I've been writing in a variety of forms for many years, first as a poet, then as a screenwriter, and finally as a novelist. My novel was, in fact, originally a feature screenplay. I hadn't actually intended on becoming a novelist, but then found that the form allowed me many freedoms I never got from screenwriting.
(If this process interests you, I invite you to read an interview with me on Lindsey Carmichael's Ten Stories Up where I discuss the differences between writing a screenplay and a novel, as well as the differences between publishing a novel and producing a film.)
As I was adapting the screenplay, the imaginary world I had created demanded to be explored further, and so it turned into a series. Brigitta of the White Forest is the first book in the series, a fantasy adventure about a young faerie who must save her forest from a mysterious curse. Because there is no one in the forest left to help them, Brigitta must take her little sister along on her dangerous journey outside the faerie's protected realm.
The selection below is from the story when Brigitta and her little sister Himalette leave the White Forest for the first time.
Eventually, the vines became so dense that the girls could no longer fly without getting tangled in them. They pushed their way through the forest, passing occasional songless stone birds perched in the trees. Brigitta was long past humming and concentrated on a breathing rhythm to keep herself moving.
They were both so focused on putting one foot in front of the other that they were completely startled when the forest ended and they found themselves standing before an immense river of dry earth that stretched around the perimeter of the White Forest as far as their eyes could see. Ahead of them, across the shifting dirt moat, was the rest of the world, beginning with the edge of the Dark Forest.
“The Shift,” said Brigitta, holding Himalette back with one arm. They stood listening for a moment. There were no trees or plants or beasts of any kind across the large expanse of land. They could hear nothing but the strange sound of the slowly churning earth.
“Are you sure?” Himalette whispered.
Brigitta nodded and moved forward. There was nothing else it could have been. She had heard it described many times by the Air Faerie Perimeter Guards, but this was more endless and empty than she had ever imagined. There was nothing to protect them, and nowhere to hide.
“Is it safe?” asked Himalette.
Brigitta took a few tentative steps into The Shift. She could feel the dirt moving beneath her, carrying her along on its sluggish journey. She fluttered back over to her sister.
“Where’s the magic field?” asked Himalette.
“Wait here.” Brigitta picked up a small rock and stepped back into The Shift.
There was a light breeze, and a strange scent rode in on it.
“What’s that smell?” Himalette called, wrinkling her nose.
“The other side.” Brigitta threw the rock as hard as she could. Half-way across The Shift, it passed through a watery force-field and continued out the other side. It landed with a soft thud on the outskirts of the Dark Forest. Brigitta returned to Himalette, who quickly hid her hands behind her back.
“What’s that? What have you got?” Brigitta demanded.
Brigitta reached behind Himalette and grabbed her arm. Himalette opened her hand to reveal a stone bird.
“It’s just a bird,” admitted Himalette. “It was on the ground. It was lonely.”
“Himmy, you have to stop taking everything.” Brigitta grabbed the bird from Himalette and contemplated where to put it.
“I’ll keep it in my pocket,” Himalette pleaded. “You won’t even see it.” Her wide eyes softened Brigitta’s heart just a little.
“No more, Himmy.” Brigitta handed the bird back to her. “Stay close to me and don’t touch anything else. Do you understand?”
Himalette nodded and put the bird back into her pocket.
“Will the magic field let us back in?” asked Himalette.
“Anything originally from the White Forest can get back across,” said Brigitta. “Anything that comes from the other side has to be escorted by a Perimeter Guard. Like this.”
Brigitta took Himalette’s hand and carefully led her over the rough earth river until they were half-way across. They hesitated in front of the force-field, a little bewildered to be standing still and moving at the same time. Brigitta took a deep breath and walked forward.
She felt streams of coldness, not completely unpleasant, like walking through an invisible waterfall. A moment later, they had passed through to the other side. They shivered and paused to look back at the White Forest. Himalette’s free hand went into her pocket.
Brigitta looked down at Himalette, whose face was contorted in horror. “What? What is it?”
Himalette pulled her hand out of her pocket and opened it. Instead of a stone bird, there was a pile of grey dust. She looked up with frightened eyes as the dust fell through her fingers.