Janice Hardy, pictured here, is an agency mate (author-me is repped by the Nelson Literary Agency, because a) it’s wonderful just like The Knight Agency and b) I wanted my work at a remove from me and my day-to-day business handling my clients careers) and all-around wonderful writer. I’m very pleased today to have her here, talking about war and her latest release, DARKFALL, which concludes her epic YA trilogy. So, without further ado, I present to you:
War, Huh? What is it Really Good For?
I knew as soon as I decided my stand-alone fantasy novel The Shifter would turn into a trilogy that it would end with a war. I pretty much clinched that when we named the series “The Healing Wars.” So it was funny to get to the final book (Darkfall) and not be sure what to do with it. All I had to do was write the war, right?
Turns out writing a war isn’t nearly as fun as you’d think. While watching it play out on screen can be exciting, describing a lot of fighting and horror and all the terrible things that go into war get—if you can believe it—boring.
He stabs her, she stabs him, they scream, they fall down. Slice, dice, repeat.
The first draft of Darkfall was like that because I needed to know how the war played out before I could put my heroine, Nya, into the middle of it. I had to work out the mechanics first, understand how the bad guy would invade and how the good guys would fight back. And an interesting thing happened.
I discovered the bigger the battle, the more boring it was. The scenes I found the most compelling were the personal ones where Nya was dealing with the war from her perspective. It wasn’t about “the war” it was about Nya’s place in it and what it meant to her.
That’s when everything changed.
Draft one grew larger and less personal as the war went on. For draft two, I threw away all those epic fight scenes and made it more personal to Nya as it went on. She went from the big picture, the idea of war, to the personal choices and sacrifices of it.
What a difference that made. Not only did it fit the themes of the series, it actually made the “epic battles” more exciting because they were personal, with characters readers could care about. The war also became the catalyst for Nya’s personal growth. It wasn’t just beating the Duke and gaining her people’s freedom, it was about accepting who she was and her place in the new world she was helping create.
This was even more important for this particular character, because fighting for Nya is very personal. She has the unique ability to heal by shifting pain from person to person, so to help one person she has to hurt another. While this is helpful, it’s also a powerful weapon—and makes her extremely hard to kill. Her fighting involves touch and making a literal personal connection to the person trying to hurt her—and who she’s being forced to hurt back.
Taking a broad, detached view of that felt wrong. I didn’t want it to be a book about a girl who caused a war. I wanted it to be the story of a girl who’d been shaped by war, and how that war forged her into the very weapon that would ultimately bring peace.
It made for a better story, especially since it had never been about the war to begin with. But Nya wouldn’t have become Nya without it.
Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and DARKFALL from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. You can visit her online at www.janicehardy.com or chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story.
War has come.
Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.
With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.
The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.
To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?