I started this blog because I wanted a place to think about unicorns and have people potentially read – and maybe even respond – to ideas or images of these mythological creatures through history and in current culture.
But it was also because I wasn’t done with the thinking I’d done on my own…thinking that will also hopefully get readers when it comes out on April 5 as The Changeling of Fenlen Forest. The novel involves lots of wild unicorns who are neither the protagonists’ soul-mate nor innocent creatures of purity. They have their own thing going on, and they don’t always feel like sharing their secrets.
My first draft of Changeling was a short story about a girl’s unsettling encounter with a unicorn…it was very imagistic and its “meaning” intentionally opaque. But I didn’t feel like the story was done. So I added to the story bit by bit, until I had a novel manuscript. Because I was in grad school, my first impulse upon finishing it was to revise.
When I started to revise my unicorn novel, I had to make a decision whether or not to engage actively with current unicorn literature. And because I was doing my PhD at the time, my initial impulse was: “Read everything ever written about unicorns, find a niche that hasn’t been addressed, and fill it.” “Where,” I mused, “does this fit into the field of unicorn literature?” I even bought Steven R. Boyett’s Ariel to start off my intentional reading. (I’d already read some classics like Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn or Bruce Colville’s Into the Land of the Unicorn as a kid and teen, so I was looking for the things I had missed.) But then I put Ariel on my desk and I couldn’t touch it. At that moment, I didn’t want to know how other people had reinvented unicorn legends and made it fresh and interesting. I knew Ariel would be good, but while I was writing, I didn’t want to be plagued with the comparisons that I find so exciting when I’m writing on academic themes.
Instead, I thought back to the times I’d been lucky enough to encounter horses. I read up on herd dynamics and watched some truly scary videos of sheep, horses, and cows giving birth. (Yes, it is relevant to the novel. No, I do not recommend it.) I also wanted to think about a human culture that might come into contact with unicorns and not set off the horrid unicorn-hunt plotline.
Anyways. I rewrote and sent it off to a lovely person who offered to be my agent and then it got sent off to find a publisher.
And in the meantime, I was still curious about how what I’d done fit into the “bigger picture.” Or even what that “bigger picture” is.
I’m still not sure, so here I am, writing away! It’s a lot of fun…