Debut author Gillian Bronte Adams loves crafting alternate realities and has a strong message for tweens and teens about finding their journey and their destination. She opened up about her very first novel, Orphan’s Song (Enclave), the first in her Songkeeper Chronicles.
Can you give us a brief intro into your Songkeeper Chronicles?
The Songkeeper Chronicles is a fantasy trilogy about a world that was created through music, where a girl discovers that the Song that she can hear and sing is extremely powerful. It’s a power that a ruthless tyrant will stop at nothing to possess, his enemies seek to turn against him, and even her guardian wants silence.
What inspired you to write this series?
The concept of music as a sort of magic in a fantasy world has intrigued me for as long as I can remember. I love listening to music as I write too, so for me, the two go hand in hand. I started writing Orphan’s Song with little more than the premise and main character: a world that had been created through music and Birdie, the only one who could hear the Song.
It wasn’t long before the irascible peddler, Amos, marched onto the page, followed a little more stealthily by the reluctant thief, Ky. Once the characters were established, the story essentially cropped up around them. In the end, Orphan’s Song was the sort of fantasy adventure I loved to read and always wanted to write.
What sort of reader will be drawn to this book?
This book is for the kids playing with wooden swords in the backyard, the teens who think they’ve outgrown their swords but still dream of finding their place in the world and making a difference one day, and the adults who might have traded their swords for an 8-5 job but are still kids at heart.
But mostly it’s for the pre-teens and teens, who like Birdie, wonder who they’re meant to be. We all want to know our place, to know where we belong, and how we fit into our world. Some folks figure it out sooner than others—personally, I think I’m still figuring it out!
But most times, it takes a journey to get there.
I’m always amazed when authors create alternate realities. What does that process look like for you?
Worldbuilding is one of my favorite aspects of writing fantasy! I’m fascinated with other cultures and have gotten to do a little bit of traveling over the years, though a lot of my traveling did happen when I was a toddler, so I’m not sure how much it counts …
Most of my storyworlds tend to grow rather organically during the writing process. I try to establish the generalities of a specific culture or setting before beginning to write, but it’s the little details that really sell it, and those tend to reveal themselves when I’m in the nitty-gritty of figuring out how to make a scene work. I have to say, Pinterest is the ultimate writer’s idea board!
Is this your debut novel? Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
Yes, this is my debut novel! It’s also my first novel-length work that actually made it to the finish line. Most of the books I started before Orphan’s Song were scrapped around the midway point. But I felt like this novel had the potential for “sticking power,” so I stuck with it too.
I grew up inventing stories purely for the fun of it, but it wasn’t until I was eighteen that the thought of publication even entered my mind as a possibility. Writing books was something I did for fun. Getting published just wasn’t something that happened to somebody like me.
A bit of research revealed a host of helpful writing resources online, so instead of packing my bags and heading off to college once I graduated high school, I launched an independent study that eventually led to me to attend the writer’s conference where I met my agent. From there, it was a (not so) simple matter of querying and pitching to editors before Orphan’s Song found a home with Enclave!