Faerie Winter comes out in paperback April 10! In the couple weeks leading up to its release, I thought I’d talk a little about some of my earlier conceptions of this sequel to Bones of Faerie. You can also win a copy of the Faerie Winter paperback–and of all the rest of my novels–here.
In my last Faerie Winter post I talked about how in my first attempt at writing a sequel to Bones of Faerie, I attempted to tell the story from the point of view of Kimi the plant speaker, a minor character from Bones of Faerie–and then decided as a more major secondary character, Allie would be a better point of view, especially since I’d decided to put her father’s life in danger. I loved Allie, the young healer who’d run away to follow Liza in Bones of Faerie. I wanted to know more about her.
By this time, my non-Faerieverse Iceland novel, Thief Eyes, was sitting on my editor’s desk and Bones of Faerie was nearing its release date, so I had more time to dedicate to the Allie version than I’d had for the Kimi one. I thought writing Allie would be easier than writing Kimi, because I knew Allie better, but actually the reverse was true: I knew Allie from the outside, but struggled with getting to know her from within.
Here’s the opening of my Allie draft of Faerie Winter, which I may have been calling Tangled Magic or may have been calling just “Allie’s Book”; I no longer remember for sure:
I can feel your skin grow. Did you know that? I can feel the old skin–thinner than old paper, dry as old leaves–sloughing away. I can feel the new skin–stretchy like rubber bands from Before must have been, until they all turned brittle and snapped–push in and take its place. I can feel the itchy place where old skin and new skin meet.
It’s my favorite new thing. I don’t even have to touch you, though I do have to get pretty close. Then I reach out, with the thinnest tendril of my magic–thinner than a cat’s whisker, thinner than I could even manage a year ago–reach for your bare wrist, or maybe a your fingertip. Of course, if you flinch away, or even just tell me not to, I stop. This isn’t like during the War. We know better, now, than to use magic without permission.
I can feel you breathing, too, no matter how quiet you try to be … I’m a Healer. Before you speak a single word I can know, somewhere deep inside me, that all is well. Or if it isn’t well, if your breathing is a little too tight, your skin growing a little too fast? I can fix it. I have to fix it. If I don’t, it’s my skin that feels all itchy and tight.
Healing is what I do. Dad says my Mom was in med school before the War with the faerie folk, and that healing must run in the family. He smiles a little sadly when he says it. Me too. Mom died the same day I was born.
So anyway, when I saw Kimi covered in Virginia creeper, I knew she wasn’t in trouble, not really …
I loved the from-within view of what healing felt like, but I felt like something was missing, too, some essential Allie-ness. Looking at this now, I can also see there’s less forward motion than in Kimi’s draft. Still, I pressed forward, doing what I always do when a book lacks forward motion: keep writing until I find it.
In this draft, Kimi’s plant magic still gets out of control, and Allie’s father Samuel still almost dies when the plants attack. Samuel winds up in a coma instead, and Kimi winds up insane and unable to turn off the voices of the plants, and Karin decides she needs to take her damaged student to Liza’s town and from there to Faerie, where plants no longer grow and so can’t speak to her, in hopes Kimi will regain her sanity there. Caleb, Allie’s teacher, sends Allie with them, because he’s scared Allie will kill herself pushing too hard with her magic to try to save her father. Josh, a scattered-acting fire speaker who was crushing on Kimi and who Allie crushed on in turn, went with them.
I wrote 16,000 words in all of this draft. I wasn’t sure what would happen once our characters got to Faerie, but I was sure I’d figure it out, just like I’d figure out the voice of the story, which was slower to gel than for Kimi’s much shorter draft.
Bones of Faerie came out. (Yay!) I did signings. Readers began to ask me about a sequel (joy!), and I told them I was hoping to write one, and that it would be from Allie’s point of view.
Readers loved Allie, and they were polite about the idea of a sequel from Allie’s point of view, but I began to realize that many of them instinctively wanted more of Liza’s story. I was still sure, though, that Liza’s story was through. I kept struggling to find Allie’s story instead.
And then the time came for my editor and I to talk about a sequel. (Double yay!) I explained how I saw this as the book in which we returned to Faerie, and also how I saw it as Allie’s story, and why.
And then he said a few things that made me realize maybe this wasn’t Allie’s story after all.
I’ll talk about how I finally saw that Liza’s story wasn’t anywhere close to over after all–that she had story and arc that not only could be told, but wanted to be told–in my next Faerie Winter post.
Dad said that Before music didn’t have to be played–you just flipped a switch and turned it on, just like with a lightbulb. You had to play it the first time, of course, but then you could catch the playing, and listen to it over and over again. That sounded kind of boring to me, and also kind of scary–what if you got it wrong that first time? Everyone who listened after would hear your mistake, forever and ever.
Matthew held me as I sobbed myself out. He could have told me that Caleb knew what he was doing; he could have reminded me that Caleb had saved his own life. He said nothing, just let me cry. Matthew’s magic was as a Shifter, but sometimes I thought his real talent was for just knowing when to be there.
“But it’s a plant!” Josh said.
Karin said softly, so softly it sent a chill to my bones, “And you are a boy, yes, and I’ll see neither of you harmed if I can help it.”