I feel very pleased to be posting on Heather’s blog today and appreciate her great review of my novel, The Stone Mage Wars: Journey to the Fringe. I liked hearing that she felt the book played out like a movie, as I have had a similar impression of some of my favorite books.
I am so excited that Journey to the Fringe is finally released! I started writing it a little over six years ago after I left my position as a high school English teacher to stay at home with my infant son. At the time I had stories rolling around in my head, but had little motivation to turn them into something concrete. Then I read a collection of short stories by Garth Nix called Across the Wall. Before each story, Nix told a little about why or how he had written it, and I found that the way he described his thought process felt a lot like mine. I thought, maybe I should write short stories, and then I thought, maybe I should just write short chapters, and so I did. Over the space of a couple of years my short chapters eventually became a novel.
My inspiration for the story came from several observations of scenes and sounds and people, but mostly I just wanted to write the kind of story that I would enjoy reading—a little magic, an adventure, some romance, and a few surprises. I wanted the story to be honest and uplifting, and I wanted to write interesting characters—especially strong women. I do a lot of reading, and while I enjoy reading a variety of genres—classics, contemporary adult fiction, mysteries, some nonfiction, and of course fantasy—I am also a big quitter. I am not unwilling to put down a book that I dislike or that doesn’t keep my attention. I am a great fan of Jane Austen and I enjoy reading a Gene Stratton Porter novel, when I can find one. I loved the Harry Potter series, in spite of their popularity. Other favorite authors include Robin McKinley, Garth Nix, Ray Bradbury, and Louise Penny, to name a few.
When I first began writing, I had a basic storyline in mind driven by a few key characters—chiefly Princess Ivy, who was captured and whisked away to the perilous Fringe, only to find out that the end of the world was only an edge, and that her adventure was just beginning. However, as I wrote, more characters emerged and occasionally took the story places I hadn’t planned. They included a brave local fool, a jaded sea captain, a rejected witch, a young thief, and others. I felt that the characters grew as the story went on, and so even though I originally wrote Journey to the Fringe to stand alone, I was excited to let it continue when the publisher suggested a trilogy.
While I feel happy with the way that Journey to the Fringe turned out, I am eagerly anticipating an opportunity to tell the rest of the story and let the characters continue to evolve. Then, someday, I’ll get working on all these other stories floating around in my head, as long as someone is around to read them.
Kelli Swofford Nielsen