Questions and Answers about the story, writing and publishing.
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About the Story
Memory’s Wake is a “Young Adult” market book, which generally means an age range from 12-20. Like many modern Young Adult books, the themes and style of Memory’s Wake are a bit darker, and possibly more suitable for ages 15 up. A lot of older adult readers will also enjoy Memory’s Wake if they enjoy books like the later in the Harry Potter series, which are Young Adult, but also contain darker elements. Memory’s Wake includes subtle themes of abuse, violence, death and other adult themes. The book is never graphic or gory, no events are gratuitous, but it certainly not a light-hearted fairy tale.
Language warning: Very occasionally in the book harsh language and swear words are used.
Originally I only ever planned to write a single book, Memory’s Wake. When I got to re-writing it into a proper novel from it’s not-so-great origins, I realised there was more story to tell.
So Memory’s Wake still stands alone as a complete story. You can read it without being left on a cliff hanger, but on the other hand, it’s only a small part (one week in fact) of our characters lives. Once you read the story and see how it ends, you’ll see that the characters and land of Avall end up in an all new situation, which has it’s own story to be told about the struggles they will face there.
The second two books also continue to explore the history of Avall, the Pact, and the relationships between humans, Seelie, and Unseelie fae. More details and twists will be revealed about how Memory ended up there, her relationship to Thayl and the other mystery character mentioned by Thayl. The forest boy, who is already stealing people’s hearts, will have a much more major role in the following two books as well.
As a child and teenager, I think it was always something I dreamed would happen to myself- somehow stumble into a fantasy world and have great adventures there. Now I’ve written Memory’s Wake, I certainly don’t want to be in poor Memory’s shoes though! She has it pretty hard.
Also, I think it’s important for readers to have someone they can relate to, that is more like them than the rest of the inhabitants of the fantasy land.
Ooh, this is tricky! I can’t say much without spoilers, but I loved writing the two scenes where the forest man talks to Memory. I’ve definitely got a soft spot for that character, and I love the history and relationship he has with Memory.
The Craft of Writing
I’ve always been a very visual thinker. Ideas I have, either for artworks or for stories are often a visual image of a scene, like watching a really short clip from a movie. It’s then up to me to decide what the story is that surrounds that inspiring clip.
The original story for Memory’s Wake was actually very different. The story actually began with Eloryn (who used to have the name Caellin). Her character and the setting where magic was in the form of “behests” and now outlawed both came to me together, and the rest of the story developed after that. The original scene I imagined that started the whole story was very similar to the events in what is now Chapter 2 of Memory’s Wake, with Eloryn being found out and running from the dragon. I always knew I also wanted to include someone from our world, and Memory quickly took over the story! Roen is another character who came from imagining a short scene, the moment he meets the girls as now shown in Chapter 4.
After that, it was a heck of a lot of hard work to develop the rest of the world and details of the plot! Occasionally I get flashes of inspiration, but mostly it’s work asking myself questions (where would the characters go for help? What are the bad guys up to now?) and trying to think of logical solutions.
I love names, and obviously, “punning” names or names with double meanings in our language- like Memory. None of the names are from people I know, rather I tried to make up names that suited the characters.
For example, Eloryn is a very soft, sweet and well learned character. All of the sounds of her name are also soft and feminine, and I included the sound “lore” in there as my own little connection to her knowledge (yes, I do this stuff mostly just to amuse myself!).
Roen is pretty much just derived from Rowan, but I wanted a shorter, sharper version. It also elludes, very vaguely, to Rōnin, the Japanese word for a samurai without a master, or someone “between employers”, with connotations of being a criminal.
Many of the other characters in the world of Avall have names from, or derived from, Arthurian legend and Celtic history.
I think if you were to combine Memory and Eloryn into one character, that would be closest to me, but really none of the characters are like myself or people I know. I did, however, steal a few of Memory’s lines from a friend of mine who’s comments make me laugh, like “barf up my happy thoughts”.
Writers generally go by two types. Plotters, who carefully plot out their story in great detail before they start writing, and Pansters, who just dive in writing, sometimes without knowing where the story is going, letting it write itself (i.e. by the seat of one’s pants).
I’m definitely a Plotter. I used to be a Pantser, as a teenager, and have a bunch of unfinished stories from this time which I never had any idea about how they would finish. Memory’s Wake is the only story I ever finished this way, and the original version wasn’t very good. I became a real advocate of the Plotter’s methods while re-writing the novel, and am definitely a die-hard Plotter now.
If there is enough demand for the story in the future I will look into hiring someone to create an audio version. I was able to do most of the original publishing on my own, but creating an audio book is out of my skillset and resources, so it will be a large expense for me. Something I would love to do in the future though!
It was actually super easy. Amazon in particular are great supporters of indie authors, and make it very easy for anyone to publish their books on their site, both through their Kindle Direct Publishing program (for ebooks) and Createspace, their physical book (and other media, music, film, etc) producers. Individual authors can easily sign up to these services and their books will be distributed through Amazon and other major sources very easily. I also used Smashwords to distribute my ebook, which again distributes it across many major ebook sellers.
At this time I have no estimate for the following books’ release dates. I’ve been primarily focused on releasing Memory’s Wake to the best quality I can, which has been a massive learning curve. Having learned so much I hope the following books will be quicker to write and publish, but I will also be a new mother soon, which I have no idea yet how much will impact on my time (my guess- a lot.)
The good news is that I know what is going to happen in the next two books in detail, and have already started writing Book Two.
I think both ways to go have their benefits and disadvantages, and are both entirely legitimate options. I had originally planned on spending all of 2011 pursuing traditional publishing. From what I’ve heard from other published authors, it can easily take at least this long to find a publisher interested in your story. But just a couple of months into the plan I discovered I was pregnant, and decided I didn’t want the continued stress of querying agents and publishers (waiting on their responses IS very stressful!), so I decided to go ahead and publish Memory’s Wake on my own before I was otherwise occupied
Yes, always. In fact, I originally planned on it being completely illustrated- in comic book format! I soon realised this was something I in no way had time for, so the next plan was for it to be a “Novella” (about half the length of a normal novel) with lots of illustrations throughout, much like Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” illustrated by Charles Vess. Once I started re-writing the story after that, I realised Memory’s Wake was destined to be a full length novel, but I still wanted to include illustrations. The illustrations were all done in black and white to be suitable for printing in a standard paperback format for a novel.
You can order the Memory’s Wake paperbacks at wholesale discount from the following sources-
The hardcover is available from Lulu who do offer small quantity discounts and regularly have sales.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests for ebook cover art design…
In my life as a visual artist, I haven’t been taking custom art commissions for over 5 years. Time is a major factor in that policy, as were a few “commissions gone wrong” that put me off. But now I’ve entered the indie author realm myself, I’ve been considering what I could do to help other indie authors out with their cover designs.
What I’m proposing- “Critique and Tweak Service”
This would be a service for those who’ve had a go at creating their cover already. Authors who have a strong idea of what they want, and have already found (and purchased) the stock images they would like to use. Maybe even done a layout with text, but it’s still not at the quality they want.
- I would offer my eye to critique your current cover design, giving my opinion on what I think works and what doesn’t.
- If original files can be provided, (e.g. original stock photos before text has been added), I will polish the design, and do any layout changes, text changes, or tweaking to improve cover look based on my opinion.
- Some minor digital painting may be done to customise stock images and improve their look for your cover.
- The service would consist of one critical discussion, followed by some work on the cover, followed by another critical discussion, and one final round of work on the cover (if needed), at which point hopefully both you and I are happy. Beyond that amount of work, further payment/service terms would have to be negotiated.
- Option to use an existing Selina Fenech artwork in cover design, for which no other stock images would need to be provided.
The service would be for ebook cover design only. I can work and deliver the file at print resolution so the front cover could be used for paperback printing, but I would be working on the front cover only, not a full spine and back wrap design.
Here’s where I DON’T sell you my service-
While I have a degree in graphic design, it’s almost ten years old now and I don’t spend a lot of time keeping up with current trends and tools. I have not been studying and designing novel cover art specifically for long at all (I’ve created two cover designs for myself so far). I can only provide as much quality as my personal aesthetics and knowledge of design fundamentals allow. I have been designing all my own products (including calendars, websites etc) for many years, so if you like the way my work here on the Memory’s Wake site, on my www.selinafenech.com site and www.fairiesandfantasy.com site look, then there is your basis for my design skill.
Why can’t you paint me a new custom illustration for my cover?
Currently, I am director of my own company, managing two other employees, licensing half a dozen artists for manufacturing and selling art merchandise globally. I am also an artist myself, and painting my own visions and ideas takes priority for expanding my illustration portfolio which brings in the income that I live off. I’ve also now taken on trying to be an author as well, and I’ll soon be a mother. The simple fact is, to charge an hourly rate for my illustration services that would make it worth it for me to put aside all of my other business would simply put the pricing way out of reach for an individual. I am, however, open to discussing the use of my existing artworks for cover designs, as long as that does not conflict with any existing contracts or covers I’ve done.
Want it done for free? I want to be able to work with other authors for “trade” rather than fees. A few examples that I would trade this service for-
- An excerpt (first chapter) and link for my own book Memory’s Wake included at the end of your ebook (if the genre is suitable).
- Beta reading and private critique of one of my works in progress.
- An author spotlight, interview, or guest blog from me on your website.
- Other suggestions are negotiable.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have any more questions? Please ask in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.