The Inspiration

I think any author will tell you that writing a book is a journey. It’s a journey into a new world where you meet fascinating new characters and discover rich histories. Then, once the book is written, the road to publication is another journey. Sometimes a harder one.

From the first keystroke to final publication, the journey to Fearless took 16 years.

I know the exact date because I wrote it down. I suppose 19-year-old me thought it might be important.

The idea for Fearless actually came from another faerie-themed book my sister and I read while in college. We both raged at the ending of this book. We felt it was too much of a happy fairytale ending for a story that had gone out of its way to demonstrate the cruel and unjust nature of the faerie world. Years later, after reading the rest of the series, I realized the author had Reasons for the way she ended Book One–namely, to set up for a crucial plot twist later on. But I digress. At the time, I had been writing my own stories, and was convinced I could write a similar tale, but with what I considered the *correct* ending.

On November 26, 2007, I started writing a story I titled “Heartless,” which was a dark urban fantasy novel about a girl, Alyssa, who becomes involved with the King of Faerie. I got about 20 pages in before I began to struggle with the story and ended up setting it aside to work on later.

“Later” became three years.

Joining The Writer’s Plot

By the end of those three years, I had graduated college and was working part-time as a home care assistant for a woman with Alzheimer’s. Her adult daughter knew I liked writing, and since she was interested in writing a children’s book, she suggested that we attend a local writer’s conference together.

I thought, “Why not?” I certainly wasn’t getting much writing done at the time, so I signed up, hoping for a refresh.

The conference ended up getting canceled due to lack of interest, but I was able to connect with The Writer’s Plot, which was the group that had planned on hosting the event. There, I met my dear friends Pam Zollman and Caroline Eschenberg Brown. After a while, they invited me to join their critique group along with two fellow writers, Lisa Finley and Marica Pugh, who were also ready to get serious about their books.

I chose to submit the 20-odd pages of “Heartless” for critique, since out of all my stories it was the furthest along with the most complete plot. (Pam, I know you’re laughing right now because the idea that “Heartless” ever had anything resembling a cohesive plot is just ludicrous, but I was ignorant, okay?) I thought “Heartless” would be the easiest of my stories to finish, especially since I intended for it to be a stand-alone novel rather than a series. (Ha! Little did I know! Pam, if you laugh any harder you might fall out of your chair. Please, calm down. This is all your fault–you, Bryan, and Caroline!)

That was in 2013.

The Problem

I spent the next two years scribbling my way through “Heartless.” My plot, if you could call it that, meandered this way and that without resolution. At one point, my poor characters literally spent entire chapters wandering through the woods with no end in sight. They were lost, and so was I.

Thankfully, my critique group came to the rescue. After the umpteenth week of me submitting yet more pages of Alyssa staggering through the same dreaded forest, Pam, Caroline, and new-member Bryan held an intervention.

“Your antagonist’s motivation is unclear,” Pam told me. “We don’t know enough about her, and how she became so powerful. She’s a human, but she’s as strong as the fae!”

At that point, I was willing to try anything to get my story moving again, so I set about writing some backstory for my then-antagonist, Branwen. The next week–July 8, 2015–I turned in a five-page short story about a young, impetuous Branwen helping her mother prepare sachets of protective herbs for the upcoming Summer Solstice, a time when young girls were known to disappear from the village and never return. I thought I would write a few more pages to fill in the rest of Branwen’s story, and then return to “Heartless.”

My critique group had other ideas.

I think Bryan was the first to voice what everyone else was thinking.

“Miranda, this is another book.”

And he was right. More than right, in fact, but I wouldn’t find that out for another two years. At the time, I simply set “Heartless” aside, and began writing what would become the first iteration of Fearless.

One thought on “The Story Behind the Story: Part One”
  1. Yes, Miranda, I did laugh! I remember how stunned you were when we suggested you write Branwen’s story. I’m so glad you did! I’m also glad we don’t have to wait sixteen years for the second book. I know for a fact that Book 2: Dauntless will be out next year and I can’t wait! Your cover for Fearless is just awesome! Congratulations on your debut book!

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