The other day, I went through a ton of my old notebooks to find the notes I made for the Always Read the Fae Print sequel.
Surprise number one: I actually found them.
Surprise number two: I also found the notes I made for the first book.
Back then, it was just named “Lillian fantasy” or “Lillian story” and Lillian was in college, studying Something Vaguely Scientific. I was still debating whether she should have burns or hellhound bites. There weren’t any fae yet — I had no idea of the antagonists or who/what they were after, though I did have an idea fo the first scene. (That one actually stuck for the length of the adult version.) At one point, I decided the story needed dragons.
Arjan started off not with a personality or role in the story, but with the following note:
For Lillian story – crush name = Jelle? Arjan? Something very Dutch but simple enough.
Another bit of insight into my thought process:
What kind of critters – made up? Base off existing goblin type things? Research. Also: WTF is actual plot/motivation?
Flipping ahead a few pages, Lillian is still in college instead of working at the restaurant, but I can see the actual plot coming together. The way hellfire works, how her scars tie into the plot, how her dad the warlock sets things in motion, the first incarnation of Merel/Femke (as ‘witch type person’)…
And at the end of that page, I remind myself that I don’t want to make it too YA-y. That went well.
As for my other books? Heirs started out as an adult novel as well. It was going to be very noir and dark. (Um, notsomuch anymore.)
My traumatized, reclusive, messed-up Cally from The Hands of Cally Wu started out as your basic sassy kick-ass urban fantasy heroine.
I love seeing how these things come together. It also really helps me when plotting my next projects: when I’m particularly attached to a concept or plot point that just won’t work for the book, or when I despair at my lack of plot or the flimsiness of the story so far, I remind myself how much these other books changed before I even put a single letter on paper. It helps so much in powering through and getting the story to what I need it to be.