Building a House on a Wherry

January 14, 2013

When the Sea is Rising Red was not the first of the hobverse books I’d written. That dubious honour goes to a book that had the rather unfortunate name of Hob an Lam (I know it was unfortunate because an agent told me that she’d avoided reading the full because of the title.)

But WtSiRR was the first of them to be purposefully written as a YA, and the first of them to be sold. Which left me in the rather weird position of having a handful of (unpublished) fantasy books all set in a the same world as one (published) young adult book. Publishers don’t like this, apparently. And I really did not want to rewrite all those other ones to fit YA guidelines. (I’m contrary. Also, no.)

Along came a wherry boat…

Brianna and I had met in the rather infamous AbsoluteWrite water cooler and become good online friends, separated by oceans but joined by whizz bang crackle internet and a mutual love of Kelly Link. When it became clear that my hobverse books were doing the unthinkable and jumping from one marketing genre to another (you can actually hear my eyes rolling in my skull at this point, I promise) we decided to join forces like two crazy kids and put them out there ourselves.

It was a no-brainer to go with the book which continued Felicita’s story, and so House of Sand and Secrets became the inaugural Folded Wherry novel. Not only did it build on the promises of Felicita and Jannik’s relationship at the end of When the Sea is Rising Red, it also had the seeds of later conflicts related in Hob an Lam (now renamed Bones Like Bridges, which I’m sure you are all grateful to hear.)

It means that those stories have a home, and whenever a new story set in Oreyn comes barrelling through my subconscious, I can let myself write it without feeling guilty.

Origin of a small press

January 11, 2013

Five years ago I wandered into a conversation in a writer’s forum in the middle of the night. The posts were flying fast, the participants were hilarious, and I privately messaged one of the members before butting in — is this a private club? Is it alright if I play too?

Many late nights and early mornings later, we had coalesced into a group of about 25 writers and our playground had become a private place on my own server where we shared everything – secrets, drafts, jokes, recipes. Tragedies and triumphs.

This is how I met Cat Hellisen and how she met me.

Cat put out a call for beta readers on our forum in 2009 and I begged to read something of hers – I’d seen snippets of her fiction on her blog and I already knew loved her voice. When I opened the file three little words filled my laptop screen and I sat back with my tea and sighed with anticipation. Every book used to be the beginning of an adventure when I was a child, but we get jaded with experience and it takes more and more to make the adult imagination spark.

hob an lam

“There’s a burning down on Lander’s Common…”

With that opening, I was hooked. I followed Jek on his journey and when I finished I ached for more MallenIve, more magic. Hob an lam saw many revisions (it is now known as Bones Like Bridges and is the next installment of the Books of Oreyn) and I read each one and marveled that it could keep improving when I loved the original so much.

Cat’s agent asked her to write something YA. That’s where the market is, she said.

So Cat wrote When the Sea is Rising Red about two of the characters that appeared in Hob an Lam and it sold quickly and became her debut novel.

Next up…how Folded Wherry got its name and how we acquired House of Sand and Secrets.