Hey friends! My latest podcast appearance just went live this morning, so I wanted to quickly share it with everyone. Booked All Night is a fantastic YA book blog that I love, and I’ve been working with them for quite a few weeks now. I posted both a guest post and an excerpt of Chasing Fae with them as part of my book launch blog tour. Jess, Maggie, and Dan were a great trio of hosts who had me laughing and sharing plenty of stories about the creation of Chasing Fae and my plans for book 2. I hope you’ll take a listen!
Hey everybody, check out this newly released podcast episode for It’s Never Too Late With Megha Upadhyaya. I had a lot of fun recording this with Megha, and I am so excited to share it with all of you. We’re chatting today about worldbuilding, writing fantasy, and the concepts that have inspired me. Available on the following platforms for listening:
Hello friends! I want to start off the week with a bang by sharing with you my very first giveaway! I’m giving away FIVE Kindle copies of Chasing Fae at the end of September. All it takes is following the link below to share your email address with Fluff About Fantasy. Plenty of opportunities for bonus entries as well by following me on various social medias.
Click here to learn more!
Now that my first book is out in the world, it is time for me to turn my attention to writing book 2. As I have gotten back into the swing of writing a first draft again, I am realizing that there are just as many, if not more elements to consider in writing a fantasy sequel than writing the first book or a standalone. The world that I have created has to be maintained while I am also elaborating on places the reader has already seen and creating new destinations for them to enjoy. I must create an entirely new storyline that must bring people in just as much as the first one. But most importantly, I need to recapture characters that I have already created and let the reader see more. This is the topic I am going to be addressing today. I want to share a little bit about what I am learning in the early stages of starting the sequel to Chasing Fae.
Lesson #1: Keep Details and Initial Personalities Consistent.
Readers have seen Grace move throughout the Three Realms for over three hundred pages, and they have a distinct idea of who she is and the kind of decisions she tends to make. When the second book begins, I don’t want to stray too far from that, at least in the first chapter. I feel like it’s important to re-ground your reader in the main characters you have already introduced, particularly the protagonist. I enjoy books that take a moment to subtly reacquaint the reader with where they are, who they are with, and when the story is picking up from before diving in only a couple of pages later. I am hoping that I will be able to accomplish that with the beginning of Chasing War.
Lesson #2: But Don’t Forget Your Characters Need To Have New Arcs.
In Chasing Fae, both Grace and Aiden went through visible major shifts as people from the beginning to the end of the story. Those two arcs were closed, not to be reopened again. Instead, I have to now take both of those characters to new places and work in new character development. It isn’t enough to show them in their newfound state from the end of book 1; as an author, you have to reintroduce new challenges and states of mind that will push your characters to transform in unique ways. And remember, that transformation should be as varied and complex as the first time around. Grace had quite a few failures that brought her development as a person backwards before she found ways to push forward. I plan on doing more of that to keep things interesting.
Lesson #3: Elaborate On Secondary Characters.
In a sequel, it is important to take some time and explore those secondary characters who will continue to be instrumental in the overall series arc. I am so excited to build on those characters who took on small to medium sized roles in Chasing Fae. I have so many fantastic plans for bringing a couple of those people into the main plotline and giving them a full arc for readers to explore alongside Grace’s.
Lesson #4: Introducing New Characters Is A Must.
It matters just as much to create entirely new characters as it does to elaborate on the characters that are already present. Many of the secondary characters that will be showcased in book 2 were mentioned briefly in name only or perhaps had a very small cameo near the end. I am not sure if I consider writing them to be elaborating on previously established people because there is so much that the readers do not know about them. I might even consider them to be brand new characters for people to fall in love with. But on top of that, I do plan on bringing in one or two solid unheard-of-before-this-book characters to make sure that I get that element of fresh blood in the sequel.
These are my preliminary observations as I work on drafting. I may update this as I learn more through my writing. Until then, happy writing everyone!
The barrier between the Upper Realm and the Middle Realm was a deliberate decision as an author that I felt was incredibly necessary to the progression of Grace’s journey. I wanted it to be difficult, but not impossible for mortals to cross over into the Fae world. In order to achieve that, I needed to create something strong, yet with access points that could be controlled and utilized to either a Fae or a mortal’s advantage.
To begin with, there is daily trade moving across the border as a supplement to both realm’s economies. This fit in well with the history of the relationship between the two and serves as a clear boundary of superior vs. inferior. On the Fae side of the border, there is virtually no protection. The Fae saw no reason to put guards on the Upper Realm side because they saw no danger in the Fae having access to the mortal realm. It is a bit taboo to have non-designated Fae crossing into the Middle Realm, but there aren’t necessarily clear regulations. Any goods and people travelling through the Upper Realm to the Middle Realm to sell their wares would be checked by the officials on the Middle Realm side. With certain kinds of magic, this could be worked around, hence the ease of the start of the black market trade.
On the Middle Realm side, however, goods are brought in by train and by cart. Very few mortals are allowed to get anywhere close to the actual barrier. There is a heavy layer of magic surrounding the border between realms designed to keep anyone without magic from passing through. There are also a large series of guards stationed along the border that rotate throughout the day. Anyone seen as suspicious will immediately be taken into custody and whisked off to an unknown location to be questioned. Very few come back from that, and those that do seem haunted.
The way the barrier is designed shows exactly what the Fae are afraid of. They aren’t really worried what happens if rogue Fae end up in the Middle Realm. What matters more is what happens if rogue mortals sneak into the Upper Realm. It isn’t clear exactly what they are afraid of at this time, but that is something that will be explored throughout Chasing Fae and perhaps in the greater trilogy.
I loved writing the chapter where Grace and David travel from Lisden to the border. I tried to give a glimpse of what the rest of the Middle Realm outside of Lisden looks like through brief descriptions while keeping the action moving. This scene is also a brief glimpse into the mortal role in the black market. David is one of the best black market runners in the realm, and his know-how and quick reflexes really shine through in this scene. I hope that people pay attention to this segment and pick up on those little details that may just show up again in later books.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Military service varies heavily between the realms. In the Middle Realm, there is no standing army. This is a rule imposed on the mortals by the Fae; the issue is kept under a very close watch. The soldiers are all mercenaries that are occasionally organized into bands or units. No unit is connected to another. In the Upper Realm, each of the Twelve Houses has their own standing, highly organized military.
At the beginning of Chasing Fae, readers get a front and center view of Leo’s death announcement to his family in the Middle Realm. A group of soldiers arrive at the residence with a scroll and a folded flag and deliver the news. The mother collapses in anguish, and Grace rushes to her aid, holding back her own tears. It is an intense moment at the beginning of the book that throws the reader into the turmoil of the world right away.
When a soldier dies, it is important in both the Upper and Middle Realms that they are treated properly and buried with the utmost respect. Burial is a significant ritual in both locations. In the Middle Realm, a traditional military burial involves a beautiful wooden coffin adorned with simple red roses and a funeral with family and friends gathered around. Occasionally, the head of the unit will give a short eulogy. The coffin is often carved by the family themselves, depicting stories of the soldier’s life. In the Upper Realm, a military burial involves an ornate coffin, purchased by the family and occasionally in conjunction with the army the soldier was a member of (depending on the House). The coffin is then adorned with flowers in the color of their birth House. Fae burials involve an abundance of music and a ancient ritual that is said to guide the soul to a better place. The whole community is usually involved in the funeral.
When the Fae began to call for mortal soldiers to come into their realm and serve within the last few months prior to the beginning of Chasing Fae, there was no established process for sending back those who perished. Each of the Twelve Houses created their own method. Most involved sending the body back with enough funds to cover a sufficient funeral and several medals or accolades given in recognition of their service. Others sent back the body with nothing but a note. Some didn’t even give that. This leads to a lot of confusion and a lot of unnecessary heartache on the part of the mortal families.
All of this history and cultural elements come together to create the conditions for which we find Grace in the first few chapters. Things are already unsteady to begin with, and when Leo’s body doesn’t come back at all, that is a huge red flag to her. She does not want her brother to become one of those numbers that is never properly laid to rest. Hence what unfolds over the rest of the novel…
While I was writing Chasing Fae, I wanted to make sure that the Upper Realm and Middle Realm felt like two completely separate places that operated in their own way and practiced their own traditions. Mortals and Fae, though technically two different branch of the same ancestry, have developed their own very separate cultures and economies over the past several hundred years of being apart. Today, I want to share a few details that did not make a specific appearance in the book, but were part of my worldbuilding experience.
The Upper Realm and the Middle Realm have economies that operate on the same currency: copper, silver, and gold coins. A copper buys a small loaf of bread, a silver is equal to 50 copper, and a gold piece is equal to 100 silver. I made sure the numbers were easily divisible in order to determine the value of certain items for moments where I needed that information to keep things consistent. (But to be fair, I can’t take credit for most of the economics; my boyfriend read my book in its early stages and completely overhauled the Realms economies to make things more realistic).
The currency is pretty much where the similarity stops. The Upper Realm has far more resources and therefore, more product available for sale. Their economy is much more diversified. Conversely, the Middle Realm has a very limited set of resources. In some areas, mortals prosper such as the salt mines and the iron and mechanics trades. In others, mainly crops and livestock, the economy is much more shaky. The Fae have proposed heavily skewed trade deals that were forced upon the mortal race centuries ago. Nothing has been modified since then.
One of the more significant cultural elements in both realms that I created that did not make it into the first book involved family and the progression from a child to an adult. In Fae society, when a child is born, the naming of a child is a very important task. The father and the mother traditionally remain sequestered away from their family with their baby for three days. This is a bonding period and an important time to discuss the baby’s name and potential for future endeavors. At the end of the three days, the family comes out before the community and does an ancient protection ritual invoking the name of the child. Then there is a large community feast to celebrate. There is no such ritual in the Middle Realm; birth is much more straight forward, almost clinical.
Parents in either realm tend to home-school or privately tutor their children. For early childhood, there are very few organized schools. Both educations start around age 7. In the Upper Realm, a Fae’s 7th birthday marks the beginning of their magical education. This is a significant rite of passage. Others include the 15th, 18th, and 24th birthday. The 15th is the eligibility for a higher magical education or an apprenticeship, the 18th marks adulthood, and the 24th marks the transition of noble Lord to noble High Lord for the oldest heir to the throne. In the Middle Realm, significant years are a child’s 14th, 16th, and 18th birthday. The 14th is legal to work full time, the 16th is age of maturity, and the 18th birthday is when you become responsible for your own money, house, and job. If adults choose to stay in their parents’ home, they become legally responsible for partial rent as this is universally calculated by how many adults are living in a house.
The little details were the most fun to brainstorm during the whole world-building process. Even if they never make it into the books, I feel like knowing they exist helps me to guide the story along. Maybe I’ll slip some more ideas like this into the later books, and maybe I won’t. But I hope to keep offering these tidbits to you as I continue my journey of being an author.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.
One of the more important backstory elements in Chasing Fae is how the Upper Realm of the Fae and the Middle Realm of the mortals interact with one another. There is a lot of history of conflict between the two races that has led them to the tumultuous and uneasy state that exist as the book begins. I touch on this history briefly throughout the book, particularly towards the beginning when the reader is introduced to Lisden for the first time. Today, I want to share a little more of that story in depth with you.
The world was born of demons who formed the framework of the Lower Realm. Demons were the most powerful of the races, but their magic was uncontrollable. As time went on, a small faction of the demon race developed more control and more finesse over their powers. Those people would be the first Fae. After thousands of years, the Fae grew tired of the persecution and endless death that followed them wherever they went. A Fae elder, Master Annacht, designed a spell that would shatter the Lower Realm into two. Using his lifeforce, he managed to generate enough power to form what is now the Upper Realm and the Lower Realm.
In the formative years of the Upper Realm, however, a group of the next generation of Fae were born without magic. Originally it was believed that this affliction was some sort of curse enacted by the demon race as a punishment for fleeing the Lower Realm. At first, the problem was mostly ignored as there were so few Fae children with missing magic. But as those children became of age, they began mixing with Fae society. Suddenly, there was a whole race of half-Fae running around, and that was something that the general population just could not abide. A group of powerful mages intent on preserving magic gathered their powers and split off a smaller portion of the Upper Realm. The Fae without magic, now referred to as mortals, were sent to this Middle Realm to form their own society. The half-Fae were banished to the Lower Realm in hopes that they would die out.
It didn’t take long for the Fae to realize that the pieces of their realm that they had given to the mortals contained important resources that they had not considered in their haste to get rid of them, such as the salt mines and extremely fertile farmland. The noble family in power at the time set the precedent for hundreds of years to come by sending Fae officials to monitor the budding mortal society. Eventually, those observing officials would integrate directly into the mortal government as liaisons and diplomats to the Upper Realm. In the modern era, a handful of mortals were handpicked and paid off to report directly to the Fae on any budding legislation or economic developments. This would allow the Upper Realm to form trade deals with the Middle Realm that were heavily skewed for their benefit.
All of this history brings us to this moment. The Middle Realm has been ravaged and drained dry by the Fae. The people are hovering on the end of poverty, struggling to make a living and in some cases, to stay alive. The Fae have suppressed the people for so long that many have given up on seeing brighter days.
And that, my friends, is where Chasing Fae begins….
THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Grief is one of the most complex emotions a person can feel and possibly one of the most difficult to explain in words. Yet, I find that I gravitate towards young adult books that tackle this idea in different ways. Most significantly, I enjoy books that tackle the grief that comes after the loss of loved ones as well as the grief that comes with parents’ divorce. I have experienced both kinds of grief in my life, and I believe both have affected me significantly over the last few years.
My parents divorced in 2016 although the process was in the works mid-2015. This brought about a lot of changes and a lot of emotions that I had to deal with as I entered high school. It was a tumultuous time, and there were definitely feelings of loneliness as well as this strange overwhelming sense of responsibility that I felt the need to take on. During that time, I lost both of my great-grandparents. Pop died in 2016, and Grandma died almost exactly a year later in 2017.
I consider myself to have been very lucky to have had my great-grandparents in my life for as long as I did, through nearly my whole childhood. Both of them always enjoyed my stories and my writing; they believed that I would have the chance to be published someday. Because of school and AP exams, I was unable to attend both funerals. It was a long time before I was able to grieve properly, and there is still a ways to go. I hope to visit their graves sometime soon after the pandemic ends.
Chasing Fae tackles many of the feelings that came from my own experience of grief. I came up with the idea for this story during one of the lowest points of my life. The divorce was getting to me, bullying at school had increased, and the friend that I had considered like a brother to me abandoned me without so much as a word. I didn’t want to be angry or upset anymore, so I took that pain and pushed myself to create something beautiful from it.
In the book, Grace has a difficult time dealing with her brother’s death. She feels responsible not only for her mother and her depression, but also for avenging Leo. The entire book spans the emotional journey of Grace coming to terms with what she has lost and how to move forward from it. I really tried to touch on all of the unintended consequences and reactions that grief can cause.
I hope that readers who have experienced any kind of grief in their life will resonate with Grace. I hope that the process of grieving and eventual transformation is present and easily recognizable. Most of all, I hope Chasing Fae offers those individuals like me who had such a hard time figuring out what to do next some peace, some respite for a moment from the chaos they are feeling inside. A good book, especially a good fantasy book, should give the reader a wonderful place to lose themselves in and escape to. I hope Chasing Fae does just that.
It’s about how they journey through the worlds authors create.
I have always believed that fiction, particularly young adult fiction, is the most powerful form of literature. Having read countless titles over the course of my middle school and high school years, I have learned more about life and myself from fiction than any other singular experience.
The library at school was my second home. As soon as I was old enough that my teachers would let me go by myself, I was one of the library’s most frequent customers. I absolutely hated the two book limit imposed upon me in elementary school. I would go back as often as possible to keep switching out my choices. By the time I got to middle school and eventually into high school, I was taking out five to ten books at a time depending on how many could fit in my backpack.
My book of choice was always fiction, usually fantasy. But that fantasy came in all its guises: epic fantasy, dystopian fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fantasy with a side of romance, etc. I loved being swept away by the worlds that authors were creating right in front of my eyes and by the characters who were running through these worlds. They were a wonderful way to escape from a slow day in class and offer me the entertainment of a brand new adventure every time. I devoured fantasy novels like they were my mom’s mac and cheese. Every new release brought me a renewed sense of joy and wonder that just couldn’t be matched.
Fiction books taught me my most important life lessons. I learned what qualities I wanted most in my friends: loyalty, honesty, the willingness to follow me into battle against dragons. I even made a few fictional friends within the pages of Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series. I felt validated by the contemporary young adult romances I read with the main characters’ struggles to fit in at their school or in their family. I learned to be more in touch with my own emotions. Of course, I learned the most from my beloved fantasy novels. They taught me that even though I’m not the biggest risk taker in the world, I wanted an adventurous life. I wanted to forge my own path and pick up close friends and even love along the way. Most importantly, I wanted to be the star of my own story.
I think that is what is so amazing about young adult fiction. The readers who love this genre have this amazing ability to see themselves in the world that they’re reading about. Sometimes they are the protagonist, sometimes they are the lovable best friend, and other times they just want to be themselves wandering through the world. Young people who love to read take so much out of literature, often more than the rest of the world. I mean, have any of you ever seen fans argue over which relationships are the best or which Hogwarts House is the best or how the last book in a series should resolve? (I know from experience; I have been an integral part of those discussions.) The best fiction writers know how to draw readers into the storyline and into the world they have created and then let them loose within it.
Over the course of this article series, I plan on diving deep inside my book, Chasing Fae, and the stories within it. You will get an intimate look at the writing process, the characters, the plot, and the universe itself. I hope that as you read my book and these companion articles, you will be drawn into the world as I have been while writing it. Come along for the ride!