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  • 09 | *waves weakly from Submission Purgatory*

09 | *waves weakly from Submission Purgatory*

Remember how I said I wouldn't think about it?

A month ago, I wrote that Seeker of the Lost Song was out on submission to publishers. It still is, and I’m still trying not to think about it.

Key word being trying.

They say that one good thing to do when you’re wallowing in Submission Purgatory is to work on something else, which I’ve been doing. Its sequel is still untitled (but my Scrivener file is titled “Aurin,” after the main character), but I have an outline! I’m really happy with it, and I feel like I know the characters well enough to let them do their thing within that guideline.

But one thing I’m struggling with: How can I not think about Seeker when I’m writing its sequel?

One thing that’s great about writing a sequel is that I don’t have to do as much research and worldbuilding as I did for Seeker, its years of false starts and setting changes notwithstanding. The cast of characters are mostly different, yet, the two books are related. They have to be.

So maybe it’d help me to focus on the things in Seeker’s sequel that are different - with the help of a very early moodboard!

Clockwise, from top left:

  1. The setting of “Aurin” is more mountainous than Seeker, more isolated. (The image I’m using as inspiration is from Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province, the Philippines.)

  2. Okay, the sod-roofed wooden cabins in “Aurin” are the same as in Seeker, but these ones have glass windows instead of wood-and-canvas coverings. Different enough, right? 🤔

  3. The clothing vibe is going to be more precolonial Filipino - the patadyong, a woven unisex wraparound skirt, is worn over trousers and under a shirt.

    1. (My MC, Aurin himself, has the vibe of the guy in this photo too. He’s done some shit in tougher times that he’s not proud of, and prefers to work alone - until he has to go on a quest with his rival.)

  4. Forests are emptier, less ordered, more creepy maybe, and there may or may not be secret magic performed there.

  5. The magic systems will be more language-based and song-based - think Väinämöinen and Joukahainen having their spell-song battle in the Kalevala (more on that below).

  6. Kalevala vibes in general, mixed with precolonial Philippines as usual (not pictured).

  7. Music and song is more literal in this book, its magic aided by the almost hypnotic sounds of a kantele, a traditional Finnish plucked string instrument in the box zither family. It has a very pleasing bell-like sound. You can hear a sample of it on YouTube here.

Here’s a sampling of a few things I’ve been inspired by - the first two are about the Kalevala, the second is from the Karelia region.

Some notes on the Finnish epic In the Finnish epic the Kalevala, magic is more important than warfare. The use of magic is always connected to singing songs and the making music. But only when a song is sung with the right words or played with the correct melody it has magical powers and the singer or player is able to influence the physical world.
Kilpalaulanta ("competitive singing") is a spell casting duel in Finnic poetry. The participants cast spells on each other by singing and compete in their level of knowledge. The most famous kilpalaulanta duel was fought between Väinämöinen and Joukahainen when the world was still young. Joukahainen's words turned out to be women and children's little rhymes, while Väinämöinen sung ancient knowledge that shook the earth and made the lakes foam. The might of Väinämöinen's magic pushed Joukahainen down into a bog.[1]
Song types closely related to everyday life were shepherd's songs, various work songs and song spells when going to the forest. Other spells were chanted, for example long birth spells. However, the more common presentation of spells, i.e. "words" or "numbers", was recitative dictation. Spells were intertwined with maintaining a good life: healing and fighting evil.

It feels in a way disorienting to be suddenly writing another novel, but I’m having a great time all the same. My two rivals are on their quest, having a weird time, begrudgingly learning how to understand each other while keeping their own secrets. What’s more exciting for a writer who loves character-driven novels?

PS, where I’ve been interviewed:

Last month I did a Q&A with Susan Sanford Blades for her Girls to the Front newsletter! It was fun to talk about the timeline of writing The Quiet is Loud, worldbuilding, its themes, and of course – its food.⁠ You can check it out here!

Thanks for reading,-

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