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Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 26th, 2012

Guest Blog: Jennifer Lunde and “The Next Big Thing” Blog Chain

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Folks, my niece, Jennifer Lunde, has responded to my earlier blog tagging her for the Next Big Thing blog chain.  So without further ado, here’s a guest blog from Jenni which gives her answers as to what she’s working on now . . . and why she believes this is her next, big thing.

*** Jenni’s answers start . . . now. ***

What is the working title of your book?  Arc.

Where did the idea come from for your book?  I get most of my ideas from dreams. This particular idea has been chipping slowly through the walls of my skull for years now (Pulse, my previous big project, was an attempt to capture a piece of this idea). The dream that prompted Arc is unusually surreal in my experience: it was entirely silent and in black and white, and as I stood by, I watched a city of dark stone rise out of an ocean. I looked around for who had done this and found Niela standing a little above the water. She waved.

I dealt with Niela in a minor way in Pulse, but the person I saw in my dream was not a worn-out, vengeful ghost: this was a woman at the height of her powers, reasonably happy and with her whole life in front of her. I saw her before I killed her, and the sight hurt me. In Pulse I identified more with Caderyn (the guy who killed her) more than Niela; she likes power, not responsibility, and she likes to make the people who hurt her (lots of those) suffer. Despite this tendency in her, she was always a problematic villain for me to write. She’s betrayed by her best friend and loses both her life and her child, and that isn’t even the end of her tragedy. In Pulse I both punish her and provide her with some form of resolution, but that story has less resonance unless I explore what happened to her first. That’s part of what Arc is all about.

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Like I said above, I always identified with Caderyn pretty easily, and his family is a wild bunch. I’ve spent entirely too much time writing the exploits of his aunt and uncle—they’re a riot. And the world of Arc is older than Pulse’s, newer, less corrupted and more magical. It’s been fun to build the story from the beginning instead of starting at the end like I usually do.

What genre does your book fall under?  Fantasy (not for children). Pulse is tamer than this project (almost out of necessity).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?  Ack. I don’t typically write with movies or movie actors in mind. Samuli Vauramo (“Sam the Slammer” to you American audiences) might make a decent Caderyn. I like Sophia Miles for Saerys; she has the right kind of combination of sweetness and toughness. Niela is impossible to cast, and given her ability to disrupt reality at any given moment, she might have to be mostly computer-generated. She needs a dark voice: it’s definitely not a typical Hollywood starlet part. John Hurt would be wonderful as Ashan, old as he is. I can’t honestly cast anyone else…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Arc will probably be split in two when it’s done, but here’s the basic idea: A mysterious source of power called the heart of the earth regulates energy (including magic) within the world of Anavila, and when a man manipulates that energy to bring a dead child back from the dead, the consequences—for the man, the child, her family, and the heart of the earth—are devastating. (Pulse deals with some of these consequences, and it’s set three hundred years after Arc.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m not entirely sure yet. It isn’t done.

How long did it take you to write your book?  Right now, it’s 245,000 words long. (Yikes.) It will eventually be split in two at an appropriate point; I haven’t determined that point quite yet. I’ve written about half of the story so far (some of it is writer’s crutches/filler to remind myself of things), and I started in June. At this rate I’ll be finished with the first draft by May 2013.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?  All fantasy is indebted to Tolkien, but Arc nods toward darker themes covered by authors like Stephen R. Donaldson (Thomas Covenant, The Gap Cycle), Patricia McKillip (The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Ombria in Shadow) and Margaret Atwood (Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride). I can also cite Faulker’s Go Down, Moses as a major influence for some developments in the story, but he doesn’t quite fit in the genre, does he? 🙂

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  My dream prompted me to return to this universe and let me know that my work there was unfinished, but my true inspiration came much earlier. I was a child when I first came up with this idea (exactly where it came from is lost to the rubbish bins of history), and my initial attempts to get it down on paper were clumsy and sometimes humorous. (I still have some of these abortive attempts in my files.) Since then, the basic story—which has always revolved around Niela to some extent—resurfaces at odd times, in my writing or in my own life. When I was in service for Americorps for a year, I ceased writing for a period of six months. I did this deliberately in a fit of despair (how many writers have had those? :P), but at the end of those months I had my dream, and a week after my dream I had 15,000 words. Niela brought me back. She told me that our work wasn’t done. I’ve been doing what she says (with minor alterations) ever since.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

As the synopsis suggests, this story deals with family relationships quite a bit, and none of the relationships are even remotely superficial—though some are very strange. I became aware as I was writing that Arc has all the elements of a psychological drama dropped into the plot of an ancient Icelandic saga: it’s the kind of story where everyone is out to stab everyone else all the time, but after the stabbing’s done everyone left alive feels broken up about it. It’s a heady mix to write, and it isn’t one that I’ve ever read, either. I find it interesting. Maybe someone else will, too. 🙂


And that concludes today’s guest blog from my niece, Jennifer Lunde.  (May the happy dance commence!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 26, 2012 at 12:46 am