When Lario Met Martha

Lord Larrin’s Daughter was originally intended as a one-shot story, a light-hearted piece about medieval highwaymen kidnapping the wrong girl: Robinhood meets The Ransom of Red Chief with a little twist at the end. Even though John and I are primarily fantasy authors, it was not really a fantasy story. It contains no magic or monsters, and the setting was a generic forest.

Then along came the Stolen! anthology. From the beginning, I knew the fish story would be light-hearted. How can you write a solemn story about a stolen fish? Given the similar tone of both anthology stories, I thought it would be fun to connect them. That, however, required an actual fantasy setting. An author can get away with a generic setting once, but not in a sequel.

But guess what? I already had a ready-made fantasy setting. Many years ago…many, many years ago…back in the early 1990’s, I wrote a fantasy novel called the “Feast of Five Crowns.” No, you’ve never heard of it, and don’t bother Googling it. You won’t find it. (At least I hope not!) After polite rejection letters from various publishers, I moved on to other writing projects. At the moment, it exists nowhere except my computer and a few paper copies.

I realized that Lord Larrin’s Daughter could take place within the Kingdom of Leathen, one of the five lands of the novel. (Five Crowns = five lands.) From there, it was easy to set the fish story in Marris, the seacoast land bordering Leathen. So the second story became Lord Larrin’s Trophy.

Then I got a really wild idea. What if I dusted off the old manuscript for Feast of Five Crowns and plugged in Lario and Martha from the Lord Larrin stories? Viola! Instant new novel.

So I trotted out the prologue and the first few chapters of Feast for my friends at Emerald Cove to review…and got soundly (but politely) trashed. Apparently my writing has improved considerably over the past 25 years. Who knew? I didn’t.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do with Feast of Five Crowns at this point. Emerald Cove is planning a third themed anthology called Haunted! to come out sometime later this year or next year (after the shared-world anthology I mentioned last week). John and I have already started writing our new short story for Haunted! Like the two Lord Larrin stories, it will be light-hearted in tone and set in the Feast of Five Crowns universe.

It seems a shame to write all those short stories and never publish the novel. Perhaps I can work with John to revise the plot for Feast and rewrite it in the same light-hearted tone as the short stories. At the time I originally wrote the novel, I was young and serious and it was a serious fantasy story because I wanted to be a serious fantasy author. Now I am old and frivolous, so maybe a little whimsy wouldn’t hurt.

Susan – 6/5/2020

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