“Do you believe that spring will come?”

Bones of Faerie, the first book of my Bones of Faerie trilogy, is about uncontrolled growth: plants that bloom in every season, crops that fight their harvesters, trees that seek human blood and bone to root in.

[Faerie Winter Cover]

Faerie Winter, the second book of the trilogy, tells the opposite story. It’s about endless winter, failure to grow, and the fear that spring might never come.

During our current physical and psychological winter, Faerie Winter is the book I’ve been thinking about.

The story’s protagonist, Liza, is surrounded by adults who remember countless other winters, followed by countless other springs. Liza was born after the war between faeries and humans banished winter from her world, though. She’s never known anything but deadly, unbounded growth. When that growth stops at last, Liza’s first thought is about how much safer the forests have become. Later, when she realizes that those forests have also stopped producing the things humans need to survive, she has no mental roadmap for what might happen next.

When Jayce, a member of Liza’s town’s council, talks about preparing for spring planting, Liza wonders at the fact.

If he feared that the spring crops wouldn’t grow, he gave no sign. Adults believed, somewhere deep inside, that spring would come, for all that they were careful of our rations. Some part of them couldn’t imagine that green wouldn’t return to the world, as if green was something we were born to. I did not understand it. Deep inside I felt as if this gray had surely gone on forever and the forests I’d fought all my life had been merely illusions.

Not all the adults in Liza’s world share Jayce’s certainty, though. As the story progresses, Liza flees a danger that comes from beyond the dying forest with Karin, a fey survivor of the War. Karin is a plant mage, keenly aware of the changes winter has brought to the world, and she asks aloud the question that human adults have not.

The grasses sighed wearily and retreated back into the snow. “They’re not dead,” I said. “Not completely, not around you.”

“They are not dead.” Karin sounded as tired as the grasses had. “But they are dying. Tell me, Liza, do you believe that spring will come?”

Why ask me? I was no plant mage. “The adults in my town believe it.” They believed in spite of the gray trees and the gray skies, the failed crops and the too-long winter.

“So it is with the human adults in my town as well.” Karin held a hand out to the falling snow as we walked on. Snowflakes melted against her skin. “Yet I have never heard the trees so quiet. They yearn for darkness, and some have given way to it. Others slip into sleep, accepting that they may never wake. I am told this is the way of your world. It is not the way of mine. I have never known a forest that was not green. What do you believe?”

Do you believe that spring will come? It’s a question I’ve returned to many times since I wrote Faerie Winter. It’s a question I was asking before I wrote that book, too, before fiction led me, as it so often does, to put into words the things I was already saying.

Because Faerie Winter is fantasy, the question of spring’s return is not merely metaphoric. It turns out the danger of endless winter is real, and so Liza’s inner crisis is echoed by the world’s outer one. Fantasy does that, sometimes—lets us transform internal struggles into external realities so that we can face those struggles head on and in a more concrete way than other types of stories allow.

Do you believe that spring will come? Things have changed so much already—in Liza’s world, in our world. There’s no changing them back. Do we believe that forward change will continue instead, leading us on to someplace new, someplace viable, someplace where things can grow once more?

Do you believe that spring will come? There’s a strange comfort simply in putting the question into words.

On one level, I know the answer, always have known it. If I didn’t believe, deep down, that spring—that the future—would come, writing a book where spring was called into question would have been too much to bear.

On another level, I need, just as deeply, to hear the question asked, and I need to travel the hard path toward its answer, again and again, not just in the books that I’ve written but also in the countless books that I’ve read through the years, ever since I knew how to read. Stories were the thing, after all, that got me trough childhood and adolescence and all that came after. Every misunderstood kid who had adventures and saved the world and found their place in that world was, in their way, another needed answer.

An answer, and also a map—the map Liza lacks—for what the journey might look like. Spring comes. Not always easily, not always painlessly, not always as quickly as we want or as we need, but in the end and at the last. Spring comes. Deep down, I know that.

After all, I’ve taken this journey before.

Faerie Winter’s new edition

Faerie Winter

Faerie Winter has a new look—and new paperback and ebook editions! If you missed this sequel to Bones of Faerie the first time around, now is your chance to revisit Liza’s post-apocalyptic world and its treacherous, haunting magic.

Order the new Faerie Winter paperback online or from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore (ISBN: 978-1798950708). Order the ebook edition from Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Missed the first book? You can still order the first edition of Bones of Faerie from your favorite offline or online bookseller, and you can still order the ebook wherever ebooks are sold.


More about Faerie Winter

Liza is a summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can also drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and the fey, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent, and even Liza’s power can’t call them back. Winter crops won’t grow, and the threat of starvation looms.

And deep in the dying forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

This sequel to Bones of Faerie will thrill both new readers and fans eager to return to Janni Lee Simner’s unique vision of a postapocalyptic world infused with magic.

“Simner paints a hauntingly exquisite portrait of a postapocalyptic world. Fans of both fantasy and dystopian fiction will devour this one.” —School Library Journal


Faeries and zombies

Bones of Faerie is five years old this spring! I’d get all sentimental, only Liza isn’t really the sentimental sort, so instead here’s a Book Smugglers’ “Old School Wednesday” review.

“Bones of Faerie is an unexpectedly lyrical and beautifully written book – I am an immediate fan of Janni Lee Simner’s haunting prose, which captured me from the first eerie chapter. It’s a poignant, elegiac novel about a world ravaged by magic and the children who have grown up in its ruins. It is Liza’s world that is so captivating, that draws you in and defines Bones of Faerie …”

Also, the Zombies, Run! episode I wrote is now live! Specifically, it’s Season 3, Mission 6: Career Day: “Mysterious giant footprints have been spotted–could this be related to the Phantom of Abel?” I had a blast writing this, and of course, I jumped ahead and ran the mission out of order just so I could hear it. It was a blast, running to my own words–but of course, the real blast is thinking of other people running to my words.

Because, after all, we are all Runner 5.

Join my new email list

I’m starting a new email list for book news and updates. If you’d like in, you can join here:



Basically, it’s really easy to miss things on the Internet, so this list is for anyone who wants to be sure they don’t skip the important stuff. (Or at least, the important stuff as it relates to me and my books.)

I’ll keep posting more frequent updates here (along with a whole bunch of other stuff) here, too, of course!

News, reviews, and where I’ll be in November

My short story “Drawing the Moon” is being adapted into a short film by Chelsea Garland–details on the movie’s facebook page. “Drawing the Moon” originally appeared in Bruce Coville’s Book of Nightmares.

Elizabeth DiFiore created a series of images inspired my short story “Tearing Down the Unicorns”–see her art here. “Tearing Down the Unicorns” first appeared in another Bruce Coville anthology, A Glory of Unicorns.

It’s so easy for it to feel like the things we write are “through” within a few weeks or months or maybe a year after we release them into the world. I love these reminders that everything we create echoes out far beyond that.


Takes on Faerie After from Shorewood Library, Faerie Winter from Random Amber, and Bones of Faerie from Nerdy Enough and Randomly Reading and Ranting.


I’ve been taking the past few months off from traveling/conferences/speaking (though I was very sorry to miss everyone at Sirens!) for some much needed retreat/vacation/book-finishing/well-charging time, but will be around and about again in November:

Saturday, November 2, 1-2 p.m.
Signing at Mostly Books
6208 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, Arizona
Perfect for some early holiday shopping–plus, it’s the day before my birthday, so there’ll be cookies/cake, too!

Friday-Sunday, November 8-10
TusCon Science Fiction Convention
Hotel Tucson City Center
475 N Granada Ave
Tucson, Arizona
I’ll be reading Friday night at 9 p.m.–come join me!

“… they considered storytelling a skill as important as sowing a field or wielding a bow.”

In the Albuquerque area? I’ll be reading at Alamosa Books’ Summer solstice party this Friday night at 7 p.m. The party itself begins at 5:30–do come! (And if you’re not in Albuquerque, spread the word to those who are.)


Alamosa Books has some lovely things to say about Faerie After:

“Janni Lee Simner has a gift for moving a plot along at a relentless pace but making it feel whispered and ethereal. Her books are tantric, but rather than emptying you of emotion these pages fill you up … you cannot disbelieve the story—no matter how fantastic—when wrapped in its magical web.”

VOYA also reviews Faerie After this month:

“Fans of the first two novels of this series will be delighted to read the wrap-up to this trilogy … Liza continues to be a strong female protagonist, and the supporting cast of characters, both faerie and human, are well drawn and interesting. Besides the suspense of survival, this story also explores the themes of use and abuse of powers and talents. This is a satisfying finish to the Bones of Faerie trilogy that both junior and senior high students will be eager to read.”

My Shelf Confessions reviews Bones of Faerie and Faerie Winter:

“Faerie Winter exceeded my expectations for a sequel! I felt about it the same way I did Bones of Faerie. That it was a great story and by the end I would have been satisfied if I learned there wasn’t going to be another book. Lucky for me its a trilogy but even better that each book thus far in this trilogy has done such a stellar job of standing on it’s own legs.”


Marietta Zacker asked several Nancy Gallt Literary Agency clients, including me, for our thoughts on writing YA for her guest post on Pub(lishing) Crawl. You can see our thoughts, and her definition of the genre, there.

Arizona Jewish Life included me in their summer roundup of Jewish Arizona authors.

There’s still time to watch VLC Productions’ most excellent Faerie After trailer and win the entire trilogy.

On writing a trilogy

Sarah Johnson interviews me at Through the Tollbooth today about writing a trilogy, including discussion of writing exploratory drafts, crafting a character arc over multiple books, and researching the Bones of Faerie trilogy (including some of the pictures I took of Liza’s forest, pre-faerie-apocalypse).

And speaking of trilogies, look! It’s a complete set!

20130520-180509.jpg

Faerie After comes out just one week from today!

Faerie After: a review!

Hey, it’s less than two months until Faerie After‘s release! Here’s what Kirkus says about it:

“With the faerie and mortal lands crumbling away, a teenage girl must work with both worlds if anyone is to survive. The Bones of Faerie series concludes with this high-stakes adventure … In a satisfying trilogy conclusion, Liza confronts the conflicts between saving the world and saving her friends in an environment where nobody is willing to let go of the last generation’s hatreds.”

Faerie After releases into the wild May 28–spread the word!

And if you have any friends who’ve maybe read Bones of Faerie but didn’t realize there were sequel, I’m running a giveaway for Faerie Winter on Goodreads this month.

“Though I had no armor / you just let me go / into the night to battle with your ghosts”

Thanks to Matociquala, I’ve been obsessively listening to Antje Duvekot’s music this week.

This one in particular feels like a Bones of Faerie sort of song–I can listen to it and focus on Liza, or listen to it and focus on all the parent/daughter relationships that echo through the trilogy.

Plus, it’s just a gorgeous and haunting song.

“Sometimes you tell the truth / Like you’re pulling taffy”

It’s been … well, longer than I thought … since I last did a review-and-interview roundup post. So!

An interview with the Montgomery County Book Festival, where I’ll be February 2. (Are you in the Houston area? Come join us!)

An interview with the Mesa Bookman’s, where I chatted about Bones of Faerie with their Young at Heart book club last fall. (If you’re an adult reader of YA in the Phoenix area, you should totally join them for their spring book discussions.)

SLJ’s roundup of the Fae-Tal Attraction faerie panel I moderated at NCTE this fall. Includes a link to our handout of recommended YA faerie fiction.

FromSkye’s trailer for Bones of Faerie:

Various takes on Bones of Faerie from Writings by K, Readview, For Those About to Read, Bitches with Books, and Fairy Fiction for Young Fans.

Takes on Faerie Winter from The Book Fix and Readview.

Takes on Thief Eyes from Readview and Mette Ivie Harrison. Planet YA also includes Thief Eyes on this fun map of YA books from every country in Europe. In the Iceland slot, of course. 🙂

A review of The Fortune Teller, edited by Lawrence Schimel, in which I had published the short story “Beyond the Flames” a decade or so ago. Because every book is new if it’s the first time you’re reading it.

And Rhiannon says nice things about “Drawing the Moon” and some of my other stories in Bruce Coville’s Book Of series.