“Write what you know” is advice as old as time, and for NaNo 2019 – National Novel Writing Month 2019, that is – I’m going to follow it. My NaNo 2019 prep starts with choosing a project.
I need a change of pace from The Amundsen Effect, the sprawling 120 000 word eco-thriller I’ve worked on for the past couple of years. I can’t think of anything that’s quite as much a change of pace from the heady, tense, horror-tinged and extensively researched novel as the project I have chosen from this year.
This year, I’m diving into middle-grade fantasy with the first two volumes in a series we’re calling The Fairy Forest.
I say “we” because this is very much a family affair this time around. The Fairy Forest is ultimately a story that we’ve been telling for years, in small snippets. When the tooth fairy started visiting Sprints, our eldest, she would leave little notes, letting them know that she was keeping an eye on them and was proud of how they were growing up.
Eventually, when Whistler also started losing teeth, we learned that “Tooth Fairy” was a job title, not just one person. Whistler’s tooth fairy is named Annette. When she started coming to collect lost teeth at our house, she was just a cadet, and a bit of a goofball. Sprints’ tooth fairy, it turns out, is named Susan. She’s a seasoned Tooth Fairy trainer and is invested in Sprints’ life in an almost motherly way. Annette is more like a bubbly pen pal who likes to tell Whistler stories about her friends’ latest shenanigans.
Over the years, we learned about the world of the Fairy Forest. We learned that tooth fairies collect the raw material for much of the Forest’s magic, that there are fairies who look after gardens, others who find lost things, others still who fix things that are broken. There are fairies who shepherd the seasons through their changes and those who defend the Forest and nature everywhere. There are deep archives going back millennia and magic portals and a long, dark history. And there’s an existential threat to the fairies that everyone thought was banished forever. It’s fun and light but also dramatic and high-stakes.
So yes. This year, I’m writing what I know, and I’m excited about it. The best thing is, if ever I encounter a thing I don’t know, I can easily learn just by kicking ideas around with the family. It’s incredible how much more we’ve come up with just by playing with ideas in the car or while cooking.