My Favorite First—My First YA Heroine

by Fae Rowen

It's hard to look back at a body of work (no matter how small that body is) and pick out favorites. The truth is that my favorite is whatever I'm working on now, although I do have tender spots for each of my books, based on the "firsts" associated with it.

The first book I wrote was a medieval romance set "almost" in the real past. I was so in love with the hero, when I finally had to name him I used an anagram of my husband's first and middle names. The result sounded medieval British and everyone loved it.

But I wrote that book before I knew anything about writing a novel. I didn't know about POV, so I could be in five characters heads in five lines. Well, it worked for me.

That book will be the proverbial "under the bed" book for me.

The second book was an adult science fiction space war story that I wrote while watching the movie of the book in my head. I'd been to some classes and Keeping Athena was so solid it took first place in several contests. That's when I knew this math teacher could write.

I wrote a second book in that world, but then I wrote the young adult science fiction, with romantic elements in a different time and space, that I couldn't get out of my head. I didn't realize, until I sent it to my editor for the first pass, how much the main character was like me. It wasn't easy for me to respond to my editor's comments and prodding, but I did. O'Neill came alive with her own goals and attitude. She struggled to change her belief system when the bottom fell out of the one she'd grown up with—for the second time. She doesn't see how strong she is; she worries if she can do what is necessary. And she is me.

P.R.I.S.M. is speculative fiction. It takes today's society and teases out what could happen.What kind of changes would make a different world in a few generations? It doesn't have the technology that I so enjoyed dreaming up for Keeping Athena, but the world has challenges that must be met by its residents with sweat, muscles, and cleverness. And the people have to work together to survive. (Not that they get along that well while working together...)

While I was starting P.R.I.S.M. I started blogging as one of the founding members of Writers in the Storm. That was a first that will be forever interlinked with my first Young Adult book because I was beginning to "build my platform." I had started thinking about finally publishing the books I'd been writing. Up to that point, I wrote only for my own entertainment and enjoyment. I didn't want to expose myself by letting one of my books "loose" in the universe. Talk about revealing myself! What would my students think?

This past year I've been working on the sequel to P.R.I.S.M. I haven't ever done a "two-part" book before, so besides taking longer than I thought it would, it presented it's own unique problems. But it was full of firsts, even though it was a "second" book.

I have enjoyed going deeper into O'Neill's choices, her determination to live life on her own terms, and what she was willing to give up to do that. All while her world spins out of control presenting possibilities for horrific changes for her. P.R.I.S.M. Rebellion will be available for pre-order on Halloween 2019 and delivered before Christmas 2019. And while having twice my normal word count (already large at over 125, 000 words per book) to complete my story and fully flesh out my characters over two books, I probably won't do that again. It took almost two years to finish this second book in the series, I got way too many e-mails about when the next book would be out,  and I have too many more books to write to spend that long on one!

Keeping Athena will be available for pre-order by December 31, 2019 with delivery by February 22, 2020. The second book in that universe will be available for pre-order in late Spring 2020.