Cover photo by DominikMoser / 61 images
I don’t know how else to describe it but to tell you it’s like being crouched in the starting blocks before the gun fires. You lasso all that nervous energy as your mouth goes dry and your limbs twitch. You balance on your fingertips behind the white line and kick out each leg, one by one, then place the spiked tips of your running cleats in the blocks. You pray. You recite words of affirmation. You clear your mind.
The official shouts, “Set.” You raise your hips and hold your breath and wait for permission to unleash.
That’s how I enter 2022. Set but jittering. Excited and hopeful but ultimately scared.
I started BLOOD RAIN, an epic fantasy tale, back in 2008. It was my graduate school thesis, and for two years, I worked on it with the help of my advisors. After graduation, I told myself I was putting it aside because I was six month pregnant and still experiencing morning sickness. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see I put it aside because I wasn’t a good-enough writer to tell that particular tale.
BLOOD RAIN has sat in the stands of my life while I had children, started new jobs, and moved countries, three times. I wrote a trilogy and various short stories and flash fiction pieces before that manuscript finally tapped me on the shoulder and announced it was time.
I can’t believe I’m actually telling you that when I tried to share the idea for BLOOD RAIN with a best friend who is also a writer, I stumbled over my words like a teenager asking out my crush.
Where had my confidence gone? Where’d the woman who told her boss she wanted to go to Japan at 26, and then did so, alone? Or the woman who climbed Mt Fuji through the night to watch the sunrise so she could say there is such a thing as a silver lining?
I’m a published author! My trilogy is being turned into an audio book (in Swedish). The readers will be professional voice actors (also Swedish). I have worked as an editor, writer, and ghostwriter. I teach creative writing at a university. Surely insecurity about my writing is something I’ve outgrown?
(I surely hope Brené Brown is right about how voicing our insecurities diminishes their power over us.)
One Race, One Character, One Word at a Time
Firstly, BLOOR RAIN feels much larger than The Evolved Ones trilogy. I’m creating a world where the reader can’t rely on contemporary knowledge to fill in the blanks.
Secondly, magic has rules. What are they, and who gets to use the magic? Why them and not someone else? Will everyone be humans or will I create other races? If so, which ones? How is wealth determined? How do families (not nations) rise? How do they fall?
What was travel like when the most commonly used mode of transportation was the foot? How did that impact society? How did that define society?
It’s a lot of fun filtering my story through these constraints. It gets my creative mind swirling with possibilities, but there are so many moving parts I sometimes fall into a rabbit hole of doubt and insecurity: can I really do this?
I’m spending the first quarter of 2022 just building the world. I’ve mapped out the geography in my head and its corresponding climate. I’ve created the global hierarchy for rule, and am in the process of rolling it down by regions and then nations.
All my notes for this story are written in this inspirational leather-bound, aged journal. (Click here to see the shop on Etsy.)
I spent the weekend creating the backstory to my leading four characters, Ayel, Eldrisyll, Xisha (a.k.a. Tweet), and Jordain. Let’s not discuss how long it took me to settle on their names. I wanted some of them to sound non-euro-centric to reflect the diversity of the characters.
Words matter! So, I’m also doing a lot of etymology searches because I can’t use modern descriptions to create a medieval world.
The Chosen One
I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy lately, and one thing that seems to be a repeated trope (that works) is the concept of the chosen one.
I’ve decided to not go down that route. Instead, my main character, Ayel, will have to write herself into history. She will be overlooked, underestimated, and devalued.
Enjoy the Journey
My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the summer. I can’t tell if that’s overly ambitious or more time than I need, but I am going to enjoy world-building and the freedom of not writing to a deadline.
If you’re interested in the process of creating an epic fantasy, please read my Current WIP page. I update it weekly with details about new characters, families, magic, lore, etc.
Thanks for reading.