October has reached its end, and for writers literally all over the world, that means National Novel Writing Month (November) is looming around the corner with those gleaming eyes, serrated grin, and I’m pretty sure claws, too. All the preparations over the last month (of which I did, like, absolutely none) have come down to this.
I’d like to say that I’m rearing to go, to hole myself up and write and consume unprecedented volumes of hot leaf juice. Alas! The next town over is extending their market season by hosting the vendors indoors, so we’ve decided to skip on over there on the weekends to sell our honey and baked yums for a wee bit longer ─ so I’m NOT actually done with that part of my summer yet. On one side it’s a bummer, but it is super hard to argue with the deposit, so . . .
The next couple of weekends are looking CHOCKED FULL, which is one of the reasons why this week’s post is so early. Another (very good, mind you) reason is that October is Part One of the Know the Novel series hosted by Christine Smith, which is a fun, 3-part link-up for writers that spans the last three months of the year. I didn’t want to miss out on this, so I’m sliding in on my knees at the last minute!
I did this last year, too, and since the project I’m working on the same (Falconsbane), many of the answers may be familiar. On the other hand, much of the story has changed over the last year, so maybe not!
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
It was a rather vague concept. I wanted to write a character that was slightly mad, and I had a scene where he is first introduced in which he is arguing vehemently over the need for lettuce. I still have the note tacked to my doorframe. When I think back on this I smile and chuckle to myself, because the story isn’t even about this character anymore.
2. Share a blurb!
Why don’t I pick one I’m thinking about for the first installment? That’ll be new.:
Phen is a country whose history is drenched in wars, and rumors of another lie just beyond the border.
But this isn’t at the top of Roscha’s worry list.
Before he can join the battlefront as one of the legendary Nyan Falcons, he has to graduate from basic training, and the assessment is a crucible designed to push every recruit to his limit. Roscha isn’t so concerned about passing, though, as he is about surviving. Since his accident, when a sparring match went horrifically wrong, he’s been on a downward spiral in both his health and performance record, and the only one who hasn’t questioned if he should stay in the army is Shyloh, his best friend and unit leader.
But there’s another who seems to think he’s made for bigger things.
Phen’s future rides on the next generation, and Roscha will have to risk repeating history if he wants to preserve it.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
The story takes place in Phen, a small, landlocked country which happens to be largely femur-shaped. (I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear). It’s very hilly country, with mountains forming its western border, and I like the idea of a rolling landscape. It’s also one I’m most familiar with, having grown up surrounded by hills. My brain has a hard time fathoming flatness.
Anyway, worldbuilding is probably my favorite thing about writing, when I take a step back and think about it. There are just so many possibilities! I got really into it this time, trying to develop a culture that was unique to what I often find in fantasy, and it’s been a journey through research and brainstorming. I’ll most likely still be worldbuilding even after the story’s published.
Because I’m me.
4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).
We’ve already talked about Roscha last time, and just last week we met Azel, Mallori, and Mattan. The other major protagonists don’t actually show up until book two. So let us talk about Shyloh.
Shyloh is what one might call a ‘sore-thumb’, in that he really sticks out in a crowd. He’s not a pure-blooded Phen, his mother having been foreign, so he’s pale, blond, and blue-eyed. Being so very different from his peers might have allowed for some bullying, but Shyloh’s volatile, with a hot temper and the combat skills to strongly dissuade such antics. He is in so many regards the polar opposite of Roscha that it’s a wonder they became friends so fast, and Shyloh’s loyalty to the ones he cares about and respects is on par with people like . . . like Samwise.
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
My antagonist(s) aren’t so much individuals as organizations. They are the Federation of Eastern Nations (acronym FEN. Super creepy, people. So did not do that on purpose) and the Druhydren, or druyd hunters. Both are at war with the Phens for mildly varying reasons. The Federation has a long-standing hatred for the country and its people because of history (which would take far too much time to delve into right now). They want to conquer and take the land’s resources.
The Druhydren also have a long-standing hatred, because of history, but focused solely on the druyds. It’s their belief that the druyds are demons, abominations of nature, or what-have-you that need destroying. They work hard at it. They’re also very good at it.
These two groups don’t really have a voice, though, in the first draft of the story, but since I thought it would provide another layer of insight and awesomeness, considering the scale to which Falconsbane is growing, I plan on exploring the inner machinations during this round of major edits.
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Um . . . Watching it agonizingly slowly come together? Finishing it?
7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?
It was supposed to be a standalone. “If it kills me”, I said.
Well, hello, folks; turns out I’m actually dead, because the story laughed at me, activated its magic powers, and turned into a trilogy.
I should have seen it coming.
8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?
Plantsing, I think. I usually work with a basic outline, a bullet list, if you will, of various points I want to cover. The rest is adlibbing.
9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.
I wanted to make this something different fairly early on, and I think the majority of the uniqueness stems from Phennish culture, which has Asian, Middle Eastern, and some Celtic influences. There aren’t actually a whole lot of ‘epic fantasy’ elements like elves and dwarves and ancient wizardry, and evil masterminds bent on either world domination, destruction, or both. That said, there are dragons. Because I didn’t have them in my last project and I wanted dragons. There are supernatural powers, though, called ‘bunes’, and those who have them are called ‘druyds’. I wanted to go with a ‘fantasy superheroes’ type theme for this world.
10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
The Falconsbane page on my website has a link to the Pinterest board I’ve made with images and music that inspires themes and aesthetics and all that jargon. I also wrote an oracle for it, but haven’t actually figured out how to incorporate it (*cue sheepishness). I do have a couple other songs and rhymes, though, because that was an aspect of culture and worldbuilding that I haven’t explored before.
I’ll share ‘Far Beyond the River’, which is a song that is sung, so far just in part, in volume two. I’m no lyricist, but I do like rhymes and patterns. It’s been stuck in my head forever.
Far beyond the river,
Far beyond the sky,
I search the whole world over
‘Till comes the day I die.
I fill the day with laughter,
But you’ll never see me cry.
My way won’t cease to wander from my eye.
The land is long, the waters deep;
I wander on, and never sleep.
Long across the mountains,
Long across the sea,
A home I know for certain
Is waiting there for me.
Yet hope is ever fleeting
As a wren among the trees.
Yoël’s call alone shall make me free.
The sun will rise, the moon will glow;
I fix my eyes, and never slow.
Lost within the breezes,
Lost within the hills,
The mournful cries and praises
Of my soul forever spills.
They echo in the silence
And through sound they will not still.
Peace I wish that I my hands could fill.
The winds will play, the rains will come;
I’ll keep my way, and not succumb.
High above the darkness,
High above the light,
My steps yet tread the kinless
And lonely scape to fight.
Then dusk will rend me bondless,
And the dawn my burden smite.
Home at last is breaking on my sight.
The road was scarred, but reached its end;
I sheathe my sword, and there I’ll wend
My way at last, from wand’ring long
To hearth and hills and welcome song.“Far Beyond the River” A. M. Reynwood, 2019
And there we are! Wasn’t that fun? I thought that was fun. These types of things are great and I so appreciate those that put all the time and effort into setting them up. Anyone else doing NaNo this year? Are you working on a WIP or something completely new?