Right at the turn of the year, Celia told me she no longer wanted to work on the books with me. Devastated, I asked a dozen questions, but the more we discussed, the more it made sense. Celia, at 14, has simply moved on, and has other priorities.
Immediately, I noticed the void. Although we’d worked on the outline of book four of The Elementalists together, and we were a quarter of the way through writing it, I no longer had a working partner for brainstorming. Every time I tried, Celia said, “No. I’m not involved anymore.” The five-book series with the grand vision she’d initiated, and we’d concocted together almost six years ago was now resting solely on my shoulders.
It also left a void in my relationship with my teenager, which I still haven’t figured out how to fill well. It was our way of engaging with each other regularly, which I’ve found as a Dad was really helpful. Now, more often than not, I’m searching for ways to connect with her, and they’re harder and harder to come by.
Celia’s twelve-year-old brother Joshua immediately perked up and said, “I’ll do it!” We’ve worked on it quite a bit now, and the story is coming along nicely, with a different sort of energy, some of it unexpected and fun. His ideas bring that young perspective and spark that I appreciate for a book whose main characters are teenagers. I’m also thrilled that my brother Sam, who helped a great deal with book three, has been deeply involved. He’s helped shed light on improvements to the rules of magic, noting the slow-downs in a chapter, and helping us craft the story into something more compelling.
Although this comes with mixed emotions, as you can tell, I’m happy to say book four is just over halfway written, and in better shape than ever. With Celia gone, I changed some of the things she had demanded be included that I never liked. We’re also now able to do some things with the storyline which I think will make it a much stronger book and story, which Celia didn’t have an interest in. And some of Joshua’s youthful ideas have made the book sparkle with energy.
All in all, the process has been a bit of a roller coaster, and pushes back our summer release goal to something probably closer to the fall of this year. The best news is I’m having lots of fun again. Amber’s character arc is exciting and interesting, both to read and to write. The puzzle pieces are all starting to fit together, and the wizards they are up against are coming alive in new ways they hadn’t before.
Book four takes place a few months after the end of book three, and it pushes the elementalists to their limits in every way as they reach the climax we’ve all been waiting for, the fulfillment of the prophecy. We’re writing it so that book four has a strong resolution, but the outline of book five is still waving at me, saying it yearns to be written, so my plan is to finish the series that was originally concocted back in 2017, and write all five.
For now, I lick the wounds of a struggling teenage relationship and do my best to make the most of it. It’s all that any of the characters I write about would do, and frankly, why write about heroes if we can’t all take on some of those character traits ourselves from time to time?
If anyone has read book 3, Secret of the Kraken, we are woefully lacking in reviews on Amazon. Even just clicking the star and adding a few words goes a long way, and we appreciate it very much!