I feel like I have really found my groove with writing again recently. For the past few years, any time I sat down to write, I would feel guilty and like my time was better spent doing something else. The act of pulling out my computer became a task associated with finishing my thesis and high levels of stress. I have always loved writing, but for a while I found every excuse available to avoid writing. I am so happy to be back writing again. I rediscovered the joy in writing. There are still a million reasons for me to put off writing, but I feel more committed to writing right now, and have been able to find more creative ways to fit in time for it.
Now I just need to spend some of that writing time focusing on that book I have been promising my 9 year old that I would write him. The timing is perfect since NaNoWriMo is coming up. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place during the month of November. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words of a novel during the month, which breaks down into 1,667 words per day. I have never personally participated in NaNoWriMo, though I have known about it for many years. I never really felt like I had the time to commit to writing so much. This year though, I plan to make the time and hopefully it results in a finished first draft of my novel!
While exploring different writing blogs, I stumbled across a link-up called Know the Novel, being hosted by Christine Smith at Musings of an Elf. This seems like a great way to share more about my writing and I am excited to participate. My novel is a middle grades fantasy novel called Misfit Magic that I have been talking to Ryan about for the past few years.
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
When my son was in first grade, we read Harry Potter together every night. He really connected with the idea of wizards and witches and declared that he was a wizard. He was adamant that he was a wizard and he told everyone about his magical background that he had decided for himself. Some kids at school made fun of him, but it never deterred him. He spent several years seeing the world with the belief that he was a wizard.
As he learned more about autism and how his brain works differently than most kids, he declared that he knew the secret! Autistic people were wizards, neurotypical people were muggles. This explanation that he created for himself really resonated with him and helped him build a strengths based understanding of his own neurology. His assertion that neurodivergent individuals had some type of magical connection inspired the idea for my novel, and we spent months talking about his imagined fantasy world. The central idea behind my novel is that the people who feel like they don’t fit in in this world, the “misfits”, are actually magical beings who have gotten stuck in this world that doesn’t appreciate their uniqueness and is not designed to accommodate their needs. They have lost all memories of the magical Realm they are from, but a boy who is convinced he is a wizard, stumbles across the truth.
2. Share a blurb!
Connor Kelly believed he was a wizard with all his heart. No one else believed him of course, after all wizards aren’t real. One day, while playing in the woods behind his new house, he discovers a strange stone and when he touches it he finds himself in a strange world filled with magical beings. He learns that he does have magic, just not in the way he thought. Now it is up to him to learn how to harness those magical abilities and save the Realm from the grips of a tyrannical Druid who has taken over and is divorcing nature from magic while the magical beings live in misery. He must make friends, save the fairy and stop the evil Cathbad.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
The story takes place across two worlds. In the human world, the story is set in the town of Ammonoosuc Falls, New Hampshire. A mysterious little town in the White Mountains, that seems to retain a magical connection, even though none of its residents remember the magic. Ammonoosuc Falls is based on the town of Littleton, NH where I live, but with a lot more magic. In the story this town has the perfect combination of mountains, forests, water and magic. Deep in the woods there is a magolith – a magical rock that tethers the Realm to human world.
When Connor Kelly discovers the magolith he is transported to the Realm. The Realm is a magical world. Over the years, poets and bards have given the place many fanciful names, but the beings that live there only refer to it as the Realm. The Realm is inhabited by four different types of fairies, gnomes, goblins and elves. In the past, Druids were another group who lived in the Realm – the most human-like, but with a special magical attunement. An evil Druid has taken over the Realm and cast out all over Druids in order to maintain his power. The once peaceful and magical world is now under his tyrannical rule.
I really struggled to figure out the human world setting for this story until I moved to Littleton. I love my new town so much, and this cheerful little village makes the perfect setting for a story. There are even local legends about spirits in the mountains and fairies in the woods. My own house and woods and other landmarks have been transformed into fantastical places of fiction. There may not be any real magic in this town, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was.
4. Tell us about your protagonist.
Connor Kelly is a 12 year old boy who just can’t seem to fit in. He is convinced that he is a wizard even though no one else believes him. He struggles with social cues and boundaries, and is easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. He also has a fiercely determined spirit. He believes in himself even when no one around him does. He wants magic to be real, but above all else he wants to be loved and accepted by friends.
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
100 years ago, Cathbad Sinclair was a child living in the village of Ammonoosuc Falls. He stumbled upon his Druidic powers almost by accident. He was ridiculed by the other boys in the village for his oddness, until he found the Magolith and traveled to the Realm. There, he learned what he really was – an orphaned Druid being raised by human parents. He hoped to “find his place” in the Realm, but was mocked and teased mercilessly by other Druid children for being raised among humans. Over time, Cathbad learned darker and darker magic. Magic that is not meant to be done by anyone. He cast the Druids out of the Realm and erased all memory of magic from their minds. He now rules over the Realm with an iron fist, stripping nature of its magic.
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Easily the most exciting part of writing this novel is watching my son’s face light up whenever I read him a chapter I have been working on. I am looking forward to having the whole novel put together to read to him. I am also really excited about incorporating different individuals who are neurodiverse (and different in their own ways) as main characters and exploring the idea that they have some kind of magical attunement. I am also really happy to share more about the magical worlds of Ammonoosuc Falls and the Realm.
7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?
It could be either. My son really wants me to write a series, and I have a lot of ideas for continuing the story. Ideally, I will continue it into a series. At the same time it could be a standalone. Even if it does end up being a standalone, I still have a lot of different stories I want to write in this setting.
8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?
Mostly plotting. I have been working on this story for the past few years (though I only have a few chapters written), so I have a pretty thorough outline of where I want the story to go. I might play with some of the plot points as I write further into the story though.
9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.
The protagonist, as well as several other main characters are on the autism spectrum (though I haven’t decided whether to explicitly name that in my book or leave it to the reader to deduce). This gives me a chance to provide several different representations of individuals on the spectrum, all very different from one another. It creates a strengths based, magical interpretation of what it is to be autistic or even just someone who doesn’t fit the “norm”.
Also making the story unique is my own interpretation of magic and its relation to the natural world. Additionally, the worlds that have created both in Ammonoosuc Falls and the Realm.
10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
I wish I had a completed map that looked polished enough to share, but here is a picture that inspired the Magolith. It is a rock we found while exploring the Aran Islands of Ireland.