The Strange Path to Elferterre
Here we are in January, one of my favorite months. I know. Many Mainers feel exactly the opposite during this cold, dark month. But after the rush of the holidays, I have always found January to be restful, a time to read and reflect. And perhaps clean the house, at least a little.
Then there is the clear, dazzling light of a sunny January day, which never fails to fill my heart with joy. My husband, Clif, took this picture. How can you not love a month when it gives you such a piercing light?
January also gives me time to settle down and focus on my writing. I have begun Book Four of the Great Library series. Uncharacteristically for me, the book does not yet have a title. My original plan was for Maya’s story to be told in three books, a trilogy, as sort of a homage to J.R.R. Tolkien and his brilliant The Lord of the Rings. I had the three titles all set, and I felt pretty pleased with myself.
However, for me, stories have a way of unfolding in an unexpected direction. With each book I have a notion of the plot arc, but I am not one for intricate outlines. Like Time in my Great Library Series, I want to keep my options open, and chance plays a major role in how my stories unfold.
In Book Three, which became Out of Time, I knew Maya was going to meet a character called the Accumulator, someone who would help her find a relic to trap the evil Cinnial, who has taken over the mysterious Great Library. At first I had envisioned the Accumulator as a janitor who works at a place called The Little Bard Theater. The Accumulator would lead Maya to an alternative dimension where she finds the relic.
But then a funny thing happened—the Accumulator somehow morphed into an elf. I must admit that I’m not exactly sure how the transformation happened. And, yes, I realize that this sounds odd. I should at least know how my own characters evolve. All I can say is that suddenly and mysteriously, the Accumulator stopped being a janitor and became an elf with a very different sort of job.
Once the Accumulator became an elf, a backstory was needed. For example, where did this elf come from? As it turned out, the Accumulator came from a place called Elferterre, a realm where Magic, rather than Time, rules. Once I came up with the magical Elferterre, I knew that my plot arc had dramatically changed. To borrow from my friends in the U.K., I had thrown a spanner in the works. Defeating Cinnial was going to take longer than I had planned, and the series expanded from three to five books.
Am I sorry about this unexpected turn? Not at all. Elferterre delights me as much as the Great Library does, and Out of Time even has an honest-to-God map, the way many fantasy novels do.
Therefore, onward ho to Elferterre and Book Four, which should have a title in the next month or two.