Reflections on the Spell Crossed Series

Reflections on the Spell Crossed Series

Posted on November 8 by Robert Priest in Teens
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The concept for Missing Piece, the final book of my Spell Crossed trilogy, wound up radiating through not only the plot and the characters but the form the novel took and the process of writing it.

Two of the main characters, Xemion and Tharfen, have previously had a collision in the frictionless borough of Shissilill. As a result, they have each come away with a piece of the other magically embedded in them. Much of the action of the book tells the tale of how Tharfen goes about trying to recover her missing piece.

"As I surrendered more and more to the fractured nature of existence and consciousness it began to affect the form of the novel"

 

In the course of the book we become aware of other characters and situations that are missing vital pieces. Notably Xemion, who is somewhat of a reluctant mage, is missing a crucial piece necessary for him taking up his full powers. But every character in the book is missing something, whether overt or left for the reader to discover. Some may recover their sense of totality and some may not.

But this wasn't the only way that the notion of missing pieces informed my writing. As I surrendered more and more to the fractured nature of existence and consciousness it began to affect the form of the novel.

For instance, the previous two novels in the series had chapters of a traditional length. This novel, though, unfolds in a more fractured way. Some of the chapters are very short. And as opposed to one coherent point of view the story unfolds from several, some of which are themselves in terms of consciousness broken and piecemeal.

This was a deliberate tactic – to try to leave something out of every scene and every character.

Perhaps it makes it a little more difficult but I have faith that most of my readers can do what the brain itself does with the fractured nature of reality – construct a coherent whole. Suspense and mystery novels have long been made of such stuff. It was just fun for me to construct something where the form so stemmed from the ideation of the plot.

And of course writers from Aristotle onward have played with that notion of lovers each being a missing piece of the other.

"... the novel gave me permission to leave a few questions unanswered just as life often does."

 

The missing piece notion also supplied me with a bit of extra freedom. After all I was writing the third book of the trilogy which should tie up all loose ends. But when you have a lot of characters and a lot of storylines it can often smack of automatism if absolutely all of them come zeroing in on resolution at once. Even in a story some things can be left open — incomplete — missing a piece. So in this way the concept of the novel gave me permission to leave a few questions unanswered just as life often does.

That's not to say there is not a definite through line on the series and on this final book of it.

There most definitely is but along the way I took a certain fractured joy in watching it zigzag past jagged fragments, puzzle pieces, cracks "where the light gets in", particles, the debris of spell made things and ultimately the yearnings and struggles of characters who just like most of us strive toward some sense of personal completion.

So now that the trilogy is done – a labour of some fifteen years — I suddenly find myself with what most people might regard as free time. That’s great but I have to say, writing the trilogy became a rich and unusually structured part of my existence and now that it's over it has kind of become a missing piece of my life. I guess I'll wind up doing what some of the characters in the novel did when their pieces were irrevocably gone — fill that vacancy with some kind of substitute. Like maybe another novel.

Robert Priest

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014

Robert Priest

Robert Priest has written plays, songs, picture books, and poetry for young readers. His critically acclaimed fantasy novel Knights of the Endless Day was compared to the Narnia Chronicles. The first two novels in the Spell Crossed series are The Paper Sword and Second Kiss. He lives in Toronto.