Okay, with that out of the way - direct your eyes, Dear Readers, to the Work in Progress metre on the left of this blog, beneath the pretty pictures of book covers.
What's that you see? 51%? Yes, that's right. I've now reached and passed (just) the halfway mark on my newest book, tentatively entitled FrostFire. Wheee!
Having reached this milestone, it seems appropriate to talk a little bit about FrostFire and the fun (aha ha ha) I've been having writing it so far. Firstly, you need to know that FrostFire is the sequel to Daughter of the Flames. For those of you who haven't read DotF (as I like to call it), you can find a handy dandy synopsis with a simple clickety-click on either of the sort of swirly reddish covers to the left, each of which has a badass babe with a sword on the front.
Suffice it to say that Daughter of the Flames was a book about an ass-kicking female in the middle of a conflict between two nations with very different cultural values and religions. One race was occupying another's country. The heroine had to make some tough choices on how to keep the people she was responsible for safe, and on what to do when she fell in love with someone she really shouldn't have. Also: kissing!
So, I do love DotF, but something not many people realise is that originally the story was going to be very different. Basically, the whole second half of the story was going to be this massive arc about betrayal and secret histories and um...other stuff. And I never wrote any of that, because I realised that if I DID, DotF was going to end up being about 120,000 words long. Yeah. So I panicked. The story you read if you buy DotF now is basically the first half of the story that I originally planned, with the middle cut out and the original ending I had planned sewn into place.
And I know many of you may be saying 'Hell, why not just turn it into two books?' but my publisher had made some really pointed comments to me on how glad they were that I wasn't one of those cliched fantasy writers, always coming up with series and trilogies. Wasn't it nice to see an author brave enough to write a standalone book? And so on. Frankly, having just managed to talk the nice people into giving me a contract, I was not going to risk p*ssing them off. So DotF became something I had never originally planned on. Looking back now, I really kind of want to kick myself, because I can see how truly awesome that book I planned could have been. I wish I'd had the courage to just do it and see how it turned out. But I didn't.
Thus, the idea for a sequel was born. And luckily for me at this point, my publisher has observed the sales of YA fantasy trilogies and series soar (Twilight, Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, Graceling etc.) and is willing to give the idea the time of day.
FrostFire is NOT a direct sequel to DotF. The two main characters from DotF, Zira and Sorin, are important secondary characters who make a pivotal difference to the storyline, but this book is not about them. Their story is told, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not dragging them out of retirement and putting them through Hell again. Instead, I'm putting a whole NEW lot of characters through Hell. Mwaaah-haaa-haaaa!
FrostFire deals with all the complex issues that I never had a chance to explore as deeply as I wanted to in DotF. Betrayal on a fundamental level, betrayal by someone that you love. How, in the middle of a war, bad guys and good guys sometimes merge into the same thing. The idea of Gods influencing people's lives. Being in love with someone that you CANNOT have and how that feels. Having reached the middle of the story, I'm about to reach into many of these characters and rip out their guts, and I don't know whether to be thrilled or terrified. I've really fallen for a couple of them, and my notebook is now covered in sad faces, because I've got to do BAD THINGS to them and it's going to hurt. And I mean really hurt. I fully expect to spend the next week mostly in tears over this stuff. My only consolation is the hope that the readers will be crying too, when they get their hands on it.
So, in closing, some things that might interest you about this book.
- The heroine...used to be a hero. I changed her sex after three chapters and started again.
- There's a seriously angsty love triangle in this story. Be warned. The path to true love is really more of a chasm lined with spikes.
- My main character fights with her father's double-headed war axe.
- The dominating metaphor and much of the imagery in Daughter of the Flames was fire (duh). In FrostFire, many of the images and metaphors come from ice, snow and...you, know, frost (d'ya see what I did there?).
- I finally get to write about one of my favourite animals: wolves!