This week I wrote Origins, the folklore that is passed down through the generations on where Shifters came from. Like any origin story it only has part of the truth, but its the truth the Shifters needed to develop their sense of identity and shared history to develop as a race. This story may or may not end up in my current WIP, I don’t want to info dump on the reader though I will take bits and pieces to provide context.

I love my origin story and thought I would share it here as a tantalizing insight to the universe I am creating and I hope you enjoy.

P.S. The Fae are now referred to as Pari (a derivative of the Persian Pari-Pari).

Shifter Origins

Innovation comes out of crisis, and when the Pari came to Earth their world was in crisis.

The Pari had been in a civil war for almost 40 years; their planet’s ecosystem on the verge of collapse due to increased sea and atmospheric temperatures; and, the Pari of the land lacked the ability to effectively engage with the Pari of the sea creating tensions between the two races. 

But the Pari of the land were great scientists and innovators, when they discovered Earth they utilized our ancestors to find a solution to their problems. Using their Elphame magic they desired to discover the ability to change from one species into another, so the land Pari could turn into sea Pari and find common ground for their quarrels.

This was The Age of Experemental Evolution in Pari history. Scientists used animals and explored merging Elphame with the animal’s spirit before ripping both from its body and thrusting the merged energies into a human.

In the beginning some ancestors turned feral, the spirit of the animal too dominant and they would be stuck in the animal form. Over time the Pari learnt how to pull spirits from multiple animals and combine them, merging only a small part of the mixed spirits into our ancestors. This process was less effective at first for maintaining a shift, however, within a few generations the offspring, from childhood could control and maintain full shifts. 

This discovery provided the solution that would end the Pari civil war and soon the Pari returned to their homes leaving sentries to observe evolution of the Shifters they had created. 

The experiments on our ancestors to create Shifters were not the only ones the Pari conducted. Later Shifters learnt about another branch of Pari scientists studying the elements, and whether, if they could control the elements, if it would give them the ability to reverse the damage they had done to their world. Through their research the Pari created another race, the Mages.  

Shifters and Mages lived in relative peace with humans for nearly 600 years before the witch trials began. Unlike Mages, Shifters had always kept their Elphame abilities secret and Shifters were predominantly saved from trials— though a few were accused of being werewolves and drowned.

During this period the Pari who maintained sentry over their creations assisted in hiding and relocating the Shifters and Mages, protecting them from human ignorance. Shifters started creating compounds or safe havens for families to live free from persecution, and providing safe harbor for nomadic Shifters which eventually lead to the development of an underground Shifter network.

Shifters continued to live alongside humans but the tales of how the Pari had almost destroyed their planet remained on their consciousness, and influenced their culture. Shifter compounds spread around the world during the colonial period and Shifters learnt of others like them across Asia and Africa. Shifters begun to collaborate, developing a global Shifter network providing more opportunities for individual and families to find new homes in new Shifter communities which exist to this day.

Querying and Nano

This morning Query Tracker marked day 15 since I submitted my first query. In the interim, I have received two form rejections neither from the agent that lit the fire under my butt when I first saw she was open to submissions and started me querying.

To distract myself from the querying trenches I decided to participate in Nano and draft the book I started drafting last Nano and lost because I didn’t backup to the cloud! Magella’s story – as I am referring to it; has taken on a whole new life to what it had been a year ago and I have added a new POV, Ma’Heanna, to tell her story and how she ended up becoming the villain.

As a plantser I start with very basic details about my characters and plot. I know who my main characters are, I know where their journey starts and where I want their journey to end, and I kind of know what lessons I want them to learn or struggles I want them to face. But their path, their choices, their reactions to situations and their personal growth I can only write as they develop into their full selves throughout their journey.

It’s exciting not knowing how someone will react to finding themselves the kidnapper or the kidnappee and wondering how they got into that situation. When they grow in their relationship with their partner and learn new things about themselves; or, in the case of Magella, makes a complete transphobic ass of herself when she first meets her future mother-in-law and has to reevaluate her own opinions of self and long-held ideas on gender.

I don’t know yet just how Magella will overcome those challenges but there is a certain excitement in facing those challenges with her and helping Magella find the path forward best for her.

Working on Magella’s (and Ma’Heanna’s) Story is also making me consider parts of my first novel (the one out for query). Even now I think of different scenes and way’s in which I could improve it; I think of the opening chapter and consider small changes that would better reflect the tone of the story I am introducing the reader to. Part of me is waiting for that first agent to reject my manuscript so I feel justified to go in and make those changes that I am want to make, while another part hopes the agent sees the potential and is as eager as I to discuss how we could make my book even better.

For now, however, I will keep on Nano-ing and hope to get a full or partial manuscript request soon!

World Building Changes

For almost 3 years I have been building my Elphame Universe and in the last couple of weeks, I have been having this feeling that my Universe is unintentionally too… I am going to say European. Or at least appeared to be based too heavily on European folklore— which it is, and it isn’t.

I was so focused on trying to make the races different from how we traditionally told stories about them that I didn’t stop and think maybe then be using other lore as my guide. The most prominent example of this is the Fae.

In my stories I see the Fae as an advanced race, they make mistakes, they are constantly questioning their own ethics and morality, but they are also in a way the older aunty or uncle that you would go to for help and advice. They care about life and want to guide you to make good choices.

That doesn’t sound like any Fae I have read either in modern or historical literature. The Fae are either portrayed in a benevolent light, or as tricksters, power-hungry, bargain makers, cruel and bloodthirsty.

It got me thinking of the other Fae or Fae-like creatures in other histories such as Jin, the Peri (or Pari Pari in Malaysia), or the Johan. The Peri had closer ties to the being I was looking to create but not quite.

Right now I am throwing up two ideas.

  1. To simply change the name of the Fae to Pari and look to the Persian, Arabic and Malay folklore more to build out their identity as a race more, or
  2. To create find another mythical being which better suites the qualities that my Fae race currently embody.

I haven’t quite decided yet which way I will go. Considering I am currently querying my books I either need to make a decision fast or (fingers crossed) if I get an agent explore the idea with them.

Thankfully in my current book the Fae play only a very small role for the most part I believe it will only be a name change rather than extensive changes to the book. But I am working on a second standalone in this universe for Nano and if I am going to change the Fae race I would like to do it now rather than in draft 3 or 4 while the story is still new and exciting.

Picking up my Manuscript after 5-month Hiatus

Three weeks ago I picked up my manuscript (MS) after a 5 month hiatus.

You might be thinking, think MS must be in the early stages, or the first draft for such a long break from my work but its not.

My MS has gone through 6 drafts and had just returned from the editor when I stopped working on it.

Why?!? You ask…

Because summer was on its way and I had just started a new job, and I was sick at reading the same story over and over again.

Over those 5 months I had also stopped participating in my writing community, and it was loss of community I felt that brought me back to my MS. After a Wednesday night zoom meetup of other fantasy writers, one of who also edited my MS, I felt rejuvenated and ready to look at my story again.

When I put my MS away, I was very close to sending it to literary agents for representation. All I had to do is review the edits and suggestions of my editor, write up a synopsis and start reaching out to agents.

5 months later I am happy I never completed those final steps.

My book is great. But with the distance and fresh eyes I am finding small ways throughout my MS to improve my story. There are no big changes planned, but all these small additions will have big impact.

Now, I am more confident that when do I send my MS out to the world (before the end of 2021) it will be loved, respected and enjoyed as much as I dream it will be.