When I sit down to write, I keep my mind focused on the story that needs to be told. I try to shut out the world and do everything I can to spin the best tale possible. For one story, that ends up meaning one thing. For another story… it’s something different entirely. I always try to leave room for organic growth in my manuscripts, to let them become what they’re meant to.
Sometimes, organic growth becomes an evolution I didn’t foresee.
I had always assumed that the work following Air Awakens would be Young Adult. When I originally began conceiving The Alchemists of Loom, that was in my head. I sold it to my publisher that way, and “young adult” has been stamped on all the descriptions we’ve been putting together from the beginning.
Then, I get an email from my editor today.
The email is good. It’s really good. Amazing, actually. She applauded me on everything from pacing to world building to voice. She says it’s a fantastic adult fantasy.
My jaw is on the floor.
“Best adult fantasy.”
I zone in on those last two words – “adult fantasy” – and have a minor breakdown.
I’m a young adult author, right? I wrote The Alchemists of Loom to be young adult, right? I get on the phone with the editor. I get on the phone with the publisher. Two hours and one professional identity crisis later, I’m left with the same resounding truth.
The Alchemists of Loom is not a young adult fantasy.
I say it again to myself, a little louder and a little braver this time. The Alchemists of Loom, is an adult fantasy crossover. It is an adult high-fantasy, that would also appeal to a young adult audience.
But it is not a young adult fantasy.
So I had three choices before me… I can masquerade what is rightfully an adult fantasy, as young adult. I can kill the story I have written, a story I am already SO proud of, to make it fit the conventions of “young adult”. Or, I can call a spade a spade, and move on.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to find out, I chose the last option. I am not of the mind to ever deceive my readership. I have always tried to be transparent with what I have written. Air Awakens was on the cusp of young adult with some of the themes I incorporated, but Vhalla’s voice was younger, and her primary conflict is her identity and finding her place in the world. She makes mistakes a fairly sheltered teen would make.
The protagonists of The Alchemists of Loom? Not so much… Their conflicts, their choices, their decision making processes and their voices are all older. I could go on as to why, but you’ll have to take my word for it for now. I still have to be tight-lipped on some things when it comes to Loom.
So, over the coming days/weeks, The Alchemists of Loom will be updated to reflect that it is an adult high-fantasy on all the retail outlets it’s currently listed on. I’m branching out into the adult high-fantasy world. It’s official.
But there are three things I want to say…
The first, is read the books you want to read. Read the books you enjoy. Irregardless of labels. Genre conventions may work for the book industry, but when it comes to what you put on your shelf, you are all that matters.
The second, is that I hope many readers of Air Awakens will still take a chance on The Alchemists of Loom. While I agree with my editor’s assessment, it’s not young adult. I also agree that it’s an adult crossover, meaning that it can and will appeal to avid young adult readers.
Finally… I want to emphasize once more that this comes from a dedication to my craft. The Alchemists of Loom will not be toned down, dialed back, or otherwise altered from how I think the story should be told. So, I hope you’re ready for quite the ride.
As always, to all my readers, old and new… thank you for your support. This is a journey and (clearly) I have no idea where it’ll take me. But I am so lucky to have some great people at my side.
Let’s keep having awesome adventures together.