My journey to Glenfallen began over six years ago in 2003 when I sat down to pen notes for a story about a character called Miranda Etherhill- a rather innocent girl lost in a dark world, coming to terms with the fact that she is descended from a line of witches. Notes became chapters; chapters became a manuscript--a sprawling 700 page ramble through my imagination. I finally put down my pen on the novel that I called The Prince of Cups, only to realize that I had not one story in the material, but the makings of three.
Yep. It was a mess. There was no hope of pursuing publication for Cups. It was a pile of plots and characters stitched together with one thin thread-- they all lived in the fictional English 'county' called Glenfallen. It was disheartening to look at the enormous pile of pages knowing it represented two years of my life, and that I was nowhere nearer my goal of publishing.
So what did I do?
Naturally, I set right in to writing another story. Much of what I had written in the first manuscript had sparked new ideas for a second. As it turned out Cups was something of an 'invention nebula,' the place where new stories were born. It had set the paradigm for my fictional world, and out of that cloud of imagination came a new character, a young man named Arawen Mountrain.
Funny, Arawen came from the same gene pool as my other characters, but he had something more than the others--namely a great sense of humor. I think my seeming failure with the first manuscript had 'lightened' me up. Once you've tried and not succeeded, and realize that the world has not come crashing down, there is a sense of immense relief. As a result, I think a truer voice came through in Arawen--a voice that is a more accurate reflection of me as a writer.
Cups' tone had been darker, heavier and oh-so 'serious.' Pfft! That's just not me-- or so Arawen showed me. A born witch, the hero of the second novel Arawen of the West Watch definitely has some very serious matters to contend with (Blackpool demons are very serious), but he's able to address and move through them with a measure of grace that comes only to those who are true optimists. Arawen laughs at the darkness, because he knows it's just one half of the truth. The sun always has to rise. His is a more accurate reflection of my own experience, and when I completed the novel in 2007, I was left with a sense of gratitude and peace. Arawen of the West Watch has a lightheartedness that has become the grounding chord of my writing voice: We need to feel good, damn it! There's enough darkeness in the world, already!
Glenfallen is just such a place we can go to escape the madness for awhile. Thanks to Arawen, my fictional county in "England" was moved to "New England." There's just something more optimistic about the New World. Cups was playing upon an Old-worldy gothic aesthetic, and Arawen had no place there. Instead, Arawen Mountrain lives in nineteenth century America, a time and place of invention and revolution... where one didn't have to be a witch to know magic abounded everywhere.
So did Miranda Etherhill get scrapped? Of course not. She's been renamed Miranda Dovecott, and is the main character of my current writing project Miranda of the Dove Coat. (Due out in 2010). No longer the 'lost innocent' she is Arawen Mountrain's cousin, and has been reinvented as the scrappy, willful, and wise Circle Mistress of Glenfallen, zinging out one-liners with the best of them and perfecting the art of lewd hand-gestures.
Your friends in Glenfallen are waiting.
Godspeed On Your Journey.