I joined Brookline Booksmith last night to discuss Fonda Lee’s newest book Untethered Sky.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Fonda Lee is known for her The Green Bone Saga series. She said that with this newest book, which is a novella, she had to use different brain muscles since she decided to take a step back from an epic world and story and dive into something else. She did this because she realized that trying to live up to what she did before was paralyzing.
In this newest book, she focuses on a single person instead of a large cast. She also made it pre-modern, added animals, and made it smaller in length to give her a clean break into something new.
Come to find out, this book started as a novel but then turned into a novella because someone asked her if she would be interested in writing a novella. Taking it into novella form helped her put pieces together that weren’t working as a novel. Then the story came to life.
During this process, she learned that a novella isn’t less in terms of worldbuilding work. She built an entire world for this small story and expressed how the temptation to write more stories in the world is there, but she only envisioned this world as the one story and doesn’t have another to tell.
What she found most challenging when writing this story was writing it in first-person instead of third-person. She wrote the first chapter from both points of view and then sent it out for validation to see which was better. She then went into length about how writing in first-person is different. How she could only know the character as well as they knew themselves and how it was a different kind of intimacy compared to having multiple povs and being in third-person, where she could flesh out a character more with interactions and dynamics between other characters.
Another struggle for her was the story’s pacing being a personal journey versus an epic.
Last fun fact, Lee has been obsessed with falconry for the longest time. She knew it was something she would never be able to do, so she decided to write about it but add mythic possibilities to the sport. This is what makes up a core piece of this newest book.