Hello everyone! How are you doing this fine Thursday morning? Welcome to the first post of 2021!
Today I’m going to be introducing you to my “secret project” which I’ve been hinting at a bit for my last few posts. Since it was my NaNoWriMo novel and I never finished doing Know the Novel for my other novel which was supposed to be my November novel, I’ve decided to introduce it using this format.
Anyway, I’m really proud of this novel. If you’ve been following my blog for the last few years, you’ll probably know, or at least guess, that I haven’t completed a novel since my dad died in 2018. This is the first one I’ve finished for over two years! And I’m so happy with it! And I feel like I’ve finally broken through the writer’s block I’ve been suffering from for so long.
So yeah, I’m not going to be talking much about this novel outside of the three Know The Novel posts I’ll be doing on it, mainly because its very special to me, and secondly because I’m going to attempt to query some agents and I just don’t want all the details floating around the internet.
On that note, let’s get into the first post! (These questions come from Christine Smith’s linkup, in case anyone is wondering)
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
What inspired this book was actually Tolkien’s unfinished (and by that I mean barely even started) sequel to The Lord of the Rings. I stumbled across a mention of it one day and found myself absolutely fascinated with the concept that humanity had forgotten the evils of Sauron’s reign and had become complacent, but that evil was returning to Middle-Earth while Men kept themselves willfully ignorant. Anyway, so I picked up the first twelve pages of this never finished, never really started, novel and ran with it.
Obviously, it’s changed just a tad since then, but there’s the inspiration.
2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary if you’d prefer)!
I’ve written so many blurbs for this novel and haven’t yet settled on one I really like, so here’s what I’ve whipped up in the moment.
There is evil afoot, and the young viscount Ilio can smell it.
Ilio and Sholo are brothers by blood, but when Ilio is sold as a baby to a barren earl in want of an heir, he grows up in princely luxury while his brother starves on the street.
Desperate to escape his abusive mother and make a name for himself, Sholo takes a post as the City Ranger. His job is simple, patrol the dark forest that borders their idyllic, industrial city, and if monsters appear…kill them.
When Ilio discovers stirrings of evil in the forest and everyone dismisses his claims as the ravings of a young lunatic, he turns to his brother for help. And in turn they are sent to the home of the elusive and probably mad Zmaj, a man who is rumoured to be the son of a witch and an elf.
But a conspiracy of evil is afoot, and if no one will believe Ilio, Sholo and Zmaj, they will have to deal with it themselves…
And face the brutal consequences.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
The story takes place in a fantasy world (currently with no name) that is heavily inspired by Victorian Scotland. More particularly than that, it takes place in a city inspired by Edinburgh, but imagine a really clean, really amazing version of Victorian Edinburgh.
This is a world where fae once walked the roads and byways, and kelpies once haunted the streams and lochs, and the nuckelavee routinely cursed the land. However, the rule of the elves is over and they have retreated. The monsters are slowly being killed off and science now reigns.
Overall, I think this book really digs into the relationship between tradition, magic and fantasy and progress, science and industrial revolution.
4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).
So, we’ve got a few protagonists but I’m just going to tell you about my two POV characters, plus my two favourite side characters, so here goes!
So, we’ve got our main Main character, Ilio. Ilio was adopted as a baby by his parents, a wealthy earl and countess who are unable to have children. He is dearly loved by them and grows up privileged and happy.
Unfortunately, at eight, he gets too adventurous when he wanders into the forest surrounding the city. He’s attacked by a werewolf which (rather obviously) traumatises him and leaves him also a werewolf. Which is problematic, given that his brother’s job is to hunt these creatures down and kill them.
Ilio is very shy and reserved, I kind of see him as being Harry Potter without the touch of arrogance/confidence and sass. Also, though its not mentioned directly in the story, I’ve written him as having Inattentive ADHD (what used to be called ADD). This has been so hard to research because it is definitely impossible for boys to have Inattentive ADHD, we all know ADHD boys just bounce around like rubber balls all the time (that’s sarcasm people. I 100% do not believe that and neither does anyone else who knows about ADHD).
Next up we have Sholo, who is Ilio’s older brother. Sholo has red hair, a fact which caused him to obviously be the son of a wizard. His father was killed for this and his mother ostracised him, leaving Sholo to care for himself and thieve to keep from starving to death.
As soon as he is old enough, Sholo applies for the job of City Ranger, a position that, while mostly honorary, involves him protecting the city from the few monsters that haunt the forest, hunting down and killing the ones who are left. His partner in crime is Allaidh, a big grey wolfhound who he picked up from the street as a puppy and loves dearly.
In personality, Sholo is almost exactly Ilio’s opposite. He’s assertive and aggressive, with a dash (whoops, no, I said a dash!) of sarcasm and quite a lot of bitterness. While he doesn’t have a lot of patience or love for humans, he dearly loves his dog and is incredibly thorough and patient with his training of Allaidh. And despite the fact that he pretends to hate Ilio and his privileged upbringing, he really cares for him deeply and has sworn to protect him in any way that he can.
Now we have Zmaj. Zmaj is a semi-immortal, the son of one of the former elves and a powerful human sorceress who fought in the battle against the dark lord in the former age. He himself is a powerful enchanter, though he mainly lives isolated in the centre of the aforementioned forest, since he was previously disliked in the city, though he is mainly forgotten nowadays.
Ilio seeks him out early on in the book and Zmaj later takes Ilio on as his student. He’s a wise mentor, who immediately senses Ilio’s werewolfism but promises to keep his secret. Personality wise, he is kind, clever, and was known in the previous wars for his courageous and ingenuity. He played an integral part in bringing down the dark lord but remains humble and well-grounded. Obviously, since he’s a mentor, he is somewhat mysterious.
My final character I’m going to mention here is Skaati. Like Ilio, Skaati is the daughter of an earl and countess, though both of her parents are dead. I love Skaati to pieces. She’s exactly the sort of female character I would have loved to read about when I was younger–she’s full of energy, love, optimism, without being full of toxic positivity or ridiculous naivety. Her favourite things are flowers and animals and she’s completely head over heels in love with Ilio, who hasn’t quite decided if he sees her as a sister or something more.
Despite all this, she’s super tough and smart. Her brain can solve almost any riddle and she’s quite possibly the bravest out of my characters. I love her so much.
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
This is technically a spoiler, but the antagonist is a sorceress queen called Eala. I don’t want to talk too much about her, since she’s very spoilery. However, I will say that she’s quite interesting, cruel and also very beautiful. Her skill is virtually unmatched in the world and she’s incredibly powerful. Essentially, she’s amassing an army of the few magical creatures left, most of whom are werewolves (since they multiply better than other creatures do) which is obviously unfortunate Ilio.
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Is everything a good enough answer? Ok, so basically what I’m looking forward to the most is the deep dive into Gaelic/Celtic/old British culture and mythology. I love this part of my heritage (my grandparents are British, my grandfather Scottish and my grandmother English) and I’ve always been really fascinated by the mythology, folklore and legend I grew up hearing and finally getting the chance to put it all into a book is going to be so much fun!
7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?
It’s a standalone. I think I pretty neatly cut off any plans for a sequel with my ending.
8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?
I completely pantsed this book, which is something I haven’t done since I was about thirteen or fourteen? I was home alone for a week at the beginning of October and one night I was sitting eating my dinner while watching a movie (the Prisoner of Azkaban, for those wondering) and I just spontaneously started writing a novel. Of course, it’s a hot mess now that the first draft is finished, but I am just so happy with having it done that I don’t really care. Everything can be fixed in the second draft.
9. Name a few unique elements about this story.
-Almost nothing in the way of love story!
-British inspired fantasy that actually digs into the folklore and mythology instead of just using the aesthetic
-Brothers and a male protagonist! (It’s been quite possibly years since I read a YA fantasy with a male protagonist. Literally the only ones coming to mind right now are Eragon and The Ranger’s Apprentice.)
-A Black female lead (I’ve never seen a British inspired fantasy with a black character at all?)
-A huge grey wolfhound! (Novels never have wolfhounds in them for some reason)
-A mentor that (spoiler alert!) doesn’t die.
-Kelpies and green fae dogs.
10. Share some fun “extras” 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!).
Here’s my Pinterest board (in love with the dark aesthetic!)
And here’s my Spotify playlist. I’m also in love with how all the music on here fits the mood of the story perfectly.
So that’s it from me, folks! How about you guys? Are you writing anything at the moment? How did your NaNoWriMo novels go? Do you like books with monsters in them, or is that just me?