The Snows of Windroven

Timing can become a funny thing when writing a series, particularly for those of us who don’t extensively pre-plot. I kind of have an idea of where the overall arc is headed, but the specifics often escape me until I actually write the story.

It’s like I know I’m driving from Seattle to New Orleans. I know I’ll have to cross the Rocky Mountains at some point, so there’s that. And I went to college in St. Louis, so that’s always a good place to stop. I have old friends there, which means I might end up staying extra days. Those secondary characters have a way of luring one off the schedule.

My story in AMID THE WINTER SNOW, is a novella that takes place in between THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE. And it happens concurrently with THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. That’s the other interesting thing about The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms books: because each story is from a different hero or heroine’s exclusive perspective the story goes with them. This was a simple scenario at the beginning of THE MARK OF THE TALA, the book that started it all, because the point-of-view (POV) heroine, Andi, was with her sisters and the plot centered entirely on the events taking place in and around Castle Ordnung.

But soon the sisters were separated, and then each went on her own adventure, in different places, at different times. Still, the original trilogy happened sequentially, with the chronological story handed from Andi to Ami (THE TEARS OF THE ROSE), then to Ursula (THE TALON OF THE HAWK). After that, however, with each new character and the growing complexity of the overall arc and everyone’s contribution to that, the timelines began to overlap.

When Thea Harrison asked me if I’d like to be part of her midwinter holiday anthology, I knew the story I wanted to write. All along I’d known, via hints dropped by other characters, that Ami and Ash had gone to Windroven for the winter. And they’d taken the twin prince and princess with them. This is how I find things out in my stories. Not because I plan them, but because the characters tell me. The problem is, everyone knew there might be a dragon beneath the volcano at Windroven, which made them going there—with the heirs, no less—an exceedingly bad idea.

All the elements for Thea’s concept were there: midwinter holiday, snow, fantasy, romance. All I needed to do was figure out why they went there!

I was also deep into writing THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE, and I knew that part of Zynda’s quest was going to Windroven to deal with the dragon. Because Ursula was worried about it. I ended up having to pause that story and write THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, so I could figure out what happened there before Zynda arrived.

The other interesting piece of this is that THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN revisits Ash and Ami’s love affair—which makes it the only time (so far) that I’ve added onto one of the main tales. This story switches to Ash’s POV, which made a difference, and I think it filled in a crucial piece. Of all the romances, Ami and Ash’s remained the most tenuous. They both have so many issues and conflicts that resolving everything so they can be happy together will take a long time.

But nothing like a little peril and being snowbound to force a couple to confront their problems, eh?

This story also let me spend a little more time with the young prince and princess, Astar and Stella, or Willy and Nilly, as they’re dubbed. All along I’ve had a story in mind for when they grow up. We might get there someday!


*previously published on I Smell Sheep in 2017*