Once upon a time, I wrote a short story, and it grew up to become a book.
It was called “The Darkbeast”, and it was published in the anthology Fantastic Companions, which was edited by Julie Czerneda. Every story in the anthology involved a human boy or girl and an animal companion. (I originally wanted to write a story about a griffin or a dragon, but Julie already had those stories. I “reserved” a raven, and then I thought and thought and thought and came up with my story.)
Over the years, that story stuck with me. I loved my courageous heroine, who chose her best friend over the only home she’d ever known. Eventually, I decided to write a novel based on that story.
I changed things. A lot of things. My sixteen-year-old heroine became twelve years old, mostly because I wanted to focus on the pure decision my character made, rather than complicating social factors (like, um, boys.) The society that was the basis of the story became more developed. I built its religion, focusing on twelve gods and goddesses, because that made sense in a society where a coming-of-age ceremony would be held at age twelve. I built its political system, focusing on a distant ruler, because that gave my characters a reason to travel. I built parallel language structures, where people’s names were based on Celtic tradition while place names and government structures were built on Latin, because… well, because those names interested me.
The result was a book called Darkbeast.
Darkbeast was published by a fancy New York publisher. It had a rough life, though. It came to market just as Borders closed its doors forever. Barnes & Noble was nervous about the story’s focus on a child who rebels against the religion of her parents. The original cover was gorgeous, but it had a very feminine girl in a very feminine pinkish-red dress against a bright blue sky, at a time when books for middle-grade readers had dark colors in browns and purples and jewel tones (and books hoping for male readers featured at least one boy on the cover.) It was published under a pen name, to keep younger readers from easily finding my spicier books.
Darkbeast never found its true home. The publisher was wonderful about the market failure. They reverted rights to me promptly, allowing me to publish my own version of the book.
I attempted to rehabilitate Darkbeast, placing it in a position to best be discovered by adult readers. I gave it a new name – Rebel Flight – and I gave it a gorgeous new cover.
But, alas, Rebel Flight never found its true home. Who knows why? Maybe because it has a young heroine. Maybe because it’s relatively short (compared to the doorstops of some of the most successful fantasy novels.) Maybe because I was otherwise publishing cozy paranormals, and readers didn’t understand what this fantasy novel was all about.
I still loved Keara. And I was over the moon about Caw. And I found myself getting lost in their world, every time I thought about writing fantasy again.
Around that time, I found an author-run publishing cooperative, Snowy Wings Publishing, which understood how to get books into school libraries. I applied to become a member of Snowy Wings. After I was accepted there, I interviewed artists to find someone who could create the dream cover I envisioned for the book. I found that one of my favorite artists, Elisabeth Alba, was available. I talked to a lot of author-friends about book titles, etc.
And Keara’s Raven: Escape was born.
I love it. I love the way Elisabeth’s original painting captures Keara’s attitude. I love how the magic of the world is captured in the colors, the lettering, the entire design. And, of course, I still love the story.
So, I’m thrilled to share Keara’s Raven: Escape with you. I hope you love it as much as I do!
You can read the first chapter here.
Or you can buy your copy here:
(Print editions will be available very, very soon!)