Jump to content

Abby Cummins

Members
  • Posts

    3
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Profile Fields

  • About Me
    I'm an aspiring author, lover of all things fantasy and folklore, avid mountain biker, and obsessed with drinking tea while reading and snuggling my dogs.

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

Abby Cummins's Achievements

Member

Member (1/1)

  1. Seven Assignments (Abigail Cummins' the Near Lands project) 1) Story Statement: Save magic, save all the worlds. 2) In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them. The main antagonists are Fionnlach, Fae Prince of Unseelie in Elfhame, and Lord Aethelred Ruraidh Connley, Hand of the High King of the Near Lands. Fionnlach believes Aethelred works for him, while Aethelred has aspirations of power that he keeps close to his chest. Both men wish to dominate control of the wellsprings, which are the main sources of magic, in the Near Lands and Elfhame alike. Fionnlach is Fae and eerie; his moniker amongst his own people is the Prince of Thorns. He was born to power and is innately cruel, willing to step on anyone who gets in the way as he strives to rule Unseelie and control more wellsprings than any other faction does. He sees people as pawns on a chessboard. Aethelred has come to power through long scheming and difficult political work, and sneaks to achieve his underhanded consolidation of power. He will betray anyone. Both antagonists value power and the ownership thereof more than anything else, though they access their power differently. Fionnlach’s strengths lie in his magic use and his royal blood; Aethelred is conniving and clever, and works behind the scenes to pull people’s strings as though they are puppets. 3) Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed). The Near Lands 4) Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why? The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo - Comped because of the concept of retelling fairy tales with darker twists. Bardugo references familiar tales without mimicking their exact forms or shapes, and uses exquisite language to focus her story collection on pieces with realistic endings and grim consequences for their characters. Tithe by Holly Black - Comped because of the focus on Unseelie and Seelie Courts, and because Holly Black writes a beautiful work where the “real” world overlaps beautifully and invisibly with the magical in a way similar to how the Near Lands and the world as we know it co-exist. Part of what I hope to achieve with this book is to bring the magic of the fairy-tale-focused, Fae-centric YA novels that I loved so much growing up (and still love today) to an adult audience. I read very widely, and I have found almost no comparable works of any length on adult shelves that deal with fairy tale retellings or Fae/fey/Faerie in the same way that so many YA books do, and I still want to read those things as an adult - just with a little extra folklore and violence and spicy scenes and political intrigue dashed in here and there! All the best comps I can find (and the works that mainly inspired me) are YA, but I definitively am writing in the adult genre. 5) Write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication. At age four, Bryn Hamilton was found wandering a public park in California, unable to tell rescuers anything about herself except her name and story after story of the Near Lands, a place of high adventure and fantasy that’s filled with maidens, magic, and Fae. Now adult Bryn is finding that the Near Lands aren’t imaginary at all - and she isn’t who she thought she was, either. 6) Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction. Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it? Bryn’s biggest inner conflict is that she doesn’t know where she belongs. She mostly avoids thinking about this, and that repression of her fear makes her prickly at times and slow to forge meaningful connections with others. Having grown up in the foster care system, she deals with particular abandonment and trust issues, and as an adult searches for a way that she can both be fully self-sufficient and capable (the way she already is), and also be taken care of and feel comfortable (the way she is not). This conflict manifests on ongoing ways throughout the story. At first, when Bryn is brought to the Near Lands against her will and discovers that these fairy tale worlds really do exist, the wonder of “magic is real” becomes tainted by the fact that she’s been kidnapped to another world and is now expected to marry a stranger and “do her duty,” all after being abandoned by her own when she was a child. Scenes where family/sense of belonging and lack of family/sense of belonging are triggers: flashbacks to her time in Ronnie’s care growing up; meeting her cousin Ciaran for the first time; when her memory of her Fae caretaker Linnea is unlocked and she realizes that Linnea died protecting her, and Bryn wasn’t unloved and intentionally abandoned as a child. Even by the end of this first book, Bryn is nowhere near done processing any of this emotional trauma and is still working heavily through her fight/flight reactions and instinctual dissociation. The secondary/societal conflict of the book - that Bryn must literally save magic or the worlds are all at risk - is heavily entwined with Bryn’s personal conflict. For most of Book One, Bryn’s goal is to figure out a way to get back “home,” to her life in the real world. She feels such a sense of wonder and love for the fairy tale world she’s discovered is real, but she resents everything about how she’s been treated and doesn’t see why saving everything should be her responsibility. As she learns more and more about how the magic of the wellsprings works, she comes to realize that she is a “Chosen One” by dint of hereditary magical powers and circumstance - ie concrete things that require her to be the one to take up the world-saving - and that literally no one else can save magic. 7) Sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it. There are three worlds in which the Near Lands takes place, comprising the three settings of the book. The first setting is the real world as we know it, specifically the United States. Think cell phones and McDonalds and freeway traffic and 9-5’s. Bryn’s memories begin around age four, when she is discovered wandering alone in a park in California. She’s taken into the foster care system and grows up shuttled back and forth between caretakers, ending up living with a minor criminal who exploits her talent for remaining unseen and thieving. While in this setting, Bryn dreams constantly of the Near Lands, a group of kingdoms in a fairy-tale-esque world where magic exists. She writes down Near Lands stories, sketches maps, etc. She thinks it’s odd how often the Near Lands occupy her thoughts but it’s been written off by therapists, teachers, etc. her whole life as an escapist hobby that’s the product of an overactive imagination. Bryn travels extensively and is living in Pennsylvania at the beginning of the book. She’s always on the move to keep under the radar, so she’s spent time in many states; specifically mentioned are Florida, Pennsylvania, California, DC, and Montana. We spend the least time in this real world setting, beginning the book in the US and then providing flashbacks/memories located in Bryn’s various foster homes, previous thieving exploits, etc. to clarify Bryn’s backstory and give insight into some of her motivations as the plot moves along. The second setting is the Near Lands themselves. Turns out they're real after all, and Bryn is in fact lost royalty from Skyrland, one of the northernmost kingdoms in the Near Lands. During this first book, we see mostly the three topmost kingdoms in the Near Lands: Eloria, where Bryn makes her crossing into the Near Lands for the first time, which is decently analogous to medieval France; Cranagh Yrth, the eastern harbor port capital of the Near Lands, from where the High King rules; and Skyrland, the northernmost kingdom of the Near Lands. There are many other kingdoms included in the Near Lands, including Chandigesh, Knossos, and many more. My goal is to incorporate as many folkloric/fairy tale references as possible throughout the series, with specific emphasis on Scottish/Irish/Welsh source material. Because of this, any and all manner of fairy tale creature and environment exists throughout the Near Lands, and each of the many kingdoms provides some kind of analogous space for different fairy tale settings. For example, Skyrland as the northernmost kingdom has elements of Scottish, Norse, and Irish lore (think glaciers, trolls, craggy mountains, kelpies, salty cliffs, lochs, and pine forests), while Chandigesh as a southern, desert region explores elements of Persian and Middle Eastern lore (think rukhs, palm trees, djinni, marids, sand dunes, and thriving port cities on river deltas). The main important feature of all Near Lands kingdoms is that, while magic exists and magical creatures thrive there, these kingdoms are mainly populated by mortal humans. The third setting is Elfhame, the realm of the Fae. This realm is one that requires magic to enter (or the aid of a magical person/creature), and is the equivalent of “under the hill.” Bryn mostly sees the Unseelie Court and its environs in the first book, though Elfhame has many other regions. The Unseelie Court is a place of tricksters and roots and earth and obsidian. It’s full of darkly glittering beauty, all of which is capable of poisoning its admirers in the space of a heartbeat. In the manner of Fae, things may not be what they seem, but everything is alluring. The other part of Elfhame where we spend significant time is the Wildwood. The Wildwood is home to the solitary Fae, those who have not declared allegiance to either the Seelie or Unseelie Court. It’s also exactly what it sounds like - a great wood that spreads through Elfhame between the two courts. There is no industrialization or mechanical progress in Elfhame at large, as everything can be accomplished by magical means instead, but the Wildwood is particularly sylvan. Elfhame borders the Near Lands at its south border, where Elfhame’s unsettled land meets the Near Lands’ kingdom of Skyrland. The Near Lands fear their Fae neighbors, as especially in recent years there have been many attacks on various towns and villages by Fae. There is a treaty in place between the Fae Courts and the High King of the Near Lands, dictating the ways in which Fae may cross into the Near Lands, which supposedly should prevent acts of aggression against mortals. In turn, mortals are unable to cross into Elfhame at all without the aid of a Fae, as any kind of Crossing between realms requires magic. Even with this treaty, bands of marauding Fae continue to appear throughout the Near Lands, laying waste to settlements, stealing magic from wellsprings, and disappearing without a trace. This fosters anti-Fae sentiment among many of the Near Lands’ inhabitants. The real world has broken away from the other two realms completely, and over time (as machinery and industrialization became prevalent) has collectively lost its memory of the Near Lands and Elfhame. Now, the Near Lands and Elfhame remember the real world as “the Iron Lands” - a place anathema to magic, the same as cold iron. Within the Near Lands, it’s thought of as a mythical place, the same way people in the real world think of fairyland. Only the High King, the monarchs of the Kingdoms, and their Fae allies know that the Iron Lands are an accessible, real place. Because of this, it’s a perfect place for the High King to send Bryn, a princess who needs protection, so that she isn’t discovered by anyone who means her harm. Elfhame knows that the Iron Lands are very real, and though they don’t visit or make any kind of crossings back and forth between the Iron Lands and their home, they do use the Iron Lands as a place to dump their exiles and criminals. Generally, within Elfhame, exile to the Iron Lands is thought of as a fate worse than death. Once you’re sent to the Iron Lands, you can never come back (although this is explored in book 2 and may not be entirely true).
  2. First chapter below. This chapter serves to introduce the protagonist, give a little bit of background about her, and set the tone for her attitude. It also introduces the concept of magic, grounds the reader in the first of three main settings for the work, and sets the main conflict in motion. I'm also attaching this via PDF in case that's easier to read, because the formatting on this forum is a little wonky whenever I try to copy and paste my work into it, and I cannot get it to single-space for the life of me. Apologies in advance for my technological inadequacy 1. When Bryn woke in the morning, she was already late. Did it even count as morning if you’d only slept two and a half hours? She stumbled out of bed and discovered that her ankle hurt. Really hurt. She could barely put weight on it. She’d collapsed in her jeans, too tired to deal with undressing, and now peeled them off to glimpse the damage. Even she had to admit it was pretty bad. Swollen to twice its normal size, puffy around the edges, hot to the touch. She’d scraped it up good. She didn’t feel any broken bones when she probed at it, but what did she know? She’d never broken an ankle. It must have been from jumping out of the window at Ottessa’s Trinkets. The drop was farther than she’d gauged. She had landed crooked, when she thought back on it. Just what she needed. How was she supposed to wait tables? Her consolation was the dragonfly pendant, now tucked safely into her box of treasures, and the knowledge that she’d gotten out of Ottessa’s Trinkets without anyone catching her. She showed up to her shift anyway, limping the whole way. She didn’t know the daytime bartender well yet -- she’d only been working here for three weeks, after all -- but he seemed nice. She petitioned him for a swap, begging for mercy. “Luke, I feel like such an asshole for even asking,” she said. “It’s just that I really need the money. I swear I’ll do all the barback work.” Luke stared hard at her for a minute. They worked at Hardigan’s, an Irish pub that sold breakfast but did most of its honest business in booze and bar food. This shift was usually dead anyway, no matter if you were waiting on the booths or bartending. Bryn was here as a new hire, and still paying her dues on the shifts no one else wanted. She had no idea why Luke volunteered for this time slot so often, but he normally manned the bar from open till four. “Fine,” Luke said finally. “What’d you do, anyway?” “Twisted my ankle on the stairs. It didn’t seem that bad last night.” Bryn dragged one of the barstools behind the register so she could take her weight off the ankle. Her gut ached for a shot of whiskey. That’d take the edge right off, guaranteed. "You hear all the commotion downtown last night?” Luke said. “No,” Bryn said, without batting an eye. “What happened?” “Someone broke into Ottessa’s. Stole some jewelry or something.” “Oh, wow. I didn’t think things like that happened in a small town like this.” She reached for a rag to wipe down the bar. “Oh, please. We’re suburban, not immune to crime. Somebody stabbed a psychic at one of her readings last month not that far away from Ottessa’s.” “Stabbed a psychic?” “Yep. Some little old Korean lady, read tarot or something. It ended up being the daughter’s ex-boyfriend.” “Must have been before I moved here.” "Maybe. Where are you from?” Luke glanced at her. He’d never asked her this many personal questions before. Someone was feeling chatty. “Florida,” she said. “Beach town. Waitressing gigs were always good near the water. All that salt air makes people hungry.” “I’ve never been to Florida,” said Luke. “I don’t recommend it,” she said. “Couldn’t stand the humidity or the jackass frat boys. Or the alligators.” She shuddered. Primeval, lurking monsters. One used to sun itself on the lawn across from her apartment complex, and she’d watch it warily from her bedroom window, transfixed by its alien eyes. “I only stayed there for six months.” “Where were you before that?” “Texas.” She reached for the paring knife and started to slice limes to paper-thin slits. The bar was still empty, but she wasn’t feeling any more inclined to talk about her past. "Moved around a lot, huh?” Luke plopped down in one of the chairs and swung it around so he could sit backwards and face Bryn while she worked. He had exceptionally long legs. “Not always.” “Where’d you grow up?” “What’s with the Twenty Questions?” “What’s with all the avoiding answering them?” Luke grinned. “You’ve been here for the better part of a month, but no one knows anything about you.” “That’s so not true.” Bryn’s knife slipped, and she hissed, put her hand to her mouth to suck at the sudden splash of blood. “You okay?” Luke jumped up. Before she could answer him, the bell on the door jingled and the day’s first customer walked in. They heard a low exchange with the hostess, who was unusually sober for someone who always got high in the bathroom on her lunch, and then the customer headed into the restaurant and hooked toward the bar. She slid a coaster over to him. The man looked at her. He had the darkest eyes she’d ever seen, the pupils and irises bleeding into each other. His hair was dark and trim—too long for the military even though he had a martial demeanor. She didn’t know why, but something about him made her blood run cold. "Can I get you a drink?” she said. The man placed his hands gently on the bar in front of him, as if putting down weapons. “Coffee,” he said. “With a double shot of Jameson’s.” “Coming right up,” Bryn said. She couldn’t stop staring at his hands. His fingers seemed, just for a moment, to have an extra joint. Obviously impossible. He locked his cool gaze onto hers. She swallowed, mouth suddenly dry, and turned quickly to grab fresh coffee. Her ankle screamed. “What’s wrong with you?” the man said. Bryn’s spine iced up. She poured carefully. The familiar scent of coffee grounded her. “Sorry?” she said. "You're favoring your left leg,” the man said. She set the coffee mug on the bar and grabbed a shot glass to measure his double. How closely was he watching her? “I sprained my ankle,” she told him. “Seen a doctor yet?” “No rest for the wicked,” she said with forced cheer, smiling stiffly as she poured the Jameson. He accepted the mug, wrapped those long fingers around it. Part of the whole bartending gig entailed small talk with customers, and sometimes with customers you would literally never speak to on a normal day. Bryn was usually good at it, even though everything about this guy was off putting. “Long morning?” she asked the guy with the same forced smile. What was wrong with her today? “Long week. Long life.” He snorted. “Too long.” He took a long sip of what Bryn knew was scalding hot coffee, but showed no discomfort at all. Just swallowed and set the mug back down. “Uh, well, enjoy? Let me know if you need anything.” A few more guests trickled in after a minute or two. They ordered the more conventional brunch items, and Bryn busied herself with making mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, keying in the eggs benedict and Irish fry up orders from the bar. And the man just sat there and gulped his coffee, staring broodingly into the mirror that lined the back of the bar. He took great big mouthfuls of his drink but didn’t ever seem to need a refill. Then it got absurd. It had been more than an hour since he’d first come in. He’d been drinking steadily from his cup since then, but hadn’t needed a single top off. She paused in front of him. “How are you doing?” He met her gaze and the intensity in his eyes hit her again. “Fine,” he said. “Maybe a refill? Double shot again.” He pushed his mug to her side of the bar. As it slid over, Bryn watched it happen. Right in front of her eyes, the liquid in the mug drained as if by magic, and where a mostly full cup had been not a moment before, now he offered her a slightly stained but definitely empty vessel. Bryn stared. She could have sworn his eyes twinkled at her. Everything felt knocked off kilter. She pushed down hard on her injured ankle, sending a spike of pain through her nerves. It steadied her enough that she could grab the mug, the coffee pot, the liquor. What the hell? “You should really see a doctor, you know,” the man said. “Thanks for your concern,” she snapped, and shoved the guy’s coffee at him, harder than necessary. “It looks like you’re seeing things,” he said. Bryn stopped cold. “Not good for your health,” he continued, voice low. “Seeing things and stealing things. Both high risk.” “Excuse me?” she said. “You heard me.” His hand shot over the bar and caught her by the wrist. She jerked back, but he didn’t let go. “Be careful,” he said lowly. “They’re taking notice. And they want you back.” “What?” she whispered, eyes wide. "They sent the huntsman. He’s out of the Near Lands already. See a doctor, and then run.” At this, she yanked hard away from his grip. This time he let go. His nails scratched at the tender inside of her wrist. She stumbled, then fell, hard. Her arms windmilled and her ankle faltered beneath her weight before she landed square on her ass. Great; more body parts that would ache later. She scrabbled at the rubber mat flooring behind the bar, shooting upright. The mug sat empty and accusatory before her. The man was gone. His barstool was tucked in, neat and perfectly aligned, as if no one had ever been there. Bryn couldn’t remember the first time she heard about the Near Lands. Maybe in the first foster home. Maybe her real home, before that. What she did know for sure was that she’d been told the stories by someone else. The memories felt to her like drowning in white noise, submerging yourself in cicadas or static or waves. They all began with, “Once upon a time, in a faraway land,” but then they diverged. A quick summary of the tale you thought was coming, then a reversal. And what a reversal! The Near Lands were the antithesis of Fairyland. Grim and dark and bloody. These weren’t the sparkling, sanitized tales of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty for children. Bryn told herself the stories over and over again. She’d never been so entranced by anything in her life, not even Barbie dolls or Power Rangers or Pokemon. Sometimes — like with the dragonfly story — she knew a new story, or a new detail about the Near Lands. They blossomed into being, out of nothing, like they’d always been there. Many exasperated foster parents and case workers had marveled, What an overactive imagination! The obsession with a fantasy world had caused her a lot of problems. Enough that a normal person would likely have given up on the Near Lands long ago. Her few friends were a little creeped out by her intensity. Caretakers suspected her of having some kind of obsessive delusion about this alternative fairy tale universe. They gave her tests. They sent her to counseling, where a woman with cats’-eye glasses asked her repeatedly if the stories were metaphors for Bryn’s life. The way she knew these stories couldn’t be explained. They felt like gospel to Bryn. They made her feel loved; they gave her a feeling of purpose. She was a curator of lost objects. In a world where adults frequently forgot her, and other kids routinely shunned her, she was a guardian of lost words. In the fourth grade, Bryn’s class had done a unit on ancient Greece. In one of her worksheet packets, Bryn found a drawing of an old crone inside a cave, huddled over a steaming fissure in the earth. The caption said, “The Oracle of Delphi hears prophecies.” She’d known instantly she, too, was an oracle, hearing stories from another world. But she made the mistake of telling her teacher, and she was in mandatory sessions with her guidance counselor by lunch. She finally had to lie and tell them she’d just been trying to freak out the other kids. She’d wanted attention from the teacher. She would not lie again. Eventually she learned to keep it to herself. That was why she’d valued Ronnie so much when he first took her in. He told her other people didn’t matter, but if the Near Lands meant something to her, then they did. Once he’d won her loyalty, once he started pushing her into work, the flattery ended. Near Lands Chapter 1 - NY Write to Pitch 2022.pdf
  3. Seven Assignments Story Statement: Save magic, save all the worlds. In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them. The main antagonists are Fionnlach, Fae Prince of Unseelie in Elfhame, and Lord Aethelred Ruraidh Connley, Hand of the High King of the Near Lands. Fionnlach believes Aethelred works for him, while Aethelred has aspirations of power that he keeps close to his chest. Both men wish to dominate control of the wellsprings, which are the main sources of magic, in the Near Lands and Elfhame alike. Fionnlach is Fae and eerie; his moniker amongst his own people is the Prince of Thorns. He was born to power and is innately cruel, willing to step on anyone who gets in the way as he strives to rule Unseelie and control more wellsprings than any other faction does. He sees people as pawns on a chessboard. Aethelred has come to power through long scheming and difficult political work, and sneaks to achieve his underhanded consolidation of power. He will betray anyone. Both antagonists value power and the ownership thereof more than anything else, though they access their power differently. Fionnlach’s strengths lie in his magic use and his royal blood; Aethelred is conniving and clever, and works behind the scenes to pull people’s strings as though they are puppets. Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed). The Near Lands Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why? The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo - Comped because of the concept of retelling fairy tales with darker twists. Bardugo references familiar tales without mimicking their exact forms or shapes, and uses exquisite language to focus her story collection on pieces with realistic endings and grim consequences for their characters. Tithe by Holly Black - Comped because of the focus on Unseelie and Seelie Courts, and because Holly Black writes a beautiful work where the “real” world overlaps beautifully and invisibly with the magical in a way similar to how the Near Lands and the world as we know it co-exist. Part of what I hope to achieve with this book is to bring the magic of the fairy-tale-focused, Fae-centric YA novels that I loved so much growing up (and still love today) to an adult audience. I read very widely, and I have found almost no comparable works of any length on adult shelves that deal with fairy tale retellings or Fae/fey/Faerie in the same way that so many YA books do, and I still want to read those things as an adult - just with a little extra folklore and violence and spicy scenes and political intrigue dashed in here and there! All the best comps I can find (and the works that mainly inspired me) are YA, but I definitively am writing in the adult genre. Write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication. At age four, Bryn Hamilton was found wandering a public park in California, unable to tell rescuers anything about herself except her name and story after story of the Near Lands, a place of high adventure and fantasy that’s filled with maidens, magic, and Fae. Now adult Bryn is finding that the Near Lands aren’t imaginary at all - and she isn’t who she thought she was, either. Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction. Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it? Bryn’s biggest inner conflict is that she doesn’t know where she belongs. She mostly avoids thinking about this, and that repression of her fear makes her prickly at times and slow to forge meaningful connections with others. Having grown up in the foster care system, she deals with particular abandonment and trust issues, and as an adult searches for a way that she can both be fully self-sufficient and capable (the way she already is), and also be taken care of and feel comfortable (the way she is not). This conflict manifests on ongoing ways throughout the story. At first, when Bryn is brought to the Near Lands against her will and discovers that these fairy tale worlds really do exist, the wonder of “magic is real” becomes tainted by the fact that she’s been kidnapped to another world and is now expected to marry a stranger and “do her duty,” all after being abandoned by her own when she was a child. Scenes where family/sense of belonging and lack of family/sense of belonging are triggers: flashbacks to her time in Ronnie’s care growing up; meeting her cousin Ciaran for the first time; when her memory of her Fae caretaker Linnea is unlocked and she realizes that Linnea died protecting her, and Bryn wasn’t unloved and intentionally abandoned as a child. Even by the end of this first book, Bryn is nowhere near done processing any of this emotional trauma and is still working heavily through her fight/flight reactions and instinctual dissociation. The secondary/societal conflict of the book - that Bryn must literally save magic or the worlds are all at risk - is heavily entwined with Bryn’s personal conflict. For most of Book One, Bryn’s goal is to figure out a way to get back “home,” to her life in the real world. She feels such a sense of wonder and love for the fairy tale world she’s discovered is real, but she resents everything about how she’s been treated and doesn’t see why saving everything should be her responsibility. As she learns more and more about how the magic of the wellsprings works, she comes to realize that she is a “Chosen One” by dint of hereditary magical powers and circumstance - ie concrete things that require her to be the one to take up the world-saving - and that literally no one else can save magic. Sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it. There are three worlds in which the Near Lands takes place, comprising the three settings of the book. The first setting is the real world as we know it, specifically the United States. Think cell phones and McDonalds and freeway traffic and 9-5’s. Bryn’s memories begin around age four, when she is discovered wandering alone in a park in California. She’s taken into the foster care system and grows up shuttled back and forth between caretakers, ending up living with a minor criminal who exploits her talent for remaining unseen and thieving. While in this setting, Bryn dreams constantly of the Near Lands, a group of kingdoms in a fairy-tale-esque world where magic exists. She writes down Near Lands stories, sketches maps, etc. She thinks it’s odd how often the Near Lands occupy her thoughts but it’s been written off by therapists, teachers, etc. her whole life as an escapist hobby that’s the product of an overactive imagination. Bryn travels extensively and is living in Pennsylvania at the beginning of the book. She’s always on the move to keep under the radar, so she’s spent time in many states; specifically mentioned are Florida, Pennsylvania, California, DC, and Montana. We spend the least time in this real world setting, beginning the book in the US and then providing flashbacks/memories located in Bryn’s various foster homes, previous thieving exploits, etc. to clarify Bryn’s backstory and give insight into some of her motivations as the plot moves along. The second setting is the Near Lands themselves. Turns out they're real after all, and Bryn is in fact lost royalty from Skyrland, one of the northernmost kingdoms in the Near Lands. During this first book, we see mostly the three topmost kingdoms in the Near Lands: Eloria, where Bryn makes her crossing into the Near Lands for the first time, which is decently analogous to medieval France; Cranagh Yrth, the eastern harbor port capital of the Near Lands, from where the High King rules; and Skyrland, the northernmost kingdom of the Near Lands. There are many other kingdoms included in the Near Lands, including Chandigesh, Knossos, and many more. My goal is to incorporate as many folkloric/fairy tale references as possible throughout the series, with specific emphasis on Scottish/Irish/Welsh source material. Because of this, any and all manner of fairy tale creature and environment exists throughout the Near Lands, and each of the many kingdoms provides some kind of analogous space for different fairy tale settings. For example, Skyrland as the northernmost kingdom has elements of Scottish, Norse, and Irish lore (think glaciers, trolls, craggy mountains, kelpies, salty cliffs, lochs, and pine forests), while Chandigesh as a southern, desert region explores elements of Persian and Middle Eastern lore (think rukhs, palm trees, djinni, marids, sand dunes, and thriving port cities on river deltas). The main important feature of all Near Lands kingdoms is that, while magic exists and magical creatures thrive there, these kingdoms are mainly populated by mortal humans. The third setting is Elfhame, the realm of the Fae. This realm is one that requires magic to enter (or the aid of a magical person/creature), and is the equivalent of “under the hill.” Bryn mostly sees the Unseelie Court and its environs in the first book, though Elfhame has many other regions. The Unseelie Court is a place of tricksters and roots and earth and obsidian. It’s full of darkly glittering beauty, all of which is capable of poisoning its admirers in the space of a heartbeat. In the manner of Fae, things may not be what they seem, but everything is alluring. The other part of Elfhame where we spend significant time is the Wildwood. The Wildwood is home to the solitary Fae, those who have not declared allegiance to either the Seelie or Unseelie Court. It’s also exactly what it sounds like - a great wood that spreads through Elfhame between the two courts. There is no industrialization or mechanical progress in Elfhame at large, as everything can be accomplished by magical means instead, but the Wildwood is particularly sylvan. Elfhame borders the Near Lands at its south border, where Elfhame’s unsettled land meets the Near Lands’ kingdom of Skyrland. The Near Lands fear their Fae neighbors, as especially in recent years there have been many attacks on various towns and villages by Fae. There is a treaty in place between the Fae Courts and the High King of the Near Lands, dictating the ways in which Fae may cross into the Near Lands, which supposedly should prevent acts of aggression against mortals. In turn, mortals are unable to cross into Elfhame at all without the aid of a Fae, as any kind of Crossing between realms requires magic. Even with this treaty, bands of marauding Fae continue to appear throughout the Near Lands, laying waste to settlements, stealing magic from wellsprings, and disappearing without a trace. This fosters anti-Fae sentiment among many of the Near Lands’ inhabitants. The real world has broken away from the other two realms completely, and over time (as machinery and industrialization became prevalent) has collectively lost its memory of the Near Lands and Elfhame. Now, the Near Lands and Elfhame remember the real world as “the Iron Lands” - a place anathema to magic, the same as cold iron. Within the Near Lands, it’s thought of as a mythical place, the same way people in the real world think of fairyland. Only the High King, the monarchs of the Kingdoms, and their Fae allies know that the Iron Lands are an accessible, real place. Because of this, it’s a perfect place for the High King to send Bryn, a princess who needs protection, so that she isn’t discovered by anyone who means her harm. Elfhame knows that the Iron Lands are very real, and though they don’t visit or make any kind of crossings back and forth between the Iron Lands and their home, they do use the Iron Lands as a place to dump their exiles and criminals. Generally, within Elfhame, exile to the Iron Lands is thought of as a fate worse than death. Once you’re sent to the Iron Lands, you can never come back (although this is explored in book 2 and may not be entirely true).
×
×
  • Create New...