Reminiscing: Heath of Fire

And so begins my social writing experiment with my tribal-fantasy-young-adult novel, Heath of Fire.

I don’t remember as much about writing this one as I do about Against the Elements. I don’t remember how old I was or what I had written before (although I am certain that Against the Elements came first; I must have been roughly 16 or 17), and I definitely don’t remember in as great detail the actual process of writing it.

But I remember being in a process of change. Obviously, at the age I was at, I was prone to teenage angst, but it was also at this time that the way I wanted to write changed. I was becoming aware of my craft and the particulars of writing. I was aware of my own immaturities and naiveties when it came to writing. I wanted to be a better writer than I was when I wrote, say, Against the Elements.

Heath of Fire is the ultimate product of this. It’s a story about a young girl, Adeline, who, upon turning fifteen, realises that she will never receive her holy Blessing – a major taboo subject in her village. At the same time, attempting to run away from the village to avoid being a social outcast, she surprises a wild boy named Heath, who she befriends. Together they set out to stop a terrible fate befalling the world they know and, in the process, learn about themselves and the people around them.

It has detail. It has some pretty gory and graphic moments. The subject matter is darker and more intense than anything I had really written before. The world is vast and complicated but only lightly touched upon.

The prologue – a scene of mysterious dancing and vague references to events to happen later in the novel – came to me one afternoon when I was walking home with my best friend. We were talking, and all at once the rain came down and – as cliched and daft as it sounds – as soon as the rain hit my face, I saw this scene unfold before me. I insisted I had to run home and write it all down and my friend, bewildered and probably a little peeved that I was cutting our afternoon short, followed at a slower pace.

What I want to do while rewriting Heath of Fire is go back to that detail, those casual inferences, and improve upon them. Yesterday, revisiting the Prologue, I was struck by my 16-year-old-self’s choice ofvocabulary and placement. Of course I got things wrong – I changed a lot even in that two page entrance – but the feelings of the event are there.

Adeline herself, as a main character, is probably as teenage angsty as I ever got. Outcast, alone, sulky about it, excluded from most conversations and convinced her life is over – I got that down to a tee. The first chapter explores her loneliness, the cosiness of the village versus her cold mental state. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

And I can’t wait to meet Heath again… but more about him later.

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