YA Paranormal Romance
Date Published: 10/31/2013
Experience THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN like you’ve never read it before…
It has been seven years since Jeanette Sauderheim followed her best friend into Carver Hall Park…and came out alone. Jeanette has never gotten over his mysterious disappearance nor has she gone back into the park. While that traumatic night still haunts her, Jeanette distracts herself by balancing her time between trying to pass Spanish, hanging out with her friends, and reading the latest manga.
But, when a promise to a friend drives her back into the park, she’s forced to re-live the memories of that night. Lost and confused, Jeanette crosses paths with Tamrin, whose violent reaction to her provides yet another reason to avoid the park.
Tamrin, a knight of the Summer Court, has been sent to Earth to guard a garden of roses that hold special meaning to the queen of the Summer faeries. When his distraction at meeting Jeanette leads to her picking one of the Summer Queen’s roses, Tamrin vows to right his failure to do his duty.
However, the equivalent of one of the queen’s roses is a human heart and Tamrin’s reluctance to readily exact the sum from Jeanette sets in motion a spiral of love, betrayal, and magic that could mean damnation for them both.
*This is an Upper YA paranormal romance novel with NA and contemporary fantasy appeal.
He bites his lip. “I would like to allow you that boon, Lovely, I would. But I can’t wait that long. I’m sorry. You’ve got exactly one year.” He stands, his expression determined and resolute. “Until then, you will care for that heart like it is diamond encrusted and I shall make sure of it.”
I stare at him, unmoving as he goes toward my bed, divests himself of his weapons, and stretches across the side I never sleep on. He pluffs up my sushi pillow, shifts into a comfortable position, and settles his gaze on me.
It takes a minute to compute what’s happening and then I push myself up on shaking arms. “No,” I insist with a shake of my head. “You are not staying here.”
“I can’t go back to Roxel, she’ll want to know about the rose.”
“Go pawn yourself off on some other chick. You don’t seem to have any problems with that.”
Tamrin looks around the room. “No, I like it here. I’m staying.”
I feel my jaw drop. “You can’t stay here,” I insist. “You can’t freeload off of my dreams and then steal my heart!”
He cocks his head, regarding me with thoughtful eyes. “I can pay, if you like. I promise you’ll be pleased.” The tone of his voice is far too suggestive.
I blink, then blush crimson. “What? No!” My voice is too high pitched, scandalized as I am. “I’m not,” I struggle for words, “I’m not that kind of girl. I don’t do stuff like that. I’m Catholic. You know, virgin until marriage.”
Tamrin frowns and then shrugs. “Suit yourself. But, I’m not leaving.”
Writing a Retelling
I first heard the Ballad of Tam Lin was a young girl at camp. I loved the story from the moment I heard it, but time and life slowly made the memory fade. That was, until I heard the ballad a couple of years ago at a convention. I was flooded all over again with the love that I once had for this story. Almost all of the novels I’ve written so far have been revamps and shadow histories of various myths. I thought, wouldn’t it be neat to see how this story would play out in my own faerie realm? I knew right then and there that I wanted to retell the story of Janet and Tam Lin inside of the Hill Dweller universe. FOR YOUR HEART is technically a retelling and a revisionist take, but we’ll focus on the retelling aspect today.
To start, I did a little research, looking to see what other retellings had already been written. Many of the retellings out there do a loose translation of the story: A heroine has to save her love from a fairy queen of some sort. I wanted something a little closer to the actual tale while still making it my own within the Hill Dweller universe. In order to do this, I found a collection of various versions of the Ballad of Tam Lin and I read them all. I made decisions on what would and wouldn’t be okay for me to put into the novel. I mentally avoided certain things that would make the novel too much like the other retellings and I flagged certain elements that I liked in each of the versions of Tam Lin.
What I had at the start of writing the book was this:
-A faerie realm that was already well established in my mind.
-Two main characters that would have names that were plays on Janet and Tam Lin. Thus Jeanette and Tamrin.
-The woods where Tamrin would live would be a play on Tam Lin’s Carterhaugh. Thus Carver Hall.
-Jeanette’s father had to be in a position of power over Carver Hall. For whatever reason, school seemed like the perfect idea, but since there was already a retelling with a father being a dean at a college, I decided to continue with the age group I was already writing for with the Hill Dweller series and do a YA version. Thus, Mr. Sauderheim became a principal at a high school.
-I came up with the idea of having a school uniform that was green to signify the green clothes that Janet always wore when going into the woods. Why I decided to make it a Catholic school and not just a private school called Carver Hall Academy, I have no idea. It totally would have been easier; LOL! But, the bottom line is that I didn’t do that. I created a Catholic school called Mary Magda Academy and then came up with a legitimate way for the school and Carver Hall Park to have a relationship.
That’s how my setting and main characters were born.
At that point, I just sat down and wrote. I can honestly say that I’m the type of writer that just kind of goes, ends up with something in the end, and then goes back in and makes adjustments where they need to be. FOR YORU HEART was actually the easiest novel I’ve ever written because I was already following a basic plot outline and already had an establish faerie world to pull things from. I never went back to look at any of the versions of the Ballad after my initial reading. Whatever I remembered as the story would be the cobbled together “true” version that my muse wanted to adhere to. I wasn’t too worried since most of the versions told the same basic story, just with some minor adjustments, but I even added a couple of hat tips to the questionable comparisons in the final product — as some Tam Lin aficionados will see.
By way of plot, the initial and even the final versions were almost spot on retellings with quite a few added twists that just randomly decided to jump in. Those twists are what make any retelling unique among its contemporaries, so I welcomed them as they came. The only thing I made a conscious effort to add into the novel was adequate relationship development between Tamrin and Jeanette.
The creation of almost all of the secondary characters just sort of happened. The only characters that are necessary to the ballad are Janet, Tam Lin, Janet’s father, and the faerie queen. The ladies of the father’s “court” are mentioned and the riders of the faerie court are mentioned as well. Other than those constraints, I had free reign. For the ladies of the court I created Jeanette’s friends: Amber, Emily, and Celeste. Their intense involvement in the story is completely unnecessarily to the core story of Tam Lin, but they add a level of depth that really makes Jeanette relatable to readers. Originally, I wasn’t going to add much about the faerie court. I wanted FOR YOUR HEART to be a Hill Dweller “light” novel — meant to be a good gate-way novel into the Hill Dweller universe (which is why it’s the first to be published despite the others having already been written). As I wrote, I found that Twyla was a necessary addition so readers could see what was going on behind the scenes with the evil queen. Everything would have been too random and confusing without this third point of view in the book. I never thought she’d become such an illusive and intriguing character to my readers. As for the Mushroom Woman, Connor, and The Hunter…Well, they’re part of another Hill Dweller series that I’ve already written and they just sort of decided to step into the story. My characters have a mind of their own; I don’t ask questions because they make everything totally brilliant IMHO.
What came at the end of my writing FOR YOUR HEART was a tale that took various takes on Tam Lin — with a nod toward Disney, and a brand new take on faeries and glued together with together with a collection of tropes that are almost unheard of in modern YA literature. I have a catholic character, but the book isn’t Christian fiction. I have a strong emphasis on geekdom — something that is rarely delved into in novels, despite there being a growing number of young readers in fandom. I have some complicated sexual and social content, which makes this book an excellent conversation piece for classrooms. This novel is a combination of things that I never suspected I’d end up with when I first decided to do a retelling within the Hill Dweller realm, but I’m very proud of it as both a take on something old and as something entirely unique to the genre.
A.L. Davroe writes both YA and adult speculative fiction. Her debut YA paranormal romance novel, FOR YOUR HEART, releases October 31, 2013. By day, she lives in Connecticut her two feline hench-creatures. She’s a terrible blusher, has a weak spot for cuddly animals, loves Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and she’s a huge advocate of alternative healing methods. She also wears Vibram five-finger toe shoes and corsets…Though not always in the same ensemble. She’s a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.