Sometimes, the tale grows in the telling.
No one has known this better than JRR Tolkien, who began writing The Lord of the Rings in the early 1930s and had no idea where the story would take him. He and his publisher wanted a sequel to the very successful children’s novel The Hobbit—and that’s what they eventually got. But it would take almost 15 years of writing intermittently to achieve what became The Lord of the Rings, the most celebrated epic fantasy novel of all time.
As Tolkien said, the tale “grew in the telling.” He is not the only writer to have felt that reality. We have seen it numerous times when it comes to this great sub-genre. Tad Williams famously quipped about To Green Angel Tower—the final book in his masterful epic fantasy Sorrow, Memory, and Thorn—that it was the book that stole his life. It took him seven years to finish that final book. George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan both planned on their respective epic fantasy series to be much shorter than they currently are but plans sometimes don’t go the way we hope and both writers now have multi-volume epics that readers adore.
The first book I wrote, Song of the Fell Hammer, was meant to be a stand alone book that annoyingly got away from me. I know exactly how those writers feel.
Most recently, Peter Orullian, author of The Unremembered, has had his own tale grow in the telling. But first, here is a bit about his debut novel:
The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song.
Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells….
The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey.
Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.
Peter and I have been friends for a number of years now and we support one another when it comes to our writing life. The writing life can be a difficult at times and it’s good to have discussions/rants when the need arises. With Peter, he had a monumental task in front of him and we discussed it often. He knew his second book in the Vault of Heaven series was going to be a big one. At the time, he didn’t know how big.
Over the last year or so, that’s primarily what we have talked about—the amount of words that went into it. He recently finished Book Two and you can read about that news HERE.
I can say that Peter poured the entirety of who he is into the book and the size matches that effort. It was also something he had very little control over. Stories won’t be denied and some stories are larger than what we writers want. To be told correctly, their word counts must match their need. Peter did this and I think fantasy fans are going to be excited he did.
Sometimes the “tale grows in the telling.”
Be happy it does!