Trivia: The Healers’ Road

  • Early drafts went back and forth on the idea of an Agna/Keifon romance, after a very romance-centered start (the very first draft started with a love-letter confession from Agna, near the end of the story). I wasn’t really sold myself, especially since hooking them up seemed to sell out their friendship as unimportant. After all three first-round beta readers were lukewarm on the pairing, the story was rewritten as platonic, or at least not-romantic-yet.
  • I am a playlist obsessive, even though all of my choices are wildly anachronistic. I had a playlist for working on The Healers’ Road that was about 80 songs long, with another backup playlist of non-distracting background music. Each narrator also had a few “theme songs” – beginning-of-the-story Agna’s is “Miniature Disasters” by KT Tunstall, and beginning-of-the-story Keifon’s is “Nobody Loves You Like Me” by Jonathan Coulton.  A few scenes were written with one song on loop. Keifon’s nanbur practice session early in the story was set to this cover of “Rolling in the Deep”. (My song choices are not always serious.) Agna’s half of the first Quickwater Crossing chapter was written to “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” by Florence + the Machine (the stolen hand mirror is a reference), and Keifon’s half was Florence + the Machine’s “Drumming Song”. I wanted the two sides of the story to be connected yet have different tones, and picking two songs by the same artist helped with that.
  • The title and theme of The Wanderer is an homage to one of my favorite books as a child, The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt, and one of my favorite anime series, Kino’s Journey. In the latter, the young narrator goes into exile and travels from town to allegorical town, staying only three days each time and learning about the human condition. (Since then, another anime adaptation has been made, which I also liked quite a lot.)
  • The original ending extended through the Spring Festival, and Agna and Rone’s reunion. The less shippy the story got, the more this section “belonged” to Rone’s story, rather than Agna’s.  It might be included in a short story along the way somewhere.
  • The story topped out at 84 mentions of tea and 48 mentions of bathing before a stringent tea-and-baths-minimizing campaign was launched in the rewriting phase. That’s a mention of one or the other every two pages. Let’s hear it for rewrites.
  • This was my first Official Book?, although I had written at least one equally long story before.
  • The setting was originally used in a RPGMaker game project that I never came close to finishing, and then a NaNoWriMo project. Both used Esirel, Agna’s Academy BFF, as the main character.
  • When I wrote this, I had been camping exactly once in my life, about fifteen years prior. Ahem. It’s been remedied somewhat since then. I love hiking; not so much attempting to sleep on the ground. That, at least, was based in reality.