Quick reminder, if you want to ask questions, please do so in the comments, and I will get back to them as soon as can be, posting my answers either in the next day's post or at the end of the week (depending on how crazy my schedule is). And if you're wondering how to get your name entered in the weekly giveaways, check out the November 30 post.
Now, we left off yesterday with our strange little heroine vanishing. What will happen next?
Vanished: We open this passage with a rather baffled Leo, turning this way and that in his efforts to find the mysterious girl. But she truly seems to have vanished in midair! Only then does our hero realize that she probably knows a whole lot more about the mountain monster he seeks than anyone else he’s talked to. So, determined to find her, he sets out in pursuit, scrambling up the mountainside in what he hopes will prove the right direction. He doesn’t even know her name at this point to call after her!
But he is starting to realize that she is not like the other girls he knows—all the “pretty little Starflowers and Daylilies and Dewdrops.”
Hmmmm. I’ve had two Starflowers and one Daylily as major characters in my stories. Maybe it’s time to start finding space for a Dewdrop as well. Though I can’t say I like the name quite as much.
Up the Mountain: In his futile pursuit of the girl—who won’t be found if she does not wish to be—Leo climbs much further up this particular mountain than is maybe a good idea. Indeed, he climbs even beyond the tree line, up in the bare rocky slopes where the air is cold and thin. Though this isn’t the tallest mountain in the range, since the narrative describes the sister mountains as looming above him.
Poor Leo begins to realize that he’ll probably be out after dark. That he might not know the way home at all . . .
“I led you up the mountain.” Suddenly, the girl appears above him and motions for him to follow her. She even claims that she led him up here, though Leo hadn’t caught a glimpse of her during his climb. Still, he did somehow manage to follow her . . . Perhaps she led him by some means or method of which he is unaware? Again, there is a lot more to this girl than meets the eye.
Which is where the veil symbolism comes into play . . .
But I won’t deal with that here and now. Veils are such an important symbol in this story, I’m sure we can find a better place to discuss them as things progress. But do consider them, not just as a prop or an article of clothing, but as a symbol in this little tale.
Power switch: I do like how swiftly the power has switched from Leo to Rose Red. Leo has gone from trying to chase the annoying girl away from him to doing everything he can to keep up with her, even to the point of allowing himself to be manipulated by her. Perhaps the power hasn’t switched at all . . . perhaps it’s only Leo’s perception of power. After all, he never could make her leave him alone or control her in any way in the previous chapter. She has a mind of her own. But she can lead him, even without him realizing it, and she can convince him to do things he doesn’t even particularly want to do anymore. So it looks like Rose Red might be the dominant one of these two after all.
But is that even the case? After all, she is obviously so eager to please him . . .
The Path: Here we get the first indication of what types of abilities our heroine might enjoy—including the ability to see a Path which our hero cannot. Readers of the Goldstone Wood series will guess that this Path might be a Faerie Path, even, existing not in the mortal world, but in the Between. Leo, as a mortal, would not be able to see it or use, certainly not on his own.
But a girl with a little fey blood in her veins might be able to perceive things in the worlds beyond. And once more, she leads Leo in ways he cannot understand.
The Circle of Faces: The legend about the giants turned to stone is an interesting one. If the story is true—which it very well might be—I would imagine those giants lived in the Far World of Faerie, and not actually in this mortal world. But when they were turned to stone in their world, it could easily have had a ripple effect into this world, thus forming these mountains.
It’ll be interesting to see, as the series progresses, if the giants ever wake up . . . though the text does say that they have “crumbled into mere mountains,” which might mean the giants are beyond recall. Who knows! There are a lot of books to come. (I will admit here and now that I don’t have any specific plans to wake up these giants. But I never know where exactly this series will take me, so it might happen one day. It’s an intriguing thought.)
Maw: Oh, dear. I have a pet peeve against the word “maw” because it is SO TREMENDOUSLY OVERUSED in fantasy fiction. And here I’ve gone ahead and used it in one of my own books! Sigh. Well, I’ll just be extra certain it doesn’t creep into any more of my manuscripts . . .
Let that be a lesson to you, writers all. Beware your own pet peeves.
The wolf’s head cave: As many of you may already know, Goldstone Wood started out a series of short stories and novellas set in this world. One of the earliest stories I wrote was “The Legend of Two Brothers,” which is described by Leo in this chapter (more on that in a moment). One of the others was “Maid Starflower and the Wolf Lord,” which eventually turned into the novel Starflower.
The wolf’s head cave first appeared in that short story version of Starflower. It is (SPOILER ALERT!) an opening from the Netherworld into the mortal world, and is quite deliciously creepy. So, though I had only the most vague plans at the time to write the Starflower novel, I remember the short story while writing Veiled Rose and particularly remember that cave. So I decided to lift it out of the short story and put in here as a nice lurking place for the as-yet-undisclosed villain of this story.
Sadly, the cave never made it into the novel Starflower. Because I had placed it so far down in the southern mountains of this country, I felt odd to pick it up and shift it north to be closer to the Place of the Teeth where all of that Starflower drama takes place. I suppose I could have said that, because it’s not really of the mortal world, it could shift. But that felt like cheating. So Starflower had to make her epic flight through the mountains without the creepy addition of the wolf’s head cave . . . all because I thought it would be a fun thing to add into Veiled Rose. LOL!
The cave had also been part of the short story “Legend of Two Brothers,” which is mentioned in this chapter and which forms a significant part of the storyline in book 5, Dragonwitch. So, I had an opportunity to bring the cave back for a little cameo come Dragonwitch, which was fun. And maybe I’ll find another story in which to give it a moment prominence later on.
The Names: As I said above, the “Legend of Two Brothers” was one I played around with for quite a few years before putting it down in this novel. There are several little stories about Etanun and Akilun tucked away in various notebooks (which I still have somewhere . . . up in the attic, maybe?). They didn’t go by those names back then. I gave them the much more allegorical names. Something like StrongArm and StoutHeart, I think. Not those names exactly, but something rather similar. When it came time for their little moment in Veiled Rose, I decided to give them names based on my half-invented Faerie language. Thus they were rechristened.
I admit, I sometimes wish now that I had given Etanun a different name. Several people have complained about how much “Etanun” and “Eanrin” look alike . . . and it’s true! But since Eanrin hardly features in this book at all, I never noticed the similarity until long after Veiled Rose was in print, while I was drafting Dragonwitch. Whoops. Sorry, readers! My bad.
Ashiun is another unusual name, and one I’m not quite sure I like. It’s based on Asha, which is “hope” in my Faerie language. According to my half-invented Faerie language, the form of the word that would make for a pluralized name—a name that incorporates more than one person—would be Ashiun. Thus they became the Brothers Ashiun, which means the Brothers Hope (nice and allegorical if you only know the Faerie language!). But even then, I thought “Ashiun” sounded odd, and I almost changed it.
But then, when Leo said, “Ashiun!” it seemed so natural for Rose Red to answer, “Bless you,” that I couldn’t bear to change it after all. Oh, what we do for the sake of a giggle!
I like the little fun-poking at these odd Faerie names: “Leo preferred the legends of his own kingdom in which the heroes had names he could pronounce . . .” Heheh. And, of course, all the Southlander names are made up of English words, so none of my English readers, at least, have trouble pronouncing them either. A blessing in a fantasy novel!
Leo the Dramatist: Because I decided to tell the legend itself via Leo’s perspective on it, I didn’t get to use the more prettily-written story . . . which features instead as the prologue of Dragonwitch! But I enjoyed “translating” it into Leo’s boyhood memory of the story he had been taught, complete with his sound-effects.
“She came bursting from the Far World in a great POOF!”
“Poof?” The girl looked unimpressed.
“You know what I mean.” (p. 37)
Leo definitely displays his flair for the dramatic in this scene! It’s no wonder chooses the future profession he does later in the story . . .
Near and Far: This interlude is particularly interesting in that it is the first solid information about several important aspects of the Goldstone Wood universe. For instance, Leo explains to Rose Red about the Far World of Faerie—which he declares isn’t real. So we first learn (at least, I think we first learn. Remind me, imps, did I talk about the Far World and the Near in Heartless? I might have, but I don’t have my copy on hand for reference) about the two different worlds which are separated, we learn later, by the Between.
Halisa, Asha, and the Houses of Light: We also learn about the sword, Halisa—which Leo also calls Fireword, which is its Southlander name—and the Asha Lantern. And we hear about the Houses of Light as well, though Leo doesn’t call them that. He describes them simply as “enormous halls with doors opening east and west. And when the older brother shone the light of his lantern inside them, the glow remained for years afterwards.” I don’t think we see anything of these great houses again until Dragonwitch. But here they are established for the first time as part of the lore of this world. A fun connection!
The Dragon: We also are introduced—or reintroduced for those of you who have read Heartless—to the Dragon. He is, of course, one of the most important characters in this novel, so I had to start getting references to him in early. (Besides the curses of “Dragon’s teeth!”)
The Dragonwitch is also given an introduction in this book. I don’t believe I mentioned her in Heartless, but she is one of the oldest characters in the Goldstone Wood world, and I knew I wanted to start giving her references early in the series in order set up for her novel. So she is introduced here with Leo’s story, and later on makes a chilling appearance . . . but you’ll have to wait for that bit.
Leo also introduces the important point about Faerie kings and queens possessing three lives . . . which comes back as a particularly important storyline come Moonblood! So pay attention to that little tidbit.
“What’s the good of a story that ain’t got a happy endin’?” Heh. This is a question I faced over and over again back when Veiled Rose first released, and I was foolish enough to read reviews. Not everyone liked how I chose to end this book, that’s for sure! But, as Leo says here, “Maybe it does have a happy ending. At least, when it’s actually complete . . . there might be a story out there somewhere to make it happy.”
Maybe there is. Or maybe a bunch of stories. As Leo says, “I suppose you have to read all the legends together to know for sure.” I suppose you’re right, Leo. I suppose you’re right . . .
This little section also got me into some trouble later on with Dragonwitch. (SPOILERS!) I don’t want to write something that’ll give anything away for those who haven’t read Dragonwitch yet . . . but for those of you who have, you should be able to follow what I mean! When I wrote the ending of that story, my editors complained. They said that Rose Red, in this section of Veiled Rose, had implied that the ending of Etanun and Akilun's story would be different. That certain characters would have a “happy ending,” and that a “happy ending” had to mean . . . well, not what I chose to make it mean.
But I would argue that the story of the Brothers Ashiun does have a happy ending. One which I think even Rose Red would approve should she ever learn it.
“Plan my assault”: Though Rose Red suggests that Leo will have to enter the cave in order to discover whether or not the monster is inside, Leo says that he should probably “retire and plan his assault” first. Is our intrepid hero making excuses again?
When Rose Red once more mentions her “nanny,” Leo suddenly relaxes. He believes that she must be making up having a “nanny,” so perhaps she’s making up all this nonsense about monsters as well.
Because Leo is already realizing that he would much prefer pretending to be a hero than actually being a hero. Oh, this boy! He has such a long way to go.
Names: Leo and Rose Red finally exchange names at the end of the story. Names are an important theme in my series—not so much in this book, but in later books very much so. So I like this little interlude where they finally share their names with each other.
The funny thing is, neither one of them has given the other a real name. One of them has purposefully withheld the truth. The other does not know the truth . . .
1. Leo and Rose Red are very different people, displaying very different strengths and weaknesses. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Of the two, who do you think is the stronger character? Who has the most control in this relationship?
2. For those of you who have read the other stores in this series: When Leo and Rose Red exchange names, neither one of them is actually telling the truth. Since names are such an important symbol in this series, what do you think this little exchange then means for these two characters? What do you think it reveals about the two of them? What does it foreshadow?
3. So my big fear in sharing Leo’s version of the Brother’s Ashiun story was that no one would be able to take it seriously should they ever encounter it in a more serious form later on in the series. Now that Dragonwitch has released, what do you readers think? Did you find the prologue of that book a little harder to swallow having already heard Leo’s dramatization of it? Was it made more interesting because you’d heard a little about it before?
4. Any favorite lines?
Q & A
Caitlyn wants to know: "At the beginning of the chapter it mention's the Wolf Lord's ghost (I've read this book before). Is the Wolf Lord in this book later, or do we meet the Wolf Lord in another novel?"
SPOILERS: Yes, the Wolf Lord does make an appearance in this book later on, briefly. And in my fourth novel, Starflower, the Wolf Lord is the primary antagonist, and he is quite creepy. You should check it out!
Caitlyn also wants to know: "Why does every character either have an animal's/flower name attached, just curious?"
The reason for this is that when I wrote Heartless I really wanted the cowardly prince to be named "Lionheart" for the sake of the dramatic contrast. It then became something of a game to make all of the characters in his realm have names that matched his: King Hawkeye, Maid Starflower, Captain Catspaw, etc.
I have to admit, if I could go back and do it over again, I probably wouldn't have tried this! Coming up with "Southlander" style names is a bit frustrating, a constant battle with cheesiness. I even named a character "Darkwing" in my fourth book, Starflower. After it was in print I realized, "Oh, no! Everyone's going to think of Darkwing Duck!"
And now you'll all think of Darkwing Duck too. Or maybe not. Maybe Darkwing Duck was before your time, and I'm simply dating myself but am otherwise okay . . .
Anyway, Southlander names are a bit of a hassle. But I'm committed now, so there's no turning back. LOL.
Allison Ruvidich wants to know: "My question is, so far the first six books of the series follow, more or less, a general plot arc, with a similar cast of characters. In future Tales of Goldstone Wood books, do you plan on going in a whole new direction, or can we expect to see familiar characters in them?"
Oh, yes, all of the stories will continue to be as heavily connected as ever. There will be new characters--just like in Dragonwitch, when our main protagonists were an entirely new cast, but Eanrin and Imraldera carried on from the previous books. Book 7, Golden Daughter will be featuring both new and familiar characters, though the main heroine--the titular Golden Daughter--is new. The major characters of Book 8 have been referenced in the first five of my published novels, some by name, others by association. You'll continue to see dramatic connections, and each book will make the previous books appear that much more complex. Book 7 sheds some interesting light on events in Book 1, etc.
But the main character who continues through all the books planned (so far) is Eanrin. He doesn't appear very much in Veiled Rose, but in all of the other novels, he plays a pretty significant role.
Now the novellas are a different story altogether. Because those are little shorts, they will for the most part be stand-alone tales set within the same world (and Eanrin won't be in most of them). Goddess Tithe is heavily connected with Veiled Rose, but the next novella will be much more stand-alone.
Though I'll give you this hint: the next novella features Akilun . . . Etanun a little bit too, but mostly Akilun.
Anonymous (Hi, Anonymous! Do you want to give us a name to call you by? I don't mind calling you Anonymous, but it seems a bit unfriendly . . . I might just pick a name for you. Maybe Southlander name . . . heheh.) Anyway, Anonymous wants to know: "Heartless and Veiled Rose time period overlap each other. Was it hard to write that way?"
Yes and no. These early parts of Veiled Rose weren't difficult because they didn't need to coincide with anything in Heartless, so I could pretty much do what I wanted. I needed to make certain that Leo's age matched up with Heartless and with (SPOILERS!) the timeline of his five year exile from Southlands.
It was difficult, however, to write the overlapping scenes. Obviously, Leo's experiences in Parmuvir are a major part of his life and story, so I couldn't skip over them. The climax of his story is directly involved with his dealings with Una. But I needed to try to find away to make those overlapping scenes feel fresh and interesting in the context of this story. I couldn't simply rewrite what I had already done.
Telling those scenes from Leo's perspective did make for an interesting change. Most of Heartless is seen through Una's eyes, but Leo's perspective is quite different. That definitely helped! But, yes, those parts of the story were quite a challenge.
All of Rose Red's story, however, was pretty smooth sailing. Other than making certain the timeline matched up, I could go where I pleased with her narrative.
Anonymous also wants to know: "Will Rose Red be in Shadow Hand? Say yes!"
Oh, you really want those spoilers, don't you?
Well . . . Rose Red is important in Shadow Hand. Not vitally important, but important to one character in particular. I'll tell you that much. Other than that, I hate to say.
(SPOILERS!) I will tell you that I do plan to write another book about Rose Red after she becomes Queen Varvare. And yes, Lionheart will be in that book too . . . but that will probably be a few years yet. I need to write the story of Vahe and Oeric first. And Beana.
Sara wants to know: "Ooh...how much of the next book is foreshadowed in that snippet of a poem?"
Quite a lot of it, actually! And those of you who have read Dragonwitch will have an even better idea what it's talking about. But there's much more to the poem and much more to the book as well.
Athelas Hale wants to know: "Leo really is a very realistic little boy. Was there someone that you based him off of?"
I grew up with three brothers, so young Leo is a combination of all three of them. If I had to pick one brother he is most like--probably my middle brother, who is the most clownish, the most charming, the most handsome, and, by way of interesting contrast, the most insecure. But really all three of them inspired me.