Always the question: where did you get the idea to write The Last Wizard?
Always the answer: Like a Facebook relationship...it's complicated.
I had just finished writing The War Queen (now published by Tirgearr Publishing) and I was chomping at the bit to write another story. Any story. Living in Elko, NV at the time, me and my husband spent an evening in Salt Lake City, UT. 11 p.m. came around and we needed to get home. The problem: we faced a 3 1/2 hour drive. I was so tired I needed to sleep, husband was feeling so ill he couldn't drive, and with no money to pay for a hotel room for the night, I bit the bullet and drove us home. To keep me awake (since caffeine has ZERO affect on me), I slammed my brain with story idea after story idea. So long as I kept my brain working, I stayed awake. By the time I pulled into our driveway at 3 a.m., I had a rough idea about a wizard locked away in his castle for a couple hundred years where some person releases him. Now here's the twist...it wasn't based on Victorian England.
THE MAKINGS OF THE LAST WIZARD PART TWO
The Last Wizard series is now published in three books under these names: The Foes Between Us, Between Magic and Mayhem, The Illusions In between. However, The Foes Between Us and Between Magic and Mayhem used to be one book lumped under the book name of The Last Wizard and the Illusions In Between used to be called The First Sorceress. After working with my publisher, the first book was broken into two and names were changed.
So I wrote the first draft to The Last Wizard (keep in mind, I'm speaking of The Foes Between Us and Between Magic and Mayhem because they used to be one book together). This might surprise you: I wrote it in 3rd person, past tense (he walked down the street. He kicked a rock) and it was based on my own made up world and my own government. Women were tied into their dresses, locked in their rooms at night, and used perfume to display their status: single, married, looking for husband. My made-up society closely mirrored that of Victorian England, though I didn't
pay attention to that at the time.
I'm in the military, and I deployed to Romania for 9 months. While there, two things happened side-by-side that impacted The Last Wizard in a tremendous way. The first: I read a book called "These Broken Stars" by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This sci-fi romance was written in a beautiful 1st person present tense (I walk down the street. I kick a rock) where the male and female characters alternated chapters in their point of view. I had always wanted to write a book in 1st person present tense but didn't know how with two characters both having their own point of view, but seeing how well that very thing was done in "These Broken Stars," I now knew how to do it with both Brynn and Zadicayn and set down immediately to make it happen (MASSIVE OVERHAUL #1)
The second remarkable thing that happened which changed the very fabric of The Last Wizard came at 2 a.m. while I drove on a lonely, extremely pitted dirt road. While bumping along on my military patrol, thinking about what delicious sandwich I was going to make when I made it back to the chow hall, I looked up at the single lamp post on the side of the road, the only lamp post along that mile and a half stretch where beneath it sat a Romanian soldier on duty in his tiny little shack. For some odd reason, even though I had seen this lamp post twenty times already, tonight a word popped in my head: gaslamp. I don't know why. The lamp was clearly electricity, but my bored mind started analyzing what a gaslamp was, and as soon as I got back to my duty station, I sat at the computer and googled for the next several hours all about Victorian England (where gaslamps came from) and slowly, ever so slowly, realized that my society in The Last Wizard mirrored nearly identical to Victorian England.....(cue MASSIVE OVERHAUL #2)
I'd shot myself in the foot before I'd even started overhauling The Last Wizard into a historical fantasy, because I had a debut and a funeral in The Last Wizard...two things Victorian England was EXTREMELY formal about with very specific superstitions and procedures about how those things are conducted (bringing flowers to the debut, carrying a dead body feet first out of the house.)
I spent 3 days researching toilets so I could make a brief mention of them. I learned how to flirt with a fan, that my English ancestors somehow lived even though they put arsenic in face cream. And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I transferred the tied dresses and room locking into my new Victorian society even though it made the logistics of Brynn moving around so, so, so, so much harder in an already corset-tight era (NOTE: tied dresses, macramists, and young girls being locked in their rooms is NOT Victorian. I made all of those up.) Every day I'd start writing and ask myself, "why am I doing this? This is so hard." And then I'd wake up and do it again.
And then I had to study the Middle Ages because I decided Zadicayn needed to come from there, so I had to study their speech and their customs. And then I wrote The Illusions In Between which is based in 1848 Rome, Italy and had to learn some Italian and study Google Maps so I could get an accurate layout of Rome so Darik could navigate it, and I had to check out a book from the library and study the history of Rome so I could understand it's foreign culture better.......
And to think it all started because I saw a lonely lamp post along a pitted dirt road illuminating a poor Romanian soldier just trying to stay warm at 2 a.m. in February.