Finders is out today from Candlemark and Gleam! It’s been a while in the making, and I’m very excited to see it available at last. It’s an unusual project for me in a couple of ways. First, it began as a (long) novelette, which appeared in Athena Andreadis’s “The Other Half of the Sky.” I write very little short fiction — my natural/comfortable length seems to be about 100,000 words, and most of my finished short stories were a race to complete the short version before I was overwhelmed by the novel-length version I could see looming. Generally, though, once I finish the short story, I don’t actually go on to write the novel, but Finders nagged at me. I liked these characters, I wanted to explore the rest of their story, and the 12,000-word novelette felt too short for what I actually wanted to say. (I’ve said before that writing this felt like wrestling a large octopus into a small tin can: much thrashing, too many tentacles, and ink everywhere.) I began poking at the idea, and when Athena announced that she had acquired Candlemark and Gleam and was looking for submissions, I couldn’t wait to pitch her. I had loved working with her on the novelette, and knew she would do the novel full justice, so I was delighted when she encouraged me to send it on.
Of course, some of the process was entirely familiar. The idea that became the Ancestral Elements came from a convention conversation with Don Sakers — begun, as so often happens, in a bar, but continued cold sober — in which we worked out the color coding and the processes. It’s always a pleasure to play what-if with a knowledgeable partner, and Don remains one of the best. I owe him for this one!
I also have a habit in the early stages of a project of pulling out all the fragmentary ideas currently in storage and seeing if they would improve the main idea — I envision this as having a good rummage through the Memory Palace, dragging out bits and pieces from behind their symbolic doorways, shaking out the dust and wrinkles, and holding them up to see if they might fit. In this case, I had done a second story for another of Athena’s anthologies, To Shape the Dark, and couldn’t help wondering if it was actually the mythic past — the Ancestral past — of Finders. The more I examined that possibility, the better I liked it, and eventually realized that I needed three books to complete the story. Fortunately, Athena liked that idea, too. Fallen is currently in the very early draft stage, and I am plotting Firstborn. (And considering a direct sequel to Finders, working title Keepers, but that’s for another day…)
I should finish by thanking Athena for making Candlemark and Gleam such a pleasure to work with. I can’t rave enough about the gorgeous cover, or about the interior design with its secret Easter egg, or about the consistent support as we worked toward the launch. Most of all, Athena’s editing was brilliant, collaborative, and unfailingly helpful — rare in any genre, but sometimes I think especially so in SF/F, where there never seems to be enough time for any one project. Finders wouldn’t be half the book it is without her editorial efforts.