Esprit de la Rose started as something akin to therapy.
In March of 2014, my grandfather passed away. Of all of my relatives outside my direct family, he had been the most encouraging, the most talkative, and the most kind when it came to my writing. He read my little short stories and poems, even though they probably weren't very good. He read Ember Flame, even though he had never read nor watched anything resembling fantasy before. He was awesome.
I've never been one for overt displays of emotion. When I'm happy, I tend to smile a bit more. When I'm sad, I tend to be a bit more quiet. But that's it. I rarely cry, and when I do, it is never in front of anyone else. I managed to find time to be alone once during the week following his death, and I cried for about five minutes, then I wiped my face and it was over. I didn't cry again.
After we came back from the funeral, I immediately dove into studying for finals, the ACT and SAT, and AP English. I thought about Grandad a bit, and I was sad, but it never really hurt that much. In the back of my mind, it bothered me that I wasn't hurting a bit more. I felt like something was wrong, but I was too busy to really think about it.
I did well on all of my tests. Then it was summer, and I tried to work on Hail Frost.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened. I've had writer's block before, and the best solution is just to push through it and keep writing. It didn't work. I literally could not write. I could not remember my plot. I could not make my words form sentences. My characters weren't talking. It was like they were grieving because I was too busy to grieve. It was scary.
During the summer, we took a two week vacation to Daytona Beach in Florida. I was sure that the change in scenery would jumpstart Hail Frost. I was excited, and after a long day of playing with my siblings on the beach, feeling tired and happy and smelling like ocean, I flopped down onto my bed and opened my laptop. I opened Hail Frost... and stared at the blinking cursor.
I was upset, and I nearly cried, but I shared a room with my sisters so I didn't. Instead, I logged into the slow wi-fi and clicked aimlessly through the blogs I followed, feeling jealous at the writing that seemed to come so easily for them. One of the blogs, I don't remember which, had a post about the author's excitement for the new Five Enchanted Roses contest.
I perked up a bit. Oh yeah, that.
I had followed the news about the Five Glass Slippers contest, though I hadn't entered. I had already read the collection earlier that summer, and absolutely LOVED it. I had been giddy when I had seen that the next contest would be about Beauty and the Beast, my favorite fairy tale and Disney movie. I had considered entering, but decided I had too much work to do with Hail Frost.
Except that nothing was working.
I allowed myself a moment of fanciful consideration. If, just if, I entered the contest, what would I write about?
The answer came immediately. Pirates.
The first novel I had ever written had been a pirate adventure. I was spending two glorious weeks at a picturesque beach. My favorite childhood books were Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Swiss Family Robinson, Isle of Swords, and The Blood Ship. Heck, my first crush had been Captain Jack Sparrow.
Okay, brain, but how could one possibly write a Beauty and the Beast story with pirates?
I didn't expect an answer. If my brain could not even write a novel that had been completely outlined and obsessed over for years, how could it help me with this?
I instantly had the plot. I instantly had the characters. I instantly had the theme.
I started scribbling. Then I outlined. And then I started writing.
The writing came easily, and it was fun. Esprit de la Rose was an exciting, swashbuckling, hair-raising writing adventure. I hope some of my feelings while simply writing the story transferred into the story itself. Some of the themes were a bit hard for me to write, since I was making the villains of the story reflections of how I used to be, and it made me a little sad, because this was the first story Grandad wouldn't have his ear talked off about. But it was nice to write it and think about Grandad while writing it. I feel like the theme expresses who he was as a person better than any dedication or obituary could. He was selfless and adventurous and filled with grace, seeing the roses in people when it would be so much easier to only see the thorns. He even had a piece of paper stuck to his fridge that said "You can complain because the rosebush has thorns, or you can rejoice because the thornbush has roses". He obviously took that message to heart.
There are lots of other contributing factors that went into the making of Esprit, but the story would not have even existed were it not for Grandad and grace.
I hope all of you have as much fun reading Esprit de la Rose as I did writing it! Your support means so much to me. Thank you!
You might have already seen this floating about the Internet, but here is the title page for Esprit de la Rose!
Isn't it amazing? I love all the little details, like the fog, the still water, and the mysterious mermaid off to the side. It definitely captures the feel of the story. I think the artist did a wonderful job!
Be sure to check out the other title pages!
Wither by Savannah Jezowski
Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt
The Wulver's Rose by Hayden Wand
Thanks for being awesome, guys! ^_^