Starting with a Spark: Ember of Foxfire

It had been a while since I started a completely and wholly new story. Yes, there were a few starts, a couple short stories, a couple incomplete beginnings that have since been largely abandoned, but nothing I’d intended to be a real new world.

You see, I have been working on a series of fantasy novels since 2011. I finally completed my editing process in the month of March 2016 and sent it out to my first potential publisher. I had spent years upon years, countless hours and brain cells, thinking and living and breathing that world.

And then it was time to step back and wait, and I was left in a story vacuum.

After editing for so long, bouncing back from a huge dry spell, and needing something new purely for the joy of creation, I needed fresh inspiration. I thought about how things had started for the previous series. That was simple: I had been watching I Dream of Jeannie and really wanted to tell a story from the perspective of a genie. And it grew and morphed into a new, complex, colorful world filled with characters I loved. Stories I had to tell. Worlds I wanted to explore.

But what about now? All I had was my current fascination with urban fantasy. I was sucked into worlds of werewolves, floating on ocean waves with sirens, dreaming of creatures who prowled the night and fought evil right in our own world or in variations of our world.

And I love it.

But, truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of vampires, I’m not feeling the urge to write beautiful mermaid tales, and the world is saturated with werewolf fiction. So where did that leave me?

I narrowed down that I wanted to write urban fantasy. But I was still without the “fantasy” element. I scoured online lists of mythological beings, writing out notes on selkies, swan maidens, and kitsune, just to name a few. And of everything I read, I kept coming back to the kitsune. I searched for other kitsune fiction, and while it was there, it was sparse and questionable. But I wanted to read about fox shifters. They didn’t have to be perfect kitsune. But they were different and powerful and had a hierarchy already built in to their growth and development. It was the first spark.

And then a character started forming in my mind. A half fox shifter, half human girl just entering her independence in the human world after years of learning from the other fox shifters. She was young, naive, and not exactly popular with her peers because of her parentage. But she was also brave and strong and wasn’t afraid to be both girly and tough.

But what would happen to her? I’m not a huge fan of romance, especially the love-at-first-sight kind that plagues a lot of urban fantasy, so I knew I wanted it to be romance light or romance free. I knew she would have a fully fox brother who was older and more experienced than her. And then I read more about the kitsune. I created a similar North American kitsune lore. I developed the basic plot of what would happen to my character. I knew where she was going and what she would be facing. I knew how she would have to grow. I saw her trials, her enemies, and her friends. I had finally met Ember.

And there it was. I was ready to start creating again.

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