I spent part of my childhood “abroad,” where I discovered anime (dubbed into various European languages) and foreign cinema, due to my family’s fondness for French and Italian comedians like Jacques Tati and Terence Hill. This led, in my thirties and early forties, to an interest in films made in India: mostly in the Hindi language, but also some in the South Indian languages. There was a big learning curve, in terms of sourcing the more obscure movies, getting a feel for the cultures involved, and figuring out what appealed to me beyond the famous song and dance numbers.
Around 2010, this interest led to a NaNoWriMo project which eventually became Loving a Deathseer (the third book in the Jaiya Series). The setting was vaguely Indian-influenced, with a litany of “clever servant” tropes borrowed from all over, but it originally also had steampunk vehicles and palantirs, and embarrassing faux-Greek character names. It was a romance of sorts, because I’d been reading a fair amount of that at the time, and because the Indian films I was watching tended to have strong romantic subplots.
I kept fiddling with the idea of a fantasy setting vaguely influenced by India, Persia, and the Middle East. Sometime after 2010, I came up with the country name “Jaiya,” and an early draft of its fictional sacred text, “The Wounding of the Quantum Tree.” Parts of this fictional sacred text appear as chapter headings in the fourth book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series, Seeking the Quantum Tree. Around the time I wrote that, I also came up with a vague Indiana Jones-style story idea about people searching for the Quantum Tree, which I didn’t write at that time.
For 2013, my NaNoWriMo project took place in the Jaiya setting: it would eventually become known as Marrying a Monster (the first book in the Jaiya Series). My interest in cryptids, and my fondness for paranormal investigators like Carnacky the Ghost-Finder, and monster hunters like the good guys in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, came to the surface here, along with some of my fears about what can go wrong when traveling from Point A to Point B.
And there they sat, until about 2014 or 2015, when I decided to try self-publishing. (Which is a story for another time). I had to find a way to tie the books then called NaNo2013 and NaNo2010 together, in addition to renaming everyone in NaNo2010, and removing the palantirs and steam-powered APCs from NaNo2010. I didn’t fully understand how to do that, until my project for NaNoWriMo2015, which would eventually become Slaying a Tyrant, the first Ancestors of Jaiya book.
This gave me a prequel story about Jaiya’s past, and hints toward a dynasty of men with a mystical ability I called “pattern finding.” Around the same time, I came up with “Rijal” as a name for the Pole Star in the Jaiya setting. In the Jaiyan setting, this was a by-word for integrity and clarity of purpose, and I knew there was a man who had been named for it.
This led to Waking the Dreamlost, the middle book in the Jaiya Series, and a complicated family tree that would tie the three novels in the Jaiya Series together, and offer hints towards the sequels to Slaying a Tyrant. I wrote Dreamlost over the course of a couple of months in 2016, in between cleaning up Deathseer and getting it into continuity with the books I’d written later. By late 2016, I had published all three.
For NaNoWriMo2016, I finally tackled that Quantum Tree idea I’ve mentioned before. What had originally been set in the Jaiyan equivalent of the 1930s had moved up to the equivalent of the 1960s. Some family members’ interest in midcentury automobiles gave me a few ideas as to how to hint towards that aspect of the setting. I now had the fourth book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series, and a few more hints about that Rijal fellow and his wife, since they were the parents of the hero in Quantum Tree.
I started Rijal’s story, Scapegoating a Hero, in February 2017, but it turned out to be a complicated thriller with a lot of moving parts, that took a lot of pausing to reflect on where I was going with this. I didn’t finish it until sometime in 2018. This would be the third book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series.
I started the second (in internal chronology) book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series for NaNoWriMo2017. The city siege involved turned out to be too grim for me, so I turned it into backstory and, over the course of 2018, came up with a story about how the city’s fall affected the titular queen.
I finished rough-drafting Saving a Queen in October 2018. At that point, I was basically finished with Jaiya creatively. There were some rewrites needed to tie the Ancestors books more tightly to each other and the original series, as well as the usual polishing and some thoughts about cover art. But after 360,000+ words, I didn’t really feel like I had anything more to say about the setting or the people in it. It was the first setting I’d successfully created multiple coherent books in, the first one to give me a bunch of books I felt like I needed to write, and I will always be grateful for that.