Know the Novel 2021 Part 1 — Introduction

I’m super excited to participate in the lovely Christine Smith‘s blog linkup this year. Christine created the Know the Novel linkup for writers to get excited about each other’s NaNoWriMo projects and cheer each other on. Even though I’m not officially participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I would love to share a little bit of what I’m currently working on.


Yes, I know “Metamorphosis” is a lame title, but it’s all I got for now. Until recently I’ve just been calling it “the butterfly thing,” so be grateful we’ve got this much.

I actually attempted to use this story for NaNoWriMo last year, but life was so busy that even when I spent every free moment writing, I could barely scrape a thousand words or so–not nearly enough to make 50,000 words by the end of the month. Add in a road trip during the second week of November, and I just threw in the towel. So this year, I’m taking things easy. The story naturally follows the three-act structure, so I’m going to try to get through Act 1 during November. That will probably be something like 30,000 words, which I feel like is a more reasonable goal for this stage of life.

So let’s get to the questions!

What first sparked the idea for this novel?

This story has been running through my head in various forms for over a decade. I honestly can’t remember where all the ideas came from, but the moment that sparked it all occurred on a hike with my family. We were up Provo Canyon, hiking out of South Fork Park, and there were multiple swarms of yellow and black butterflies. There were so many that I started to feel a little creeped out (butterfly wings are beautiful, but insects and other creeping things give me the jibblies). In what was probably my first real “writer moment,” I asked myself, “In what circumstances would big groups of butterflies be a problem in a fantasy novel?”

Enter Marcus (the villain—more on him below) and his kaleidoscope of magically-modified butterflies.

Share a blurb (or just an overall summary!)

A quick glance at Nightwalker’s blurb (preorder here!) will tell you I’m not very good at writing blurbs. I definitely do not have a blurb, an elevator pitch, a tagline, or anything like unto it for this novel. So here’s my best attempt at a summary.

Imagine a world where humans and fairies coexisted for centuries, mutually benefitting from each other until something goes catastrophically wrong. Wars are fought, gifts are withdrawn, and humanity is technologically crippled and magically cursed. A magically gifted human child is prophesied to restore the world to its rightful state—and her older sister accidentally hands her over to the bad guy. Oops.

Luckily, Big Sister is the proactive sort, and she really wants to fix the problems she’s caused. She might just have to commit treason and turn her back on humanity to do so.

Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

Metamorphosis takes place in a pretty standard fairy tale kingdom. Go on, take a moment to groan. I’ll wait. I know the whole medieval European sword-and-sorcery setting has been overdone, but there’s a reason it’s so popular. Castles are friggin’ awesome.

The kingdom is called Kilona, and while I’m still hammering out worldbuilding details, it’s sort of a mixture of southern Italy and the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico, two places I really love. But my favorite aspect of the setting is actually the magic system. I’m really pulling in a lot of my (admittedly laughable) sCiEnCe background here, and we’ll see if I can actually pull it off.

Tell us about your protagonist(s)

Lots of legit authors are using Artbreeder to generate sweet images of their characters, or at least have found celebrity look-alikes. I’m still trying to figure out Artbreeder and I don’t really hold with celebrities, but I did use a website called Doll Divine to make laughably bad images of a few of my characters a few years back (thanks to Natalie for getting me hooked ages ago). So…there’s that. I tried to go back and make some that are less cringey, but alas, most of Doll Divine ran on Adobe Flash. RIP.


So innocent. So orange.

Sora is the main viewpoint character. She’s a hopeless romantic who doesn’t always think things all the way through. Sora is deeply interested in anything related to fairies and magic, and is curious to a fault. She loves her family and tries to think the best of everyone, and will do anything to fix her mistakes—even if it kills her.


Pieric is Sora’s older brother. Unlike Sora, he has no interest in or sympathy for fairies, and blames them for humanity’s current plight and for disfiguring their younger sister, Meri. Pieric occasionally has strange dreams that end up coming true, though he hides this from everyone but Sora because he doesn’t want to be associated with magic. He’s devastated when both his sisters disappear, and it’s anyone’s guess whether his visions or his fairy grudge will get him into more trouble.


A mysterious fairy who shows up to Sora’s house to give newborn Meri a baby blessing. She left a painful burn on Meri’s face and ran away, but Sora thinks there’s more to Liana’s actions than vindictive spite. When Meri is kidnapped, Sora hopes she can find Liana again.


The angry boi

Prince Kiro is the heir to the fairy throne. His father was captured and presumed dead in the fairy war, but Kiro believes he is alive, and refuses to take the throne until he knows for sure. He harbors a fierce antipathy toward humans, but will do anything for his people, including consorting with his enemies—like Sora.


The royal fairy doctor, and resident loveable dweeb of the crew. Bored with his cushy job, he passes the time trying to replicate magical effects using technology humans can use. He’s a pacifist by nature, but he volunteers to help Sora, seeing an unprecedented opportunity to study humans and see how they tick.

Who (or what) is the antagonist?

As mentioned above, the antagonist’s name is Marcus. Vengeful, ambitious, greedy, cunning, and a bit too suave with the ladies. Like most villains, he believes his actions to be just—he’s trying in his own way to restore humanity to its former glory, without the dependency on fairy magic. It’s just that his way is, well, horrifyingly evil.

What excites you the most about this novel?

The most exciting part is probably that I’ve been waiting to write it for so long. The plot has developed and changed dramatically over the years, but at its core it’s the same story that captivated me as a teenager. It feels so personal that it’s thrilling and terrifying to share with the world.

I also just love my characters to death ( literally??? Maybe??? Shhhh…don’t scare them). They’re going to be very fun to write, and I hope I can make them fun to read, as well.

Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

Standalone for now, but I have the vaguest inklings of a distant future sequel, and maybe some quick stories in between. Ask me again in a few years.

Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plantsing?

Oh man, I am SUCH a plotter. I’ve outlined and re-outlined this thing so many times. I’m hard at work preparing the final, official outline right now, and it’ll probably have about 20,000 words when I’m done.

Name a few unique elements about the story.

Ugh, I don’t know. Is anything truly unique these days? Some of the magical elements are probably a little different from the norm, although there’s a lot of fantasy out there. I’m sure I’m unknowingly ripping off someone’s ideas—probably a lot of someones. I’d like to think the interplay of musical, scientific, and spiritual aspects of the world are pretty distinct.

Really, the main thing that’s unique is probably my worldview seeping into the story. A lot of the ideas came about as I’ve been grappling with real-world ideas and issues that are important to me. Trying to weave them into the story without being preachy has been challenging, but stimulating. I’ll be interested to see how readers react.

Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

I do have a spotify playlist for this book. There aren’t any special meanings to the songs—they just sort of help me get in the mood when I’m writing.

Whelp, I’ve probably blathered enough vague nonsense for a while. Best of luck to all those attempting NaNoWriMo this month. Check back here next month for a progress update. And please check out everyone else’s projects in the Know the Novel linkup, because there’s some fabulous creativity going on.

2 Replies to “Know the Novel 2021 Part 1 — Introduction”

  1. This idea looks super cool! I love the concept of the villain having a whole crowd of evilish butterflies. Also, I love the name Marcus. I always have! And the fairies sound awesome, I know the doctor would definitely be my favourite.

  2. EEP. Elissa! I was SO excited to see you do this! And oooooh my goodness, THIS SOUNDS SO GOOD. I, for one, am never, ever, EVER tired of the standard medieval/fairy take/sword-and-sorcery type worlds. That is my comfort genre and I can never get enough of them. <3 And I am ALL about fairies! So you better believe I'm here for thisss. *heart-eyes*

    This just sounds so much fun all the way around! I love the twist that the chosen one is accidentally handed over to the villain by her sister? :O BRILLIANCE. And I'm already totally intrigued by this cast of characters!

    It's always the most special thing to finally dive into a story that has been in our head for years. This is just thrilling you'll be working on this epic thing! I do hope it goes wonderfully! And thank you SO MUCH for joining the linkup. I loved reading your answers!

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