Slowing Things Down
I don’t read my reviews in general. At least, I try not to. Sometimes reviewers tag me – like the wonderful gals here at RBtW do – and sometimes a line catches my eye and I have to look. The thing is, even good reviews can be distracting because they put expectations and other voices into a writer’s head, when all that should be there is the story.
It is, however, more or less impossible to avoid all reviews. And then sometimes wonderful reviews mention other, less glowing comments.
So, I can’t help knowing that some readers found the opening of THE ORCHID THRONE to be slow. Some reviewers have said things like “yeah, I thought it started slow, too, but then I got into it.” I wince a little, seeing those comments, because a slow start is bad, right? I mean, a newbie writer, a slow start is the kiss of death because it means you’ll lose readers on the first page. A lot of information out there focuses on the hook and snagging the reader’s attention fast. But then I have to remind myself of a very important piece of information:
I did that on purpose.
I really did. When I wrote – and revised many, many times – the opening of THE ORCHID THRONE, I kept coming back to a particular feel and pace I wanted to set for this alternate fantasy world. I wanted a sense of stateliness, of elegance, of an island paradise where pleasure and beauty are paramount and the urgency of time fades away.
It asks a lot of the reader, I know. I’m asking them to give the story a chance to slowly build, to take a step away from busy, even hectic, lives and sink into a world where time moves differently.
It especially asks a lot because, as consumers of entertainment, we’re increasingly trained to expect a fast hook and immediate payoff. It’s easy to see this transition by looking at how movies have changed. Watch a classic 40s flick and you might find yourself impatiently fast-forwarding through those excruciatingly long intro credits with the soft, sweeping music and PowerPointesque background layouts. Hell, I do it. And, while there are some movies that deliberately create a mood with those slow openings, it’s clear that most of them just stuck on that boilerplate credits sequence. These days, not only do movies not show credits until the end, some don’t even show the title until well into the story () or at all ( ).
In the era of bingewatching, the next episode in a series queues up with a fast countdown – maybe five seconds – and plays with an opening that picks up on the same beat as the previous episode’s ending. We expect that, and there’s a place for it. I am absolutely that person who tries several streaming shows, discarding one after another based on a few minutes of watching, until I settle on the one that grabs me.
I’m also the reader who gives herself permission to bail on a book if I’m not loving it. I used to read all of every book I picked up – when I was young and had years of life to burn – then I went to giving each book 25% to hook me. Nowadays? Yeah. Maybe the first chapter. Maybe not even that much.
Still, I remember those days when I chose books for length – the longer, the better. Nothing made me happier than a fat fantasy novel that lasted nearly forever. I loved being transported to another world, a different time, and slowly reemerging to my own life drenched in that other feel.
So, I totally get it. The slow, dreamy opening of THE ORCHID THRONE is a lot to ask. And I get if it’s too much to ask. No harm, no foul.
But for those who do sink in, who allow the slower pace to transport them, thank you for taking that journey with me.
The Orchid Throne
(Forgotten Empires #1)
by Jeffe Kennedy
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.
A PRISONER OF FATE
As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…
A PRINCE AMONG MEN
Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.
Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.
She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.
In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.
Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
Oooo....what a BEGINNING! You nailed the island vibe. And a great post because that is so true, everything is instant nowadays, so ORCHID THRONE is a breath of fresh air!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Lexi! It makes me so happy to hear that :-)ReplyDelete