The Story Behind The Stag Lord
Darby Karchut (Darby Kaye)
The Stag Lord was not my fault. Not one bit.
I was quite happy with my young adult series (the Griffin Rising books) and my middle grade series (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen). I love my “sons” and enjoy watching them grow up.
However, fans kept telling me how much they were beguiled by the male adult protagonists in my teen books: kingly Basil and soldierly Gideon. Why? Because Basil and Gideon were men. Real men. Men who embraced the role of father-figure to their teen apprentices; men that fought evil honorably and defended the innocent valiantly.
In fact, one fan actually wrote some fan fiction — stories that featured Gideon in an adult relationship, then sent the stories (about half a dozen in all) to me. I read them and enjoyed them and thought they were very well written. And they got the writer part of my brain a-thinking. And dreaming. And writing little notes to myself.
And it slowly dawned on me that by writing adult male protagonists into all my teen novels, I was training myself for the day when I send the kids to bed early and try something new.
Thus, The Stag Lord was born.
With Bannerman “Bann” Boru, I wanted to continue to explore the male archetypes of Patriarch, Warrior, and Lover that I had hinted at in my teen novels, but for obvious reasons, could only refer to obliquely.
I began the first draft in the spring of 2013. I quickly discovered that writing for adults had its own challenges. I found myself constantly edging up to the violence and grittiness needed by the story, peeking over the fence, then getting pulled back by my teen author self. I had to push, and push hard, to knock that fence down. I had to really stretch myself to explore scenes that I was uncomfortable writing, then writing them bleaker. I forced myself to put my characters into horrible situations, then even more horrible situations, and watch them battle back, bloodied and scarred and grief-filled.
I’ve never had such fun! I loved it. Loved. It. Crafting a story without the constraints inherent to teen novels was refreshing in a square-the-shoulders, toe-the-line, chin-tucked-and-fists-raised kind of way. Writing an adult novel helped me strengthen my skills and explore issues I’ve never been able to with Griffin and Finn.
Now, it is six months to the October 28 release date. The gorgeous cover art has been created (thank you, Errick Nunnally), the manuscript has run the gauntlet of the various editors (I’m waving at you three, Vikki Ciaffone, my editor-in-chief and copy editors, Richard “Shecky” Shealy and Rich Storrs), and I’m nervously awaiting the early reviews.
It’s been a wild rollercoaster, but I’m really glad I strapped on my seatbelt for it. And what am I doing now? Why, I’m working on the sequel, Unholy Blue. Because this ride is just beginning.