Updated: Jun 5
Looking Back at Four Years of The Forbidden Scrolls
Four years ago when I started writing The Forbidden Scrolls, it's fair to say I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be the largest undertaking of my life, outside of raising my son. And much like having a child, I quickly discovered that whatever expectations I had going in meant absolutely nothing once I took to the task.
In the case of The Forbidden Scrolls, when I started writing it I assumed it would all be one neat and tidy book. Roughly a third of the way into the first draft I realized I was fooling myself by clinging to any such delusions. I knew from the moment I introduced the idea of the "paladins of the gods" that I was in way over my head. Lucky it turned out I was pretty adept at treading water. I knew as soon as I pushed my laptop away that fateful day that I had a trilogy on my hands. I immediately started brainstorming the next steps in Juliya's journey, and I believe I have a story I would love as a reader out there for all of you to enjoy.
As one might expect, as a fantasy and sci-fi author, it wasn't exactly a surprise that I might someday write a series of books. If you look around those sections of your local bookstore, you'll find the shelves full of epic thousand page novels that are only part one of twelve. It's fair to say that trilogies are almost an expectation in my chosen genres, and that may only be the first of a number of trilogies set in that same world. But I had never set out to write those kinds of stories. I wanted to keep my books accessible to a larger audience, not just to those of us that read the Robert Jordans and George R.R. Martins of the world. Those are without a doubt fantastic novels, yet it's hard to argue that there isn't a barrier to entry for the average reader when you're talking about such a large time commitment in an age where we're all expected to be constantly on the go.
I knew I had a new challenge in front of me. I liked where I was going with my story, but I also knew it went against the types of books I had set out to write. Part of me wanted to cut the entire chapter I'd just poured out and write something else because the concept of committing to an entire trilogy seemed so daunting. But the discovery writer in me took over and off I went, weaving my way across Teren'vei.
And I'm glad I did. The feeling of accomplishment I had the first time I held all three books in my hand at once was one best things I've ever felt in my life.
Juliya's story had been one which had been kicking around in my head for roughly fifteen years before I got serious about writing it down, so I really should not have been surprised at the scope it ended up growing to. When I finished writing my first novel, The Stairs in the Woods, this tale felt like the natural place to begin with for my next book. And I truly did pour my heart and soul into this story over all three volumes--which is probably why it felt like such a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I typed "The End" on the Last Sorcerers."
Additionally, I can see how much I have progressed as a writer since I began putting this adventure into words nearly four years ago. I may never be the wordsmith Ursula LeGuinn was. I find my own style to be more workman-like with the occasional turn of phrase that grabs me. as a reader, the most important thing to me is that I find the characters believable and interesting, so that's where I think my own strengths as a writer lie. As writers, we tend to gravitate to the things we enjoy ourselves. But I can see the difference in my prose and how it evolved as the trilogy took shape. My latest book The Miranda Project has a completely different voice than this trilogy did, and I believe that's the result of my own growth as a writer in the four years I poured into this series.
This trilogy tackles some heavy subject matter even if it is cloaked in the guise of a fantasy tale. It touches on the dehumanizing effect of racism and how it ties directly to fascism, the desperation of poverty and what one young girl will learn in order to survive, self medication of depression through substance abuse, and so much more. Trying to wrap all that up in the middle of a global pandemic was difficult to say the least. On some days it was impossible to put myself into the chair and write about things that were so horrifyingly relevant to the real world in real time. These events led directly to a larger gap than normal between my books for Redemption & Ruin and The Last Sorcerers.
Meanwhile Brandon Sanderson was out here writing four whole extra books. To have that kind of superpower. My God.
For now, it's time to say goodbye to the world of Virandia--which is not an easy thing to do. There's so much more to explore, as Teren'vei is just one small isolated continent on the world. I hope someday to come back to this magical place. Between the writing and publishing process, putting this entire trilogy out took four years. And yet I've spent so much of the last twenty years with my head lost in this world. I'm not sure I'm ready to give it up completely. So maybe this is just "goodbye for now." You never know.
In the meantime, I have other tales to tell, such as the rest of the recently released The Miranda Project. I've gone and done it again--I started writing another trilogy. I'm hoping to get started on Book Two of The Miranda Project soon, because I've already promised you all two more books in the series. There is also a new fantasy story I've been working on lately. I expect to talk to you all about that a bit more in the not so distant future. I'm looking forward to bringing these stories and more to you, so stay tuned.