Know The Novel: Within The Changeling and the Wolf

Welcome to the next instalment of the Know the Novel linkup! Unfortunately I was a bit behind on schedule this month, so I missed the actual link up, but if you want to check out everyone else who did participate, you can find it on Christine Smith’s blog ! All right, let’s get into it!

1. How’s the writing going overall?

It’s very slow work, it honestly feels like slogging through a tar pit like some poor baby mammoth some days. But yeah, I’m making progress, slow progress is still progress. It’s also a very thorough rewrite, trying to smooth out a lot massive potholes and bumps in the road, which is a lot of work, so of course it’s going to be slow and hard.

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Definitely hanging out with my characters again, and being able to develop my world more. Everything about this story is so fun, it’s kind of like wish fulfilment for everything I want in a Celtic fantasy book. I love all of it and just being able to immerse myself in this world of Gaelic, werewolves, fae, cults, and my sweet neurodivergent boys.

3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite, because they’re all amazing in their own way! If I had to choose just one favourite character, it would definitely be Ilio. Ilio is my little werewolf puppy, I love him desperately. Then there’s also my boy Sholo. Sholo is the kind of boy your mum warns you to stay away from, but you keep giving him sly side eyes and wondering if he’s a vampire. He is, in the words of Ilio’s own mother, “a convicted extortionist”. But you know he’s got a good heart somewhere under all that leather (just kidding, he definitely doesn’t wear leather). And there’s Skaati, too, my girl. I haven’t got to her introduction yet in my rewrite, but I’m dying to because I can’t wait to rediscover my bold, fiesty, floral-dress-wearing heroine!

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

It’s surprised me by becoming a lot more complex than it already was. The original plot was pretty straightforward, but as I’ve been rewriting and replotting this story it’s gotten a lot more twisty, a bit darker, and bit more “underground”, both literally and metaphorically. I reread the excerpt from J.R.R. Tolkien’s original story to get a feel of the vibes I was going for again, and that really helped. I hope the darker, creepier feeling that I’m going for.

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

There’s a lot of issues with it so far, which I’m trying to iron out as I go along. At this point, I don’t think I’ll be able to work out most of these issues until I’m finished with this second draft and I’m able to take a step back and look at it all. With this draft my main goal is just to get the revised plot down on paper, work on worldbuilding continuity and explore my characters a little more. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of plot holes and character issues just yet. I’ll save that for the next round of edits.

6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

I think just getting the ball rolling has been the biggest victory for me! For some reason, writing the first draft of this story was so easy, it literally just rolled off the pen (or you know, keyboard) and into existence. But since finishing the first draft, I’ve a delicious cocktail of debilitating anxiety and executive dysfunction related to starting the second draft. One day, I just had a mental image of the new version of the prologue and I just…forced myself to sit down and write it. And then I forced myself to write the first chapter, and then the second chapter. I’m currently on the third chapter and slogging through it ever so slowly, but progress is being made.

So yes, I think that’s been the biggest thing so far and I’m pretty proud of myself.

7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

Some cool writer (sorry I forget who) once said that creating characters is like smashing ourselves into a thousand pieces and then building a whole new person around each of those shards. I really relate to that, my characters are all like a little shard of my personality, experiences, and beliefs

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Sharing snippets is always my favourite thing! Here’s the opening:

A long time ago, but not so long ago that it has been completely forgotten, a woman walked by the edge of the forest.

And a boy played where he’d been told he never should play. 

And here’s a few of my favourite snippets! Remember, I haven’t got extremely far through,. so I don’t have a huge amount of material to work with.

There was nothing but blackness and the whispering of the wind in the trees. Or was that the whispering of the fae and the ghosts? The whispers of the long dead? A few stray moonbeams filtered from the full moon through the branches of the dying autumn trees. 

And one moonbeam caught the teeth of the wolf, waiting in the shadows. 

Waiting for its prey.

***

Pressing his forehead against the tree, Ilio ran one palm against the rough bark, grounding himself with the sensation of the lichen and the moss and the splinters as they caressed his skin. He could feel his heartbeat slowing, his breath becoming less ragged, and his head felt less like it was about to float away on the next gust of wind.

***

It was only later that he realised what he’d seen. Something cruel, something deadly, something evil.

There wasn’t supposed to be evil things. Not here. Not anymore.

***

“What sort of thing was it, bhalach? Describe it to me.”

Ilio took a deep breath of the dusty, clogged air, fighting to force it into his lungs. “I’m not sure if I can. It was vaguely human I suppose, but more like the ghost of a human. It wasn’t…alive. It was dressed all in white, like old burial clothes, which hung around it in rags and it had a hood that covered its face, but I know it had eyes somewhere. I could feel them searching for something. Maybe for me, I don’t know. I…” he pressed the heel of his hand into his forehead. “It scared me. There’s not supposed to be things like that. Not here and now.”

He chanced a glance up and met the doctor’s eyes. Behind his old fashioned spectacles, Dr Lupine’s eyes were soft and kind…pitying. “Poor boy,” he said, kindly, reaching across the desk and patting Ilio’s pale and clammy hand. “It must be distressing to transform properly after so long.”

“What?” Ilio blinked, momentarily baffled. Then understanding came on him in a rush. “Oh, no sir. This was real, I saw it. I wasn’t transformed, this happened this morning.”

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

Honestly, I think I’ve shared most of the interesting stuff! The writing process is a lot slower than I expected, even given my life circumstances at the moment. I think I assumed that it would be fairly quick since I already have a complete draft to work off. But as it stands, the second draft has ended up substantially different from the first draft, so I’m really just writing it all over again.

But overall, I’m just really happy that I’m making progress. This story means so much to me, I love the world, the characters, the exploration of my heritage and the myths and legends that I’ve read and loved since I was a little kid. Its so special and has a lot of personal meaning to me and just spending time with it again is such a privilege.

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

There isn’t really such a thing, to be honest! I’m just sneaking in little moments to write a sentence or two whenever I get a spare moment. It’s so haphazard that I can’t even really pretend that I’ve got a schedule for you all to admire!

I will say, that I usually get time to write during the middle of the day, usually between 12-3. This is when my dogs are usually sleeping and don’t need a lot of attention, I’ve got my morning jobs out of the way and have some free time. When I’m writing I also like to have a caramel latte or a cup of herbal tea on hand, maybe a white chocolate mocha if I’m feeling very fancy. I sit at my desk for the most part and like to put on either a video essay on YouTube, or my Spotify playlist for this novel.

Anyway, that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed another little sneak peek into my hectic writing life! How did NaNoWriMo go for you? Which was your favourite snippet?

One thought on “Know The Novel: Within The Changeling and the Wolf

  1. True, I didn’t do NaNo

    But, in my WIPS it is always fun creating the characters and develop their worlds (whether it is fictional or real). Tale of the Cattail Forest- that one is basically done- all that one really needs are illustrations and a cover image.

    Lizzy the Lizard- that is the 2nd WIP, and much harder to write than the first WIP. Picture books are very difficult (you might know the story, but to fit so much story in so little words is a struggle. That one I had to pause part way in its 1st draft to get back to my main WIP and writer’s block.

    I think the easiest draft is the first- you can easily do the “just write, don’t think” method, and let the characters take over when they do. But the drafts that follow only get harder and harder- it is tricky to know what draft is the final one

    Like

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