Artist In Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 10: The story of a story – and how you can help…


Let me take you back a little while. Back in 2002, I attended the World Fantasy convention in Minneapolis – I did the usual things one does on such occasions, even met at least one author whom I fangirled with abandon (and I don’t regret a moment of it…), and in between all the Being At Major Con moments  I attended a bunch of panels – one of which happened to be on YA.

Now, this was not really the park I played in, at least I hadn’t until that day – but the panel had on it several people whose work I liked and admired, and so I thought I’d come and hear what they had to say. One of the panelists was unilateral literal treasure that is Jane Yolen.

She was being everything I expected of her – erudite and funny and wise – until someone in the back of the room lifted a hand and asked some question or other about Harry Potter. And Jane Yolen heaved a deep sigh and said, “I wonder how long it would be before that particular elephant walked into the room…”

Now , you must remember – this was 2002. YA genre literally WAS Harry Potter – it was that, and then there was a whole bunch of vacuum below it until you even hit any other titles at all. But for some reason Jane Yolen’s remark flipped a switch in my brain. I heard very little of the rest of that panel – because I was already lost in my own little world. Inside my head, I was writing the story not of the Boy Who Lived, but of the Girl Who Couldn’t, a Double Seventh, the much lauded and eagelry anticipated seventh child of two seventh children, the most magical of the magical, the greatest magic wielder of them all… except my girl… couldn’t do ANYTHING. It isn’t that she was doing magic badly. It was that apparently she could do no magic at all. In despair, her parents finally send her to a special school – a school for magical dims like herself, the flotsam and jetsam of the magical society, all the misfit kids, which is colloquially known as the Last DItch School for the Incurably Incompetent.

That’s a helluva blow to a magical career, dead before it began.

But then… but then… things start happening for my girl.

My little Thea, as American as Harry is English, finds friends, finds a purpose, and begins to find a place in her world.

In the end it isn’t that she was not magical at all – it was that her greatest magic had been hidden because if it had been revealed too early it might have cost her her life. Instead of being the magical dud Thea, my heroine, gathers up these amazing characters in her wake – a magic user from the dawn of history who introduces her to an array of creatures from North American mythology; one of those, Coyote himself, becomes a huge part of her life (not always a good one…); and she learns the finer points of her magnificent Elemental magic from the only Quad-Element Mage in human history, the man known as teh Wizard of the West, Nikola Tesla himself. Thea is asked to do hard things that nearly destroy her, but instead make her stronger; she makes mistakes, but learns from them; and in the end her powers are the thing that may have began all of human magic, at the dawn of time.

I initially wrote a trilogy (of course) – “The Gift of the Unmage”, “Spellspam”, and “Cybermage” – these were published by Harper Collins, a few years after that momentous inspirational panel – they did a fabulous job, the covers were fantastic, the books came out in hardcover and then went on to paperback editions… well. that was the plan anyway.

The books were published right smack in the middle of what the publishing industry still refers to as the Bloodbath of 2008.

I lost two editors and three or four publicity people in quick order. The third book in the trilogy never even saw a paperback edition – because by that time there was simply nobody left who even knew what these things were, never mind had any interest in promoting or publicising them. In soite of their fantastic reviews, in spite of a genuinely warm reception by those readers who did find the books (a bookseller once blurted to me, about this series, “You write books for the people who love to read!”)… the trilogy shimmered briefly, and then faded away.

The rights eventually came back to me.

I went with a small startup press to reissue the books in paperback, and by this time there was Book 4, “Dawn of Magic”, which brought all the events of the story to a conclusion as well as circling them to the very beginning – I am actually fiercely fond of “Dawn of Magic”, it really has some amazing stuff in it – but alas this was a small startup press and once again the books, although they did acquire audio editions here, languished again.

The rights… came back to me.

I want to reissue the books, properly, with the cover art they deserve – and to that purpose I solicited several artists for quotes as to what it would take to put together the kind of thing I had in mind.

It will not surprise you to learn that good art comes at a PRICE. I have several quotes in hand. The lowest starts at $2000.

This art – if it should come to pass – will be MAGNIFICENT. The books that the covers will grace remain (to me anyway) worthy, if not occcasionally astonishing (this story did not come easily, nor was it predictable even to me when I was writing it. Thea was a gift. So were all the people who came with her.

But I need help.

I started a fundraiser on Facebook – and I wrote about it on my blog, too – and now I’m here, telling YOU all about it. As of the time of writing, I am about half-funded, in terms of that lowest estimate. I would be utterly grateful for your support, to raise the rest. I have already pledged that anyone who puts in $50 or more goes on the list for copies of the books – which are very likely, in fact, to be produced right here on Book View Cafe in due time… but any amount that you are willing and able to contribute will be gratefully received You WILL be acknowledged.

. You can donate either via the Facebook fundraiser, or via that blog post on my site which also has alternative ways of contributing if you don’t want to tangle with FB (several people asked about PayPal possibilities, and that link is up at the blog post on my site; there is also the option, which does give you its own rewards, of simply joining my Patreon at $5/month and pledging to stay a supporter for at least a year…).

Please – if you can – consider helping these tales into their third and their FINAL (these books I will never allow to go out of print) incarnations. Before I can make this story rise once more… *I need that cover art*. And that… is now up to readers… like you.

For anything that you are willing or able to do to help… I thank you.




Artist In Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 10: The story of a story – and how you can help… — 4 Comments

    • They will be – but right now they are out of print and the rights are back with me. I need the new cover art – and they’ll be back – in print as in ebook – the current editions are quite simply unavailable and out of print and I”m trying to get them back into circulation 🙂

  1. Someone emailed me asking if there would be any more books in this universe – and the answer is no, I don’t think so, I believe I wrapped this all up with #4 – but here’s the thing – I could easily write a couple of short stories, perhaps as bonus for the books when they come out, perhaps just as “tier rewards” – so – any interest in that out there…?