Books: enna burning
  How it started

When I began the goose girl, I had no intention to write another Bayern book. Bayern was a country I invented to help tell that one story. And obviously the goose girl was a standalone book. It was based on a fairy tale, and fairy tales don’t have sequels, right?

Sometimes in the process of writing, I discover things about characters that I had never imagined. This happened to me in an early draft of goose girl. Ani is trying to reach out to the other animal workers, and she sits beside the hearth to talk to Enna:


“Why aren’t you playing?” said Ani, gesturing to the many games of cards and sticks around the room.
“Oh, the fire,” said Enna. Its orange fingers waved specters on the blacks of Enna’s eyes. “I get to looking and can’t look away. Don’t you ever feel like fire is a friendly thing? That it’s signaling to you with its flames, offering something?”
Ani watched not the fire but the play of its light on Enna’s face and felt comfort that there were others who listened for language in what was supposed to be mute and to seek out meaning in what was only beautiful.

It was a strange little moment that I almost cut several times because fire was never brought up again, but it insisted on hanging around as though it whispered, “There’s a story here.”

After about the twentieth draft of the goose girl, I felt ready to start trying to hunt down an agent and publisher. Other writers offered the advice to always keep writing while trying to sell your first book, so I was eager to start a new one. For the next book, I wanted the chance to deal with a main character much different than Ani. Enna kept coming to mind, and I remembered her moment by the fire. As always happens to me when I come up with a book idea, I started asking myself questions: What would happen to Enna at the end of the first book? What would she do? What would she yearn for? And what would happen to a person who learned the language of fire? The answers to these questions so intrigued me that I had to give Enna her own book.

I wrote the prologue to enna burning in the fall of 2001 and began to do research and outline. Spring 2002 (after a job layoff) I began to write it full time. About half way into the first draft, I received word that Bloomsbury made an offer on goose (huzzah!), so over the next year I staggered writing the enna first draft with rewrites of goose. (There was about a two month period when I had to abandon Enna in a tent. Poor lady!) This time was wonderful and stressful as my husband and I were living on unemployment and savings and frantically searching for jobs. (What luck that we both got laid off right before the economy took a nosedive.) A small arts council artist grant also helped pay some bills one month.

Nine months and several drafts later, I sent it to my editor. What a relief when she loved it and bought it! I don't know that I could've ever sold enna without first selling goose. It might be a bit naive to write a (sort of) sequel before the first book has found a home. Under my editor's inspired direction, I continued to do rewrites for the following year, finishing it at the end of 2003. Its publication in fall 2004 culminates three years of work!



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