“What I want to get across with the book is that you are more than your circumstances and you’re more than what people say you are” - Katy Rose Pool @KatyPool #yaauthor #writerslife
Katy Rose Pool’s There Will Come a Darkness is about to hit the shelves and if you haven’t heard the buzz surrounding this book then it’s time to take off your headphones, because it’s blaring. This is the manuscript that launched a bidding war among publishers almost as epic in scope as the novel itself.
Told from five different perspectives, There Will Come a Darkness is the first in a high fantasy trilogy. “What I want to get across with the book is that you are more than your circumstances and you’re more than what people say you are,” said Pool. “You have the ability to make choices for yourself that are right for you and not necessarily what the rest of the world wants you to do.”
Her book reels in readers from the opening scene, which features the slaughter of a corrupt priest. From there, we plunge into a high-stakes world where good and evil are not always as they seem. In this sweeping novel, seven prophets once steered humanity’s course. Until they vanished. They left behind one prophecy that predicts a looming Age of Darkness and the arrival of a new prophet with the power to save the world—or to undo it.
The core cast consists of a prince, a killer, a leader, a gambler, and a dying girl. “I have these five points of view, so it’s important that they be distinct and feel recognizable but also very real,” Pool explained. “I don’t start with an archetype and then get more specific. I usually start with something specific and build out from there. Even when I engage with certain tropes, I’m coming at it from a set place.”
"I try and make it so each character has a distinct point of view about their world, based on how they’ve grown up, what they’ve gone through, and where they’re at now.” - Katy Rose Pool @KatyPool #yaauthor #writingprocess
Pool uses the gambler to illustrate her character creation process. “His story arc revolves around his childhood and his fear of a family member who basically abused him and so, coming from that place, he’s [now] this seemingly free-spirited gambler who rolls with the punches. When I’m seeing these archetypes, that’s a later part of the process. I try and make it so each character has a distinct point of view about their world, based on how they’ve grown up, what they’ve gone through, and where they’re at now.”
“I have a character who’s a prince, and he sees things in terms of justice—what’s right, and how he can live up to this leadership role that he has. Then I have a character who has basically been on the run for six years and she kills people! She’s more interested in a very definite goal (to save her sister) and anything she does is for that goal and therefore is justifiable to her. So, I had a lot of fun seeing how these characters play with their conflicts and the choices they make based on who they are.”
Pool’s main characters cross paths, which gave her the opportunity to show viewpoint characters from both the inside and outside.
“That’s actually one of the most fun things for me. We know each of [the characters] really well, but they ignore certain things about themselves. There are things they don’t want to face or that they don’t see themselves as and so, in these other points of view, we get an outsider’s perspective on how this person actually presents themselves to the world, versus who they think they are.”
Even if you’ve never set foot in a psychic’s parlor, it’s hard to deny our collective fascination with prophecies—just look at Harry Potter. Although future predictions play an integral part in There Will Come a Darkness, the version that made it into the book is barely recognizable from former drafts. “Early on there was a prophecy,” revealed Pool, “but it was pretty different. And the prophecy that’s in the book now was one of my last rounds of revision with my agents before we went on submission with the book. We were like, ‘We have all of these characters and we’re interested in their storylines, but we need to figure out a way for the person who’s reading the book to understand why their stories are intersecting and what’s going to come from that.’ [It] gave me the idea to make sure all of the characters were in this prophecy.”
Editing a book is similar to driving and repeatedly missing your turn. Each time your GPS announces, “rerouting,” the voice sounds increasingly frustrated, as it steers you along a different path. With novels, at least, shifts in direction come with the territory and often lead to destinations far better than the original plan. This was certainly true for Pool.
“One of the biggest changes in the book from the first-ish draft to where it is now, is the villain of the story."
" The villain has taken over the prince’s kingdom and that’s where that conflict starts for him. Originally it wasn’t related to the prophets or the prophecy; it was just one big conflict in the world. Much later, I was thinking, is there religion in my world? People worship the prophets, and they’re gone now so there’s this vacuum left by that. What if someone came in to fill that vacuum and there was this new belief system starting to rise up? That gave me the central villain of the series. It’s crazy to me that I didn’t have that piece of the story yet, but that’s the strange process of writing a book.”
Authors do all kinds of kooky things in the name of research—Internet search histories alone can look pretty incriminating—but Pool found herself playing a fictional card game that she invented for her novel. “I had to fix that scene in particular during the last stages of revisions because there were little details and I was like, ‘Oh that doesn’t make sense, or it just said he had this card.’ That was definitely challenging and, ultimately, I had to get my roommate to play this fake game with me in order to write it. My mom is an avid poker player so, I also sent [that scene] to her and was like, ‘Tell me if this makes sense.’”
“A card game, or any leisure activity in general, adds a lot to a world,” Pool continued. “A lot of time when you are world building, you’re thinking about big picture things like politics and religion and history—even architecture or culture. But part of culture is these leisure activities. And the card game does play a crucial role in the plot.”
Balancing the need to create a fully-realized world with the constraint of word counts is why so many fantasy novels run long. If you wanted to keep a book on your nightstand hefty enough to beat off an intruder, this is the genre to pick! At just shy of 500 pages, There Will Come A Darkness is no exception, making it not only an enthralling read, but also a practical self-defense contingency for any bibliophile. Still, there were some places where the manuscript required trimming.
“My goal is always to create a great reading experience” - Katy Rose Pool @KatyPool #yaauthor #reading #writerslife
“My goal is always to create a great reading experience,” said Pool. “Whenever I had to cut or change stuff, it was always with the faith that it would make the book better. And I think that it did. For the most part, I didn’t agonize that much. There were things it took me a while to figure out I needed to cut, but that’s sort of the process. When I do cut things, I save them so if there’s a place where I can use that in the future, then I have it. When I’m revising, I’m looking to make the story as strong as possible, to make the character arcs as moving as possible, and so I’m always ready to change whatever needs to be changed for that to happen.”
In her blurb for There Will Come a Darkness, Sara Holland, author of the Everless series, references the novel’s explosive ending. “When I was first sitting down to write the book, I had no idea what the end was or what pieces needed to be in place for it, which made it difficult to edit,” Pool said. “I probably rewrote the last act four or five times. Parts of it were always the same and those parts were the natural conclusion of conflicts and mysteries that get set up in the book. It was a matter of deciding how all of those pieces fit together and what was going to be the most exciting and what made the most sense. Endings are challenging for me. I’m writing the ending of the second book right now and I’m like, ‘I need to sit down and figure this out,’ but that’s fun, too.”
Pool pulls her ideas from diverse sources. “I really like games. A few years ago, I played a lot of board games with my sister and our friends. There’s a board game that indirectly influenced my book, in terms of the world. It’s called 7 Wonders and it’s about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—it’s very fun—and the artwork and the way that the game goes inspired [me].”
Having a screenwriter as a father helped Pool to grasp many aspects of storytelling, as well. “Being a kid, you don’t process what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, but seeing [my dad] in front of a computer typing, and knowing that that was making stories, made me feel like that was something I could do.”
“The books I read when I was really young have stuck with me and been central to my conception of what I like in stories, what I would like to write, and what I’m interested in.” - Katy Rose Pool @KatyPool #yaauthor #writingprocess
“In addition to being a writer, my dad also teaches screenwriting so he just naturally taught us about story. It was something we always talked about when we would go see movies: how story works and why people who write make certain choices about their stories. In very general terms, I’ll be like, ‘This is a mid-point scene, that is the climax.’ Story structure stuff—I learned all of that from my dad. By the time I was seven or eight, I was writing down my own stories.”
Pool’s first experiences with books also affected who she became as both a reader and a creator. “The books I read when I was really young have stuck with me and been central to my conception of what I like in stories, what I would like to write, and what I’m interested in.”
“I got a lot of my taste from my brother and my sister. And my brother was always into sci-fi and fantasy.” Pool’s family adored Animorphs. “We had the whole series; we would read them as they came out. Early on I was reading Ella Enchanted. It’s still one of my favorite books. I think it’s absolutely brilliant and I re-read it recently and it definitely stands up. Ender’s Game was another of them. And then, a little later on, the Harry Potter series was huge. I was obsessed with it, probably from the ages of 10 to 17. I read Game of Thrones relatively young—probably too young, around 13 or 14—so that got me interested in the big, epic-scope fantasy.”
“But the books that I read later on also helped shape me as a writer—so Leigh Bardugo. And I love The Winner’s Curse series. I read that when I was first beginning to draft There Will Come A Darkness and I was stunned by her prose. It challenged me to step up my prose game.”
More recently, Pool discovered The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen. “We have the same publisher, so she’s also at Holt. I read the book a month or two ago and I loved it; I [finished] it in one day. Another book that I enjoyed was The Fever King—pretty different from There Will Come A Darkness, but if people have the same sensibility as me, they may like it. I always recommend [And I Darken by Kiersten White], especially if you like books that are a bit dark and that have characters who are ruthless. [It’s] one of my favorite series of all time.
There Will Come a Darkness was released on September 3, 2019. You can order it at your local bookstore or purchase it online. Pool also encourages readers to request her novel at the library and to leave a review on a trade site, like Amazon.
What are your favorite fantasy books? Let us know in the comments!
"The books I read when I was really young have stuck with me and been central to my conception of what I like in stories, what I would like to write, and what I’m interested in.” - Katy Rose Pool @KatyPool #reading #readerslife #yaauthor
This article was originally printed in the Fall 2019 issue of Curiositales. If you would like to receive a free digital copy of the magazine, sign up for our newsletter at the top of this page! Then, confirm your email address (be sure to check your spam folder). Once you click the link in your welcome email, you'll get regular news from Curiositales, including notifications when the latest magazine is published. You can unsubscribe whenever you like. Or, you can read it for free here.
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