Today is the day you have ALL been waiting for. And by that I mean…probably none of you have been waiting for. But, like, let’s all just pretend? Yes? YES.
So what even is today about???
I’M TELLING YOU ALL ABOUT MY NANOWRIMO ‘17 NOVEL!!!
FINALLY. Here two days before NaNo. Took me long enough. Sheesh. (But can we also pretend NaNo is not the day after tomorrow for the sake of my sanity? K. Thaaanks!)
This NaNo is going to be wildly different from all the past 7 NaNos I’ve participated in. As I’m sure you alllll know by now since I constantly babble about it (seriously, I think I sound like a broken record sometimes), for all my 7 NaNos I was writing a 7 book fantasy series, one book for each NaNo. Which means, for me, “NaNoWriMo” has always just been synonymous for “continue my Colors of a Dragon Scale” series. NaNo was just the time for me to immerse in that world. I can’t even think about NaNo without thinking of my CoaDS series.
But, last NaNo, after years and years of working on it, I wrote the finale for CoaDS. Which meant…no more CoaDS for NaNo. And that feeling is WEIRD. You do get accustomed to something after doing it for 7 years straight.
It’s really, really strange for me to not be plotting the next CoaDS book this month. To not be working on it at all. But you know what? I’M ALSO REALLY EXCITED. I’m going to miss disappearing in the CoaDS world every November like I have for the past 7 years, but at the same time…I’m kind of really ready for something new. It thrills me to think I can now write absolutely whatever I want for NaNo. I adored writing CoaDS and making it my NaNo journey. But those books are written, and now it’s time to tackle something new and fresh. AND I AM PUMPED. SO VERY PUMPED. (Though I’ll still probably totally be feeling nostalgic over CoaDS for the duration of November. I love new experiences, but I’m also a sentimental person. YOU JUST CAN’T PLEASE ME SHEESH.)
The one lovely thing about writing a series for each NaNo is I never had to worry about what I was going to write each year. I had that figured out for 7 years straight. At first I was thrilled at the prospect of getting something new to write this year. On the other hand….WHAT WAS I GOING TO WRIIIITE???????
After much hemming and hawing and sleepless nights and a list or two, I finally settled on something. AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS STORY, GUYS. SO SO SO SO SO SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever written and yet has so many elements that are familiar to me and I love. AND I CANNOT WAIT TO WRITE IIIITTTT!!!!!!
Oh wait. You want me to stop rambling and ACTUALLY TELL YOU WHAT IT IS??? Fiiiiine.
Lucky for us, our dear Sky and Cait have brought back Beautiful Books, a linkup much like Beautiful People, but instead we get to talk about our novels! And you absolutely do not have to be doing NaNoWriMo to join in!
THE NETHER ISLE
Mock cover I made just for fun. Image not mine.
1.) What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
That’s a complicated questions because it just kind of…evolved over the past few months. Near the beginning-ish of this year, I was thinking about NaNo (yeah, that early on, I may be a bit NaNo obsessed…). It hit me that, hey, I’ll be writing a new book for NaNo this year and I HAD NO CLUE WHAT IT’D BE. As we discussed, this hasn’t happened in 7 years.
One thought I had was to take every type of story element I love and throw it all into one novel. Because WHY NOT? After that idea, I kept a list on my phone of any cool story elements that popped in my head. And I continued to add to it ever since. (I still add to it now and again.)
Somewhere amidst this I was thinking how I’d like to write a story that completely takes place in some sort of mysterious, creepy forest where all sorts of strange things happen. I don’t know, guys, I just really love creepy forests. That thought kept staying with me and I couldn’t seem to shake it.
Then, one day a few months ago…
I got this random idea of a camera that took pictures of the past. As in, you take a picture, and the picture that comes out is of some past scene, not the present. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS IDEA. I knew I had to write a story involving this.
The creepy forest idea was still at the forefront of my mind, so I decided why not combine that with the magic past camera idea? I was still thinking about adding all the story elements I love into one thing, although once this story idea started taking shape, that plan fizzled out a bit. Though it still has plenty of things I love in it. But it was the magic camera idea that really pulled things together.
Though, strangely, I didn’t have any semblance of a plot and no characters. Usually I get character ideas first or right with plot ideas. But this idea was so vague. For months all I had was the thought of some mysterious forest area and a magic camera… But I really wanted to write it anyway! Who needs a plot and characters, right? Right??? Eheheheheh…
Then, one morning at the end of July, everything clicked. It was like the flood gates burst open. All the ideas came in at ONCE. Plot, characters, setting, EVERYTHING. Within the span of about 30 minutes, I knew who my characters were and what my story was about. AND I WAS SO EXCITED. To the point that I was doing a jig I was so thrilled over this story. #truestory I had work that day, but thankfully it was quiet so I spent the work day on my phone making a list of alllll my ideas.
After that, the ideas kept coming and coming and I knew I had to write this for NaNo. It’s one of those things that will make me burst if I don’t write it!
And good gracious, that was a ridiculously long story and WAY more information than you all needed. MOVING ON!
2.) Describe what your novel is about!
Well, well! I just happen to have a (pretty rough) blurb handy.
“The Nether Isle—a mystery, a danger. And a prison.
Seventeen-year-old Karis Levine had only ever heard stories of the infamous island where the most savage of criminals are taken. Never in her life did she suspect she'd be flying on a prisoner airship, doomed to live the rest of her days on the island herself. What few days she has left. For the Nether Isle is not a kind one.
The moment Karis is dropped from her cage into the Isle's clutches, she is swept up in all its oddities—from doorways that transport a person to different sections of the island, to ruins of a formerly thriving town, to items imbued with magic, to a redheaded phantom girl. Then there is Jonah, a young man who doesn't appear savage at all. With his help, she might just be able to stay alive.
But why does the Isle exist at all? And who once lived in such a place?
With the aid of a magic camera that produces pictures from the past, Karis and Jonah work together to discover the riddles of the Isle's forgotten days. But the closer they get to answers, the more Karis begins to question everything—including Jonah.
Because on The Nether Isle, nothing is safe.
As you can see, my “creepy forest idea” turned into a whole creepy, overgrown island. AND I LOVE IT.
This story will be a young adult steampunk-fantasy. The world, technology, infrastructure, and clothing are very heavy on the steampunk side. Though standard steampunk usually is based off the Victorian age, I feel like my world is closer to the 1920s? Technologically speaking at least. But, really, the majority of the story takes place on this mysterious island where the “fantasy” aspect takes over. Lots of magic, lots of weird stuff happening. Buildings that move. Doors that change colors. Possibly a super scary beast running around.
The island may or may not be alive. JUST FUN AND CREEPY FANTASY THINGS. It also has a bit of a mystery vibe, too. But, come on? Having a camera that reveals things in the past is the perfect setup for my characters to be sleuths and discover the the Isle’s mysteries. And it’s both really creepy but also with fun, hilarious stuff too. Because why have one genre when you can have ALL OF THEM???
So I guess I did end up mixing a bunch of story elements I love. I love steampunk. I love fantasy (duh). Mysteries are great. Creepy stuff is awesome. I love funny stories. It also have a convoluted plot because I’m incapable of keeping things simple buuuuut, in truth, the more complex plots get, the more I love them. (It just hurts my brain when I’m the one writing them…) I AM ALL THE EXCITED.
3.) What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I love this question!
Creeping mist. Whispers in the night. Gnarled, swaying trees. Crumbling buildings. Dark shadows. Twisting vines. Crunching leaves. Morning sunlight filtering through the hazy woods. Creaking cages. Karis’ mirthful laughter. Jonah’s soft smile. Water ripples. Cracked stone steps. Overgrown gardens. Cogs and screws and old tools scattered around dusty rooms. Rainy days in an ancient library. The whir of airships. Phantoms, lost things, found things, doom and hope and family and sacrifice and friendship.
Okay, I need to stop. But if you want a more visual peek at the story I have a PINTEREST BOARD. And I’m quite in love with it. ^_^
4.) Introduce us to each of your characters!
MY FAVORITE SUBJECT! :D
There’s essentially only two main characters and two side characters. And one or more of those is a villain but I’m not telling you whoooo. *cackles* This is, to date, my smallest cast I’ve ever done. And…it’s kinda great! I mentioned in a post recently that I purposely chose a small cast because my last two NaNos involved like 20 main characters. O_O Sometimes I can’t even remember my own name. Why did I think I could keep up with all of those people??? Needless to say, I was ready for something manageable. It’s kind of a relief to have such a small cast! And I only have one POV even though it’s in third-person. Which is strange for me. I pretty much always have multiple POVs. But, again, I was trying to make this book more manageable than my last two NaNos. XD
But GUYS. I’m kind of head-over-heels for these babies!
Karis is the POV character and my adorbz baby girl. She’s bouncy and energetic and smiles a ridiculous amount and laughs at just about everything. She struggles to stay still and focus—her mind a constant buzz of wandering thoughts and ideas. She hates when she’s forced to follow rules and practicality, much more thriving on spontaneity. But her heart is a big one. She deeply desires to help anyone in need. Even if her methods are sometimes a little…unorthodox. Overall, Karis is a kindhearted, creative, free spirited soul that just wants to bring goodness (and perhaps a little fun) to the world. She’s a mix of the fun-loving and whimsically chaotic personalities I talked about in this post. AND I CANNOT WAIT TO SPEND THE NEXT MONTH IN HER HEAD. I adore the fun, energetic characters!
My other precious baby child. Jonah is quiet, calm, and caring. Putting others’ needs before his own is just second nature. Though at first he can be very shy and reserved, once he’s comfortable with a person his chatty and enthusiastic side comes out. He has a passionate personality, and oozes warmth and comfort. He’s a sensitive type, to others and his own emotions, as his emotions run deep, especially due to him holding them in most of the time. His tendency to be awkward causes him a lot of embarrassment. He’s also a planner, and gets frustrated when things don’t work the same way twice. He’s obviously a bit taken aback by Karis’ nonsensical methods of handling things. But with her creativity and his logic they end up work so well together. THE BABIES. <3 Jonah is absolutely a precious cinnamon roll.
Of course. They each have their secrets... *CACKLES*
My other two characters are Elisabet (“Bet” for short) and Darya. Buuut you’re not supposed to know anything about them, so. *zips lips*
5.) How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
It tends to be different with each book. But for NaNo I always write a ridiculously detailed chapter-by-chapter outline so I know where I’m going and can focus on the words instead of getting stuck with the plot. For me, personally, it just works better that way when I’m having to write a whole story in only 30 days. If I’m pantsing, I like to have more time.
But ANYWAYS, as usual, I completely outlined this story. I started out making character sheets for each of my characters and really digging deep into their personalities, down to their Myers-Briggs types and love languages because I’m obsessive like that. Once I got them and their backgrounds all figured out, I then spent about two weeks feverishly working on my outline. Annnnd it ended up being 16k words. Just the outline. O_O Like I said…I like to make them detailed. I don’t even know, guys…
I also definitely like to assure I have ample supplies of caffeine and am not caught up on other life things before I basically ignore life for a full month. Very important. *nods*
OH. And this year I’m using Scrivener for the first time AND I AM SO EXCITED. It is the perfect writing program for a list-obsessed, OCD writer like me. I have everything organized on it, with sections for my character sheets, an outline (all sectioned off into chapters), my actual draft, ideas, reminders, everything I need all right there! I am soooo pumped to be using it this NaNo for the first time! :D
A screenshot of The Nether Isle’s file on Scrivener.
6.) What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
BASICALLY EVERYTHING. I’m thrilled to be writing something new and different. Between editing Burning Thorns and writing a CoaDS book for each NaNo, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve just written something utterly new. I cannot waaaaait to tell Karis’s and Jonah’s story because I adore them. And then just the plot itself is wild and crazy and kinda dark and creepy but also with some really fun and (hopefully) unique things as well. Plus feels. Lots of feels. Because feelsy stories and making my readers and myself scream and cry is my fave. (#ActuallyEvil) I think it’s gonna be a wild, amazing ride all the way through. I’m grinning just thinking about writing it!
7.) List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
A huge part of the story is these ruins of a weird city. There are buildings built on cliffs and upper levels with bridges running from one place to the next and river on the bottom. The buildings are cracking and a little overgrown by vines and things, but still mostly functioning. Annnd sometimes there’s weird stuff happening in the city ruins, such as the pathways moving like conveyer belts and all sorts of odd and magical items inside the buildings. The style of the city was heavily inspired by this picture…
There are “Doorways” which look like square archways placed around the Isle that will randomly deposit you on another place on the Isle.
Karis is from the High City of a continent called Ilderwind. The High City is the thriving capital of Ilderwind with a jumble of buildings, stoned streets, a big City Hall. Just a booming steampunk-style town. We get the occasional glimpse of it throughout the story.
8.) What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Karis and Jonah’s first goal is to not die on this crazy Isle that seems bent on killing them. Because, ya know, not dying is cool. Karis later is determined to discover (due to some spoilery circumstances) why the Isle exists at all and who once lived there. But her digging up its secrets leads to…lots of other things which I cannot tell you.
Who or what stands in their way?
9.) How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
*points to above gif*
Come now. I’m not giving everything away.
10.) What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Even though I have a 16k outline, theme is something that always happens more prominently while writing. I never really choose a theme. It just…happens. I do know there’s a lot about sacrifice. (Because that theme pretty much always crops up in my novels. It’s just so important to me.) Despite appearances, there’s not all that much in the way of romance. *GASP* In a YA novel? I KNOW. CRAZINESS! Instead, there is a lot of focus on family because I feel like there is not nearly enough of that in the YA genre. But, come on, people! Family is amazing! Family, sacrifice, and standing up for what is right no matter how hard it may be would be the core themes I think. …For now. Who knows what it’ll all be once it’s written!
When my readers close this book I want them to feel like they were taken on an amazing, wild ride. I want them to have laughed and cried and maybe howled a time or two, but, by the end of it all, feel like it was worth it.
. . .
And there we have it! You probably now know waaaaay more about The Nether Isle than you ever wanted to. If it wasn’t obvious, I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY EXCITED TO WRITE THIS. Annnnd I’ll continue to be talking all about it throughout NaNo. #SORRYNOTSORRY
The day after tomorrow, guys! O_____O The next time you hear from me, we’ll be nearly a week into NaNo. And, for any of my newer readers, I’m going to apologize now. The posts I produce during NaNo tend to be my wildest, most incoherent, lack-of-sleep-caffeine-induced posts ever. So…yeah. It’s gonna be fun! *runs away cackling madly*
TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS, O’ READERS. What do you think of my NaNo novel? Are you in shock NaNo is the day after tomorrow????? (notpanicking notpanicking notpanicking) And for those of you not doing NaNo, would you consider setting up a donation for some of your sanity to the rest of us? Because we’re gonna need it! HAPPY NOVEMBER, EVERYONE! *throws glitter and confetti and fall leaves*