, , , , , ,

Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today YA author Verity A. Buchanan is our guest blogger. She’ll be sharing a post about writing roadblock,s unexpected changes, and how going with the flow can work for authors. She also has an excerpt from her YA high fantasy novel, The Journey. So be sure to read to the bottom of the post for a peek at her book. Welcome, Verity!

Thanks, Catherine.

Books can really change along the way.

When I started my YA fantasy novel The Journey, I planned it to be a single-POV book. The vision in my head revolved around one young man and his struggles to grow into the weight of responsibility, and it seemed natural that only his thoughts would be needed to tell the story.

But as I swung through the first act of the book and got deep into the second, I began to encounter roadblocks. A sustained exploration of my young protagonist’s mindscape was draining, perpetually introspective, and beginning to get morbid. Part of that morbidity was just… him, unfortunately. Fred tends to go the self-deprecating soliloquy route. Part of it was my own unrefined writer’s technique.

One way or the other, I was starting to hate my protagonist, a bad lookout for finishing the book.

And then the light dawned.

I don’t know where the idea came from, but suddenly I wondered: what would it be like if I introduced a second perspective to the story?

Fred’s sister, Sandy, was everything he wasn’t. She was flippant, thoughtless, outspoken, and indifferent to the very idea of responsibility — yet some of her deepest insecurities and desires sprang from the same root as her brother’s. Not only that, she had her own inner journey to make, which had been largely glossed over by Fred’s dominance of the narrative. The more I considered it, the more excited I got, especially realizing that including Sandy’s thoughts would give the third sibling’s inner journey, Marjorie’s, even more of a chance to shine as well.

So, knowing it would mean a significant rewrite of the already-existing 11 chapters but prepared to make that adjustment, I forged ahead.

And it worked. Sandy’s sassy and sometimes quite insightful outlook provided a remarkable balance for Fred’s pensive reflections. Using her external viewpoint provided the needed filter for Fred’s heroism, too — which, when exclusively in his own head, was either downplayed to nothing or recognized with far too much martyral attitude. With Sandy, we got to see Fred as others saw him, which was ultimately quite a key component to the resolution of his arc.

I finished The Journey in record speed after that. Even the rewrite of the first half was a breeze.

My first vision was to tell Fred’s story, and his is still the uppermost focus of The Journey. But Sandy is a constant presence, a counterpart, if you will, and an indispensable one at that. I’ve never regretted handing the reins to her for a second.

My lonely, underrated girl really earned her chance to shine.

The Journey, Ceristen Series

By Verity A. Buchanan

All it took was one fire.

One fire to make the disgruntled villagers kick the local alcoholic’s family out the door with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

One fire to bring Fred Thorne face-to-face with his worst fear — accountability.

When Fred takes up the leadership of his younger sisters, he hopes to pass it on as soon as possible. But every promise of refuge ends in disaster, and no burden, it seems, could be harder to lose.

The Journey follows the Thorne siblings through rejection, captivity, and an increasing downward spiral of guilt as Fred fails time and time again to protect his family from the dangers of a hostile world. Will their search for safety ever end?

Described as “if Louisa May Alcott had written The Lord of the Rings”, The Journey pairs an intimate focus on individual nobodies and their struggles with the sweeping, large-scale setting of a valiant journey.

Excerpt from The Journey

Sandy sat up, tugging her blanket over her against the cold. In front of her nose a lone snowflake drifted down and settled in the white ashes of the fire. The bluish dawn light grew stronger, paler. Sandy noticed the girl’s huddled form and scowled, her annoyance flaring. What business had a silly little girl to lose herself, impose herself on people who had their own problems? A nervous knot twisted itself in her stomach as she thought of Marjorie, and she forgot about their small guest.

She came out of her worries to an awareness that Fred was moving around. She looked across and saw with a frown that he was shivering, chafing himself all over and breathing on his hands. “Fred, are you all right?”

His voice when he answered her stuttered with cold. “Aye, I’ll be all right. A bit—a bit chilled, that’s all.”

“Well, why? Why on earth? Where’s your blanket?”

He nodded to the girl, and with a wave of anger Sandy knew. “She needed it more.”

Stupid Fred, stupid Fred. Sandy jumped up and shoved her blanket into her pack, jerked it violently onto her shoulder. “Let’s eat quick and go.”

He did not move, but regarded her sadly, seeming to struggle within himself whether to speak. “Sandy,” he said gently, too gently. “Would you have me bring such dishonor upon myself? It is enough shame that I wish I had not done it.” He walked away with a heavy step and Sandy watched him, momentarily sorry for her words.

In her comfortable nest of Fred’s blanket, the girl stirred, the thick lashes over her eyes fluttering, lifting, and she sat up. She surveyed Sandy and Fred in turn but did not speak.

Sandy had never resented anyone’s beauty before, but to her shock she did so now. How dare she have such clear skin, such large, luminous dark eyes, such a winsome, pathetic fairness. And how dare she be pitiful and ragged and thin, to extort compassion from tender-hearted Fred. Sandy wanted badly, very badly, to stalk up to her and shake her. Why had she walked up and ruined their lives? Any more, of course, than they were already ruined by Marjorie’s disappearance, and a tumble down a ravine, and freezing nights.

“Do you think we’ll find Marjorie?”

At the look of despair in Fred’s eyes, she regretted asking.

“I hope,” he said tonelessly.

Sandy gave up. Why did it have to cut him so deeply?

She was tired of all the questions her mind asked, questions to which there were no answers, and hunched over so that she did not have to meet Fred’s eyes while they ate their breakfast.

— from The Journey, Ceristen Series 1, Chapter 10

Want to read more? You can find The Journey at:  

Author (discounted, signed paperbacks): Book Depository: Apple Books

About the Author:

Verity A. Buchanan lives in the rugged hills of Northern Michigan, where the bitter winters provide vivid inspiration for her writing and plenty of excuses to make hot chocolate. A long-time lover of fantasy, she writes stories of the real and the broken, shot with the light of the Word. Fantasy shouldn’t have to always be about kings and crowns and evil overlords-the nameless refugees and the blacksmith with the quirky accent matter, too. In all her writing, Verity aims to show the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary: to make the familiar new.

Connect with Verity at her  Author website: Facebook: Instagram: Twitter