• Joshua Killingsworth

The Songstress Journey

I started writing The Songstress in the summer of 2015. It is a very surreal feeling having the book completed and to be simply waiting on publication.

I had grown up with this imaginary world in my mind. I played in this world, I created in this world, I told stories in this world. As I got older, I attempted to write down some of these stories, but for various reasons, they all ended in false starts.

I think, ultimately, I was too close to the story. I had an author insert, the character role that I filled as a kid. I think this made it too difficult to write the stories, as I couldn't distance myself from the character.

Eventually, I decided I needed more writing experience, so I settled on writing a short story set in a different world. One of my favorite books is Romance of the Three Kingdoms, to the point where I almost named my series Romance of the Three Realms. My absolute favorite story from RoTK is the story of Diaochan, but it bothered me that she seemed to be a passive participant in her own story with her father, Wang Yun really being the hero. I decided my short story would be a retelling of Diaochan's with her as a more active hero.

As I was plotting my short story, my head buzzed with ideas so much that I knew the story couldn't be contained in such a short format. It would need to be a full length novel.

I began to make the transition in my plotting from short story to novel, when I realized my imaginary world, the story I had been telling myself since I was 8 years old would fit easily into my plot.

I already had a nation based on a hodgepodge of Chinese and Japanese culture. And better yet, I had a primary protagonist in Kari who was already primed for such a role. And thus the race was on.

Of course, after nearly four and a half years, it was more of a marathon than a race.

I had so much fun exploring this new chapter in Kari's life, and it really helped me fix the hiccups in my story telling. It took me nearly a year to complete the first draft. The rest of the time has been spent editing the manuscript.

My first draft was 64,000 words long, which is a short first draft. However, I had focused so much on side stories, the whole manuscript felt like nothing but a collections of side quests. It just didn't work. After I had edited the first draft and fixed the issues, I had trimmed the manuscript down to only 40,000 words. Over the next few years of editing, I ended with a completed manuscript of 98,000 words and a story that is better than I could have ever imagined it could have been.

My editor is basically magic. Cynthia Shepp helped turn the manuscript into something that is beyond belief. Now I am just waiting on my cover from Gwenn Danae Schley (which the concept images have been amazing to say the least) and the book will be ready for publication.

It is both terrifying and exciting. I cannot wait to share my story, to share Kari's story with the world.



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