These questions were originally asked by patrons on Patreon. Here are my answers.
Q1: How much of the Elder Races world did you develop in advance versus coming up with it as you wrote each story?
Interesting question! My answer to this has changed over time. When I wrote Dragon Bound, the economy had crashed and I had just graduated from grad school with a librarian degree (MLS). I wrote the story while I was job hunting, and at that time, I had really low expectations. I hoped somebody might be interested in it and might possibly want a sequel, so I made sure to do enough worldbuilding so I could write another story if that became appropriate.
It DID become appropriate. In fact, Berkley wanted the first three books so quickly I really had to develop the world on the fly, so to speak. I wrote at such a hectic pace, I didn’t really get to a place where I was planning in advance until I hit book seven, Night’s Honor. That was when I really set the intention for the next three books.
Regarding the novellas, I wrote True Colors, because I had received an invitation from Berkley to be part of an anthology. Berkley’s strategy was to put new authors together with bestselling authors in anthologies, so at first this looked like a great opportunity. Again, because of the proposed timetable, I started writing the novella while we went through contract negotiations. It turned out, the contract I was offered wasn’t a good one. Berkley/Penguin would have swallowed up the rights for the story forever, while I would receive very little money. So I did the hard thing and I turned them down and sold the story to Samhain Publishing for a better contract with better royalties at the time. While the business side of things developed, I developed the story line too–and realized I wanted to tell a series of linked stories with a mysterious Tarot deck. That was how the first four Elder Races novellas came to be.
Now my intentions are created around worldbuilding in sets of trilogies. The Moonshadow trilogy is one example, and the American Witch trilogy is another. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. First, it makes world building accessible in what has become a very big universe. And secondly, the intention is that this will hopefully create entry ramps for new readers. Have you ever looked at a long running series and felt weighed down by just the thought of trying to start reading it? Well, as a reader, I certainly have. (Sue Grafton comes to mind.) I don’t want new readers to be bogged down by the weight of too many stories.
Q2: Any plans to write of the Cuelebre brothers as adults?
Yes. My plans for Liam are more concrete, mostly because Liam has been around longer, and I’m better acquainted with him as a character. As far as his little brother goes, Niall is still more of a seed of possibility than something concrete. I’ve got a wide variety of possibilities floating around for him. One of them is really wild–that idea just clicked for me in April–and I’m having a lot of fun poking at the possibility to see if it’s solid.
Will it happen? I don’t know yet. The idea hasn’t formed enough for me to say. I’ve got the American Witch trilogy to finish before then, so there’s plenty of time to figure things out and make decisions. The only thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that I’m planning to write Liam’s story. But always keep in mind that plans change. Just because I’m planning and intending doesn’t mean I’m promising. 😉
Q3: There are so many interesting side characters in this world… what are your long-range plans for stories…?
Oh goodness, more plans and intentions. 😊
ONE: Definitely solid commitment, with cover art bought and finalized: the American Witch trilogy, along with a winter-themed American Witch novella. This will take me/us into 2021. The plot work on the second book is done, and I’m currently writing the story. It’s taken me longer than expected because of some personal and family issues, but I’m plugging away at it.
TWO: I did have a pretty solid plan for a Maelstrom trilogy, with a huge amount of background worldbuilding put into the idea. I wrote The Chosen as a market test to see how readers would take a more fantasy-based trilogy as opposed to the straight alternative-Earth paranormal romance I’ve been writing.
But the fun thing about creativity is, since the Maelstrom trilogy isn’t set to the page yet, I get to revisit the work I did last year and decide if I’m going to continue with the original ideas or possibly alter and develop things further. In other words, the stories are never done until they’re done, if you get my drift. I am currently deconstructing everything I had created and rebuilding things into… something new. I’m not sure what form that is going to take, but it will probably be set in an entirely new universe, outside of the Elder Races.
THREE: I have another idea–not a plan, mind you! Just an idea!–that I’m having a lot of fun with. I’m tossing around the idea of leaping far into the future for a post-apocalyptic Elder Races series. Wouldn’t that be amazing? It would be so different from everything else!
The biggest concern I have about it is, would this be a one-way street? In other words, if I leap forward, would I have difficulty leaping back again to tell more present-day stories? Also, would readers come with me for those leaps? Because, of course, this whole writing gig comes down to paying the mortgage and the electricity bill and buying groceries.
But, personally speaking, I love the idea of leaping far into the future and discovering what stories might be there waiting for me to tell them. No promises about doing it. Right now I’m just fooling around with the idea, because I enjoy it.
This was fun! I hope you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the next Q&A!