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Apricity Deep Dive

It’s May! Good God, the start of a very busy convention season has begun, and as you’re reading this, I’m furiously getting things ready to fly out to Minnesota for Anime Minneapolis. I hope anyone around that area can come out and see me—your own personal comfort permitting, please be safe! I’ll have a ton of cool merch items for sale as well as copies of Letifer, my latest title. Be sure to keep an eye on my social media over the course of the weekend and in the weeks following it. I’ll be putting up some listings for any stock I have left over, namely for the new Manjuu plushies. I expect they’ll go fast if I end up having any left by the end of the weekend, so you won’t want to miss that!

But that’s enough on convention stuff for the moment. It’s time to dive into the making of Apricity, the most recent Tempest novel and the penultimate to the series.

Let’s get to it!

Apricity is sort of a weird story timeline wise as it is a logical sequel to Hiraeth but also largely functions as a prequel to the series as a whole. Apricity takes the form of a diary found by Corbet in the weeks leading up to his wedding to Ruari. After becoming lost in the Summer Court while desperately avoiding the stresses of planning a royal wedding, Corbet finds himself in Aisling’s old room. The court has kept her belongings preserved, and it doesn’t take long for Corbet to stumble upon her diary from the time of the Milesian War. As he reads, he learns the truth about Aisling’s struggle to protect her Court from an enemy she doesn’t wish to see as well as her growing reliance on Avenir as the situation quickly becomes untenable. It’s a tragedy and a love story all at once, one with an ending we are all too familiar with by this point in the story. By the time Corbet finishes reading the thing, he’s left with even more conflicted feelings towards his and Ruari’s choices.

-cracks my fingers- Now, where to start with a deep dive on this book? I suppose I can begin with some fun facts. Aisling has been Sun’s favorite character ever since I first teased her in Brontide on that tapestry. I still have yet to meet anyone who goes as hard for one of my characters as Sun does for Aisling, so it felt like a very natural conclusion to write an Aisling book for Sun specifically. But while the reason behind writing it felt natural, I have to admit that getting this book written was a struggle.

Apricity was the first book project I’ve ever taken on that involved a complete rewrite of a first draft. At this point, it’s not the only book I’ve had to scrap and start over. Infaust, a witchy horror dark romance that everyone on Patreon is familiar with at this point, also had the inauspicious fortune of being lumped into this illustrious club. I typically plan my projects thoroughly and have a second set of eyes on the notes from the start to avoid issues coming up that may result in major rewrites, but occasionally, even the best of intentions result in stories that just do not work the first go around. Apricity lacked coherent conflict and impetus behind the character choices, and it was such a fundamental flaw that I think only the first couple chapters and last two-three were able to be salvaged, and even then, they still underwent significant edits to make them flow well.

I’m not sure how fun of a fact that was XD but it’s one of the most striking things about the process of bringing this book to publication. Shoutout to my editor NIL and to Sun for holding my hand through it all. I’m much more accustomed to the particular dread that comes with realizing the last six months of effort have all been for naught, but when Apricity’s shortcomings became apparent, I did not handle it well, and their support is what got me through to the end of the ordeal.

The cold hard truth of writing is that sometimes what you write is shit. It’s a lesson that everyone has to learn at some point, and there are dozens of lessons that come after it that shape how you process the realization and move forward from it. At this point, if I realize I have to completely rewrite a book, I try to take it with grace and optimism. No thoughts of “all of this time I just spent writing was wasted,” but more “this is the best possible chance this story has to reach its full potential, and the time I just spent writing a scrapped draft was just the wrong time for this story to be written.” Sometimes things just need longer to ferment before they’re ready to come out, and 90% of the books I rewrite were written when I definitely had not spent enough time thinking about the setting, the characters, or the underlying motivations guiding the story’s plot. The other 10% happens because I hadn’t “leveled up” enough to tackle that particular story. Sometimes my goals outweigh my current skill set, and while it’s fine and dandy to try writing a story that’s outside of my weight class, I can’t let myself be shocked when it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to.

Apricity was definitely a case of the former. I went in half-baked thinking I had already written three books in this same universe, why the hell would I need to think too hard on this one? And it wound up being a mistake. Aisling is a very different character than what I’m used to writing. When it comes to her outlook on life and her personality, it hit me very quickly that she viewed the world in different terms compared to Corbet or Ruari, and I hadn’t done enough work to understand her before I tried to capture her during the worst moments of her incredibly long life. If there’s any sort of advice I can give to aspiring writers out there, it’s this: plan, plan, plan. You may think you know what you’re doing, and you may think that outlining and writing up character profiles will somehow lessen your ability to write on the fly, but you’re wrong. You’ll do yourself so many favors by having things fleshed out so thoroughly that you can practically taste it. The better your outline, the easier it’ll be to spot problems before you’ve begun the laborious part of writing it all out.

In the end, I think that despite the problems I had with writing it, Apricity is probably one of the better books in this series. I hated the process of writing it, so my view towards it will always be colored by that negative association, but I think the story it tells is an important one, and Aisling became a much more pitiable character once we saw through her eyes what she went through when Ruari began planning his coup. I think I’ve said before that The Tempest Series is largely just a collection of stories exploring choices made in terrible moments, and how no matter what sort of choice a character makes, whether it helps them in the moment or not, there’s always something negative that comes out of it in the end. No good deed goes unpunished and all that. Characters are punished for their idealism just as readily as for their hubris or greed, and true love isn’t always noble, especially when an entire Court’s well being rests on your shoulders. Getting to hammer those themes home with Aisling’s narrative meant a lot to me, and to Sun especially, and despite all the shit I went through getting this book done, I’ll never forget the happiness I felt at seeing Sun live-read it to me over discord. Her tears and screams made everything feel incredibly worth it.

And that’s it for The Tempest Series! Hiraeth is still in the works (I had to take some time off from it this past month to prepare other time-sensitive things before my trip to Anime Minneapolis as well as get over a really nasty sinus infection that laid me out for nearly two weeks) but with any luck will see a completed draft later this year. Publication is… harder to predict, given I have to work around Sun’s schedule for the art, but suffice it to say, you’ll hopefully have it sometime next year. Send all your good vibes towards my brain so that I can finish the last 4.5 chapters speedily and put this series to a proper close at last!

While we wait on that, I think I mentioned last month that we’ll be taking a break from Deep Dives and onto some other topics for a bit. We will definitely still cover the Duskriven books in the future, but straining my brain for memories takes its toll, and I want to do something different for a while. So, if you’ve got any pressing questions about writing, me, my characters, or anything like that, leave it in a comment and I’ll write a blog about it! Are you eager to learn more about all the vampires I keep tweeting about? Do you have some bit of lore you’ve just been dying to hear more about? What about minor characters? Which are your favorites, and what else would you like to learn about them? I’m all ears!

As always, until next time!

T.D. Cloud

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