This post contains serious spoilers for all ten books. Links take you to pages on the Wynter Wild Wiki, which is also full of spoilers.
I started the Wynter Wild series with five characters in mind – the three Fairn boys, the two sisters – along with a few adults in their sphere. As their world expanded across ten books, I ended it with 365 named characters (admittedly, that does include the chickens). Somewhere along the way, a few of those characters became entangled in ways I hadn’t envisioned when I set out.
A primary example is Xay. I created his character at the same time as I created Wynter’s past in the cult – an Aussie boy she secretly befriends who leaves her behind. But making him Harry’s son was an idea that came later (although before I started writing in earnest). Other ideas came when some of the books were already complete, and it’s no easy task to weave revealed secrets into the plot when you didn’t even know those secrets yourself!
As an insight into my writing process, I thought I’d lay out how some of my decisions evolved.
When I started writing the Wynter Wild books, a stream-of-consciousness half-million words covering several years of her life and written out of order, I knew early on that it would be a long series. So the necessity of naming the books in some sort of coherent manner was an issue I dealt with early on.
I wanted titles that played on a single theme, but I hadn’t decided what that theme would be. I jotted down endless ideas using themes from the story – not only music, but also “threads” (a recurring theme relating to broken or frayed threads, and of course braiding of hair and bracelets), lines from classic folk songs, matching words relating to family, and others.
Having decided on music, I brainstormed phrases and then matched them up with the relevant books. The later titles weren’t finalized until the earlier ones were already published, since those plots weren’t fully developed yet, but I had a list to select from.
Here’s my reasoning for each title – and a trip down memory lane for those readers who have stuck with the series until book 10. Book title links take you to pages on the Wynter Wild Wiki, which includes spoilers.
This is the final (I think!) set of portraits created on the Artbreeder website to illustrate the characters from my books. In Part 1 I showed you the main characters and their immediate family, and in Part 2 the girlfriends and boyfriends of Caleb, Indio, Jesse, Wynter, and Xay.
After a bit of fun making avatars of my characters, I’ve moved on to Artbreeder. All I can say is… wow! “Real” people that don’t exist!
One use for Artbreeder is to “breed” any two images together (such as a cat and an octopus, which was the first thing my daughter did). So you could upload “parent” faces and create “children” – but in my case I just wanted to visualize my book characters.
Creating faces is not entirely under the user’s control – you can’t tweak a nose exactly the way you want because you’re mostly adding or subtracting “genes” from different parts of the world. But you can easily get photorealistic portraits with a few twists of the dials.
So, here are my results – just my impression of how the characters look, for my own amusement. Most of these characters are related to each other one way or another, so for many I started with the same “base” and fiddled with the age, gender, hair and eye color, etc.
[Mild spoilers ahead for the later books in the Wynter Wild series. The Wynter Wild Wiki has more information on these characters.]
Duet is the seventh book in the series and introduces a new POV character Xay.
We’ve already heard a bit about him in the previous books, of course. Getting into his head was a refreshing change from the other four characters. He has a positive optimistic outlook on life, making the best of things, but harbors bitterness over what happened to him and his best friend Roman at the ashram. When he finally discovers that Wynter escaped the Light and is living what he believes is a dream life in Washington, it raises all kinds of self-doubt in Xay.
Meanwhile, the road trip at the start of this book, where Wynter and Jesse head south to rescue Indio, was one of my favorite sections to write in the entire series! I love putting these two together in a confined space just to see what happens!
Jesse and Wynter set out on an adventure-filled road trip to San Francisco, to rescue Indio from drugs and despair. Back home, eldest brother Caleb resolves to take control of his family as once-close relationships deteriorate. Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Xay lives with his ailing mother and a whole heap of bitterness over his year spent in the Light. He’s doing okay, all things considered. But he’s never forgotten the girl from the ashram who used to climb through a hole in the fence in the dead of night to listen to rock songs on the radio with him… As family secrets are revealed, this divided family draws ever closer to the truth… and to each other.
I’m slowly converting my ebooks to paperbacks, and the newest release is Natural Harmonics (Wynter Wild Book 6). This is one of my personal favorites in the series because I finally got to write about the family out and about in Seattle playing their music.
Wynter and her brothers are ready to rock venues all over Seattle. No one can deny the natural chemistry Rule212 has on stage. Behind the scenes there’s tension brewing.
It’s not easy to work, play, and live together. Family means everything to Wynter and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it together.
But something at the very heart of this family is ripping it apart. They are finally learning that things went wrong years before they were born. No secrets or lies—it’s one of Caleb’s house rules. So why does everyone keep breaking it?
This was probably the hardest book to write in the series so far, for two reasons.
Firstly, because it was the first book where I was starting from scratch. While I wrote half a million stream-of-consciousness words a few years ago that became the basis for all ten books, once I put the scenes in order, I only “completed” 8 books before I started publishing book 1 on Wattpad. I don’t really mean completed, as I was rewriting and editing (and adding thousands of words to) the books as I published them, but essentially the plotting and two-thirds of the writing was done.
Book 9 had a bare-bones plot and a few scenes written, but I was writing on the fly for the most part, and under a little self-imposed pressure to keep updating regularly on Wattpad (where it was uploaded chapter by chapter every few days).
Gone are the days when writers had to spend hours in the library researching how to care for their character’s pet python, or on the phone exploring the price of a plane ticket, or at the bookcase in the next room flicking through classic novels to find the perfect quote.
Everything’s at our fingertips – and not just for researching our stories, but for editing and publishing our books as well. Here I’m focusing on some of my most-used tools and websites, and they’re all free. Some do have paid services that expand the options available, and for others you will need to make an account (often, signing in via Facebook or Google is possible).
I’ve mentioned a couple of these tools before, and added lots of new ones.
Do you get a visual image of the layout of a place when you read about it? I have a very firm impression in my mind of the ashram in the Wynter Wild books, but I’ve never actually drawn a map. Now that I’m writing flashbacks for book 10 (The Beat Goes On), where we spend some time in the ashram (and – spoiler! – there are present scenes set there, too), I decided I needed a clearer idea of where everything is.