Writing a full-length novel while in my first semester of college may have been my craziest idea to date.
I had always wanted to attempt writing a fantasy book. Fantasy is my favorite genre of all time. I love being immersed in a new world and swept off on an adventure. I was one of my school library’s and my local Barnes and Nobles’ best customers. Sarah J. Maas, Cassandra Clare, Amanda Joy, Victoria Aveyard, Julie Kagawa: I cannot get enough of new stories and new series. Fantasy draws me in like no other genre, and I wanted to create a story that would draw others in like I had been drawn in time and time again.
Chasing Fae was born my senior year of high school during a rough time in my life. My parents’ divorce, although years old at this point, was getting to me, I was being harassed at school, and the friend that I had considered a brother to me abandoned me without so much as a word. I didn’t want to be angry or upset anymore, so I took that pain and pushed myself to create something beautiful from it. By starting the story with the death of Grace’s older brother Leo, I was able to learn about my grief through hers. At the same time, I was able to move on with my own life despite the chaos. It was very therapeutic in that way.
I spent eight months working on character building, plot outlining, and worldbuilding. It was important for me to get the foundational elements of the novel in a solid state before trying to build a story from them. I felt like I tapped into a never-before-seen creative reservoir in my brain. I was taking a copious amount of notes every day while I worked my way through questionnaires that challenged me to think about my Three Realms in new ways. And I found that through that experience, I was able to weave quite a bit of information and ideas I have learned through my education in history and anthropology into the world.
From my history classes, I understood that if you want to understand how a land became the place it is today, you have to look back at the decisions that its people made in its past. I started working with the universe by constructing its ancient history and how the Fae, mortal, and demon races developed and coexisted. I documented the split of the universe into the Three Realms where Chasing Fae takes place before getting down into the specific details of each realm. I love anthropology too; I like learning about how religions, ritual practices, and moral beliefs can influence a society. Over the last fewyears, I have learned that sometimes, one essential element can influence every other aspect of a culture. That is the mindset I used while tackling the Upper Realm. The Fae’s world is made up of twelve distinct Noble Houses. I wanted each to have their own distinct culture that could clearly be seen by the reader, so I decided to pick a singular characteristic and build the House around that. I found that this was the best way to keep each lord-dom distinct and cohesive.
I started drafting Chasing Fae during National Novel Writing Month in 2018. This was during my first semester of college and semi-overlapped with my final exam prep. It was a little stressful, but honestly one of the best decisions I think I have ever made. I had never done NaNoWriMo before, and I felt like this was the story idea to try with it. I found that having a deadline kept me motivated and helped me to write straight through without trying to self-edit.
When the last few chapters were finished after my exams, I set it down for two weeks during my exams before diving right into revisions. I spent the majority of my spring semester working on and off on several intense rounds of revisions. It was definitely a learning curve as I tried to read and absorb the best ways to revise a fiction manuscript. This is a topic I write about frequently on my website, Fluff About Fantasy, because I found that there aren’t a lot of resources out there for young writers to learn the process. Six months of revisions led me to my first writers’ conference in Washington DC where I kicked off my querying process.
Albeit chaotic and intense, I wouldn’t have changed the entire process of making Chasing Fae a reality. I am excited to make my junior year just as crazy as I work on the sequel!
From the time she was a child of eleven, writing her first novel between classes, Cady Hammer explored her world through her imagination. She was often teased for being in her own world, but never hesitated to invite others along on the adventure. As she grew older, Cady’s studies in history and anthropology set the stage for the detailed worldbuilding that lets readers step into the story. Her stories explore the complexities of relationships crafted around the idea that love, friendship, and grief are all interwoven.
Cady runs the internationally-read website, Fluff About Fantasy, a place for young writers to learn the genre-specific craft of writing fantasy and be inspired by what they can accomplish. Find out more at https://fluffaboutfantasy.com.
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