by Laura Bickle
The skeleton of a story is the general concept for me, the themes I want to explore. For NINE OF STARS, I knew I wanted a story with a supernatural conflict dealing with a threat to wolves in the Yellowstone area. The story needed to address the ideas I had about alchemy in a contemporary setting, about how magic would work in the backcountry.
The muscles move the story. These are the characters who carry the story forward. In my book, Petra Dee is my protagonist. She’s the daughter of an alchemist, but has no magic of her own. She’s a scientist, and she seeks to explain the world in a logical framework. Her expectations of how the world works must be set aside when she faces the supernatural threat to the wolves, an eighteenth-century wraith known as Skinflint Jack. Jack holds an ancient grudge against the wolves, and will stop at nothing to spill blood in pursuit of his revenge.
And that brings me to blood. Blood’s the feeling, the emotion infused into the characters, and all their inherent conflict. Jack is motivated to fulfill his impulses to destroy the wolves. Petra is motivated to protect them; she can’t stand by and do nothing as Jack hunts the wolves. But Petra has other problems. She struggles with her feelings about her partner who was once an undead cowboy, brought back to life. She’s also been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness for which there are no magical answers. Fear is close at hand for her, like splinters under her skin.
Skin is my last layer. It’s the setting, the world in which the story unfolds. The world of NINE OF STARS centers around Temperance, a small town at the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Temperance was founded by an alchemist more than a century ago. He conjured up enough gold to keep the town running back in the day. The gold is long gone, but his alchemical experiments still haunt the backcountry and bars.
As I layer in the elements of the story, connective tissue grows between them. Character arcs emerge will and move with the main plot, conflicts grow and are echoed by the setting. At this point, the story develops a mind of its own…and I know that I’ve got a book with legs that I’m ready to share with others. Maybe it will even sprout wings.
Connect with Laura: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Laura's Newest Contemporary Fantasy: Nine of Stars
As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.
The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.
It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.
Available Here: Amazon | HarperCollins | Kobo | GooglePlay | BN