I have always been fascinated by the progression of time. We wait for some event in anticipation—a vacation, a birth, a wedding, a holiday. Time creeps as the date slowly approaches.
Then, the date arrives.
It’s here! We can hardly believe it!
The events we have been so anticipating flow around us. Often, it feels like its own sub-eternity, as if we are suspended in a state of whatever the wonderful (or terrible ) thing is that we have been expecting.
It’s over. The anticipated moment, despite all that waiting, has come and gone. Now it is only just another memory, often soon to be lost in the mists of time.
This happens again and again in our lives, and I am always intrigued by it. Watching it grow closer, marveling that it is here, feeling the soft pricks of nostalgia as it falls into the past.
As a writer, I experience this phenomena in a special way. There are scenes that I make up for later parts of a book that I go over in my head again and again and again. Picturing them. Planning for them. Contemplating how to make them better.
It is always such a strange feeling when the moment comes that I have to actually write the scene I had pictured so many times…it is almost surreal.
With the Prospero’s Children series, one of those moments was the scene where Miranda finds out where Astreus has been all these many years. I planned each tiny part of this huge reveal out in careful detail, what he would say, his description of living on earth after he had once been an angel in heaven, where they would stand, etc.
I could hardly believe it when the day came to actually put all this on paper. I had been imagining it for at least nine years. Possibly longer.
But with my current series, the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, this strange dance of time has caught me by surprise in an entirely new way.
You see, when I started the series in 2011, I set it in the same year that the roleplaying game that had sparked it was set: the far future year of 2023.
The first book, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, takes place during the first week of school.
Strange to look around at all these schools starting in mid-August, even early August and realize that had not happened ten years ago. School still started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Or, in the case of the magical School of the Wise, Roanoke Academy started on what Americans celebrate as Labor Day—
September 4th, 2023.
So this September, we will suddenly be concurrent with the adventures of Rachel Griffin. For about a year, this will be the case. There will be days between September 4th and September 1st, the opening day of the Seventh Book of Unexpected Enlightenment, The Young Angels Society, upon which significant events happen in Rachel’s world—some of which I will memorialize over at The Roanoke Glass (my Substack for the Unexpected Enlightenment series.) During this time, I will be filled with an eerie kind of wonder at the fact that these dates have actually arrived—and this will seem to go on forever.
It will be over. I do not plan to publish Book Seven until Books Seven to Twelve (Rachel’s Sophomore year) are all complete. And there is no way I can finish six books between now and next fall. (It took me three and a half years to get Book Six out, but that was in part due to extraordinary circumstances that, God willing, will not be repeated.)
And the whole Year of Rachel Griffin will fall behind us, drifting off into the mists of time.
I will have one more shot at it, though.
I know what year the series finishes. There are still many books to finish. Many more than there are years between now and then…but not so many more books that it might not be possible.
If I write quickly, if God is merciful, perhaps, I might one more time experience this strange, unsettling, and yet delightful phenomenon of seeing the date of a future fictional event that I have looked forward to for quite some time approach, come to pass, and fall away, to be kissed and hidden by the mists of history.
In honor of Rachel’s first day, here, three and a half years after Book Five, is the book containing the final adventures of Rachel Griffin’s freshman year:
An old enemy returns!
With the Heer of Dunderberg dead, Rachel Griffin is determined to save her beloved Roanoke Academy before time runs out, but to do this, a new covenant must be forged with the island’s fairies. On top of this, an old enemy has escaped and might reappear any moment
Rachel has learned not to wish on stars, but what should she do when she yearns for help? She is troubled by other questions, too: Where do the dead go? What became of her beloved late grandfather? Most annoying of all, with such a wonderful boyfriend, how can she be in love with two boys?
As her fourteenth birthday approaches, the answer to these questions awaits her, along with wonders such as she has never seen.
But there are terrible things ahead, too.
Read Guardians of the Twilight Lands today.