I am the final stop in the L.E. Sterling True North blog tour, created by Raincoast Books, promoting the second book in True Born, an urban fantasy trilogy, and featuring a guest post with Toronto author LE Sterling.
I wish I had of re-read my interview with Sterling before picking up True North ($23.99, Raincoast Books, Entangled Teen) and diving back into Dominion City and the world of Lucy Fox, Jared Price and the crew of other people we meet along the way.
If I had, I would have remembered that True Born (True North is the sequel) was always going to be a trilogy.
In the end it wouldn’t have mattered – I was going to read it any way – but I wouldn’t have got that anxious feeling you get when you wonder if the story is going to wrap up by book’s end, and that extra feeling of anxiety you get when you realize there is no way the story is going to be finished in the dozen or so pages you have left to read.
I didn’t re-read True Born before reading True North. I perhaps should have as I couldn’t remember the difference between splicer and laster, and I found that lack of knowledge rather frustrating. I was also frustrated by the romance/coolness between Lucy and Jared, although that does get explained later in the book, but not before I wanted to punch both of them.
I love the addition of Alastair, who I feel is a great character and who I think will offer his own surprises in Book 3.
On the whole I like True North more than True Born, but I am most anxious to read the final book and see where the story goes. I am usually pretty good at guessing, but with True North, I have no idea.
Guest Post True Intentions by LE Sterling
I’m always amazed by the writers who seem to come from nowhere but are masters of the craft. Maybe they were engineers in their former lives – or doctors (like celebrated Canadian writer Vincent Lam). You always hear these stories about how suddenly, these non-writers turn their hand to writing and: boom! Huge success. And they write the Best. Novels. Ever.
That didn’t happen for me.
I’d started writing and publishing very early in my life, but I also decided to go to school for writing. I completed both an undergraduate degree in creative writing and, on the advice of a beloved mentor, a master’s degree, as well.
Creative writing classes were fascinating. They taught me a lot about professionalizing as an author. I learned how to go about getting published: how to approach agents, what a query letter should look like. Most importantly, creative writing classes taught me to look critically at my work and begin the life-long lesson of learning to edit.
At the same time, creative writing classes are also very difficult for people who don’t fit the mold. Genre writing, like science fiction/fantasy (SF-F) and YA dystopian, is generally frowned upon (as is mystery, romance and historical fiction). I tried to write the same kind of contemporary high literature as my classmates, but my stories veered slightly toward the fantastic (that’s what a lifetime of reading SF-F does to you, I suppose). I wrote about landscapes that were alive. I wrote about travellers and tarot readers. And I did so in a writing style that was way too poetic.
Needless to say, some of my classmates and teachers came down hard on me — at times very deservedly. I had some hard lessons to learn.
After a while I realized the strength of what I was doing. I was following my passion, both as a reader and as a writer. No matter what people think I should be writing, no matter what publishers want to buy, what matters most is what I want to express. That’s where the strongest writing is always going to come from.
When I stopped trying to write “contemporary literature” I found my true calling as a writer. I don’t think I’d have been able to do this in my creative writing classes, where there was always the pressure to conform.
When you set yourself completely free to write whatever you want, remarkable things happen. Pluto’s Gate, my second published novel, is a modern retelling of the Demeter-Persephone myth. This was a complete experiment for me. I’m not sure how successful I was, but writing this book ended up being the key to a whole new chapter in my life as a writer.
After writing this fantasy novel, I ended up writing two more in rapid succession (neither of these is published – as of yet). One was about a voodoo detective; the other was a YA urban fantasy about a commune of fairies living in downtown Toronto. And then I stumbled upon the seedling idea for the True Born Trilogy.
The rest, as they say, is history.
What I’m getting at is this: you write what you write when it’s the right time. Every writer is different – and every writer will have her own story to tell about how she came to write. But you’ll get where you truly belong as a writer once you follow the beat of your own drum.
A copy of True North was provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review.