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  • Naomi P. Cohen

Introduction: The Fey of Castle Garden

This is my first time doing NaNoWriMo. It’s always seemed like a big, scary, intimidating thing when November rolled around. I had plenty of excuses: in the middle of a writing project already, homework, classes, etc.

All of those excuses still hold true, but November came up right after I sent my first novel back to the editor and I needed a break from the story I’m tentatively doing a second draft of.

NaNoWriMo was still the big scary monster but this time I prepared a little early for it. I decided to do the first draft of a story that I already had some snippets of. I knew the beginning, the ending, and some of the characters already. As October rolled past, I snatched moments to write parts of the beginning and read up on a quick crash course of pieces of Irish, Italian, and New York history. By November 1st, I’d gotten a few days ahead, hoping that would keep me from stressing out too much. It’s certainly helped.

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Those who read my short story, The Wild Hunt, in the anthology, Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales, already have an introduction to some of these characters and the setting. My inspiration came in the form of the opening scene in that short: a man running through a gray, foggy morning and dodging past a horse carriage on the street. The image came to me as I woke up one morning. I whisked to my laptop and started typing, allowing the man being a Cait Sidhe fleeing from the Wild Hunt to come out. The scene sat on its own for quite a while before finding its home as the introduction to that short story, which in turn is an introduction to this novel.

2. Share a blurb!

I am not confident in this blurb at all but I did devise something simple for the NaNoWriMo website:

It has been a few years since Sophia immigrated to the United States from Venice. She has become well established as a musician among certain circles of the American Irish. A string of murders throws all of her associates under suspicion and challenges her loyalty; the only thing keeping her safe on the treacherous streets of New York City. Unsure of who she can trust, she must find the killer before he finds her.

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

The story is set in 1850s New York City. My favorite part so far is the blending of cultures: Irish and Italian are prominent parts of the story.

4. Tell us about your protagonist.

I have a few candidates for that title. Sophia is the most obvious choice. She’s an ex-courtesan who immigrated from Venice and is now trying to make her way independently. Camille is another option: a girl from a well-to-do Sicilian family who struggles with her family’s expectations and what she wants from life.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

The fey who is killing mages. There is more to it than that, but that’s all you’re getting!

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

Exploring this setting and characters!

7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

Complicated question. At this point I want this story to be Standalone, but there’s a character who’s an ancestor for a certain someone in another novel. There’s another character who I may or may not make into the protagonist for an idea I want to write later. So, I would class this as “something else”.

8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?

I have yet to classify myself as one of these for certain. I know the end of each story before I can start writing seriously. I discover the path as I write, like a Pantser, and the ending has often changed at least some by the time I get there. Is that Plansting?

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

I think fey creatures and mages in 1850s New York City speaks for itself.

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

This video is the inspiration for the character that may be her own protagonist in a later story. An Irish pirate Queen with fiery red hair. I may have to fit the hurdy-gurdy into her story too. For this project, she’s a major part of the story, too!

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