How Library of the Sapphire Wind Came to Be

I Want to Read It First!

My new novel, Library of the Sapphire Wind is available!  You can find it in print or e-book, at the vendor of your choice.

Now for one of the jobs I find hardest as a writer: trying to figure out how to say what the book is “about” without spoilers or merely reciting the plot.  As Charles de Lint once memorably said, “I used as many words as I needed to tell the story,” so summarizing the plot seems a bad idea.  In this case, that would mean something over 104,000 words for Library of the Sapphire Wind and about the same for its forthcoming sequel, Aurora Borealis Bridge (in your hands April 2022).

So maybe, since you can read the jacket copy on the book, or a longer version of the jacket copy here, I should talk instead about how this story came to be.

I started writing this novel in April of 2017.  Yes.  You have that right: about five years ago.

My trigger was a wealth of “portal fantasies,” some excellent, some not so, that were coming out.  Good or bad, they all seemed to feature kids, often high school-aged or younger.  I found myself wondering why there are so few portal fantasies with adults as those going through the portal.

I decided to write one, and that I’d up the gain by using not only adults, but older adults.  I also decided that I would avoid a couple of the classic elements of portal fantasy.  Most importantly, my characters would not be trapped, and they would make a conscious decision to take on their new roles.  I also decided that when designing the world into which they are summoned, I’d feel free to pull out all the stops.

My love for therianthropic figures goes back a long way.  However, other than some of the animal/human mythic characters in Changer and Changer’s Daughter (originally published as Legends Walking), I really hadn’t used them in any longer fiction.  I have also tended to hold back on magic and magical items, in part because they’re so often abused in speculative fiction.  This time, I decided to go ahead and let magic play a major role.

Although I wanted adults to be my “summoned,” I have absolutely nothing against younger people.  In fact, the five years I spent teaching college full-time gave me a great appreciation for that age group.  Therefore, I decided to link up Meg, Peg, and Tessa (aka Teg) with three twenty-somethings.  These young people are what, in their culture, is called a “holdback,” that is they have some issue they need to deal with before they can move on.

Those issues are at the heart of the story, and lead to the search for the Library of the Sapphire Wind.

The story took fire from the start and by October of 2017, I had a very rough draft that totaled 150,866 words.  Yes.  You read that right.  And, no, I don’t usually write that fast.  I discussed the book, now titled Library of the Sapphire Wind with my agent, who expressed enthusiasm, but wanted a finished draft before she shopped it around.

Shortly thereafter, I had to put the manuscript aside because other writing projects came up (including the chance to write the two new Firekeeper novels, Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul).  Right after that I had to get to my next collaboration with David Weber, A New Clan.

Therefore, I didn’t get to pick up Library of the Sapphire Wind again until August of 2020.  I re-read the manuscript, decided I still loved it, and started revising.  Revising also included filling in a lot of worldbuilding, language design, and fleshing out plot elements. In the process, the manuscript grew to the point I knew I had to split it into two books.

Around this time, my agent, Kay McCauley, died.  I considered indie pubbing the books, as I had the new Firekeeper novels, but I really wanted to see if they could reach a larger audience.  Since I was already working with Toni at Baen on A New Clan, I decided to try her.  To my astonishment, in a very short time, as measured by traditional publishing, I not only had an offer but Toni knew where she wanted to put the books on her schedule.

And that’s now, and here is Library of the Sapphire Wind, finally able to be placed in your hands.  Enjoy!


5 Responses to “How Library of the Sapphire Wind Came to Be”

  1. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    My copy is waiting for me to go pick it up at my favorite independent book store. I just need to convince myself to make the 40 mile round-trip drive. Maybe I’ll have them mail it 😉

    And the next one is already ordered.

  2. Harried Harry Says:

    I started reading your first story and found it to be very intriguing. I did not expect to find my bias kicking in so fast which means I need to do some thinking about my world view. As I progress in the thinking, I’m sure I will read both books when they are out. Very interesting start to a story which is great since it does a great job of knocking our prejudices out into the open. This reminds me of another author (Andre Norton) who was able to take rocks and make desert out of the story. Good job.

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