Once Upon a Time

Zombies, dwarves, and biker chicks? Oh my!

You know, I never thought I’d write a novel about zombies and dwarves–think Lord of the Rings dwarves–that involved a love story wherein people didn’t get munched in gory detail. Especially given my preference for zombies who buck the slow, shambling easy-to-escape trend. (While I admittedly enjoy watching The Walking Dead, the zombies in flicks like Resident Evil and 28 Days Later are the real scary ones.)

My focus was straight up fantasy. Or so I thought.

Dragon in Namur Belgium
Evening Dragon Lurking on Author’s Walk in Namur, Belgium

Wherein the author swears she really meant to write about dragons.

Once upon a time, this intrepid writer sat to pour her heart out on the page and craft an epic fantasy series. And I mean EPIC! (It’s still in progress. Don’t ask; that’s the subject for another post.) Anyway, in the midst of this Machiavellian scheming for what had turned into a then five–now six–book series, I had lunch with a co-worker who was curious about my book and how I went about my writing process.

I eagerly spoke at length about the multitude of considerations, character mapping, and almost 50 pages of plot notes I had for the whole series.Though only part way through the first book at the time, I was flush with ideas. My co-worker got an earful about interwoven plots, grand love affairs, evil villains, and a cast of dwarves, elves, trolls, goblins, frost giants, dragons and more. (Told you I was focused on dragons.)

You can all blame my co-worker for instigating this new side novel project business. And all because a random comment of his took root. Evil roots, mind you.  My co-worker ended our conversation by uttering, “Hey, you know what would be really cool? Why don’t you write about zombies and dwarves?!”

Picture Elaine pursing her lips, thinking: Zombies? Dwarves? Hogwash!

Fast forward three months. I was stuck in a plot hole in my EPIC series. There was a big glorious battle I’d written: death, destruction, armies clashing and dragons! Only, I needed to figure out how I was getting everybody there. Details, right? Those pesky details…

Suddenly I envisioned five guys dropping out of the middle of the clear blue sky in front of this smart-mouthed heroine named Tess. And she was riding a motorcycle. Oh, and in front of zombies of course. (No dragons in sight.)

Five huge guys. Who claimed they were dwarves. Riiiight. Wait a second–why was I thinking about the post zombie apocalypse in the middle of nowhere Texas??

Tess’s reaction pretty well sums it up when she tells Dane:

“Fine. You’re dwarves. And you have a wizard. You’re after an evil sorcerer, and you’re from another world. What am I missing besides your meds?”

I couldn’t NOT write her after that. [Cue heavy author sigh]

Thus, my new labor of love was born, which meant I put the quest for dragons on hold (at least until I got unstuck or ran into a stopping point writing Dane and Tess’s adventure…which I never really did until I got to “the end”).

Lest you think that was the only deviation from the original fantasy plotting, well…there are plenty more like-minded plot bunnies where that came from. Of course, they usually drop on this unsuspecting writer like giant dwarves from the sky. Right as she’s gearing up to edit that epic fantasy series.

Author disclaimer: not procrastinating on edits on the epic work-in-progress. Scout’s honor. There’s a rewrite ongoing for the first book in that series (a tale for another day).

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