THE LADY OF LANARIA: Light Meets the Dark

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Lady of Lanaria, hands-down, has got to be the strangest novel I've worked on.  I don't mean that it's weird, but...the way it came together definitely was. 

I got the idea for a Rapunzel/"The Lady of Shallot" mashup back in the first semester of senior year of college (okay, so it wasn't that long ago) and even mentioned in a discussion board that "The Lady of Shallot" would be fun to mix with elements from the Grimm fairytale "Rapunzel" -- and...crickets.  Nobody really got it.  Months later, as I mentioned back  when I announced this project back in April (or May?), I was sparked to action by a friend who didn't know I was dealing with a major bout of "no inspiration."  Or writer's block; whatever you want to call it.  I loved this idea, but I didn't want to work on a Rapunzel retelling because I love the story of Rapunzel so much, I was afraid I would completely screw it up.  But I figured that if I was still thinking about this story, it deserved to see the light of day regardless.  At least to get it out of the way. 

But whenever I started working on the idea, I had no clue what kind of themes I wanted to incorporate.  I didn't just want to write a fun little story, I wanted to write something that was impactful; something meaningful.  It got tossed on the backburner again while I worked on the final books in the Mount Sterling and Faith, Hope, and Love books. 
Then, earlier this year, I woke up bolt upright in bed at ~1 A.M. with Tenth Avenue North's "Healing Begins" song, or namely, a couple of lines from it, running through my head. 

When you come to where you're broken within
the light meets the dark 
the light meets the dark

It wouldn't go away.  And then this quote was glommed into my head, which I mistook for a Bible verse: 
"Darkness rises, and light to meet it." (Snoke, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, 2017).  
Oops.  So, Star Wars is decidedly not the Bible, but it led me to dig until I found the verse that it reminded me of.  

"Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous." (Psalm 112:4, NKJV).  
And then as I was reading my Bible that morning, I stumbled across John 1:5, "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." 

Boom.  There was the theme; the thing I needed to write about. 

(Apparently, God can use pop culture to grab your attention.)  

After that, it was easy to let everything fall into place.  Well, as easy as book-writing typically is.  An evil villain; a protagonist that overcomes evil with good.  And let me tell you -- when I say things fell into place, they did so eerily and I will not take credit for any of it.  

I wrote the whole first draft during Camp NaNo in April (which was a feat in and of itself for various reasons), but I didn't like the introduction.  When I was very close to scrapping the whole idea, I came across a friend of mine who was advertising developmental critiques for the first thirty pages of any manuscript. 
The first thirty pages were the ones giving me trouble. 

She gave me such great ideas that I got to work on it immediately.  I reworked the storyline and dropped it until July, when I essentially just revised and edited and then revised again.  And people enjoyed the icky second draft.  And every time I privately thought about putting it aside or scrapping it over whatever menial detail I'm obsessing over, someone would inexplicably message me out of the blue or ask for an update or mention how excited they were about the story.  My mother read the second-draft proof copy I got and said she enjoyed it...Second drafts are gross, guys.  Inevitably. 
So when I say that I got encouragement before I even mentioned needing it, I did.  

Even recently (this week), as I run into formatting issues and font woes, the solutions are just...right there, if I just take the time to look for them instead of going into 'panic, woe-is-me' mode.  I know this book and the messages within are meant for someone.  Needed by someone, even.  And I don't know how God's planning to use this book, and I know it might sound weird to say that He's going to, but I just...know it, and it's my testimony that I won't hide.  I know not everyone will like this book -- lots of Christians don't like light fantasy, and lots of secular fans won't like the Christian elements -- but The Lady of Lanaria has its own place in the world.  It hasn't been a ride in the park, but compared to the releases I've had before, I can see God's hand involved every step of the way, and I'm gonna keep it that way.  It's only fitting that the themes for this book revolve around light conquering darkness.