Last week, to get us into the spirit for This Cursed Flame‘s release, we discussed some of my favorite genie books (by the way, I definitely missed The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross… so good, but not traditional genies. They’re called daevas, but they share some traits with mythological djinn.).
This week, though, I want to go over the development of This Cursed Flame, from story seed to the version that is up for pre-order on Amazon and all other major retailers now. Buckle in, folks. It’s been a long journey.
As you will likely notice in some of next week’s coming material, this book started as just an idea stemming from an old sitcom. I went through a major phase of loving classic sitcoms when I was in middle school, and honestly, I never grew out of it. Sitcoms were my own personal comic relief during school and at the end of rough days. They were light and fluffy and full of magic or imagination or simply characters and worlds (even the realistic ones) I loved.
One of those sitcoms I especially loved was I Dream of Jeannie, but you will have to come back next week for more on that. 😉 It inspired an idea in me in 2011, the summer after I graduated from undergrad. I loved the scenes where we got to see Jeannie’s world, inside her bottle, things from her perspective.
And I wanted more. I wanted a book from the perspective of a genie.
It started with an idea of a human girl stolen away from her life and transformed into one of the djinn… but as such, she could never be really djinn (or really human), and so she was thrust into a world not her own where she could never belong anywhere again.
That first version had extra characters, too. And boy did it make the book confusing! The first difference between early versions and the final version is that I had a sub-antagonist instead of the main antagonist, Ahriman. It made little sense, but to my baby writer brain (I was only just realizing what it took to finish a story, even though I’d been writing since elementary school) it felt right.
But the story felt complete to me, and I wanted to publish. I entered grad school and realized how much I loved writing and wanted to share it with the world. I initially wanted to publish this version myself, independently, but life changed during grad school in about 2014, and I suddenly couldn’t afford to hire the professionals who would help me.
So I queried it for traditional publishing. I got some interest, but no one wanted it after reading it through and through.
So I took it back to edits, and I removed that sub-antagonist, and I tried a little more querying with the same results through 2017. I shared this version on Wattpad as well, and got a few enthusiastic views, but I still wasn’t happy with it, and I decided to go back to edits again and head toward independent publishing again (in 2018), now that my financial situation had changed.
So I hired a developmental editor, who suggested a mountain of changes. I had another team member, Afya Sura, who I still love, even though I ultimately had to cut her out of the story. And then there was the human… you’ll see when you start reading that Laurelin is the main human character, and her boyfriend is Cody. Well, it became apparent during edits that Cody served no useful purpose in the story… but Laurelin had a pretty good one. And then there’s Safiyya. I bulked up her backstory and her role and it turned out so beautifully!
And, finally in January 2019, this was the story I wanted to tell, the story I needed to share. I had started 8 years ago with a theme of “Dragons can be beaten”, and eventually I realized that my theme was actually “Sometimes we put ourselves in the bottle.” It covers the story and the feelings I had for it when I started, even though I didn’t realize it yet.
And now, on April 27, 2019, it will be available as this final version as an independently published novel. And I couldn’t be happier!!!
It’s been a long journey, and I know you will adore it just as much as I do. I can’t wait for it to be in your hands in just one week!
Be sure to come back tomorrow for the kick-off of the launch week festivities, and until then, let me know about your own story’s journey in the comments below!