Tonight I begun the rewrite of Going Home that I mentioned here on the blog a few weeks ago. As such, I thought tonight would be a good time to tell you a bit more about the most significant change I’ll be making to the books and the reasoning behind it. I’m talking, of course, about the removal of magic from the world of The Following, where Orryn and the others live.
There are several reasons why I’m making this change, but really they all boil down to this: I should’ve never had magic in the story in the first place. That’s really all there is to it, and it’s just taken me a really long time to realize it. Let me try to explain how it turned out this way. Some spoilers may follow, naturally.
The idea that would eventually become The Orryn Novellas have gone through many changes over the years. It started out as a very Harry Potter-inspired idea for a spy school (no wait, a magic school, no wait, a magic spy school!), conceived when I was about 14 and not yet particularly concerned with originality. Orryn, Thea and Kella were born a year or two after the idea first came to me, as teachers in the aforementioned school. Around this time, magic was a central part of the (albeit quite vague) plot and an important part of both Orryn’s character and her role within the narrative.
Then things changed. They changed a lot. Ideas sprung up, and wilted back down, in the fertile but at that time still volatile soil of the world that would come to be known as The Following. Dragons, and large witch wars, and long lost uncles, and prison islands and many other things came and went as I discarded plot after plot in search of the perfect “cool, fast-paced story” to use as a backdrop for the story I wanted to tell about a very complicated woman reconnecting with her long-lost sister. One day, I was sitting at my kitchen table complaining to a friend that I couldn’t think of the right “action plot” to use for the story and I exclaimed “I wish I could ditch all that action stuff and just write about Orryn!”. Then I realized I could, and so I did. I gave up on trying to make a flashy plot or a big complex over-arching narrative to frame the sequences from Orryn’s life I wanted to describe. So Going Home was born, and government conspiracies and dragon skeletons were thrown out, but the magic stayed even though I think I knew already then that it was a mistake.
It stayed because it used to be important, and I didn’t quite have the heart to pull the plug on it completely even though it had stopped serving the story. It stayed because I have a deep abiding love for the fantasy genre and I felt like removing the magic would be some kind of betrayal. And it stayed, I have recently realized, because I was being cowardly.
Let me explain that last point a little more: the main function of magic in the first version of the Orryn Novellas is as a tool for Orryn to self-harm and commit other self-destructive acts. For reasons that I honestly haven’t entirely figured out myself yet, I used the magic as a way of keeping her self-harm at arm’s length, to add a degree of removal between Orryn the person, and the destructive behavior. And I think I did it because, again for reasons I am not sure of yet, that made it feel less real. But it also made it less honest, in my opinion. Rewriting the affected scenes without this “extra step” will be challenging but, I believe, ultimately liberating and more true to Orryn than the magically infused versions of them were.
The books will be better for the change, I know that much. Until I made this decision, whenever I thought about writing the next Orryn book I’d always glumly think to myself “gosh, now I have to think of something to do with her magic so it won’t just be a loose end”. Consequently, I’d put off thinking about it too much. Once my choice was made, I sat down the next day and outlined most of book 3.
So that is my attempt at explaining why I am removing magic from Going Home and Dress Rehearsal Rag, as well as future installments in the series and the fictional world in general. While removing magic is not the only change I’ll be making in version two of these books, it is the most substantial one and to be honest… I’m pretty fucking excited about it! It’s long overdue.
On a final note, I want to remind you that if you patron me on Patreon you will be getting exclusive updates about this project (and hopefully about many more projects to come after it). Check it out! Any donation will earn you access to the exclusive patron-only posts and my eternal gratitude and appreciation.