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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mary Victoria - Guest Blog on writing Samiha's Song

The wonderful Mary Victoria has written us a blog post on what it was like to write Chronicles of the Tree #2 'Samiha's Song'. This is a must read series if you like fantasy.
I know I will be getting my hands on a copy!
Tymon leaves his new home and his beloved Samiha to complete his Grafting studies with the famous Oracle of Nur. But Tymon and fellow traveller Jedda find that locating the Oracle in a corrupt and lawless city run by pirates and slave-drivers is no easy matter.
Samiha′s fate has been predicted by Grafters down the ages. When she is captured in Cherk Harbour and charged with grand heresy, there seems to be no way out ... but Tymon does not believe in fate and is desperate to save her lift.
As chaos hums through the Tree, survival revolves on the fate of just one ...
The experience of writing ‘Samiha's Song’ was quite different to that of writing ‘Tymon's Flight’. Of course, ‘Samiha’ is a direct sequel to the first book, basically a continuation of the same story, with the main action beginning barely two weeks after the end of the events described in ‘Tymon's Flight’. So I started writing with a firm idea of where I had been before, and a far firmer notion of where I was going as a result! In that sense, the second book was easier to write than the first.

I also began 'Samiha's Song' with a contract in hand from HarperCollins and, for the first time in my life, a deadline for completing a working draft. So I knew I had to be efficient. I gave myself about nine months to write the book; it actually needed ten, in the end, but in any case my writing time was reduced compared to what it had been on ‘Tymon's Flight’.

That did not turn out to be as much of a problem as I had feared, initially. Partly this was because my own grasp of the craft of writing had improved since I began the first book. I did not waste time on drafts that never saw the light of day, or muddle around adding pivotal story points that required me to unpick an entire MS in order to insert elements after the book was done. Most importantly, I made the decision, before I even began thinking about ‘Samiha's Song’, to use that wondrous thing, a chapter outline.

Praise be to the chapter outline! I finally knew where I was going. My approach was not to stick slavishly to what I had outlined, but to use my plot summary as signposts along the way. If in the course of writing I found a better way of telling the story, I changed that element of the outline. But I had an overall map for my journey, and that map was essential in helping me to complete a sound first draft in the space of ten months.

I loved writing ‘Samiha's Song’. The story deals with issues that are very close to my heart, and I wrote passionately, with enjoyment. I particularly enjoyed introducing the character of Jedda, who is a complex soul and a great deal of fun to write. And of course it was immensely satisfying to explore Samiha herself in more depth, and to begin to understand the mystery lying at the heart of her.

I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I did writing it.  

So many great authors are guests, so keep an eye out for it! Also included in our copies of Samiha Song are signed bookplates so everyone can have a signed copy for their book.

Mary Victoria was born in 1973 in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Despite this she managed to live most of her life in other places, including Cyprus, Canada, Sierra Leone, France and the UK. She studied art and film and worked as an animator before turning to full time writing. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her husband and daughter.


  1. A fascinating point: the need for a framework and the equally important need to retain the freedom to change it; the value in any creative endeavor of firmness of principle and flexibility of application. Thank you for these insights! You have summed up in a nutshell the conundrum that has been bugging philosophers for donkeys' years: the question of freewill or predestination. It is a relative nutshell, of course, as most nutshells are, and one that can only make sense within the covers of a book, but what else makes sense, in the last analysis, but Stories - yours, mine, the world's multifarious library?

  2. Your interest in Samiha's character fills me with eagerness to read her story. I am fussy about Sci Fi--afraid the created world will not be consistent or that some trick is waiting for me. Tyson's Flight proved to me that I can trust you for many things--consistency, imaginative flair, and best of all, insight and meaningfulness. I am wiser for having read the book. Thank you.


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