Book Event

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.

Book Event

Mysterious Galaxy hosted an event with Brandie June to discuss Curse Undone, which is the sequel to Gold Spun. This duology is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with the main girl character being a con artist and Rumpelstiltskin being a hot fairy boy. She made it that way to make it different, distinct, and to be able to think about the characters in a different way who are normally flat.

June explained how in order to not get stuck, she writes a note to make an epic battle or anything else she needs to add and then moves on. She actually has to write an entire really bad first draft before she goes back and edits. For these two books, in the later drafts, she had to figure out how good or bad she wanted Rumpelstiltskin to be as a whole and in parts. One of the scenes she remarked seeing very clearly was the golden ball.

To answer a question asking about why she likes retellings, she said that she loves how retellings customize their own worlds. One of her favorite Rumpelstiltskin retellings was Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

June thought that these books would be a trilogy at first. She knew that not everything would fit in one book, but then it was decided, based on her arc, that a duology would be better and make sense. She had a huge rough draft for the trilogy and had to cut in half and make an ending for her deadline.

June explained how she went through a lot of rejections and how her first book did not sell. But without that happening, she never would have written Gold Spun. Now, she is re-querying again with a new project because she had to part ways with her agent. What she finds works with the stress of querying is to keep working on other projects. Continually working is something she can control and manage and writing more helps her become a better writer.

Brandie June was so nice, easy to listen to, and very insightful. I enjoyed the event carried on by the awesome staff at Mysterious Galaxy and June’s great personality.