Liefdom has been talked about quite a bit in the last three weeks. I have been working on it for ten years. It’s about a fairy named Mandrake. It takes place in my own unique world. These facts and many others about this book have been going around for days. But you’re not being told the whole story. Here are a few things we have not mentioned to you.
1). When I first wrote this book, I was lazy. My goal was to write 2,000 words a day back then. For the most part, I did that. But I only worked two to three days a week. I had a terrible work ethic back in those days. Just terrible. And I flopped around from writing to “developing” quite a bit. Developing, for me, just meant that I wanted to watch movies and do other things without having to answer for it. I think my wife knew what I was doing but she never complained. I started the book in 2005, but didn’t get really serious about it until 2008.
2). This was supposed to be a two-part series. I had written Chaste the year before, and it came out to be 776 pages long. I thought that was too long. I didn’t want to do that again, so I decided to break Liefdom into two books. Horrible idea. The original manuscript ended in the middle of an action scene. It was frustrating for the reader and, all around, a bad idea.
3). The main reason I wanted to break it up is because I was obnoxious. Back then, I wanted to be a writer more than I wanted to write. My goal was to write as many books as possible. So, I got to a point where I was bored of the book and I decided to end it there. It took many years before I fell in love with the writing part of the process and stopped trying to be identified as a writer and focused instead on writing.
4). My main character, Mandrake, wants to be Bruce Willis. When I got the idea for Mandrake, a warrior fairy, I knew people would laugh at it. No one would be afraid of a character that was a foot tall and aggressive. The idea was ludicrous. But he would not let me go. So, I watched a lot of action movies. I decided I wanted this book to be a hybrid of two influences: Die Hard, the ultimate tough guy, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the ultimate fairy story. Strangely, that was not a hard middle ground to find.
5). Liefdom was my first foray into creating an alternate world. This is true and untrue. I had my world in play at the time. Perilisc was real and vital, with maps made by my graphic designer wife, and hundreds of stories revolving around each other. But for this book, I had to create an alternate world. It is called The Veil and it works like nothing else. The Veil is a world of mythical beasts. It is peopled by all the legends and fantastical creatures we all grew up hearing about. Fairies, of course, but also griffons, satyrs, sphinxes, animals able to speak and reason, changelings, and many other beasts we all have heard about. I was thrilled to work with them and, in certain ways, reinvent them to fit my understanding and my story. The Veil has its own laws and realities. It is unique from any world I have ever worked in before.
6). While I have been working on Liefdom for ten years, it’s really more like four. I started Liefdom in 2005. I finished the first draft of the first book later that same year. I didn’t touch it again until we decided to take it to a workshop in Chicago in 2008. I met with a truly gifted editor named Lorin Oberweger, who told me it had flashes of brilliance, but the entire book needed to be rewritten. She said, it’s great! Now start over. I put it away and didn’t touch it again until 2010. I did a new draft and was done with it in a month. Lorin actually remembered me and agreed to work with me. I sent her what I had and she ripped it to shreds. Told me, it’s great. Now do it again. I didn’t touch it again until 2013. Then I got it right. I finished that draft a few months later and let it sit until now.
7). Liefdom is a pug. I have sent it out. A lot. To many different agents. It has been rejected quite a bit. The reason for this is it’s hard to sell. It possesses many elements that are totally original, but they can’t all be described in a query letter or synopsis. When you are submitting a book, you get a few paragraphs to describe the book, a few more to summarize it. With a work like this, the magic is in the details. That cannot be captured in any real way in a few paragraphs. Liefdom has to be experienced to be understood, and that is very hard to get across in a few pages.
8). This book is bipolar. The first chapter takes place in the world of man. It is gritty and harsh. The second chapter takes place in The Veil. It is beautiful and life-affirming. The third takes place in Hell. All throughout the book, you are bouncing between the breathtaking splendor of The Veil and the depravity of the workings of a half-demon named Braid. The two extremes in this book make for a wild ride. They provide a myriad of emotions that keep the reader off-balance.
9). Liefdom saved my life. A few of you know I suffered many forms of abuse in my childhood. It left me raw and unstable. This work let me build a hero for myself. I forged Mandrake as a guardian the likes of which I needed. There were times in the writing of this book when I curled up and cried as the character did things that were never done for me—things that would have made all the difference. In doing so, I healed myself. Mandrake’s struggle to save his boy is, in many ways, his struggle to save me and all other victims of child abuse.
10). I have never written another book like this one. This book has no brother or sister in my world. Two other books are tied to this one by one of the characters, but the essence of Liefdom is never captured again. This book, I think, cannot be redone or re-imagined. It is unique and fresh. It is a step away from everything I have ever seen in a movie or read in a book. It will either be loved by the world or despised. Either way, there is nothing like Liefdom anywhere in this world.