Some stories come about in ways you might not expect, and take a long time to mature to fruition. Julia Dvorin discusses the unusual trigger that started her down the road to writing her first novel, Ice Will Reveal.
Believe it or not, ICE WILL REVEAL began as a series of competitive emails between me and a friend back in 2003. This friend and I were playing brother and sister characters in a Dungeons & Dragons game (yes, yes, I’m that kind of geek—what did you expect from an author who writes fantasy adventure?) We had very different characters (a paladin and a rogue), and we enjoyed playing up our fictitious sibling rivalry to the extent that we started heckling each other over email--in character. Each email featured a little story about an adventure that included both brother and sister but made one of them look like the hero and the other look foolish at best, and incompetent at worst (or preferably both). We’d end each email with a signature that implied that the escapades we were describing were quotes from some fantasy adventure novel with a florid, stereotypical name. At some point in the process, I realized I was having a tremendous amount of fun writing about these two characters, and boom—I was bitten by the novel bug.
It was a long and complicated road from breezy, casual email banter to writing an entire novel, but that’s where it started. The characters, the world and the overarching themes morphed quite a bit as I began to feel my way into the story and the process of crafting a novel. I wanted to write the kind of fantasy adventure that I had always loved to read, the kind with compelling characters and magic and action, but as a former Women’s Studies major, I also wanted to make it a book where the women characters and their experiences were in the foreground. I also enjoyed playing with familiar fantasy stereotypes like prophecy and destiny, and the challenge of creating a story in which things (and people) are not always what they seem. And since one of the things I love in any kind of story is exploration of interesting people, I wrote the book using multiple points of view (deep third person, for those who care about such things) to help me tell the story. Of course, both brother and sister got their own storylines and points of view, but a couple of the secondary characters proved to be so interesting that they got their own story arcs as well. In my case, it truly did take a village (or at least a handful of people) to tell a story.
I had a toddler and a full time job during the first few years of fiddling with the novel, and then I got pregnant and had another kid, while still working full time. After the second kid got old enough for me to finally get some sleep and get my groove back, I got serious enough about my writing that I joined an in-person writer’s group and an online critique group (love ya, Critters!), and then finally decided to take the plunge and apply to the Viable Paradise one-week long workshop for speculative fiction writers in Martha’s Vineyard. I emerged from that experience “brillo’d” raw, but also gifted with a supportive tribe of other wonderful writers. Eventually, after much back and forth and up and down, a whole lot more active learning and a whole lot more writing and revising, I finished the novel in late 2009. I spent most of the next year revising it some more and then sent it off as a submission to Hadley Rille Books at the end of 2010. It sat there for about a year, and then at the end of 2011 they told me it was accepted. After another round of edits and nips and tucks, it was finally published at the end of 2012, approximately nine years after those initial bantering emails got the whole thing started.
Now I’m actively working on the sequel, and thank goodness, it’s a much faster and somewhat easier process this time around. I’ve learned a ton, plus I’m much more motivated to write every day now that the first book is finally in readers’ hands—people keep telling me they want to know what happened. I sure do too...so I guess I’d better stop writing this blog post and get back to writing!
Julia Dvorin is a woman of many hats and little sleep, who combines writing with parenting two young boys and directing an ongoing art project called “Fly Your Freak Flag High” (FYFFH). Julia holds an MA in Sociology from University of California, Santa Barbara, and has been a college lecturer in Sociology and Women’s Studies. She has also worked in consumer products licensing and sales, and spent four years learning the ups and downs of entrepreneurship by running a web solutions business with her husband. In 2010, Julia’s novelette “Cupid For a Day” was published in the Renaissance Festival Tales anthology from Hadley Rille Books. Her debut fantasy novel Ice Will Reveal was published by Hadley Rille Books in November 2012. Find out more about Julia on her website: www.parentheticals.com.
Ice Will Reveal is available at: