Know the Novel 2020, Part 1: Introduction!

10:46 PM


Greetings from the cave!! 


How do you deal with grad school homework dumping, work hours piling, boy trouble, puppy shenanigans, snarly inter-church group communications, prepping for a friends wedding, all while waiting for your first literary baby to return from an editor?? 

Apparently my answer is....

Plot another novel. 

If this isn't a proof of my being a glutton for punishment, I literally don't know what is. 

Today, I shall be participating in part 1 of Christine Smith's Know the Novel linkup to introduce my NaNo project for 2020!! Ahh, I am so excited to share this with you after hinting and hinting at it for soooooooo looonnngggg (all year, in fact). I definitely recommend all of my writing buddies to join in this linkup - I'd love to see your projects too! You can view Christine's original post HERE

Now, to introduce the star of the show! 

Mock cover by me :) 

This WIP is one of the longest running WIPs that I've had in my entire brood (Plain and Simple Truth is the longest). She has been known as "Caoimhe" from her inception in 2015 until 2018-19. Then she was dubbed "From the Cave" until early 2020. And then her name was changed one last time to "The Midnight Cave" to reflect continuity with the rest of the prospective titles of the Epics of Verden series. 

To answer the following the questions, I'll be borrowing some answers from a previous Meet the Books blog link-up, all the way back from 2018. Obviously, some things have changed since then, though if you are curious, you can read that old post HERE

So, without further ado, let us begin! 

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

A night of insomnia led me to finally try some Neo-Celtic music by Adrian von Ziegler. Specifically, this two hour compilation: 

As the music kept playing, and the Autumn compilation after that, my muse really started to play with typical fantasy elements combined with a huge anti-tech kick.....and this story was born. 

2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary if you’d prefer)!

Gail is an ordinary teenage techie junkie, living on the planet of Tawra. When her parents insist on her taking a camping vacation, she is not at all pleased. But when a storm breaks and she is forced into a cave for shelter, her phone is whisked away to Aistaraina...wherever that is.

With the portal suddenly closed, Gail is forced to adapt to her new surroundings. As she becomes accustomed to Aistaraina's way of life, she becomes aware of several races of creatures. Creatures that seem harmless but Gail suspects of having dark motives. 

When the children of Aistaraina start showing signs of mysterious disease, Gail is determined to find the cause. What she doesn't know is that she has been lured to Aistaraina...and her tempter is coming for her....   

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

This story takes place in the High Kingdom of Aistaraina, which my readers may remember as a neighboring kingdom to Duventoliel, which is where TWR is located. 

What I especially like is while the actual setting is based more on Scotland, the architecture was much more French-based. Dunrobin Castle was a major influence on the creation of Caisteal Cynsige. And there are a lot more Elvish and Anglo-Saxon elements to play around with. 

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

The main character is Abigail “Gail” Duncan. She is an 18 year old girl from Tawra, in a setting similar to contemporary America. She has two siblings, a sister and a brother. She doesn't believe in fantasy novels that her best friend is obsessed with. She is highly attached to her phone, which she calls her "glitterbug". In other words, she acts like a millenial, lol. 
She has long brown hair (begrudgingly), Caribbean-blue eyes, stands about 5' 4”, and has an hourglass figure.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Orthorien Haisthilt, who is the evil master who created the Giselberts, a race of genetically modified creatures. He is extremely tall (about 6'7”) and is very muscular. He also sports a scar which is bright red and runs down the length of his once-handsome face. He has burnished black hair, and eyes that are bright gold.
The name "Orthorien" is Elvish for Jarvis (which means conquerer). It is pronounced Ore-thore-ee-ehn. The name "Haisthilt" is derived from the Germanic elements haist (furious, violent) and hilt (hilt as in sword hilt)

Those who have read TWR may remember this character....*told you he'd be back*

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

Believe it or not, I have been recently inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic response and so placing those references in my novel will be really fun! 

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

This is part of the Epics of Verden series, and it is destined to be the last book, chronologically. Though it will probably be the second one published since it's the second one written, hence the #2 on the cover. 

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plantsing for the win! While I do have copious notes and ideas from previous incarnations, I'd like to let it flow a little. 

9. Name a few unique elements about this story. 

- Pet wolves...and maybe a raven...
- Novel diseases
- Portal between two fantasy planets
- shield-maidens
- Genetically modified animals
- The debate between the good and bad of technology

10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

First things first, I'm sharing my Spotify playlist!! This is the first time I've actually done this, so we'll see how this goes....

And the next? Some screenshots from some of the Pinterest boards :) 

Still don't know if I'm going to keep the fairy keys or not...that was one idea I had when I was first drafting this story. But they look so cool!!!!

And now, for the avatars! This is only the main characters, because the side characters may be changed as I replot...

From left to right: Gail Duncan (in Aistarianian dress), Maeve (Irish dance uniform), Prince Conlaoch Leofwine, and Prince Bradach Leofwine.

From left to right: Shield-Maiden Keitha Brynjar, Shield-Maiden Roswitha Morigenne, Princess Sieglinde Leofwine, and Aderyn Santiel

There, that should be a satisfactory introduction. Though I certainly don't mind answering any questions that you might have or chatting about it in the comments! In the meantime, what sort of project are you doing for NaNo? 

Scribbingly yours, 


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  1. Oh no! Haisthilt is back?! That is not good, lol!

    I'm very curious to learn more about this story, especially the whole portal bit. That's very interesting to me.

    I hope NaNo goes well for you!

  2. This story sounds so so interesting! And I love the inclusion of wolves and shield-maidens - we don't get enough of those in fiction nowadays. ;) Good luck with NaNo! <3

  3. This sounds really cool! I love the juxtaposition of possibly sci fi (Your MC lives on a planet other than Earth, so I feel somewhat safe making that assumption...) and fantasy--that's so cool! I can only imagine the hijinks that will go on when a "millennial" gets transported to a fantasy realm! And I love the wolves, and the Elvish name for your villain...I hope NaNo goes well, and I can't wait to see how this project develops!

  4. Sounds intriguing! Especially pet wolves and ravens.
    I want one. XD

  5. Your story sounds so cool!!! And I love the avatars you made! ^_^

    I hope your writing goes well!

  6. EEEEEEE, CATHERINE! THIS SOUNDS EPIC! Portal-like fantasy is SO MUCH FUN, and it looks like you've put an epic twist to the genre! :D

    I love, love, LOVE how you're basing the setting off real world places and cultures. The whole setting sounds so rich and vivid and epic! It looks like such an incredible cast too. Also PET WOLVES! YES PLEASE.

    Literally just this WHOLE THING sounds absolutely amazing and I loved reading about it! Thank you so much for joining the linkup. I do hope all the writing goes wonderfully!



    I should probably not be excited about that. But I am. Gotta have some super creepy villains in an epic fantasy, what? :)

    Can't wait to hear more about this, Catherine! And good luck with all the crazy things life is throwing your way!

  8. Wow! This sounds like the coolest genre/story element combination I've heard of. Phones and shield maidens and pet wolves... I guess awesome things do come out of sleepless nights? xD

    What did you use to create the avatars? I love the visuals and they made me even more intrigued about the characters!

    Sadly I'll be going another year without NaNoWriMo. I'm still trying to balance college with writing and my goliath novel needs lots of outlining before I get back into the drafting stage. But I'm hoping that all the hype this November will encourage me to at least get a schedule going. I hope NaNo goes well for you!

  9. A girl obsessed with her phone goes well in a fantasy. XD This story sounds so cool. And I love that it has coronavirus themes.
    Everything else about this I want to read too.

  10. I remember you talking about this, but I didn't remember it being so epicly awesome. It just sounds fantastic in every single way!!!! Yes, yes, and more yes!! AAAAAHHHH. I can't wait to read this! :D

    Haisthilt? Back? How? Dare? He!? O_O

    Looking forward to AAAAAALLLLLL of the goodness here!


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