As I mentioned yesterday, my second novel, Dreamdark: Silksinger, comes out this Thursday! Hurray! In honor of Dreamdark I will be giving away some books over the next few days, starting today with Blackbringer. But that will come at the end of the post. First I want to tell you a little bit about it, how it came to be written, and why you should read it if you haven't yet :-)
I'd like to introduce you to my first novel, Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer.
So, Laini, why faeries, anyway?
That's a good question. It just sort of happened. Really, I was inspired to write the book by some artwork I did on a whim five or six years ago: fully articulated, oil-painted faerie paperdolls by the names of (left to right) Poppy, Magpie, and Whisper:
I spent several winter months on these, completely obsessed. They had multiple outfits; they had animal sidekicks and tea sets and gardens. As I drew and painted, I thought up stories for my characters: Magpie was raised by a gang of wandering thespian crows; she was the granddaughter of the West Wind; she had a tuft of hair that stuck straight up as a consequence of being licked on the head by a fox when she was a baby. Poppy could speak to plants and trees; Whisper could whisper open passageways in solid rock and escape through them (this talent did not make it into Silksinger, by the way, but was in some early drafts). I started jotting this stuff down.
That summer I went to the national SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, and these dolls were in my art portfolio. An editor contacted me after the conference and asked if I'd considered writing a story to go with them. I had, I said. I had six chapters -- did she want to see them? She did. I sent them. She asked for more. I had to -- ulp! -- write more! It is to that editor, Abigail Samoun, that I credit the completion of my first novel. Up until that point I'd let my perfectionism get the better of me as a writer and I hadn't been able to finish things! But Abigail's interest really got me working, and kept me working, for which I will be eternally grateful. To those of you trying to finish first novels, if there isn't an editor waiting to read more, try to arrange so that someone is waiting for more: a writing group or a trusted friend. Set deadlines for yourself and be strict with yourself. The very first thing a novel has to be is: FINISHED. After that, you can begin the work of making it GOOD.
How long did it take you to write?
It took me more than two years, on and off, to finish Blackbringer. When I began it I didn't really know what it was. I imagined, in keeping with the sweet characters above, a lighter story for younger girls. But as it developed (and with some crucial workshops at SCBWI along the way) it became something else: the kind of books I love: a dark and sophisticated fantasy adventure story, with both humor and pathos, fun and danger.
What's Blackbringer about?
It's the story of a young faerie, Magpie Windwitch, who leads quite an unusual life. Unlike other faeries, who live sheltered in deep forests, blissfully ignorant of the state of the wider world, Magpie travels around with a gang of theatrical crows, performing at the farflung faerieholds, learning the old magic before it's lost forever, and recapturing devils that have been let loose from their ancient prisons.
You see, thousands of years ago the faeries won the Devil Wars, and the devils of the age were all sealed in silver bottles and cast adrift in the sea. The magic of the seals would prevent any creature alive from releasing the prisoners, but time passed, and a new species came to be -- humans -- and the magic of the seals did not apply to them. Now unwitting humans are letting the devils out, and Magpie is the only faerie who's even noticed!
One day she comes across the trail of a devil far worse than any she has yet encountered, one that threatens the very fabric of the world. To catch him, she has to track down the lost Djinn King who first dreamed the world into being. The search will bring her back to Dreamdark, the mystical forest of her birth, and into dark places she never dreamed she'd go. She'll make friends -- and lose friends -- discover gifts she never knew she possessed, and unearth ancient secrets in her quest to stop the Blackbringer, the worst enemy her folk have ever known.
Who should read Blackbringer?
Children ages eight to one hundred and eight; Peter Jackson; Oprah; Neil Gaiman; Stephen King; Malia and Sasha Obama; YOU.
Why should you read it?
Because it makes me really, really happy when people read my book. Really really happy, like goofy-happy. Seriously. And also because you should read it now in preparation for Silksinger, which is totally awesome, if I don't say so myself :-)
And yes, you can win a copy! Look here:
Three chances! Three signed copies, complete with a set of Rathersting tattoos to make you look like a warrior.
How do you win?
Just email me and let me know why you'd like to receive the book, and I will choose three people. Remember to include your mailing address, and put this in the subject line: BLACKBRINGER, PLEASE in all caps.
Or you can buy it:
Order Blackbringer in hardcover.
Order Blackbringer in paperback.
Easy peasy. Okey dokey. And that's it for today's Countdown to Silksinger. Have a great day!