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Now, onto business…
Below are my thoughts & notes for Wraithforged (Wraithblade Book 2)
If you’re not used to the concept, Author Notes are a fun bonus at the end of a book. It’s where I jot down a little note for you about my experience writing the novel, and it’s also where I share some cool behind-the-scenes features regarding story design and thematic elements.
They’re meant to be read after you finish the novel, so if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, go grab your copy first.
Man, what a ride.
Here we are, almost a full year after I published Wraithblade, and I won’t lie—I really thought I would have Wraithforged to you last fall at the latest. My “worst case” goal was to finish in November, and that obviously didn’t happen.
…Life’s full of surprises, I guess?
Book two was a challenge, more so than I ever imagined it would be.
On more than one occasion, I debated ending it in the Blood Bogs—but come on, I couldn’t just end it there.
I relentlessly hunted for chapters to cut, perspectives to omit, and subplots to change, but everything in the novel had roots. It had to be there.
As I was going through my final read-through, before I sent it to my publisher as the final edition, this line from Connor’s duel with Nocturne stuck out to me most:
He wasn’t quite ready to believe it was over.
You and me both, Connor. You and me both.
As a fun aside, there’s a line in chapter 27 where I shamelessly self-inserted into Connor’s head, in part to remind myself that this was going to happen no matter how many sleepless nights I had to put in to make it real:
Even with a dragon, this plan of his seemed impossible. He kept looking for something he could cut to save time, but he couldn’t compromise on a single thing.
It’s meta, it’s extra, and I don’t even remotely care. It kept me going that day, and it made me laugh every time I read it afterward.
The biggest delay in this book was how many times I rewrote it. I would get to a central plot point and realize I hadn’t built it to the full potential of what it could be, so I threw out most of what I’d finished up to that point.
I’m usually meticulous with my outlining to avoid exactly this situation, but Connor & his team kept evolving. They kept showing me more of what they could become, and I couldn’t bring myself to omit something that could elevate the series as a whole.
I also worked with my brother Dan on this novel, and together we hashed out the story design, character growth, and outline. Together, we made it into something even better than I had originally thought it could be.
But it came at the expense of time.
There were, no joke, twenty-five adjustments to the outline. For the manuscript itself, you just read the third iteration of Wraithforged. Behind the scenes, there were an obscene number of long nights, missed holidays, and skipped weekends that went into the story.
And even with all that, I’d do it again. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, what you just read is the version truly worthy of the series.
I know it was irritating to wait a full year for book two, but I would rather throw out everything than release a bad book. As much pressure as I felt to finish this one, I think it was worth all the pain. I’m thrilled with the result, and I hope you feel the same.
Most of all, I’m grateful.
Grateful it’s done, yes, but more so grateful to you for being here with me, at the end of another journey together. I’m thankful you took the time out of your life to go on this adventure with me, and I hope you were utterly enchanted by the result of sixteen months of intense labor.
The Opening Quote
Choosing the opening quote of Wraithforged was an immensely difficult task, mainly because of the varied themes running beneath the surface.
In the end, I had to choose between two of them: anger and family.
Ultimately, you already know which one I chose.
The opening quote comes from Jim Butcher:
“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family.”
When you look at the characters’ growth, this speaks exactly to what you see: chosen family, and the deep & lasting bonds friends can have.
- In the Blood Bogs, Connor Magnuson had to choose between the family he lost and the one he has left.
- Quinn Starling abandoned her family of origin in favor of a new family who shares her ideals and honors who she is.
- Sophia Auclair had to choose between her old fears—namely, the scars she developed in Nethervale—and this ragtag group that has given her a renewed sense of home.
- Murdoc had to choose between controlling the woman he loves and trusting she would choose him in the end.
What’s real stays with you—and for our team, that’s exactly what happened.
We can’t choose the family we were born into, but we can surround ourselves with people who make us better. Who challenge us even as they bring sunshine into our lives.
And that’s beautiful.
A Note on Anger
Of course, there is also an undercurrent of anger that runs throughout the book.
As you know by now, the Wraithblade Saga as a whole is dedicated to fathers. Our fathers influence who we become, after all, but only we choose who we are.
Wraithforged builds on this core foundation by adding another layer: through our fathers, we learn how to cope with the darker realities of life. We watch them model grief, anger, and trauma—and we learn something new every time.
Sometimes we’re lucky, and our role models teach us healthy ways to heal. For others, our role models pass on the painful cycles they learned from their role models.
If left unchecked, that can destroy us.
No matter we learned growing up—about fear, about anger, about grief—it is our responsibility to choose how we process it now.
We have the power to break those cycles. We can do it right and be the models the next generation deserves.
It’s tough for me to pick a favorite scene in Wraithforged, but the one that sticks out to me the most happens in Slaybourne—when Connor gives Wesley the silver blades he has worn since his days with Beck Arbor.
For starters, these deeply symbolic weapons are Connor’s tether not just to his old life, but to everything he has learned thus far. They symbolize everything he sacrificed to become the Wraithblade, and they also represent everything Wesley wants to be. They’re Connor’s way of reminding the young man that Connor will always be there—even when he’s not.
It’s his way of saying the lessons we learn outlive the people who taught us.
Their entire conversation is one of my favorite scenes in the book, but this part always resonates the deepest for me:
“Your soul is like a pot where you store all the things that make up who you are. When you make a mistake and you can’t make it right, there’s only one thing you can do—put it in the pot to make you braver. Use it to sustain you, because that’s all it’s good for at that point. The more you put in the pot, the stronger you get. Over time, you won’t feel lost anymore. The shame burns away. The next time you face the thing you fear, you’ll know what to do.”
Put it in the pot to make you braver.
My therapist taught me that concept, and I use it all the time. It’s some of the greatest wisdom I’ve ever gotten, and now I can share it with you.
To me, anger stands out as one of the strongest emotions in this book, and for good reason. There’s trauma. There’s pain. There’s injustice. There’s betrayal. There’s abandonment.
In this book and in our world, there are lots of reasons to be angry.
I think we sometimes forget that anger isn’t really its own emotion. It’s secondary, and it hides something else—usually grief.
Nocturne said it best:
“Anger masks true emotion. It is never the only thing one feels.”
In the end, anger is just a tool. It can carve us hollow or get us through a tough time. It’s flame, and one that can be a campfire or an inferno. It all depends on how we use it, or how much we let it use us.
Whatever you face, wield it with care. That’s all we can ever do, after all—our best.
Until next time,
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