Dear imps, welcome to the second Goldstone Wood Christmas read-along! I can't believe it's already been a year since we read Heartless together. But here we are again, ready to dive into Veiled Rose.
A few things before we start: If you have any questions on the text (or the series, though try to keep things Veiled Rose focused), feel free to ask them in the comments below. I will try to answer them in the next day's post, though I may end up having to wait and do a bunch of question-answering at the end of the week.
There are going to be giveaways at the end of each week, so don't miss out on those! You can check yesterday's post for details on how you can get your name entered. Winners will be randomly selected, but there are a number of things you can do to get your name into the raffle several times over. The more times your name is entered, the better your chance to win.
And I think that's all I needed to cover. So let's dive into the story!
Wow, it has been a long time since I read this book.
Well, maybe not that long. After all, it's not really that long since I wrote it. I drafted this version of the story in a little more than two months during the summer of 2010. So three years (and a bit) ago now.
That was insane.
You see, I had already the year before written an entirely different version of Veiled Rose. A lot of things were the same: the veiled girl with a goat companion—her friend Leo who turns out to be the prince—her rival, the beautiful Lady Daylily. And, of course, the Dragon. I'll probably make mention of that other version (possibly even share snippets from it) as we read this book together. I really enjoyed writing it, and was very proud of it when I sent it to my agent. She also loved it. So I passed it on to my publishing house.
And they hated it.
In fact, they wanted to skip it entirely and go directly from Heartless to Moonblood. Which, as those of you who have read the series know, was a mess. Though I made an attempt to write Moonblood as a sequel to Heartless, it just doesn't have the background it needs without Veiled Rose.
So that's how I ended up writing this version of Veiled Rose in two months. We were getting pretty late in the production process of Moonblood when I begged my publishers to allow me to rewrite Veiled Rose instead. Reluctantly, they agreed.
Much of the book we will be reading is recognizable from the original draft. But, to make it a more suspenseful and exciting story, I decided to keep more secrets this time around. For instance, we don't know what Rose Red looks like until the end of the book. In the original version, you find out in the first chapter. We also don't know who Leo is until mid-way through the story. In the original version, we find that out within a chapter or two as well.
I also increased Lady Daylily's role in this version, which I think was a good decision. She was all right in the original version, but she was very much a background character. In this version, I brought her forward and gave her a chance to shine in all her conflicted glory.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll get into all of those details as we go along! For now, let's focus on this opening . . .
The Dedication: My David Rohan is, of course, my handsome husband, Rohan. I really could not dedicate this book to anyone else. You see, Rohan was courting me, proposing to me, and planning a wedding with me during those two months when I had to write this entire novel. If any of you have ever tried to write a novel, you will know that it is hard work, no matter the time frame.
And I've already been paid for it?
"This is madness!"
As a result, I spent a good portion of those two months raving mad. And yet Rohan still loved me, still proposed to me, and still planned a wedding with me. I basically finished the manuscript, sent it off to my publishers, and hastened to the wedding ceremony! Through it all, Rohan was a rock, always patient, loving, and there for me. He has continued to be just as patient and loving through our marriage. So yes, this book is dedicated to him, and he more than deserves it.
The First Line: Hill House, though abandoned, had remained unscathed during the years of the Dragon's occupation.
When I finally received word from my publishers that they were going to let me go through with the rewrites—and then was told the timeframe I had in which to do it—I nearly panicked. But when I sat down and opened the blank document, this sentence immediately formed in my mind. I wrote it down, and the rest of this prologue came together in a heartbeat. It really was a blessing from God!
Hill House: The house itself—home of Leo's aunt and cousin where he is sent to spend his summer holidays as a boy—became the perfect place to introduce the new story while still tying it back to Heartless. It's funny to me now, but I think Hill House itself was a huge reason this book works! It had not existed in the original draft, which began on the grounds of the Eldest’s House and stayed there for much of the book. But by uprooting all my characters and setting them in this whole new location, I was able to get a fresh look at all of them and their storylines.
Some few of you might recognize the name from the famous novel, The Haunting of Hill House. I had just read that novel at the recommendation of some friends a few years before . . . and was SCARED OUT OF MY MIND. I'd never read a horror novel before, and while it was fantastically well-written and I appreciated the genius, I have solemnly vowed to never, never, never read another horror novel again.
But I liked the name “Hill House,” which suits the naming scheme I use for Southlands. So literary hauntings and several sleepless nights aside, I went ahead and bestowed the name upon Leo's summer getaway.
Use of Time: This prologue sets up for the rest of the novel to be told in backstory. A bit of a daring choice in current fiction, which tends to be very focused on the here and now. It isn't until the last chapter of Veiled Rose that we catch up to Leo again and find out why he was climbing the mountain to begin with. So the whole novel is basically to explain the prologue!
Like I said, a bit daring. But I really like how it works. It creates a sense of full-circle, which is very much needed in Veiled Rose. Otherwise, this novel feels too much like the in-between-book . . . a sequel of sorts to Heartless, a set-up for Moonblood. Because of this time loop, however, Veiled Rose becomes an entity unto itself.
The nameless hero: We don't even know the name of this young man as he climbs to Hill House. I like that little added level of mystery. Who is he? What is he doing there? We must turn pages to discover answers to these questions. Good fiction is all about leading your reader forward with questions. If you feed them too much information right away (even down to a character's name sometimes), what is the point of continuing the story?
Little hints: There are plenty of little hints and foreshadowing about the character as we follow him up the hill. The line, "Lately, he felt far lonelier in a crowd than when left to himself" is a huge indication of isolation and even shame. Yet another question to tempt the reader to keep turning those pages!
The beanpole: What the heck is with the beanpole? I'm sure this was a common question among those reading the book for the first time! But here we have yet another hint about the story to come, a story that begins in childhood and the realm of imagination.
After all, when we were children, we tended to see the importance of humble things far more readily than we do now as adults. Perhaps this hero needs to return to that childlike wonder. Perhaps he needs the beanpole, not because of what it is, but because of what it means. To the child it meant heroics and adventure and great deeds!
But is this man a hero, a doer of great deeds? He does not seem to be anything of the kind. So he seeks out the beanpole, a symbol of what he once wished to be. And perhaps he hopes to reclaim a little of that lost ideal . . .
The Dragon: Of course, the BIG question this selection leaves us with is, What went on with that Dragon????
If dragons aren't a reason to keep reading, I don't know what is!
Questions on the Text:
1. Not much to ask questions about here. So instead, why don’t you tell me about a time you had a crazy deadline. What did you have to accomplish? In what timeframe? How did you get through it?
2. What was your favorite line or lines of this selection?