I found an agent who actually took the time to sit down and read The Leafstone Shield. She loved it, and she’s now attempting to find a publisher. I finished the second book and started working on volume three, The Heartsong Fountain.
I now have a complete draft of The Heartsong Fountain. Finished it yesterday. I still need to go back through it and tidy up a few details, but alongside that I can start doing detailed development work (a plot outline and sketches of a few key scenes) on the final installment, The Firepearl Chalice.
The four volumes link to tell a single long story. That was part of the challenge — to give each book an emotionally satisfying ending, even though the story isn’t finished! In one sense the Leafstone Saga is a standard tale of epic fantasy. Kyura thinks she’s just an ordinary 17-year-old girl, working in her uncle’s inn, until she discovers she’s the hereditary priest/king of the distant land where she was born. Her father’s whole family was brutally murdered, and some seriously bad things are happening in the land of her birth. It’s up to her to go there and set things right. Unfortunately, Kyura and her friend Meery can’t afford train tickets, and Kyura’s crazy cousin Tornibrac (the current ruler) is trying to have her killed before she even starts on the journey.
A hundred fantasy novels have used similar plot premises — the trope is sometimes referred to as The Chosen One. But the Leafstone Saga has, I hope, some fresh elements that set it apart. For one thing, the setting is not crypto-Medieval, it’s more 19th century. Jostling against the wizards and elves are rifles and pistols, railroad trains, and even a few large, elegant horseless carriages. Magic carpets being old-fashioned and unreliable, the evil wizard zips across the sky in a big glass bubble called an aerosphere. Oh, and texting. See, a wizard can create a pair of blank books. You have one, and your friend has one. Whatever you write in your book (using pen and ink) will magically appear in your friend’s book, and what your friend writes will show up in yours.
It’s not steampunk, because there’s no steam and not much punk. But it’s not weighed down with knights and sword-fights, that’s for sure.
The cast of colorful characters is large. You’ll meet Tierolyn ac Mornath, a down-on-his-luck concert pianist (his instrument is called a hammer-harp, but you get the idea) with an ego the size of a house. Tierolyn’s faithful servant Pimmick always wears a high-crowned hat with a chin-strap so nobody will see his horns. Pimmick is a half-breed demon, but really a very nice person most of the time. Alixia C’Voy is on the run from her truly despicable father, who has arranged for her to marry the leader of a cult that brutally subjugates women. Alixia has fallen in with Spindler, a good-looking but possibly dangerous young thief. To finance Kyura’s expedition, Alixia and Spindler will have to pull off a jewel heist. Alixia’s governess, the straight-laced Madame Scraull, thoroughly disapproves, but finds herself swept up in the action.
Also in the crew are the ghost of a soldier, Zvolnar, who seems not to have been very bright even when he was alive, an ogre named Walf, who hires out to break people’s arms because it pays better than hauling rocks, and the evil wizard Posthilnueze, whose five-syllable name sounds like you’re saying it with a mouth full of rocks. Not to mention Arik, a young ox-tender with a mysterious past and an uncertain future. Kyura is probably falling in love with Arik, and he disappears much too soon!
So that’s what’s going on. While working on Book IV, I also have to create a decent website (to which this blog will eventually migrate). The publishing industry being brutally competitive, there’s no guarantee that my agent will be able to find a publisher. I may end up having to self-publish, which will be even more work.
Why am I going to all this trouble? Well, I think you’ll like Kyura and her crew. I like them, anyhow — and I think a writer has to have a certain loyalty to his or her characters. Life has to be breathed into them. That’s my job.