ForNevermore Part 45

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Click here for a list of all ForNevermore parts.

SEASON 1 :: EPISODE 6 :: CHAPTER 14

Tori adjusted her dress and stole another glance in the gorgeous beveled mirror in the bathroom, liking the way the red dress looked on her. It was cute but grown-up.

She left the bathroom and walked down the long white sterile hallway until she reached the elevator. Tori passed a few people, but they all seemed too pre-occupied with the day’s business or one another to notice her.

She reached the end of the hall with the two large double elevator doors. She pressed the UP arrow button and waited for what seemed an eternity.

The elevator arrived and the doors opened with a ding. It was empty, like it usually was.

She got on, then pressed the UP button.

The elevator began its long trek to the penthouse suite as orchestral music played over speakers. It sounded like Wagner, but she couldn’t recall the name of the piece.

The elevator dinged and she arrived at the penthouse floor where a thin man in a dark charcoal suit, Mr. Harris, sat behind a desk in a small lobby. He looked up over his wire-framed glasses, and his eyes lit in recognition.

“She’s expecting me,” Tori said.

“Ah, go right in, ma’am.”

Mr. Harris hit a button beneath his desk and buzzed the door behind him open.

Tori stepped through the unlocked door and into the spacious office with its all white walls, oversized plush furniture, and giant window that sprawled along the entire south wall, looking down on the city below.

“Hello, mother,” Tori said.

The Queen turned from the window and looked down at Tori, “Hello, my dear,” she said. “You have good news to report?”

“Oh, yes,” Tori said, smiling. “It’s all going as planned.”

TO BE CONTINUED … EARLY 2015

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHORS

ForNevermore was a huge leap of faith for us as writers.

We were coming off a popular adult horror series and seeing if we could make serialization work for us with Young Adult paranormal fiction, a genre we’ve not written in before.

At times, I (David) wasn’t sure if we made a mistake, or if anyone would even like the story. Fortunately, we stuck with it and have created something special that people are connecting with.

Recently, we reached out to one of our most supportive (and critical) reviewers, to discuss the ups-and-downs of writing this first season of ForNevermore.

Amazon reviewer Ray Nicholson http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/AUX9KZUUB3YCE found us when we were writing Yesterday’s Gone. He got our attention with his thoughtful, professional-quality reviews. He also seemed to have similar tastes in fiction and television as us (horror, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and loves The Walking Dead).

We asked him if he’d like to interview us for our end-of-season bonus section.

He was kind enough to take the time to ask us some questions.

Here’s the interview:

Ray: How did you guys decide on doing the ForNevermore series?

David: I’ve had variations of this story in my head since I was a teenager. After the success of our post-apocalyptic adult serial Yesterday’s Gone, we wanted to write something more accessible to all ages. Something which speaks to the loneliness and isolation of being an outcast and not really knowing where you belong.

Sean: Yesterday’s Gone was a sprawling epic, with a ton of characters and story arcs. I liked the idea of doing something under a slightly tighter lens. ForNevermore could sprawl with its ideas and settings, but fewer characters would give us a chance to tighten the focus and help us on some of the production parts, allowing us a breath before we got into the sprawl of Yesterday’s Gone again, and our new series, WhiteSpace.

Ray: What were the circumstances that made you decide to lean heavily towards the Young Adult (YA) instead of the Adult audience?

David: The story always seemed like a natural for the genre. We love the serialized format and though it’s been done by others, we like to think we’re doing it a bit differently, and we don’t want to limit ourselves to just one genre. We want to tell different stories to different people.

Sean: I really love writing for children. And while we won’t (or aren’t likely to) have any pure juvenile titles at the Inkwell, I will have several in production at my other publishing company. I actually started out by writing for children, both full-length adventures and short rhyming titles in the spirit of Silverstein and Seuss. ForNevermore is the first thing I’ve written with Dave that I can share with my daughter. That makes me happy.

Ray: What was your biggest headache with ForNevermore?

David: Definitely marketing it. We had a lot of success with Yesterday’s Gone. People were paying attention to us. The smarter thing probably would’ve been to have written another book closer to the Yesterday’s Gone genre to capitalize on that momentum. Instead, we told people, “Hey, this is a young adult title! But we swear, it’s good!”

It’s like telling people “Hey, it’s broccoli, but it’s good for you!”

The young adult genre has some baggage because of a glut of bad YA fiction out there. A lot of people hate the genre and dismiss it immediately, seeing only the negatives associated with it. So we had to battle those preconceptions. At the same time, we had to deliver something that YA readers will actually like!

We billed ForNevermore as a dark romantic fantasy, but in the first season, we’re still getting to know Noella, and the romantic tension between her and Dante doesn’t really exist yet. We are going back and re-writing the book descriptions to downplay those elements and play up the horror a bit more.

Sean: Yeah, we shouldn’t have front-loaded the audience at all. We should have just published the book and let readers draw their own conclusions. Beyond the label, I think we had a slightly bigger challenge with our writing process. We started out approaching the same way we wrote Yesterday’s Gone, but only once we found a new rhythm, did we really start finding our fluidity.

But I’d say the biggest challenge of writing ForNevermore also became its biggest benefit. We were able to find an ideal flow that we’ll be carrying forward to our next title, WhiteSpace. And because of the awesome energy we found at the end, I’m already looking forward to revisiting ForNevermore for Season Two.

Ray: Did ForNevermore meet your expectations from a personal satisfaction point of view and did it meet your sales goals?

David: From a personal satisfaction point, I love the story! It’s a bit tough to get a real feel for it so soon after writing it, of course. Usually it takes me a few months to discover what I don’t like about something, what I’d do different. But as of right now, I love what we’ve created. As for sales, it’s too early to say.

The first season of Yesterday’s Gone was a bit of a slow burn sales-wise until we had the full season compilation out and properly marketed the book. And things really took off with the second season. While we’ve not sold nearly as many copies of ForNevermore as YG, I believe that we’ll find our readers in time.

Sean: So far it looks as though all the sales, success and word-of-mouth for a series happens with the second season. To do our best work, Dave and I have to play a long game and think as publishers as much as we have to think as writers. Now that the full season of ForNevermore is available, word will spread. But out real momentum will happen once Episode 7 from Season Two is available.

Ray: If you had to do it all again, what would you do different?

David: Other than the marketing, I’m not sure of anything I’d do differently. Of course, I could change my mind in a few months.

Sean: I would have liked to have had our writing and publishing flow more settled from the beginning, but then again, finding it (like finding the story) is part of the process, and much of the joy.

Ray: I really dislike the teenage girls in episode 3, thrashing their schoolmates… any regrets?

David: No. We wanted readers to feel what Noella felt. So if you hated the other girls, we did our job.

Sean: That’s a reality of high school, and life in general. Part of being a writer is observing, and interpreting the world around you. The fantastic part of the world building is fun, but I believe anchoring it to the real world behavior of some catty teenage girls gives the fantasy a depth it might not otherwise have.

Ray: What prompted the inclusion of the centaur in episode 3. Will he be back? 

David: Wait, centaurs aren’t the next big thing in YA fiction? I was as surprised as anyone as I was writing that scene. I sent it to Sean for the second draft, thinking for sure he’d hate it or ask me why a centaur? Instead, he loved it.

Considering that this was the episode where we were really changing things up by introducing fantasy elements to a horror story, I was afraid I was making a disastrous choice. But it felt right, so we went with it.

One thing I’ve learned in the past year is to trust my instincts. Usually, when I start to second guess and try to make “safe” story choices, it winds up complicating the story and making it worse.

Finn also made an appearance in Episode 5 where Dante and he were hunting bandits. And yes, he’ll be back. I love his character, even if we haven’t explored it too deeply yet.

Sean: The centaur was a transitional moment for me with ForNevermore. I loved that Dave put him in the story, and was all “HELL YEAH! It’s game time!” as soon as I read it. It was so unexpected, and yet read with clarity and seemed natural, I loved it. I can’t wait to see what else happens with Finn.

Ray: I loved the potential for the heart-shaped mark on Noella’s face (seen in the trailers), is this an item of importance for future episodes.

David: Yes, but I can’t say much more about it other than we wanted to play it naturally. We didn’t call much attention to it this season because it would have felt forced. People who already know Noella wouldn’t really react to it on an everyday basis, especially when so many other weird things are going on with her!

Sean: There is something uber cool that will be happening with Noella and her heart-shaped birthmark, likely within the first couple of episodes of Season Two, but if I tell you then Dave will be super mad and probably grouchy. So it’s best for our production schedule if I keep it mum.

Ray: Noella Snow vs Bella Swan (Twilight)… a coincidence?

David: I’ve always liked the name Noella. I’ve had it in my head since around age 17. I hadn’t even thought of Bella sounding like Noella until a friend of mine, a Twilight fan, mentioned it. I didn’t care enough to change the name, though.

Sean: Dave named Noella and I gave her the last name Snow. I didn’t even know Bella’s last name was Swan. I’ve not read any of the Twilight books, and fell asleep about 15 minutes into the first movie.

Ray: When you get to a point where you two have two different ideas about the direction things are going, who makes the final decision.

David: We have two weekly story sessions where we map out the next episode or iron out kinks in the current one. Our brainstorming sessions are a democracy, both of us pitching, and rejecting, ideas. In almost every instance our disagreements have led to even better story choices. Sean and I are on the same page seven times out of 10, though.

Sean: I can’t remember a single argument about story direction. I think we both feel it when one of us has a better idea. Our trash usually leads to something better. For example, we were plotting out the first episode of WhiteSpace, and 80% of my draft had to be trashed. However, the trash ended up leading us toward a few significant and rather awesome story developments we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’d say we’re on the same page eight times out of 10.

David: No, it’s seven times out of 10!!

Ray: Has ForNevermore caused any rifts in your working relationship with each other?

David: No, not with one another. It’s been an act of faith, however. We’re in uncharted waters, and when we got some negative feedback early on, it was easy for me to get dissuaded, to second guess what we were writing. Sean, who is far more positive, talked me off the ledge and convinced me to see the story through.

I’m glad he did.

Sean: I think ForNevermore actually made our working relationship tighter. With Yesterday’s Gone, Dave had his characters and I had mine. We were able to write a bit more in isolation. That wasn’t possible with ForNevermore, and ultimately I think it’s making us better writers with better stories. A lot of the habits we’ve picked up with ForNevermore are easily imported into the rhythms of our upcoming stories.

Ray: Has the marketing of FNM and your other series (Yesterday’s Gone) posed any difficulties that you didn’t expect?

David: We marketed ForNevermore all wrong. Like I said before, we played up the romance angle of it even though the romance is more of a slow burn in Season One. I think we also would’ve faced less critical feedback if we’d just pitched it as our next story instead of a Young Adult story.

I think some people didn’t give it a chance, or their opinions were flavored by a bias against Young Adult. And I get it. It’s human nature. I’ve done it myself with authors I like, ignoring some of their work that was billed as outside their normal stuff.

I liken it to becoming well-known for making the most awesome chocolate in the city. And then one weekend you decide, “I think we’re gonna serve some awesome chili.” Yeah, you might be good at chili, but people didn’t come for the chili. They came for the chocolate. Give ‘em chocolate.

However, we’ve gotten some great feedback from people who stuck with it, or gave it a chance after originally skipping it, and they’re loving it as much as anything we’ve done. We think we can find enough readers who like our chili as much as our chocolate, and serve both without alienating the others.

Sean: ForNevermore will absolutely find its audience, and the audience is arguably far larger than the Yesterday’s Gone audience. We’re not in a hurry. We started out marketing this all wrong, but that’s okay. Most of our marketing at this point comes from Amazon. The best way to spend our marketing minutes is to write more stories. We have a clearer idea of what the story is now, as well as our ideal reader. When Season Two comes out, we’ll be ready.

Ray: How many seasons are you planning to make ForNevermore?

David: I’m not sure yet. It’s still too early in the story, and we’re allowing the story to tell itself to us as we go down its many twisted roads.

Sean: I could see this running slightly longer than Yesterday’s Gone, both because the episodes themselves are shorter, and because the world seems larger. But I don’t think we’ll really know until we’re nearly finished with the next season, if not later.

Ray: Do you know how the series will end, or do you wing it from episode to episode. 

David: One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed as a reader of long books and series is that at a certain point, the magic of discovery seems to fade. I hate that feeling and never want to inflict that on our readers.

When we plot things too tightly, or too far in advance, we lose a bit of that sense of discovery. We knew the twist in the finale of Season One before we wrote the first sentence, but we left room to discover things as we went (like the centaur). Some elements of the story are clearer than others, but as for the ending of the series, no I don’t even know how it will end yet. And I like not knowing.

Sean: I’ve no idea how the entire series will end, but I do like knowing how the seasons will end before they start. We knew a lot of ForNevermore’s final episode (of Season One) before we started writing, which helped to inform a lot of what we put together. But I don’t think there would have been nearly the same magic if we had plotted things out episode-by-episode before we started writing.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK!

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About David Wright

Dave is the co-founder of Collective Inkwell, in which he and Sean Platt re-invented serial fiction. Hailing from the quaint town of [REDACTED], Dave's renown for putting children in jeopardy (in his fiction, anyway) has made him world famous.

Comments

  1. Great season! And I did not see that last twist coming! I enjoyed tuning in each week for another update, and it didn’t disappoint. Now you’ve left me looking forward to the next season.

  2. “TO BE CONTINUED … EARLY 2015”

    Is it early 2015 soon?
    Still looking forward to the next season of this series 😀

  3. Terri McMillan says:

    I read the sample about a year ago and when I downloaded the book it sat and waited for me to finish with a few other titles, (YG, White Space, The Beam) before I got to it but now I need more… when is Season 2 and what else ya got?

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