Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Know The Novel: Introducing The Wild Swans Retelling


 Guess who's back, back again. 

And guess what's back, yet again. The Know The Novel linkup that has, for the last few years, been literally the only thing pushing me into actively posting on this stupid blog of mine. It's done it again, lads, I'm back. For like three months. Kind of. 


Just in case you don't know what Know The Novel is, somehow even though I'm pretty sure the only people who are going to be reading this are people coming from the linkup itself, let me quickly explain. Know The Novel is a three-part linkup created by Christine Smith, one for each month of October, November and December, originally intended for NaNoWriMo participants - and other writers working on projects in that time-frame - to talk about their projects. Christine has, however, opted to create her own writing challenge this year, instead of doing NaNo, starting on October 15th, which is why this post is a little earlier this year. Each part consists of ten questions about the novel in question. 


The new challenge is called Fall Fiction Writing Frenzy, or Fall Fic Frenzy for short (my British self is in pain with writing 'fall' for autumn, but it's fine, it's chill, it's okay, we're all good haha). Christine has made this beautiful graphic for it. If you want to know more, just follow the link up above to get to the post which contains the details of both the linkup and the challenge.


I've decided to do NaNo, but I'm also participating in Christine's challenge as well, intending to do the normal 50k in November, and also an additional 10k in October, hopefully writing 35k by the end of Christine's challenge. If I write more than that, great! If I don't, hopefully I'll at least complete the challenge I've set for myself.

Admittedly, it'd be absolutely delightful to finish this novel by the end of November but...I'm not holding my breath for it. She's going to be a monster.


With that explained, which project am I working on this year? 

 Last year and the year before, I worked on Project Wales, but as I said in my post earlier this year, I actually completed the first draft of Project Wales right at the very end of last year, at a whopping 144k. I finished on Christmas Eve, actually. I've started work on the second draft, and considered doing that this year, but in the end, I decided that I'd rather take my time with it. I'm focusing a little bit more on prose and character and I really want to put the work in to make this story as good as it could be, and I think pushing myself to write loads on it at once is definitely not the way to do that. I have also considered writing Book 2 for this, however, I...don't think I'm quite ready for that yet. I would like to at least iron out Book 1 first - I'm someone who's very chronologically minded and thus far my edits are going to require changing a lot of Book 1, such as adding a whole new character to the main squad and making Peri's brother a much bigger part, and I just don't think I'm capable of writing a second book without having Book 1 pretty much through developmental edits. That way I know where I'm starting from. My hope is to get Book 1 through the second draft by February/March next year, and then to maybe do Camp to start off the second book. We'll see if that happens or not haha. Either way, I'll probably be doing it for NaNo next year.

I went back and forth on a few different projects when trying to decide which one to do this year, and ultimately settled on my space opera retelling of the Wild Swans by Hans Christian Anderson. It's a weird freaking novel and, most likely, is going to end up absurdly long just like good old Project Wales. I made the unfortunate decision to keep all twelve of the siblings from the original fairytale, so...yeah. This is going to be rough.

Now, without further ado, let me introduce you to my Wild Swans Retelling - she doesn't have a proper title yet, shush. I'd recommend you go get a cup of your beverage of choice, we're going to be here a while.


What first sparked the idea for this novel?


The first idea for my Wild Swans retelling actually came from a post on Fairy Tale Central, specifically one of their Story Wishlists. I don't actually remember which one it was - I went back to see their Wild Swans post and, strangely enough, it actually wasn't that one. I think it may've been an amalgamation of a few different ideas mentioned in different posts. This is their Wild Swans post.

Either way, I think I properly started work on it in December of last year, although it took me a little while to properly get going on it. I went through a lot of different ideas whilst trying to find the best way to adapt this lovely fairytale. My original idea was much closer to straight-up sci-fi, there wasn't any magic at all, but I ended up taking it much closer to the original fairytale as I developed it until it reached what it currently is. 


BEHOLD, the first ever brainstorming words i wrote for this stupid book.


It took me quite a few months to figure out how I wanted to tell this story. After I decided I wanted to keep all twelve siblings, I knew I had to find a way to balance all of them and give them all characterisation, so I chose to write three of them as POV characters, which will hopefully allow me to give all of the siblings some degree of focus??? We'll see. Which siblings specifically those POV characters were going to be changed a ton, I couldn't decide which brothers to use, but I finally settled a little bit ago. I've actually already written the first 25k words of this novel, so I'm going to be continuing it.


Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!


Hi, I remain terrible at blurbs. This might actually be the hardest blurb I've ever had to write. I have no idea why this story is so hard to summarise, but it is.


Six months ago, Queen Freya Averlarde of Ciraniya was murdered, in front of four of her children. Ever since, Eden Averlarde has lived in fear. She hides away in her workroom, afraid of the outside world, afraid of the dangers that lurk beyond her rooms. She longs to keep her family safe, but how can she do that when all sense of safety has been stripped away from her. Meanwhile, her brothers all fall apart in their own ways, grief taking its vicious toll on all of them.

All of this is brought to a head when their father announces his re-marriage, to a mysterious woman named Lady Insa. The fall-out from the announcement alone is massive, but when, merely hours after the wedding, Eden and her siblings discover that Lady Insa has an entire file of information on their family, including their mother’s autopsy report, everything only grows worse. Lady Insa stops them before they can warn their father, and reveals terrifying power that nobody could’ve foreseen. She sends Eden’s brothers away and, before doing the same to Eden, tells her that she must find out how to save them before they are gone forever, all without saying a single word.

Eden lands on a new, strange planet, one twisted and torn apart by monsters that were once human. Once she finds her siblings, it’s to find out that Lady Insa has turned them into monsters too – at least, for the daytime and, increasingly, for the night too. She must find a way to save them before they lose their humanity forever, whilst uncovering the secrets of the planet they’ve been trapped on, secrets that Lady Insa herself holds terribly dear.


Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects of the setting?


It takes place in two major locations - rather, two major planets. Those two planets are:

  •  Ciraniya - The Averlardes' home planet. A magnificent, technologically-advanced planet covered with greenery and life, filled with elegant structures and beautiful mountains. Due to the then-King's decision to cut Ciraniya off from the Galactic portal network, Ciraniya has had five hundred years of peace, which means that they remain rich and prosperous, even when many neighbouring planets have been ruined. 
  • Palenesia - A mysterious planet destroyed by an apocalypse of humans-turned-monsters, that have massacred their way through the world, leaving behind magnificent empty cities haunted only by them and the corpses of the dead. Small pockets of survivors hide away, planning ways to retake their planet, at whatever cost.

I'm super excited to write in Palenesia. I've already written most of the part of the novel taking place on Ciraniya, but I haven't gotten to write in Palenesia yet. 

I absolutely adore the combination of magic and technology that science fantasy grants you. For this story-world, I got to play with creating cool technology whilst also creating magic systems and combining the two, which is so much fun. I also love that, since it's a completely fictional and also technologically-advanced world, I don't have to worry about the characters sounding too modern. I mean, I can't use obvious slang, but they generally sound pretty modern.

I also love the horror element to Palenesia. It's kind of inspired by the Netflix K-drama Sweet Home*, if any of you have seen that, and I just love the vaguely post-apocalyptic vibes. This book's not going to be quite as dark as that show, but the aesthetic is similiar.


*i would recommend it, it's very good and has some beautiful themes, but it's also...very violent and quite dark. to the point that i had to take frequent breaks. so, be warned. it's not for the faint of heart.


Tell us about your protagonist(s).


The real challenge is figuring out how to explain these characters to you. There's just...so many. There are only three Main characters, as in, point-of-view characters, but I feel like I should probably introduce all twelve of the siblings so...here we go. Wish me luck.



Point-of-View Characters 



INTJ | 14 | Slytherin | 5w6 | original fairytale's Princess Eliza | third-youngest | self-reliant to a fault | asocial | extremely introverted | agoraphobic | loyal and protective | autistic | loves fashion and fashion design | 'you expect me to leave??? my room??? abhorrent idea' | pretends she doesn't have any siblings most of the time | which is impressive because she doesn't have any other friends | extremely perfectionistic | quick-tempered | so freaking sarcastic | just very tired, let her rest | has to have a backup plan for everything, Just In Case | socially awkward | had lessons on etiquette for years but still doesn't have a clue how to talk to people | has an unemotive voice | actually does have a lot of emotions but they're pretty invisible from the outside



ENFJ | 19 | Hufflepuff | 2w1 | fourth-oldest | concerningly over-protective | basically Surface Pressure from Encanto in a person | places all of his self-worth into taking care of his siblings and takes failure badly | kind-hearted | can be manipulative | somehow ends up being the one to take care of everyone else's problems | Hawthorne, just trying to have a fun day: ... | one of his annoying siblings: heyyyyyyy, so you know how i love you, right? | loves cooking | isn't very good at cooking | is, however, good at hot chocolate | schemes too much, they're always absurdly over-complicated



 ISTP | 15 | Slytherin | 8w9 | fourth-youngest | youngest of the Averlarde triplets | the others tease him and call him the baby and boss him around | it drives him up the wall | generally has trouble with the idea that other?? people??? care??? about him???? sounds fake but okay | refuses to acknowledge his own emotions ever at all even once | hot-tempered | extremely hyper-vigilant | sleeps with a weapon under his pillow | big fan of machines, any kind will do | extremely impulsive | thinks he's way cooler than he actually is | control freak | Juniper when his siblings are around: whines and tells his siblings to leave him alone, Juniper when they actually do it: ummm, excuse me??? | has thought through a decision precisely once in his life | 'i think we should go break in there just because that's what my Heart is Telling Me To Do'

Other Siblings



ESTJ | 22 | Hufflepuff | 1w2 | oldest and crown prince | expects perfection from himself and everyone else in all aspects of life | very controlling |’you should all listen to me because I’m Right’ | except none of his siblings listen to him which annoys him | ‘rules are good! rules help CONTROL the fun!’ | prone to hero speeches | *while facing down a monster the size of a skyscraper* ‘guys, this is a minor obstacle that we can totally overcome very easily just so long as we Believe in ourselves’ | naive and idealistic | hero-worships their father and refuses to acknowledge that he could ever be wrong | protective | relieves stress by grumbling | you know how i said Hawthorne was Surface Pressure from Encanto personified? somehow Paris is Surface Pressure and What Else Can I Do? combined


ISFJ | 20 | Ravenclaw | 6w5 | second-oldest | twin of Rowan | grouchy | likes to give off grinch vibes | profoundly done with everyone | intensely introverted | interacts with someone for five minutes and has to take five hours to recover | never leaves the library | has in fact fallen asleep in the library before | The Braincell Holder(TM) | quietly selfless | constantly gives of himself to everyone | absolutely terrible at self-care and generally allowing himself to have feelings | considers himself to be less important than everyone else | excruciatingly self-sacrificing | Rowan picks fights with him on the daily for this | hates physical touch, except for with Rowan and also Sky | generally prefers to not be perceived by other humans, especially ones who aren’t his siblings



ENFP | 20 | Gryffindor | 7w8 | third-oldest | twin of Ilon | doctor-in-training | adores arcade games more than life | may be a medical student but will not let that stop him from consuming too much sugar | rules are for SUCKERS | ‘i may be an idiot, but i’m not stupid’ | constant puns | completely unhinged | talks to himself out loud | goes from being really quiet to being ridiculously loud with seemingly no in between | ‘personally, i don’t agree with concepts, ideas, thoughts, existence’ | always impulsive | EXTREMELY protective over his siblings | hurt one of them and you will die | this goes double for Ilon | who might just be his entire world | probably has the healthiest emotional processing skills of this entire family | dyspraxic king



ESTP | 17 | Gryffindor | 3w4 | fifth-oldest | *vibrates with anxiety* | ‘repeat what I just said? bold of you to presume i ever listen to a single word coming out of my own mouth’ | literally always down to fight | fist-fighting preferably | would (and does) fight himself if no one else is available | his life aspiration is to be the ‘cool older brother’ | he is not | tight hugs are the Best, if you don’t crush his ribs then you don’t really love him | stims aggressively by literally yeeting himself across the room like a cannonball | if he senses anything that feels even remotely like a rejection it will send him into a Spiral | competitive swimmer


INTP | 16 | 5w4 | Ravenclaw | sixth-oldest | star boy | ‘stars. can’t do it. not today.’ | only rarely deigns to acknowledge the real world | horrendous eye sight | despite this, refuses to ever wear his glasses which is a major problem | except for when he’s stargazing, can somehow remember to wear them then | pretends he doesn’t care about his appearance but actually spends hours in the bathroom styling his hair | then claims he just rolled out of bed | constant sarcasm | his first and last goal in life is driving Paris up the wall | has a planetarium and basically lives his entire life in there | every so often one of the others goes up to make sure he's still alive




ESFP | 15 | Gryffindor | 7w6 | sixth-youngest | oldest of the Averlarde triplets | incredibly clumsy | once fell down three flights of stairs in succession | voted mostly likely to accidentally cause the end of the world by tripping over his own feet and hitting the wrong button, but we’re not going to hold that against him | means well, not great at follow-through, but at least the intentions were good | formerly known as the resident ray of sunshine | definitely is not that anymore | hasn't stopped dissociating in six months | constantly sneaks out to get into fights | argues with any and everyone who gives him the opportunity | has more unhealthy coping mechanisms than you could shake a stick at




ENTP | 15 | Ravenclaw | 7w8 | fifth-youngest | middle Averlarde triplet | inventor of a variety of hilariously useless things | such as exhibit 1 - an egg-thrower | ‘you want me to ‘explain my thought process’???? who says i know?’  | nothing but a fool | *making coffee and also Mistakes at 3 am* | actually nocturnal | extremely dry | constant unending sarcasm | kindhearted but you won’t catch him admitting to it | *cares for you but, like, behind your back so he doesn’t have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known* | far more impulsive than could ever be healthy | surprisingly gullible | an extreme sport, getting Aspen to focus on one topic of conversation long enough to get him to finish a sentence



ENTJ | 12 | Ravenclaw | 8w9 | second-youngest | loathes being the second-youngest | 'why must i be "nice" and "friendly", is it not enough to be always right and the best person in any given room?’ | brat | ‘i am no longer Baby, i want power’ | simultaneously very clever and also the stupidest person you’ve ever met | the most annoying troublemaker | mostly because he somehow never gets in trouble | there is only one person who has ever been deceived in Cedar & that’s their tutor/pseudo-parent | bullies his siblings but if anyone else even looks at them wrong he’ll lose it | delights in breaking rules right in front of Paris just to drive him mad | obsessed with botany | good luck getting him to leave the gardens


INFP | 11 | Gryffindor | 4w3 | youngest | art baby | everyone's baby | mildly feral | should not be given unfettered access to matches | very soft | book-lover | ‘you better watch out if you mess with me, cause you know what i’ll do??? that’s right, cry’ | has never heard of a lie | makes the bold assumption that absolutely everyone is being completely honest with him all of the time | they are not | very protective of his older siblings for someone who's literally four foot two | you could knock him over by shouting at him yet he's out here sticking up his fists | loves music | loves to sing | tone-deaf

Who (or what) is the antagonist?


 The main antagonist is Lady Insa, or ye old evil step-mother from the fairytale. She's...complicated and there's a lot to her. Most of which is spoilers. She's also a Fashion Icon. Behold! An aesthetic.

There are other villains too, but I can't talk much about them. Partly because I haven't actually developed them yet haha.


What excites you the most about this novel?

Everything! I love absolutely everything about this story. It's so much fun to write, even if there are emotionally harrowing parts.

  • The Setting - I love especially the world of Palenesia. I'm so excited to explore it along with my characters.
  • The Themes - The themes to this story are, currently, really close to my heart. To the point that I might have some trouble writing it. The central theme is really grief, and the different ways of dealing with grief, and about healing from grief. The other theme is one that I also adore, and it's one that good old Tolkien put the best name to - estel, or irrational hope. That kind of hope that says 'There is no logical hope of winning, no logical hope of surviving, but I'm choosing to cling onto hope anyway'. That, I would say, is the other major theme. Irrational hope.
  • The Characters - I love these characters so much. These kids are so much fun to write, even just in the part I've written. I suspect they won't let the story get too dark, since they literally can't stop bickering for the life of them. I love their relationships, they're a delight. As someone who has four siblings, I just love getting to write siblings, in their natural habitat. I am going to put them through it though. These kids are coming into the story with trauma and I'm just over here like 'here, have so much more'.


Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

I'm actually not sure. I'm currently thinking a standalone, but it might well end up being too big a story for that. It'll probably depend on how the story goes. The problem is that if I were to add another story, it'd probably be going fully off-book, as in the actual retelling events would be over, so I don't know yet. Depends on if there's more story to tell, I guess.


Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plantsing. Basically, my whole outline is...the fairytale I'm retelling and some notes on how to retell specific events. And a few notes on different plot points, like the midpoint. I have a decent idea of where I'm going but not a freaking clue how I'm getting there.

Name a few unique elements in this story.

Well, I think the post-apocalyptic space opera take on a fairytale is pretty unique. It's a strange blend of sci-fi, zombie apocalypse and high fantasy - and I think that's pretty cool.  There's also lots of fun technology, such as travelling from planet to planet via a magical portal system and holographic computer scrolls. There's also no romance, which is actually a major divergence from the original fairytale as there actually is a romance between Eliza and the King in that, but seeing as how my version of Eliza is literally only fourteen years old, we're not going in that direction in this story.


Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).


Wild Swans Retelling Aesthetic 


family bickering | tight hugs | shadows moving in the corner of your eye | magnificent yet totally empty ruined cities | hollowed-out mountains | loyalty | protectiveness | sacrificial love | hope in darkness | holding onto your humanity with both hands | choosing to do what is right, not what's easy | kindness | grief | monsters screaming in the dead of night | desperation | fear | faith | remnants of what came before


My main Pinterest board for this story is here. And this is my Spotify playlist. As you can tell, I've spent a lot of time adding songs to it. The 100 songs that the embedded playlist shows isn't actually even half of it, haha. I'm actually pretty happy with it, I went with a lot of orchestral/rock vibes, mixed in with some other songs.

If I had to choose just a few songs that, to me, sum up this novel - I'd probably pick the following: Hey Brother by Avicii, I See Fire by Ed Sheeran, Burn It by Golden Child and Come Back Home by ONEUS.

And with that, I'm done! My apologies for this obnoxiously long post. It's about ninety-nine percent the characters' fault, I'm pretty sure. If you want to participate in Fall Fic Frenzy or in the linkup, then just head over to Christine's blog through the link up above. I hope to see you all in November, when I do the second part.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

The March Muchness Blog Tag - A Wonderland Celebration

Hello all!

Guess who's back. Once again, I keep up my ongoing pattern of yeeting occasional posts into the void and then scooting. This time, however, I have something new and special to show you all. 

Over on Christine Smith's blog and Instagram, she's running March Muchness - a celebration of all things Wonderland set to run for all of March. There are three main components to this; an Instagram challenge that I won't be participating in, a giveaway, and a blog tag that I and eleven other bloggers including Christine have been putting together.

We've compiled twelve Wonderland-inspired questions for you all to take and answer on your own blog. You're welcome to tag whoever to join in, but it isn't required and you certainly don't need to be tagged to join in. It's all about having fun and joining together to celebrate Wonderland. If you don't have a blog, you're welcome to answer these questions on whichever social media outlet you choose or even in the comments below.

 - List six impossible things you’d love to do – wild and crazy answers 100% welcome!

 - What is a topic that grew curiouser and curiouser the more you studied/researched it?

 - If you could invite three fictional characters to a tea party, who would they be?

- Which Wonderland character do you feel you’re the most like?

- If you could drink a magic potion that changed one thing about you, what would it be?

- How IS a raven like a writing desk?

- If you were to make an enemy of Father Time, what time in the day would you choose to repeat?

- If you fell down a rabbit hole, what would the land you pop into look like?

- If you could have the body of one type of creature and the head of another (for example, the Mock Turtle has the body of a turtle and the head of a calf), what would that combination be and why?

- Have you read or written anything stylistically close to Alice in Wonderland? Tell us about it.

- If you could either be as tall as a tree or as small as a mouse for an hour, which would you choose and what would you do?

- If you could give your younger or future self one piece of Very Good Advice, what would it be?

And those are the questions! Just copy-and-paste them into whatever you choose to answer them on and go. We look forward to seeing all of your wonderful answers!

Fellow Hosts

Please head over and check out the other hosts' blogs, they're all great and so creative!

Christine - christinesmithauthor.com

Sarah - 

Victoria - 

Maple Quill - 

Kenzie - 

Jessica - 

Emma - 

Merie - 

Emily - 

Josiah - 

Kal - 

And that's a wrap! Hopefully I'll be answering these questions myself later in the month, I hope you all have fun. And if you would like to take a look at the Instagram challenge or the giveaway, just check out Christine's blog above, she has all of the details. And while you're there, check out the rest of her blog, she's so much fun.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Project Wales Update

Sup, I have returned. Like a month and a half late, but shush. Everything's fine. 

Back in my NaNo wrap up, I promised to post an update if I succeeded in finishing Project Wales before the end of 2021 - which I failed at. Not finishing Project Wales, that actually worked out, but posting? I'm bad at keeping promises, my apologies. 

Anyways! Better late than never, lads, she's done! And looking mighty beautiful at that. 

She was supposed to be done at 120k. What is this new devilry??? She's a Giant, I tell you. Alas, my best attempts at curtailing this monster of a book failed and now I have to try and cut 24k words. Probably more, given 120k is a bit too big as well. 

I managed to finish this beaut on Christmas Eve! Which was great, since I could then spend time with my family without the year-end deadline looming over my head. 

Once I finished, I set it aside for six weeks so I could get a bit of distance from it, which ended on the fifth of February. I started the next Monday and have now finished my re-read and notes. The plan is to now make a reverse-outline and try and figure out what scenes are necessary, what scenes can be combined and what scenes can be cut altogether. It's a bit of an undertaking, admittedly, but hopefully I'll be able to delete a decent amount of words.

Thank you, one and all, with that, I'm out.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

Know The Novel Part Three: It Is Written

Greetings. Guess who managed to finish this linkup this year. Very nearly not me, but here we are.

So, in case you're new here, this post is the final set of questions from Christine Smith's Know The Novel linkup. It's designed for those who are doing NaNoWriMo in November to talk about their novels, but it's open to anyone. I did the first set in October, and the second in November

Since my plan for this November was to do another 50k on my NaNo novel from last year, I did the first set of questions for a completely different story - my space opera Asteria which I'm currently editing - and then I did the second for my NaNo novel. For this set of questions, I'm continuing to talk about my NaNo novel - Project Wales. If you want my introductory post for this novel, here's my post from last year.

How did writing this novel go all around?

It actually went really well! I had a better time of it this year, albeit still with some rough patches. I managed to hit 50k on the 24th of November, which didn't quite beat my record from Camp NaNo earlier this year where I hit 50k by the 23rd but almost.

I still haven't fully finished this novel, but my goal is to pound out the last 14k or so by the end of the month, which should be plausible.

As for the writing itself, there were definitely some hard parts, but overall, I really enjoyed writing this novel. It's one of my favourite projects that I've worked on. I just adore everything about it. 

Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?

As I mentioned above, I technically haven't finished yet, so it's kind of hard to talk about the outcome, but I have written a lot of it, so I'll give it a go. 

Honestly, this novel has grown so much. It's over 130k now and it's. Still. Not. Finished. I'm pretty sure it's going to be like 145k for sure, and that's just. A whole thing. And might I add, that's with me probably skimping on some character development scenes. She's a beast.

For the most part, I've kept to the bare bones of my (very vaguely) outlined plot, but pretty much all of the details have changed. A lot has been taken out or moved to the next book, and a lot has been replaced by different, better scenes. The world has also fleshed itself out more as I wrote - which I'm very grateful for, given my Scrivener World-building folder was sitting at a measly 1k of vague notes prior to my starting this novel. That is typically how I prefer to work, I just don't find it easy to world-build in detail before I start writing and interacting with it, but it's still stressful starting a fantasy series without really understanding the world haha.

It's still very much a soft world-building world - and a soft magic system for that matter. Much more about atmosphere and Vibes than about iron-clad rules, which was my original intention, so that's great.

What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)

I've said this before, but I just adore these characters so much. These kids are some of my favourite characters that I've ever written. They're the most chaotic squad of nerds I've ever seen and I love it. 

The plot needs a lot of work, but it has definitely come out better than I was expecting it too. I was really worried about whether or not the treasure-hunt aspect would come out really repetitive, and there definitely are scenes where that's an issue, but for the most part it's actually alright, I think. I tried to focus on creating new and unique parts of this fantasy world for my characters to go to and interact with for each clue, so it feels more like they're exploring than just going from one clue to another, and I think it actually worked alright. I also adore the intergenerational secrets aspect and all the mysteries. I haven't even revealed half of what I have planned for this series, but I'm already so excited about it.

I'm pretty happy with my prose for this novel. Yes, it has its issues, and oh boy does it need cutting down, but I think it mostly came out feeling right which was a really big part of my original concept. 

Like I said up there, the setting is going really well too. It's probably the part that's come out the best, I would say. I have significant issues with every other aspect of this novel, but the setting only has minor issues imo, which I'm delighted with.

How about your least favourite part?

Hmmm, difficult. I enjoyed every part really, but that doesn't mean that those parts didn't also have aspects I didn't enjoy. Like, I might be happy with my prose, but that doesn't mean there weren't whole sections where I was just pounding out words and hating every single one of them. I might adore these characters, but that doesn't mean that their character arcs aren't a mess

If I had to pick one least favourite element, I guess it's probably those big info-dumps I ended up having to do just to figure out the information for myself. There are a few scenes just ruined by these exposition dumps.

What do you feel like needs the most work?

Like I said, many, many issues in this novel. Peri just forgets she's supposed to have internal conflict for like the entire middle of the novel. Haneul has no midpoint whatsoever and his best friend just materialises at like 100k words into the novel having never been mentioned prior to that. The mystery element remembers it exists like 80k words in. Big problems.

I'd say overall, it's probably plot and structure that are the biggest problems right now. Most of the other issues are in some way caused by that, I'd say. If the story was structured properly, then my character arc issues would be solved, but rip to structure I guess.

How do you feel about your characters now? Who’s your favourite? Least favourite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!

I absolutely adore my characters. They're so much fun to write! Just a bunch of absolute nerds having fun messing around with magic and magical creatures. I love them. 

Peri - Still a delight to write. Probably jokes way too much, especially when she's having a hard time at which point the jokes just reach critical level. Always down to pick a fight, especially when it is obvious to absolutely everyone that she has no way of winning. Super smart, but pretends to not be for no discernible reason. As I've written her, I've begun to suspect she has ADHD tbh.

As for surprises, I was honestly surprised by how hard her character is to get down. She's very stubborn and refuses to actually acknowledge how she's feeling even to herself, which makes her a hard character to really understand. 

Haneul - Absolute sweetheart. Cares so much about everyone, but is so freaking scared of caring so much about anything, because he's very used to losing what he loves. My guy also needs to stop shutting people down the second they show they care about him. Someone expresses concern for him and he's just like 'haha, goodbye'. His self-esteem....needs a lot of help. 

He surprised me in that he's actually even more of a mess than I though he would be. Like, I knew my guy had some problems, but he's actually so freaking sad. Child. Bud. Get some help. I was also surprised by how easy he was to get to know once I got past my initial issues. He used to be the hardest.

Jules - Snarky legend. Still very much depressed, but ironically probably has the healthiest coping mechanisms of this squad, which says a lot because he's living in an abusive situation and refusing to get out because he doesn't think he can exist outside of his family. So that's fun. He's super fun to write because he's so freaking snarky, which, incidentally, is one of the things that really surprised me about him.

He's way more snarky than I thought he'd be. And he's just generally more assertive and more prone to mediating between everyone than I thought was going to be his role. He's normally the one restraining everyone else and looking out for everyone, quietly, making sure people don't do anything too stupid.

Arthur - Raging disaster son. Gets a strict allotment of one(1) good, intelligent decision per decade. Straight up locked himself in his home for two weeks over a setback at one point in this novel. Haneul had to go and physically force food on him. Has so many psychological issues, of which precisely zero are in any way dealt with - or even acknowledged. Wouldn't know good communication if it hit him over the head.

What’s your next plan of action with this novel?

Well, first of all, I need to finish it haha. Once that's done, I'm going to put it away for a while and work on my other projects, and then I'll start edits. I'll probably try and get started on the next novel in the series too, maybe that'll be my NaNo novel next year, I'm not sure yet. It's a three-part story, essentially, which means it's probably best if I try and get them all written sooner rather than later so I can make sure everything is consistent.

If you could have your greatest dream realised for this novel, what would it be?

Publication, absolutely. 

I'm kind of worried about trying to make it my debut novel, given it kind of has to be a series. In all my research about querying agents, everyone says to say your book is a standalone with series potential if you must query a series, but Project Wales is literally incapable of not being a series. Most plot threads don't get properly resolved in this book. I'm not sure what to do yet, I might try and complete one of my other fantasy projects that actually is a standalone to start off with, but I'm not sure yet. I'm really just praying about the whole thing and seeing where God leads me in relation to it.

Share some of your favourite snippets!

Ahh, snippets! Exciting. Just let me go try and find some new snippets.

Snippet #1

‘So how do we get in contact with Arthur?’ Peri asked, ‘Does he have a phone?’

‘I don’t know,’ Jules said with a shrug, ‘I assume he does. I haven’t got his number yet if he does, I’ve only known him for a week and I guess it didn’t come up. He always finds me.’

‘Ah,’ Peri hummed, ‘That to do with his weird ‘drawn to places and people’ thing.’

‘I think so,’ Jules folded his sketchbook over to close it, and slid it under his jacket, hugging it to his chest. ‘Though he’s never actually said that.’

‘He does like his ambiguity, doesn’t he?’ Peri said in amusement.

‘He definitely does,’ Jules rolled his eyes, ‘Like I said, I’ve only known him for a week, but I’m pretty sure he’s actually the most ridiculously dramatic and unnecessarily cryptic person I’ve ever met.’

‘That checks out,’ Peri said with a laugh. 

A shadow fell over them and Jules looked up to see Arthur, his coat being blown in the wind. ‘Oh, there you are,’ Arthur said. ‘I was looking for you both.’

Peri burst into laughter at the sight of him and Jules couldn’t help but join in. Arthur looked very bemused. ‘I don’t understand why I’m a source of such hilarity,’ he said, visibly a little annoyed, ‘But can you both calm down a little bit?’

Peri held up one hand, trying to stop laughing but failing miserably. ‘Sorry, Arthur,’ she managed to get out. ‘Just…’ she was off in a flood of laughter again.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ Jules managed to calm himself down a bit, before the sight of Arthur - honestly, truly - pouting set him off again. 

Arthur made a face at them. ‘You’re both children,’ he informed them flatly as he came over to Jules. ‘If you will laugh at me, you could at least budge over a bit,’ he told Jules.

Jules held up his hands and shifted over a little, so Arthur actually had enough room to sit next to him. Arthur sat, looking very put-out. 

It took another minute or so for both Jules and Peri to stop laughing, and Arthur pouted the entire time. Finally, they both subsided and Peri leaned forward so she could see Arthur more clearly.

‘Do you have a mobile? Cause it’d probably be easier to arrange where and when we’re meeting than just relying on whatever freaky psychic thingie you have going on.’

Arthur just looked at her. ‘I don’t have one,’ he said.

Jules turned to stare at him. ‘You don’t?’ 

Peri seemed equally astounded. ‘Mate, how old are you? Are you, like, actually eighty? Is that why you dress like a grandad, cause you’re actually ancient but just look mega-young cause Magic.’

Jules could literally hear the capitalisation of the last word there. But he agreed with the sentiment. How could Arthur be living in the 21st century without a mobile phone? He could at least have a pay-as-you-go one, those were easy enough to get.

Arthur just shrugged. ‘I’ve never needed one.’

‘What about keeping in contact with your family and friends and stuff?’ Peri asked, turning so she was sitting sideways and crosslegged on the bench, facing towards Jules and Arthur. ‘Don’t you need one for that?’

‘I don’t have any friends,’ Arthur said, ‘Nor do I have family. It’s just me. Why would I need one?’

He said it so calmly, as though it wasn’t a huge deal that he had no family or friends, that he was completely alone. It was as if he was saying ‘grass is green’ or ‘I dress like a grandad’, like it was just a fact of life, something he had no emotional reaction to at all. Like he’d been alone for so long that he had long since gotten used to it. 

Not for the first time since meeting him, Jules wondered what kind of life Arthur Mulligan had lived to create the person he now was.

Peri looked equally as horrified as Jules felt, but she covered it up fairly quickly. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘You have friends now. So you need a mobile phone. Before we go any further, we’re taking you to buy a phone.’

Arthur stared at her, then at Jules, then back at Peri again. ‘Uh,’ he said, ‘Okay.’

Snippet #2

There was a long pause, before Haneul shook his head and sat up straighter. ‘Anyway, is this place seriously made out of tree root? How does that work?’

Recognising an attempt to change the subject, Peri sat back and ran her fingers over the wall. ‘It’s so cool,’ she offered, in her opinion very valuably, but none of the others looked very impressed by her addition.

‘We’re actually under a real tree,’ Arthur said, drumming his fingers on the table absently as he talked. ‘If we went to the same spot up above, you’d see this gigantic tree. Locals call her Old Woman Oak. She’s been standing up there for over a thousand years, watching over the town as it grew. Or so the legends say. Most people just see her as a big historic tree up above, but she’s actually home to a lot more than just this coffee shop. Old Woman Oak is home to Carydrai’s fairy market, appearing every fortnight. I’ll take you to it sometime, but you need to be really careful if we do,’ Arthur made a face, ‘The fey do love trapping humans and their markets are dangerous.’

Peri blinked. ‘Are they really that dangerous?’

‘I’ve known of people who got trapped forever because they made the wrong move at a fairy market,’ Arthur said flatly.

Peri ahhed at that. ‘Right. Okay. No wrong moves. Got it.’

Arthur shook his head, but he couldn’t help but laugh despite clearly trying not to. ‘I dread to think what kind of nonsense you’d get up to at a fairy market.’

‘Excuse me,’ Peri said primly. ‘I wouldn’t get up to any nonsense. I never get up to nonsense. I am thoroughly non-nonsensical in nature, I’ll have you know.’

‘How alliterative of you,’ said Arthur.

‘I have been known to be rather alliterative when the mood strikes me,’ Peri said.

‘Like a bowling ball to the face,’ Jules added, completely unhelpfully.

Peri kicked him under the table. He made a face, but subsided. 

‘Anyway,’ Peri said, ‘How do we order?’

‘I’ll go through and order from the counter. There are wait staff here, that’s what I do normally, but I always prefer to go order myself whenever I come here,’ Arthur said, as he reached for the pile of laminated papers in the centre of the table, ‘These are the menus, here.’ He handed them out, giving one to each of the other three before taking one for himself. ‘Have whatever you want. I’ll pay for it, it’s my treat.’

Jules immediately started looking over the menu. Haneul looked down at his menu and then back up at Arthur then back down at the menu again, biting his lip but saying nothing. He looked like he was debating with himself about something.

‘You’re playing a dangerous game here,’ Peri informed Arthur seriously. ‘I have been called the Black Hole.’

Arthur raised an eyebrow. ‘Somehow I’m not that intimidated.’

Snippet #3

It was dark when Haneul opened his eyes. His body was mist, almost nonexistent. All around him was shadow and cold, sending daggers of ice deep into his soul. 

The darkness shifted and slipped around him like a fog so thick that it blinded him, before it peeled away, revealing a room. A study, it looked like, filled with books, old papers and ancient artefacts. 

A man stood in the centre of the room; so tall that his head almost brushed the ceiling light about him that lit up the room with a faint yellow glow. His skin was extremely pale, to the point of appearing almost blue. Veins stood out on his bare hands. His hair was black like coal, carefully styled with too much hair-gel.

His perfectly-tailored black suit seemed to blend in with itself, giving him the look of a long shadow, and his black Oxford shoes were so well-shined that the light was reflected perfectly in them. Everything about him was immaculate, in stark contrast to the room around him.

‘Morrey!’ the man shouted, turning around. For the first time, Haneul caught a glimpse of his face. If he had actually been physically present, he might’ve fallen backwards.

On the surface, his face seemed like that of any other man in his mid-30s, perhaps even a good-looking one, but that was not the first thing that struck him. 

No, the first thing Haneul saw were his terrible, black eyes; hollow and dead like this man had died a very long time ago and now he was nothing more than a ghost haunting his own flesh and bone. His face - that on any other person would look human - looked more like a sick facsimile of humanity; his pale skin was stretched across his high cheekbones like too little pastry over a too-large pie and his lips were almost as pale as his skin.

Haneul instinctively quailed under his gaze. It was ridiculous, the man couldn’t see him, Haneul wasn’t really here. This was a dream, nothing more, he was an onlooker not a participant. 

So why did it feel like the man was looking straight at him?

Something was wrong. This man was wrong. Haneul could feel it, feel his wrongness crawling inside of him and gnawing away at his soul, like maggots devouring a decaying corpse.

It was a little like Arthur felt, though Arthur was nowhere near as bad. Arthur was human, there was just a sense of death and wrongness to him, like he wasn’t quite right. This man wasn’t just not-right; the wrongness emanated from every atom in his long body. Where Arthur had a faint spectre of death leaning over him, touching him, like it was ready to take him at any time; this man’s spectre was all around him, inside of him, like it had tried many times before to take him, but had failed and now belonged entirely to him.

Haneul had never seen or felt anything like it before. Every part of him trembled and he fought against the fog surrounding him, holding him in place. 

‘Please!’ he tried to scream, but he had no mouth with which to speak and the attempt only made the fog pierce deeper inside of him, ‘Please! Let me out! Let me out!’

But the dream would not release its grip on him and he watched as the man straightened up to his full height and called again. ‘Morrey!’

His voice slithered through the air and the door swung open. 

‘Yes, Master. I’m here, Master.’ The voice belonged to a much shorter man who looked to be in his early-30s. He was as thin as a stick insect and had a mop of dark hair atop his head. Grey eyes much like Jules’ stared at the wood floor, never daring to look up at the man he called Master. He was also dressed in a suit, but his was navy and seemed much drabber, the sleeves were threadbare and blue patches were dotted all over it, doing their best to blend in with the material but failing.

Haneul felt the icy fear release a little as he looked at Morrey. This man was human. This man wasn’t wrong.

‘Morrey,’ said his master. Almost against his will, Haneul shivered. ‘Have you finished packing my luggage?’

Morrey kept his eyes down. ‘Yes, Master,’ he said, ‘It’s all in the car.’

The man let out a low, creaking sound and it took a moment for Haneul to process that he was laughing. ‘Good. We leave in the morning. For now, call the fey, Morrey. I have an important job for him. Aaron has ignored my requests, it is time that I remind him of what happens to those who defy me.’

Morrey flinched so minutely and so quickly that Haneul almost thought he’d imagined it. ‘Yes, Master,’ was all he said, bowing deeply before backing out of the room.

Finally, Haneul felt the dream pulling him away. As he was pulled backwards, his eyes caught the man’s directly. He seemed to be staring straight at Haneul; his cold, dead eyes awfully aware.

Icy fear rushed through Haneul, freezing his mind as the man smiled a terrible smile. ‘Hello there,’ the man’s voice was horrifyingly genial, as though they had met casually at a coffee shop, ‘I know you are there, whoever you are. Do not play games with me, little dreamer. If you return here again, I promise that I will find you and I will kill you.’ His smile widened, revealing perfectly white, completely straight teeth. ‘Believe me. I always keep my promises.’

The world around Haneul faded, but the last thing to disappear into the thick fog were those terrible eyes...

still staring

still watching


Snippet #4

Haneul glanced around as Peri led them into the living room and then gestured to the sofa for them to sit down. It was a cosy house. The front door led into a narrow hall, with a flight of stairs sitting along the left side. The living room was the next room down, a door leading off into it. An archway in the backwall led into the kitchen. 

The living room was fairly small, with a turquoise embroidered fabric sofa along one wall and a matching love seat under the windowsill along the left wall. Cushions sat at various spots all over the sofas, several piled high at the end. Bookshelves took up much of the wall space, sitting behind the sofa even where they were really being blocked from use. A coffee table sat in the centre, much of its surface littered with used mugs and magazines and toys. The walls were a creamy blue and the floor was black carpet. A toybox sat in the corner, but it can’t have been very full since most of the toys were out and all over the floor. 

A little boy who looked just like Peri sat chewing on the ear of a little bunny teddy. He stared up at them with big eyes as they sat down. ‘This is Barnaby,’ said Peri cheerfully. ‘He’s my youngest sibling.’

‘Hello!’ An enthusiastic, loud voice came from the door. In strode a short woman with bright blue-dyed hair and a beaming dimpled smile, that crinkled the cream skin around her grey eyes in laughter lines. ‘Peri, you didn’t tell us we were having visitors. Are you both friends of Peri?’

‘Yes, from university,’ said Haneul.

‘I didn’t know,’ said Peri, smiling and rolling forward on the balls of her feet. She didn’t look at the woman as she spoke. ‘They just turned up.’

‘Ah, well.’ The woman’s face fell as she looked at Peri for a moment, before she smiled again and turned to Haneul and Arthur. ‘Well, never mind all that. I’m Peri’s mum, Maribelle. It’s nice to meet you both. What are your names?’

‘I’m Haneul,’ Haneul said, restraining himself from bowing instinctively.

‘Arthur,’ said Arthur, who was looking at Peri oddly. 

‘What lovely names. Are you both History students as well?’ Peri’s mother asked. Her accent was different to Peri’s, sounding a little closer to Arthur’s, though not really even that.

‘No, I’m a Zoology student,’ Haneul said.

‘I’m doing a Masters in Philosophy,’ Arthur said.

‘How did you all meet then?’ Peri’s mother asked curiously, tilting her head to the side. 

‘Well,’ started Arthur, but Peri interrupted him.

‘A club,’ she said. ‘The…heritage of Carydrai club. We all met there.’

‘You did?’ Peri’s mother tilted her head to the side. ‘Oh, how marvellous. Alright,’ she said, clapping her hands together. ‘All of you sit, I’ll make some drinks and snacks. Who wants tea?’

After getting their various orders – Arthur was for tea, Peri and Haneul for coffee, and Barnaby for a Fruit Shoot, as he announced very loudly once they were all done saying what they wanted – Peri’s mother left the room.

Peri dropped down into the loveseat and poked at Barnaby with her toe. ‘Go play somewhere else,’ she said. ‘Adults are talking.’

‘You’re mean,’ Barnaby said, taking his bunny’s ear out of his mouth just long enough to deliver this information.

‘Yeah, I’m mean, and I’m your big sister, so scoot. Go hang out with Agatha.’

Barnaby scowled but didn’t protest any longer. He picked up his bunny and ran out of the room. 

Peri turned back to Haneul and Arthur. ‘Alright,’ she said. ‘Let’s get started. Give me all the details. What happened?’

And so they began their retelling. Arthur said how Jules had first drawn and then pushed the drawing of Oliver under the door. Haneul said that he had recognised Oliver, and then how they’d figured out that he must’ve donated the artefact. After that, it was a simple case of explaining how they’d located it.

Peri sat back at the end, looking impressed. ‘Wow,’ she said. ‘Great job, guys. So, how do we get to it?’


‘We…hadn’t exactly thought about that,’ Arthur admitted. ‘I was just happy we got this far, honestly.’

Peri looked at him, then at Haneul. ‘Seriously?’

‘In our defence,’ said Haneul. ‘We only figured this out last night. It’s not been very long.’

Peri eyed him and then shook her head. ‘Well, first things first. How are we going to get to it? It’ll probably be on display. What if we need to touch it? What if we need the magnifying glass?’

‘Well, first,’ said Arthur. ‘I think we should just go have a look at it. See what we think we need to do. We can better form a plan of action once we get a good look at it.’

Haneul nodded. ‘I think that makes sense.’

‘Alright then,’ said Peri. ‘We should get going. We need to get a looksee at this artefact.’

‘Who wants ice cream?’ Peri’s mother called down the hall.


‘We need to have ice cream,’ Peri amended her plan. ‘And then we need to get going. I’ll have rum and raisin, Mum!’ she yelled. ‘Haneul and Arthur both want some too!’


A few minutes later, Peri’s mother brought three bowls of ice cream and three drinks out. They all set to work on eating and drinking their way through it, while Peri’s mother yelled, ‘Kids! Ice cream!’ up the stairs. Immediately, pounding came from above and down the stairs as a flood of children and teenagers raced down and into the kitchen.

Haneul stopped eating for long enough to say. ‘How many siblings do you have?’

‘Eight,’ said Peri. ‘Why?’

Both Haneul and Arthur stared at her for a moment. 

‘I thought I had it bad with one,’ said Haneul flatly.

The others burst out laughing at that. From the kitchen, Haneul could hear shouting and chatter, as the three set back to eating. 

Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?

1) Writing three POVs is hard, but fun. I really enjoyed getting to write multiple viewpoints and getting to play with different characters knowing different things and keeping things from each other. It was really challenging though. It's hard to keep it all straight and remember who knows what, and it's hard to make sure that each character gets equal page-time and each develops properly. It's easy to lose track of it.

2) Communication is important. Seeing my idiot kids getting into so much trouble because they just won't communicate their feelings or anything with each other, really has reminded me how important it is to talk to the people you care about and share how you're feeling about stuff, rather than letting it fester away inside of you.

3) It was through this novel that I realised the importance of praying before writing and asking God to use my writing and to help me to glorify Him through my work. It's so important - and it actually helps too! - so I'm really happy I finally realised this and made it a priority.

And that, my friends, is it! My goal remains completing this novel by the end of December, so we'll see how that ends up going. If I succeed, I'll make a post on New Year's Day talking about it. 

How has your November gone? Did you guys succeed in whatever goals you had for the month? Comment below and let me know!

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