Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea)
By: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: January 14th 2020
Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.
From Villain to Protagonist: The Evolution of Eda
Beyond the Shadowed Earth is a companion novel to my 2018 debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, and the main character, Eda, is one of the antagonists in Sea. At the beginning of Sea, Eda makes herself Empress and banishes Talia, the rightful heir, to a far-off island province. This sets up all of Talia’s subsequent adventures, her entanglement in the world’s mythology, and her eventual journey to face-off with an evil sea goddess.
Once upon a time in 2006, I wrote the very first draft of what would eventually become Sea for National Novel Writing Month. Eda existed back then as a 45 year old woman, and was Talia’s mother’s rival instead of Talia’s. In the first few drafts, Talia getting banished was just a consequence of her mother backing another candidate for the throne. As the book grew and developed—and especially after signing with my agent—it became clear that Talia’s mom was taking too much of the focus off of Talia, and that to give Talia more agency, I was going to have to *cough* remove *cough* her mother a lot earlier on in the story. All of that resulted in Eda getting aged down to be Talia’s rival, which in turn is what sparked Talia secretly being the Emperor’s daughter, and heir to the throne.
At one point in revisions, Talia and Eda were two of the Emperor’s many illegitimate children, and they had tons of half-siblings. In that version, Talia’s coming of age party turned into a bloodbath, with Eda executing all of those half-siblings except for Talia, whom she banished. Upon trying to come up with a compelling reason why Eda wouldn’t just off Talia too, it became clear that all those half-siblings needlessly complicated everything. They got written right back out of existence. Which ended up being a very good move—I don’t think I could have written Eda as a protagonist after she’d murdered all her relations!
Even after Sea was done and dusted and sitting on my shelf as a glorious finished book, I had no idea that Eda had a story to tell. I pitched my publisher a completely different companion novel, set 300 years before Sea, involving a wholly separate cast of characters. My editor liked the idea of a companion novel, but wanted something more closely tied into Sea—maybe something about Eda, she said.
Eda! I immediately thought. I hate Eda’s guts! She doesn’t have a story! But then my brain started mulling over the idea of her, and I jotted down a few things, and then a few things more, and then a few things more after that, and came to the startling realization that she did have a story. One I needed to tell. And as I started exploring that story I began to feel for her, so much so that by the time I started writing that first draft, I had forgotten I used to hate her.
Beyond the Shadowed Earth is a story of redemption. It’s a story of betrayal and heartache, of friendships and faith, of stories and hope, when things seem darkest. But more than that, it’s the story of a fierce, angry, steadfast, stubborn girl, who dares to cross half the world to defy her fate, and find the courage to change.
Joanna Ruth Meyer hails from Mesa, Arizona, where she lives with her dear family, a rascally feline, and an enormous grand piano. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to convince her students that Bach is actually awesome, or plotting her escape from the desert. She loves good music, thick books, looseleaf tea, rainstorms, and staring out of windows. One day, she aspires to own an old Victorian house with creaky wooden floors and a tower (for writing in, of course!).
Giveaway (rafflecopter) Info Below!
Prize: Win finished copy of BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH by Joanna Ruth Meyer (US/CAN Only)
Starts: 8th January 2020
Ends: 22nd January 2020