In early 2014, Curiosity Quills (my publisher) put out a call for short story submissions to their [at the time] upcoming Chronology anthology. I figured I’d send something in, but I had too many ideas to decide on one. As those who know me will likely attest, I often have trouble making up my mind on multiple choice situations. So, I did the nuclear option: I wrote them all.
I wound up sending in about eight different stories for consideration, one of which was a short-story version of Emma and the Banderwigh. While waiting to hear back, I wound up sharing it with some people as Emma was my first attempt at middle grade fantasy (middle grade being intended for readers around 8-12 and up). One early reader, Tiffany, more or less grumbled at me that the story was too short and she wanted more.
The idea seemed to resonate with CQ, so I set about expanding the story. Originally, I got the idea for the Banderwigh while thinking up creatures to populate a fantasy roleplaying game I designed back in the 1990s. As luck would have it, the creature didn’t lend itself to the sort of stories that my group tended to play – being more of a story monster than a critter amenable to a party fond of combat. It existed, with all its lore, but didn’t much do anything until I got the idea for doing a middle grade story. The Banderwigh is a creature that preys upon the sadness of children and it offered a perfect ‘bad guy’ for a fantasy story aimed at that age group.
Meanwhile, due to the number of short stories I sent them, they got the idea to do an anthology of my short stories separately from theirs (Far Side of Promise, due out next year). The original short story form of Emma & the Banderwigh was in an early draft of this book. However, once I had a full-length novel, it bothered me to maintain two separate versions of the story.
I spent about a week mulling over if I wanted to come up with a replacement short story for the anthology or leave two versions of Emma. I tried to think of a replacement story, and kept circling back to an idea that would become the short Innocent Deception. (That one, I sent in to CQ as a ‘I want to replace the Emma short with this in the antho, what do you think’ situation – and they wound up choosing that one for their Chronology anthology too.
It felt a bit like coming within four inches of getting run over by a bus. I almost didn’t write it (to replace the Emma short) at all, and having that be the one they choose for their anthology was a O_o moment. (Granted, a thrilling O_o moment.)
Once I’d finished the Emma novel, I sent it to Tiffany as a beta reader. (Expanding the short to a novel was her suggestion after all). She shared it with her kids. A few days later, I hear that her then-four-year-old kept insisting that she check under the bed for “emery creepies” (emerald creepers). That made me smile for damn near a month, and I still think of that whenever I think of this book.
Emma & the Banderwigh is due out on October 12th, and I am quite excited for this book to finally become available to the public!
Please join me on Facebook on Monday 10/12 from 5-9pm Eastern time: here.
There are prizes to win including signed copies, ebooks, swag, and a few stuffed plush wolves. Feel free to share / invite anyone you like.
Also, enjoy a sneak peek of Chapter One: here.