A Wedding. A proper fairy tale should end on a wedding. It's just the way of the world! And this is, so far, the only one of my books that follows that classic fairy tale trend, so we definitely need to enjoy it while we can.
Oddly enough, I found this scene rather difficult to write. I much prefer writing all the scenes of adventure and comedy and tragedy. I enjoy the drama of a good battle or a good chase! But a romantic wedding scene just seemed inordinately difficult. This is why I don't write romance books, I'm afraid!
This is also why I chose to feature Felix most prominently in this scene. You'll notice that most of it is told from his perspective. He's not one of the two romantic interests here, so I can take a slightly more comical view of things. Plus there's the added danger of the dragon poison inside him; poison which he has forgotten, but which will need to be cured before it's too late. Leaves things with a bit of a suspenseful edge, despite all the romantic details.
Una's dress. We finally see Una stand up for herself against the Parumvir fashion experts, refusing to wear one of their obnoxious creations. Instead she wears a simple white gown "without ornaments or jewels," and she wears flowers in her hair. I love the look of flowers in a maiden's hair! I chose to wear a wreathe of flowers myself for my wedding crown, in honor of classic fairy tale princesses everywhere (though my dress was a little more fancy, and I did sport some elegant jewelry).
How do you like this little design for a possible wedding gown for Una? I think she looks sweet!
Wedding Guests. Aside from Oeric and Imoo, standing at Prince Aethelbald's side, there are many other fantastical guests at the wedding of the Prince of Farthestshore. Some of them we will meet in later books. The small dark-haired king and his queen with the long hair of liquid gold . . . the flame-orange tiger . . .
Others we have met in fan fiction! Thanks to Hannah, the girl on the back of the giant frog now has her own personality and storyline. Check out Hannah's award-winning short story, Spring Sprig.
And others--like the child leading the white lion on the leash--we will be seeing in another few books to come. (But shhhhh, don't tell!)
Sneaky hint: If you've read through Moonblood, you've actually heard the name of the child leading the white lion. But I doubt you'd be able to guess which one, based on the information given in Heartless (which is a bit misleading).
Imraldera and Monster. I like that first little glimpse we get of the relationship between Imraldera and Monster. They aren't together at all save for this last chapter of Heartless, but we definitely get a hint at a long history between these two! But one you will have to wait to find out over the course of many more books . . .
The song. One last time, we get to hear the wood thrush's song, but this time sung by the wild Faeries of the ocean and the sea unicorns, all singing in celebration of the Prince's great victory and the winning of his forever bride. And Una herself, with newly opened eyes, can see them and their fiery hair and strange beings.
And so we come to a happy ending! As Una smiles into the eyes of her husband, we must close the book, I hope with a happy sigh. It's been quite an adventure, both comical and tragic, taking us all over strange landscapes and into the very depths of an evil heart. But ultimately, this is a triumphant story after the fashion of classic heroes of old. My own, humble retelling of the Great Story, presented to you in the best I could do at the time.
It's been tremendously fun for me to revisit Heartless after many years away from it. I am delighted to say that, on the whole, I am still quite pleased with it! I've improved as a writer, but even so, I wouldn't go back and chance this debut novel of mine. If I wrote it now, it wouldn't be the novel it was meant to be. I hope and pray that it has blessed you to read it as much as it blessed me to write it. God has a plan for this story, and as time goes on, I learn to trust Him with that plan more and more.
All of you readers are a complete delight to me! I feel I've gotten to know all of you through this read-along, and I am quite attached to each and every one of you. You have all brought unique insights, challenging questions, and moments of laughter. Some of you have contributed with artwork and even music! Goldstone Wood is so much more alive in my heart, because it is alive in yours. You are the reason I love to write so much! These stories are for you.
I think it would be very fun to do another read-along, possibly later this year. I think I might not do a Christmas one again, since the Christmas season does tend to be rather busy! But perhaps this fall? We'll discuss it again then as the time draws near.
And in the meanwhile, we have many more fun things coming up on this blog! This week, I'll be posting information on the Fan Art contest I will be hosting this spring, so keep your eyes open for that. And February is going to be a particularly fun month on this blog, for reasons I will make known very soon.
My Personal Favorite Lines.
1. He pulled at the tight collar around his neck and wished to heaven some horrible disease would take all the fashion experts of Parumvir and prevent them from ever designing anything again. (p. 362)
2. Una, as she stood back from her husband's embrace, looked out to the ocean and for the first time saw the Faerie beings in the water, their hair glowing like fire. The sea unicorns raised their heads from the foam and gleamed like so many suns as they sang. (p. 363)
Questions on the Text.
1. So, after all this adventure we've had together, what was your favorite part of Heartless?
2. Who was your favorite character? Can you tell me why?
3. Do you feel you learned anything about yourself while reading this book? Do you feel you learned anything about God and your faith?
4. Would you like to do another read-along with me later this year? If so, what book would you be most interested in?
1. "Is Una basically done from being placed in this series again? She just kind of fades out completely and I miss her." -- Courtney
Courtney's question is echoed by many of you who love my Princess Una and miss her. And I am so delighted by that! Una continues to receive a lot of venom from reviewers even now who cannot stand her immaturity and have no patience to watch her grow through the novel. Modern readers want to identify with tough-as-nails super-heroines, not people like my little Una. So she (and I) get a lot of grief for her immaturity and bad decisions.
Thus I love to hear the love you readers have for her. However . . . I think due to the negative response I received, even from Christian readers, I'm a little shy of featuring Una prominently again. If she does return to the series, it will only be in a small part as a side character. And not for a while, I have to warn you as well. These days, I'm going back in time to tell the stories that came before and led up to Heartless, so Una isn't even born! (Though she will be referenced and even prophesied about at one point.)
I do have tentative plans of writing a novel about Felix someday. Again, not for many years since I'm focusing on the back stories at the moment. He does have a fairly prominent and heroic role in Book 6, which comes out spring 2014, but he's not the hero of that story. If I do end up writing a story featuring him as the hero, I will probably try to bring Una back into that one. She is such an important part of his life, after all!
I hope that answer isn't too disappointing to you, dear readers. And I hope you will find yourselves very attached to the other protagonists I bring into the series! There are a lot of wonderful characters to come.
2. "Also, if it's alright to ask (spoilers for others, perhaps?), is Una or for that matter, Felix, at all mentioned in Dragonwitch?" -- Molly
Actually, I don't believe either of them are mentioned at all in Dragonwitch. So sorry! Dragonwitch takes place a good 1500 years before Heartless, and Parumvir isn't even a nation yet. However, Book 6, as stated above, features Felix in a prominent role, and Una is mentioned several times over. So you will get a little more of our favorite royal siblings in another few books!
3. "Oh, btw, where did you get that artwork?? its SO beautiful!!!! I love it!!!! I wish I could draw like that." -- Molly
Why, thank you, Molly! That is actually one of my own illustrations. I studied Illustration for two years at collage, and I once thought I wanted to write and illustrate novels. Maybe I still will someday? As it is, I just spend time doing sketches and paintings for various promotional things and marketing for the series. If you click on any one of the book pages (listed on the side of this blog), you will find a selection of my own art for each novel. Only one or two pieces per book right now, but I'll probably put up more over time. And, of course, Dragonwitch features the "Characters You Will Meet" page, which are all my own sketches.
And, as a former art teacher, I have to put in the plug . . . anyone can learn to draw! They simply have to A) want to and B) be willing to put the time into learning. :)
4. "About Una: Is there any possible way we will see her in the future--a short story perhaps, or a glimpse in a future novel? She's such a great character, and I love her at the end so much! I'd love to see what her new-found wisdom and stateliness could bring to the world." -- Beka
I, of course, already answered this with Courtney's question, but I wanted to address yours too, Beka, because you bring up an interesting little point! If and when we do see Una again in a much later book, she will be in a very different state than she was in Heartless. As the Prince of Farthestshore's bride, she is transformed and will serve in a powerful and stately role. I have ideas . . . not sure when those ideas will take shape in a novel, but they are brewing!
All such great questions! And so many wonderful comments as well. I particularly liked Anna C.'s comment yesterday about opals and their history. That was fascinating! If you haven't read it yet, go back and see what she found out and shared with us.
I'm going to really miss all this great interaction with you intelligent women. We will definitely do this again. Hugs and blessings to you all!
Check back this evening to learn who won the Grand Prize Giveaway!!!