“Mommy, tell me a story.”
Some things never change. When I was a child myself, the neighborhood kids gathered around in a circle and pressed me for the stories which sprang to mind with the ease of thought.
I peeked at my small daughter in the rearview mirror. Truth to tell, I was tired and didn’t really want to entertain her, but the hopeful look on her face brought a smile to my lips. “All right. Let me see.…Once upon a time there was a girl named…” I cast about for a name and thought of Cinda, the battered rag doll my daughter clutched… “Syl Marinda.”
I wove a story about a young girl of mixed blood who must rise above racial prejudice to unite a kingdom. My father was a half-breed Native American, and I’m sure I drew from his experiences in telling the tale. The story lodged in my soul and wouldn’t let go. Long after my daughter forgot about Syl Marinda, she haunted my thoughts. I could not rest until I gave her life.
I was a young writer still finding my way and my voice then. I watched the story of Elderland grow into a trilogy with alarm. I wasn’t entirely sure how to plot one book let alone three interconnected ones. I felt inspired when I wrote, but I couldn’t quite connect all the dots to draw a complete picture. I also needed to develop the discipline to see such a project through. I turned to a nonfiction project and left TALES OF FAERAVEN in a drawer.
Without knowing it, I hid that story away in my heart, too. When I suffered a series of rejections and disappointments in my quest for publication, I turned my back on ever writing my trilogy – or anything ever again. And that was that, or so I thought.
Years passed, and I fell away not just from writing but from the Lord. I needed to get back on track as a Christian. Once I did, I prayed for direction. Imagine my surprise when I received a call to return to writing, the dream I’d given up forever. Not only that, but I knew I had to take up the story I’d set aside so long ago.
DAWNSINGER, which will release with Port Yonder Press, is book one of TALES OF FAERAVEN. I found myself backing up in the story because I realized I had so much history to tell I needed to begin at a point before Syl Marinda’s birth. She doesn’t actually enter the picture until WAYFARER, book three. This works because the story is not just about Syl Marinda but rather tells through individual lives the saga of Elderland itself.
I still found it intimidating to plot three books, each with its own story arc, that tell a greater story together. I spent a great deal of time in prayer while writing DAWNSINGER, usually with my hands on the keyboard. Somehow, miraculously, it all came together. I know the Lord breathed life into my writing because so much of the allegory was unplanned on my part. I did not know until partway through that Nalyn, my female protagonist in DAWNSINGER, represents the Church. Imagine my amazement when I realized I’d written a scene where she falls asleep in the Place of Prayer! Just as with CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Christians will best understand the allegory within TALES OF FAERAVEN, but a secular audience can glean something of value as well.
It took me a year to write and edit DAWNSINGER, but when I was ready to shop it around, I found the world of Christian publishing wasn’t ready to receive an epic fantasy trilogy. I had some interest from one of the few mainstream publishers willing to even consider a fantasy trilogy but no contract. Six months went by without any word from the publisher
Meanwhile, I wrote most of book two, DAWNKING and started Book Readers Central, a blog for readers where I provided author interviews and book reviews. C. Maggie Woychik commented on one of my interviews and, when I searched her name, I noticed she was an author herself. I invited her for an interview on Book Readers Central, she agreed, and a beautiful friendship developed between us as we came into continued contact with one another through blogs and forums online. I didn’t know at first that she was an editor for a brand new small publisher, Port Yonder Press. When I did find out, the fact intrigued me, but I still wanted closure from the other publisher. I hesitated and almost missed the window of opportunity when Port Yonder Press started acquiring in January. I tried to ignore the restless feeling that I should submit DAWNSINGER to Port Yonder Press. I was so undecided that I sent a Facebook email to Chila (the name the C. stands for) asking her if I should submit my manuscript or not. She asked me to send my proposal in and offered me a contract in February.
I hope you will see from my story that we can miss appointed opportunities if we hesitate but that God works to redeem our efforts and bring about His purposes through us anyway. He desires our faith, but He is bigger than our unbelief.
©2010 Janalyn Voigt
“Mommy, tell me a story.”