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My Favorite Story

I recently filled out an interview that asked me what my favorite story was. It took me a little while to figure out which one to name because I like all my stories (to one degree or another), but I eventually answered Wucaii.

After five hundred years’ labor destroying worlds, half-dragon half-human Aelana returns to her home planet. She expects to be anonymous, but instead she is worshipped as a god. She finds the reincarnation of her centuries-dead first and only love and life begins anew. Little does she know, however, that a shrewd and formidable evil lays in wait, one with the power to undo everything she’s worked for. To maintain the balance of the universe, she must confront and destroy the menace before it annihilates her and everything she loves.

One of the downsides of continuously writing and publishing new books is that some of the old ones fall off the radar. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing and publishing new stories, but I often feel guilty about abandoning my previous ones.

Sadly, there just isn’t enough time in the day to give them the attention they deserve.

But I digress.

Wucaii is one of my favorite stories because my main character, Aelana, is a human-dragon hybrid. I had a lot of fun writing her story and creating her persona. She’s constantly struggling to find her place in the human world and the dragon world.

One of my favorite things to try to figure out when I’m writing is: what does it mean to be human? And Aelana was a great character to study that question because she’s not fully human and she’s not fully dragon. She’s stuck in the middle and trying to be both. She has moments of great strength, then times of human frailty. Her goal—like a lot of us in real life—is trying to figure out her place and purpose in the universe.

I started this story back when I was in high school—I think. It’s been a while, so I’m not exactly sure on the time frame. I know that when I was a graduate student in college, I workshopped the story in a class. I received my master’s in 2004, and this was published in 2013, so I had been working on it off and on for a while.

Workshopping that story was interesting. Originally, it was a straight fantasy story (I would classify it as urban fantasy now), and one of my fellow students didn’t like it because I used “ale” in the text. For some reason, this person was sick and tired of seeing “ale” in fantasy stories and held it against me. That made me laugh.

And, trust me, back with that early draft, the use of “ale” was the least of that story’s problems.

One of the other criticisms about the book was that it was going to have to end with a huge battle between the dragons and humans—which was true for that story. And for some reason, none of my readers thought I had the ability to write it, which really shook my confidence, so I put the book away for a few years and refused to look at it.

Once I regained some of my confidence, I figured out how to fix the story. After several years and several rewrites, I finally got it to a point where I was happy with it and found a publisher who was willing to release it to the world.

I really should find more time to promote the thing. I think others might enjoy it as much as I do.

Shall we celebrate my favorite story?  Anyone interested in free ecopies?  Let me know!