The Iron Fey. The Call of the Forgotten. The Blood of Eden. Julie Kagawa’s list of impressive fantasy series seems to grow by leaps and bounds with every passing year – and this month, she adds the first book in the Talon series to the list.
Aspiring writers might envy her ability to craft dozens of characters in a slew of different worlds, it takes patience and time to build each world.
“It’s different for every book. For the Iron Fey, I tried to give the Nevernever a surreal and dreamlike feel, where the landscape looked like the real world, almost, but something was just a little off about it. For Talon, the setting is our world, only with dragons,” said Kagawa.
Kagawa’s Talon started years ago – if you count the first draft. She’s written the story over and over again, with the only two constants being the main characters: Ember and Garret.
“Ember was always a stubborn, fiery dragon, and Garret was always a quiet, introverted dragonslayer. When I started Talon, these two came very easily to me because I feel like I’ve known them so long. Sometimes they’ll have minds of their own, but what will usually happen is I’ll be writing a scene and it just won’t feel right, that no matter what I do the characters aren’t cooperating… until I step back and realize I’m trying to force them to do something they normally wouldn’t do, something that’s completely out of character. Once I realize that, I’ll back up and tackle it from a different angle, because if you shoehorn the characters into doing something just because the plot said it had to be that way, it won’t feel right, and your readers will know it’s out of character.”
Kagawa challenges herself with her writing – pushing herself until her characters are just right, until the world feels real, until the plot aligns just so. It doesn’t just click together as many first-time writers dream. She plots the main points and makes up everything in between, always knowing how the book will end before it starts. The first milestone happens at the 50,000 word mark, which indicates a halfway point for her where everything gets a little easier. Finishing a draft earns her a celebratory dinner.
Editing earns her weeks of hard work, where she figures out just what to keep and what to cut.
“The challenge [for Talon]was coming up with the different factions, like Talon and the Order of St. George. Because the story takes place in the present day, I had to know exactly how they worked, where they existed within the real world. I used real world examples to base the factions on; the Order is a militaristic organization, while Talon is a huge corporate monster with connections that span the globe.”
And for writers who want to have the same fantastical success that Kagawa does?
“There’s really no one way, no magic formula. Everyone is different, and everyone will have different experiences. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. So, the best advice I can give anyone is just to persist. Keep writing. Keep typing, one word after another. Eventually, if you don’t give up, you’ll have a finished book.”