In 2009, my friend Mur Lafferty challenged me to complete NaNoWriMo in half a month. For the un-initiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it falls in November each year. To win, write at least 50,000 words of a new extended work of fiction starting at midnight on the morning of November 1 and ending at midnight in the evening of November 30. For most normal purposes, 50,000 words is a rather long novella or a rather short novel, but it’s a handy target and every year thousands of erstwhile novelists from around the globe pit themselves against their keyboards and the clock.
In 2007, I completed the first draft of South Coast in November and had the podcast out by Christmas. In 2008, I failed to break the 2,000 word mark because of day job conflicts–travel, new high-priority projects, etc. In 2009, I accepted Mur’s challenge and the result was the first draft of Ravenwood. The first of what I hope will be a new series of works set in a fantasy setting.
2009 was the year of The Challenge with NaNoWriMo. After I accepted the speed challenge from Mur, another friend challenged me to get out of my genre and write a fantasy work while a long time beta reader finally nailed me down to write a female lead character. Little did I know how much of a challenge it would be, or how much fun I’d have working in this new country.
Keeping with my idea of twisting tropes, I approached the Epic Quest Fantasy by first identifying the things I wanted to change. In the typical story, the kid leaves home to seek fame and fortune (or escape the boredom of the farm) and adventures across the land becoming a hero and gaining powers as they go. So, I wanted to tell the story of an older person on a quest to find a place to settle down and write her magnum opus — a book on the collected herb lore collected from a lifetime on the road. The result is Tanyth Fairport – a wandering herbalist in the autumn of her years in search of the last of the keepers of the Old Knowledge.
I had so much fun with this book, I can hardly wait to get back into the world.