I graduated with an undergrad in English about ten years ago. For those who were not English major, I’ll shed some light on what it was like. Essentially, you read the crap out of a lot of old, long-winded books and have very little homework except with the stars align every few weeks when you have papers due in ALL your English classes at the same time. And of course I was always a slow reader, so that made it especially fun. What I lacked in reading speed, I made up with my fairly decent ability to write an essay. One semester, however, I was hitting a block. Where I had normally always received grades in the A-range, I was falling to a few B plusses here and there. Now, this might not be a big deal to most, but I was also stupid enough to pursue a minor in Business Administration, which meant lots of math and other classes disguising themselves as math. I will never understand the concept of imaginary numbers. After all, the time I was stuck on picking the right word for an English essay, I wasn’t allowed to make up an imaginary word (I can’t believe the prof didn’t like geniot! Clearly a cross between genius and idiot, it refers to someone who’s made a genius discovery by accident, aka “braindead brilliance”).
I digress. The point is, I needed those A’s to bring up my lack of mathability, so I had a real problem on my hands. A friend who attended another college shared a trick he learned. Pay attention, because it worked. He said I should write something completely different than what I was currently writing, ideally something that I’d never attempted before. The point was to just write without pressure. So I tried my hand at fiction, which I hadn’t really attempted since high school, picking the fantasy genre because it was one I’d never tried. Deshay of the Woods was NOT the outcome of this. Rather, I put together a bunch of incomplete stories that kind of related to one another. They were more plotted-out story concepts than actual stories, but I found I enjoyed the process. I think I called it Serpent Tongue, and it was terrible. However, some of the themes, ideas and concepts developed from that process lingered in my brain for years after and made their way into Deshay’s story, and so I credit this exercise as the birth of The Demon’s Pendant series.
I was having so much fun plotting stories out that I joined an online writing community and met a few people there who were very helpful in the editing and reviewing process. But after college, I abandoned it altogheter, steering more toward non-fiction, non-literary writing. For several years, I wrote sports articles for both online and print publications, making decent beer and grocery money until the economy collapsed. As fate would have it, serendipity would kick in and this collapse would indirectly steer me back to the world of fantasy writing, and then later to…
Deshay of the Woods 1.0
Eventually, one of the online editing buddies found me on one of those social networks (I believe it was Myspace at the time). I learned that she had continued pursuiting her dream of novel writing and even co-founded a small, independent publishing company. Reconnecting to that world of fiction triggered new ideas in me (many of these ideas led to the real beginnings of Deshay). I shared some of those ideas with this person, and she encouraged me to get back into it. Finally, more as a favor to me than anything else, she offered to co-write something to get me started. Now, the book series I had been toying with did not initially begin with the Deshay of the Woods story, but rather its intended sequel (currently titled The Blood Gardens–the images are the cover designs
I was dabbling with). The Deshay story was meant to be a portion of that sequel, but since she had delved more into fantasy romance writing and Deshay’s story had elements of romance to it, I figured it was a good one to try out.
So together we wrote the first, first draft of Deshay of the Woods. Mind you, this draft was merely a novella, about 36K words. It took us a year to write and when it was finished, she had it published under her independant pub company. Only I didn’t like it at all–while her writing was polished and wonderful, there were lots of holes in the plot mostly due to me. I hadn’t figured the whole story out yet. That and it was my first attempt at writing fiction in like eight years. So I didn’t promote the novella at all like I was supposed to, as I wasn’t about to push what I myself wouldn’t read. It didn’t help that it was a dark fantasy under a romance publisher. A year later, my friend graciously gave me the rights back and suggested I take her name off the project. She didn’t suggest this with bitterness (or if she was bitter, she hid it well–she’s an extremely gracious person). For that and everything she did for me, I’m eternally greatful. It worked out anyway, I pretty much scrapped that version (not because of her writing, but because of my lack of plot development at the time; it more a learning opportunity for me than anything else). The final read of Deshay has very little of her writing, but I still owe her a lot for her help. As I recall, she even came up with the name Deshay, and at first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write from Deshay’s POV. She steered it in that direction, which was a great call.
If you’re a fantasy fan, romance fan, erotica fan, I would highly recommend her works (Anastasia Rabiyah). She is truly a gifted author and a human being of the utmost integrity.