Publication arrangements for The Successor are well underway and on schedule for release this year.
It is like climbing a mountain. There is initial excitement. Hands and feet are cold starting out. The pace is uneven at first but soon settles into something sustainable (one hopes). Clothing is adjusted as the expenditure of energy produces heat. The down jacket comes off. Perhaps a brimmed hat replaces a wool one. Other things are removed or exchanged as progress is made upward. The route becomes obscured, maybe even lost--but never entirely because one knows by map and compass (and these days perhaps GPS) where, high above, the objective awaits. False excitement is supressed (if one has experience in this ridiculous activity) as each false summit is mounted and passed over. On and on. The whole thing becomes a slog--especially the difficult mountains, the ones with long approaches and high summits--but one goes on. Weather threatens. One tries to pick up the pace but exhaustion denies this effort. The air thins. Now the universe is the next step and the next and the next. And then the summit.
Are you hearing the metaphor in all this? Six years Naomi Lea Sawyer and I have been on this mountain. The altimeter says we are close to the summit, but we will believe only when we are standing on it and there is nothing higher in the near distance. We will share it all with you when we arrive. Soon. We will arrive soon.
Every author wishes to be read. But that, dear reader, is not the only, or perhaps even the primary, joy. As those who have climbed many mountains (and wish to climb others) will tell you, the summit is merely a check mark. I have few recollections of summits; I have many of the efforts, including the suffering, to achieve them. From the summit one sees the ridge connecting to the next summit, and feels a new excitement. If one is subject to mission creep (as I am), that ridge can prove dangerously alluring. Yes, the weather is closing in, but we have come this far, we are so close (almost always an illusion), we can make it, we have headlamps... The insanity advances from there.
We have completed The Successor, and nearly completed its sequal, The Culling. But there are more books to come in the Chronicles of the Two Worlds.
We can make it; we have headlamps.
On and on it goes.
I was eating out with some girlfriends last night when the topic of books came up. One of my friends asked what led me to write. Instantly, everyone’s attention was on me. I could see in their eyes the perennial question: What is the secret path to happiness and self-fulfillment—and to the few dollars we’ll need to pay for the Lear jet and monthly sojourns to Paris.
I paused and remembered the moment my story began seven years ago. I looked back further at the events that led up to that moment. I was the second of five girls in our family. For as far back as I can remember, my parents had a Christmas tradition that required all of us to write a Christmas story or poem and deliver it on Christmas Eve after donning our new pajamas. (The annual gift of new pajamas was part of the storytelling tradition.) I remember the stories told by the glowing lights of the Christmas tree as the listeners nestled together comfortably on the living room floor. I remember how I invariably procrastinated writing my story until the very last minute (usually a day or two before Christmas). I look back now and I remember how much I enjoyed writing those stories, how the words seemed to pour onto the paper, and how proud I felt reading them aloud to my family. When it was my turn to read, my sisters would grab a pillow and blanket and get really comfortable because my stories were always the longest. After the last story was read, my parents would present each of us with a special ornament they had purchased to honor our literary efforts.
This tradition stuck into adulthood. During a Christmas season around seven years ago, I sat down and once again began to compose my annual Christmas story to present at the family reading. I don’t remember much about the story, but I do remember it being about an orphan boy. (I was going for tears. Orphans usually work.) I remember quite clearly that in one of the scenes in my story, the boy was being chased through a wintry forest during a savage snowstorm. The boy became very cold and lay down in a forest glade and fell asleep. As his breathing became shallow and death drew near, two arms reached out, gathered him up, and took him into the Netherworld. I stopped my writing at that moment. I had the strong impression that this scene was part of another story, a much larger story--one I had to write. I did write it soon after. Charles Arthur Sale later joined me in a writing partnership, and we crafted the story into our first novel, The Successor.
I never did finish my Christmas story that year. For the first time ever, I delivered a poem instead. I have no recollection of it. I’m sure it was awful. But in my family that didn’t matter. We were together. That was enough.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all the great traditions. Thank you for fostering in me the passion and persistence that led to creation of the Chronicles of the Two Worlds. The Successor, Book One of the Chronicles, will be published this year, and Book Two, The Culling, is in progress.
--Naomi Lea Sawyer