Ah, “The Light On The Moor” – the fourth book in the Grace & Witherbloom series. It was also one of the more difficult books to get done and the one I worked on right up until it’s release.
For those of you just reading for the first time, the Story Behind The Story blogs are VERY spoilerific. If you haven’t read Book 4 yet, I heartily recommend you head over to Amazon.com (or .co.uk or .de) and read it first.
Now, “The Light on The Moor” was not difficult to write in the same way “The Flood Lily” was. With the latter, I actually got hung up on the story with doubts about whether the story was going anywhere or was good enough. With TLOTM, I finished it quite quickly. Maybe a little too quickly.
The story was originally called “Josiah’s Story” and was always planned as a sort of origin story for Josiah. It was going to have a companion piece called “Helen’s Story” that would appear after “The Other Key.” These were not going to be stand alone novellas, but rather short stories that were going to be included with books 5 and 6. But, this plan fell apart fairly quickly. For one thing, Helen’s story didn’t feel right separated out from “The Forgotten Fair.” Before I start actually writing, I do a lot of “metal writing” where I work out the story in my head. As I thought forward to the final story, I realized that I wanted Helen and Ashmore to solve the mystery of who they were in the same story and not far removed from each other. It just had more effect.
Once “Helen’s Story” was gone, it felt weird to have a story called “Josiah’s Story.” Without it’s companion, it felt out of place. It would just be a random short story placed in front of “The Obsidian Emperor.” Also, the title wasn’t very Grace and Witherbloom. It just didn’t have the same feel and tone. Also, in a weird way the story is much more about Helen than it is Josiah though he tells the story and it is about how he came to be created.
And finally, as I read through the first version of “The Light On The Moor” it just struck me as sort of boring. There was a lot of telling and not showing. I wrote “Helen did this and then she went here and then she said this and stayed with this person…” and so on and so forth. It was almost more like an outline of a story than an actual story. So I set about on a substantial re-write. I added a lot more depth and dialogue to everything. And once I was done I realized that it was long enough to stand on it’s own. It’s still the shortest of all the novellas, but it felt like a fairly complete whole.
It’s interesting, the ratings on Goodreads.com seem to indicate that (of the people who have rated it) this is the story of the seven that people seem to enjoy the least. I can actually identify with that. It still has a very respectable 4/5 rating which I’m happy with, of course. But I do tend to agree it’s probably most the slight of the stories. At the same time, I think what it does for Helen’s character is important. Helen is presented as very cold and aloof at times. That’s one of the things I like about her. There is a merciless quality about her that is quite appealing to write in a character. But a character like that can’t grow and change and becomes a bit boring after a while, I think. And she is, in the end, very human. So this was the first peek at her humanity.
Not to mention it set up a few important details for the final book. 🙂
Next up is probably my favorite book in the series. I think the series really begins to hit it’s stride with book 5, even as it starts hurtling towards the end…