Today marks one week (well, I guess technically six days) until my debut fantasy novel comes out!
But what is Bloodmade all about, you’re wondering. (Just go with me, here.) Here are some rambling thoughts about the book and some basic info to get you started.
The process of writing this book was a roundabout one. I started it as a sophomore in college, just kind of putzing around with words and characters. I knew I wanted to write something about airships, friendship, and magic — and hopefully all three. It eventually grew into my thesis project for graduate school. After turning in 75,000 words at the end of that long two years, I took some time to do a lot of rewriting and rethinking and just general revisions. I cut out a good part of the front of the book and added some middle bits and massaged other parts. All told, the book is now 81,000 words long (right around 275 pages).
Back to those three tenets…
I think this is self-explanatory. Airships are cool as hell.
In all seriousness, I wanted to write something fantasy-steampunk. I spent a lot of time in the library looking at pictures of boats and learning boat-related vocab words (boatswain! kebek! starboard!). It was fun to begin to visualize the world — a gargantuan, mountainous region where people had built cities on the cliff-sides of these almost comically large mountains. The range is so big, people invented air travel simply to get from one side to the other, across what they call the Void, in a few days’ time. The people living within this mountain range have only known this land of crags and wind and storms. Some small cities and towns have cropped up on the valley floor, but they depend on the airships to maintain economic viability, being so far down.
Thus, ship captains and merchants are the lifeblood of this society. They carry goods across the range and, in the case of the governing body, the Courts, maintain peace.
At least they say they do.
What’s outside the mountain range? What are the Courts protecting their people from?
The main character, Katrya, was originally based on my best friend: a badass, shit-talking, amazing woman who has dreams and isn’t afraid of the men who try to stand in her way. After some time, though, I came to separate the inspiration from my friend in my head… mostly because Katrya isn’t as likable as my best friend, and is not really as good of a person as she might wish to be. (My real-life best friend is, in fact, a great person.) Katrya’s biggest goal in life is to become the captain of one of the steamships used by the Courts to travel outside the range. She wants to see what the sunrise looks like on the other side of the mountains. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
Katrya’s best friend is her Navigator (more about them below), Ien. He’s kind of a surly lunk but he wants to support Katrya in achieving her dreams. His ability to do this is soured a little by his social position… and by the fact that he keeps getting arrested.
The idea of the magic system took a little longer to percolate. In this world, magic is used by tattooed people who tap into the ink in said colorful tattoos to manipulate wind currents and weather patterns. These people, called Navigators, use their powers to fly airships — from huge steel carriers to small wooden barques — through the skies of the open, mountainous world of Daen.
I wanted to write a magic system that felt tangible. When the tattoos — which come in all colors, with vibrant depictions of animals, symbols, anything that folks are intrigued by — are “used,” their color drains to gray in a visible show of the depletion of power. This means the power is finite. Only use as much as you have. Except… for some people, their marks regain color slowly over time.
Something else I wanted to explore is the concept of “othering” when it comes to people and communities. The thing about Navigators is that they are, essentially, former criminals who have been conscripted by the Courts to fly the great carrier ships. They are given the tattoos and the training to use them — then must obey the whims of a nebulous government body.
Why give such people such great power, if you’re going to oppress them further? There must be mechanisms in place to prevent an uprising, no? Must be.
One more week!
Anyway, thanks for reading. I will have more thoughts later about the self-publishing process and indie writer community (of which I am newly a member!)
Please be sure to snag your pre-order copy on Kindle! If you’re holding out for the paperback, that will be available on Monday, Feb. 20. :)