Launching and Looking Back

Today is the beginning of Fourteen Stones‘s Special Launch Week. My publisher is having a week-long online launch party, and we’re also going into the last week of our crowdfunder – which means if you’d like to get your own copy, now is the perfect time. 🙂

That was my little commercial. The rest of this post wants to go in a different direction.

Launching a book is a weird experience. It’s what we hope for and dream about through the long process of writing, and especially submitting the manuscript – but when you get there, you realize it’s also an ending. That part is hard.

Very soon, my project, and the people who inhabit it and whom I’ve come to know and love, won’t be just mine anymore. They will go out into the world and meet other people who will have their own responses to them, put their own spin on this work of my imagination. I don’t know what Fourteen Stones‘s readers will think of the story. I hope they’ll find something to love in it, because I can’t begin to say what it’s meant to me.

At endings, we often look back and think about what we’d like to remember. Here’s what I’ll remember about this particular journey, which started seven years ago.

1 – Visiting Spain in the summer of 2015: crossing the Atlantic for the first time, and once on the other side, feeling as if the ground I stood on wanted to drop out from under my feet. It was so very strange to be on the far side – the “wrong” side – of that ocean. During those first couple of disoriented and yes, panicky days, I didn’t know I’d come home with a story that would reshape things for me.

At Las Fragas de Eume, in Galicia, Spain’s northwest corner

2 – That scenery. Northwestern Spain, its coasts and villages and mountains, provided the foundation for the world of Fourteen Stones. I would never have imagined Namora, my favorite fictional country, without the inspiration of those hikes in Asturias. (“This is the trail? But it goes straight up! And look at all these rocks!!” It was gorgeous, but I will vouch, it put my hiking skills to the test. ;)) I wouldn’t have met my favorite character, a Namoran priest named Ribas Silvaikas, if I hadn’t had the chance to visit churches that dated back a thousand years, where the walls were infused with history and devotion and centuries of prayer. I wouldn’t have imagined a girl whose humanity challenged her world, and laid the foundations of a religious faith, if I hadn’t seen the remnants of Iron Age villages, and felt the most profound sense of home I’ve ever experienced.

Rugged scenery at Covadonga Lakes, Asturias.

3 – (continuing from the above) The northwestern Spanish coast. I will remember the turquoise water, the pebbly sand, the scatterings of sea glass: blue and green and white. I’ll remember the clear tidal pools with their rainbows of crawling and swimming inhabitants. I’ll remember the fishing boats at Noia and the harbor at Cudillero, a town of brilliantly-colored, clay-roofed houses clustering on the hillsides. Cudillero was the model for Namora’s capital city, Sostavi, and I hope to get back to it someday.

On the hills above San Andres de Teixido, Galicia. That ocean!

4 – The writing. I’ll remember that first (awful) draft, written in a whirlwind of excitement after my husband and I came home from our trip. I thought I knew what I was doing and what the story was meant to be. I was completely wrong, but those few months were full of joy.

5 – The rewriting. After a couple of years, in which I learned a lot more about writing and saw the publication of my first book, I came back to the draft I’d called From the Circle House and gave it another look. This time, I could see the holes and messes, but there was a seed there, too. Another year of brainstorming gave me enough of a foundation to try again. The second time was much harder, but worth every moment. That was when Fourteen Stones took shape.

For the past four years, I’ve kept the maps of my fictional countries Namora and Lassar up over my desk, along with my floor plan for a Circle House, one of the most important places in the story. Now I have artist’s renderings of both the maps and the Circle House, turning those figments of my imagination into real places. It’s astonishing.

My Namora, as a real place…

I can’t wait until I’ll get to hold a copy of the actual book. That’s always the best part, and the scariest too. Now it’s real. Now it’s done. My novel takes flight very soon. I hope it’ll have a beautiful journey, and that its readers will too. Most of all, I hope that some of what I put into it, the love and dreaming, the real-world beauty that inspired the book and the fantasy-world beauty I tried to put into it, will come through on the page for the people who will share the story with me.

As always, thanks so much for visiting the blog. If you’d like to find out more about Fourteen Stones, don’t forget to check out the launch party events and the crowdfunder. Also, if you’d like a midweek creative pick-me-up, stop back tomorrow for a Maker’s Day prompt. See you next time!

My rather imperfect rendering of Isaac Albeniz’s piece “Asturias,” inspired by that region of Spain.

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