Happy Monday, everyone! In honor of Storyteller coming out this week (!!!), I wanted to share a little bit of what inspired the Quelmirian Duology in the first place…
I LOVE telling this story because the experience of coming up with and writing the Quelmirian Duology is so unlike me as a person and a writer. With Smoke and Mirrors, most of you know that the story went through about four different outlining phases and genre changes before becoming a dystopian, and then it went through another two outline changes before becoming the story it is today. It took me over three years of outlining, character and world building, drafting, and editing before it was completed for publishing. So, all that being said, it’s safe to assume that I’m a huge planner. *winks*
But the Quelmirian Duology actually didn’t really turn out that way…
The idea of Villager wasn’t born until October of 2018. I was one month out from releasing Smoke and Mirrors and needed something new and fresh to write. I huddled in our tiny house while Hubby was at work, feeling increasingly miserable because we just had our first snow. In October. And it was not fall weather anymore but freeze-your-butt-off winter weather. Needless to say, my intro to my first ever Utah winter wasn’t going too well. And I thought to myself, “You know what? Whatever I write next needs to be at the beach.”
That afternoon I pulled up loads of Pinterst writing prompts, copied in a notebook the ones I liked, came up with a summary for a book that I thought would be interesting, and then just started free hand writing. What I wrote didn’t turn out anything like the summary, but it became its own summer fantasy with political intrigue and betrayals left and right. And I stopped writing because, after a shocked few minutes, I realized, “This could actually work!”
What transpired from that was me fleshing out this new story idea more until it turned into a duology. From there, I outlined both books and set to my crazy long task of characterization and world-building. I wanted to try to have most of world building done, especially, so I had all my details up front and wouldn’t worry about having to change something or come up with something later on. And once I had everything fixed, Villager‘s rough draft was written within a month and a half!
Crazy, right? This duology came about because I was cold.
But while its origins are rather unique, this story honestly became so much more than I was expecting. It challenged all of my world-building skills, for one, and made me aware of parts where I’d info-dump too much or parts where there wasn’t quite enough detail. It also made me more aware of what details readers tend to like more than others.
The biggest surprise, though, were the characters and themes worked through. I tend to not like putting too much of myself into my characters. I mean, I try to put a little of myself into each of them, but I especially try to make them unique.
Vivianna is the first character that has ever been the most “me”, and that was scary. It was scary to write her because it meant acknowledging my flaws and my fears and whatever emotions or themes/views I was working through myself when I wrote this duology. It was scary to write how much of a people-pleaser she was; to see how everything she did was in effort to please someone. To see how there were times when she’d sacrifice her better nature and who she was at her core for someone to tell her they were proud of her. It was scary to write her internalizing her emotions instead of talking about them. At times, it was hard to write her interactions with her little brother Jax because it reminded me of interacting with my younger siblings and how much I missed them.
And then there was Nex, who deals with anxiety and perfectionism throughout the books. As someone who has GAD, with a large possibility of being OCD, writing about his struggles with being himself and being what others wanted him to be was hard. While I never have panic attacks like his, they were hard to write about because I’ve had people close to me struggle with anxiety and fear of failure on this scale, to the point of having panic attacks like his.
While some people might argue that the Quelmirian Duology leans a lot on traditional YA/fantasy tropes (which is true, I’m not ashamed to admit it), the characters and themes are what made it special to me, and I’m so thankful that most of my readers have picked up on that. I wanted people that struggle with anxiety and perfectionism and people-pleasing to be seen. I wanted people who have not-so-great relationships with guardians and parents to be seen. I wanted children who have suffered from parents having affairs or getting divorced to be seen. I wanted immigrants and people of color to be seen. I wanted orphans and women who miscarry and people grieving to be seen and heard. There is so much of my heart within all of the Quelmirian Duology characters and themes, and that’s where the series became so much more than I was expecting.
I hope you’ll give it a chance, and for those of you that have read it and may be struggling with any of these things or have wrestled with these things in the past, I hope you feel seen and heard. I hope you feel loved. I hope that these books resonated with you in that there is hope in the midst of darkness.
With all my love,