Forest of Lies

Currently editing draft III into draft IV. On chapter 7 out of 14 in the "broad sweeps" phase (I'll be going through again after editing all the chapters). It's growing!

All Marian has ever really wanted is to be loved, and she thinks she's finally found that in Ralph Murdoc. But then she meets the outlaw with the blue eyes, and he threatens to tear down everything she thought she believed. She is left with the task of sorting truth from lie--and a clock ticking towards death. When she is forced to make a choice, can she possibly make the right one?

Current Length
13 Chapters
57,000 words

Current Draft
Full length: III
Working on: IV

Pinterest Board: Character pictures, inspiration, character songs, story songs...

The Story Behind the Story:
I had loved the story of Robin Hood from a young age. Granted, my only experience with it up to age 12 was the 1973 animated Disney (the fox), but I loved it all the same. At one point I was in my library and found a book that was supposed to be a story of Robin's daughter--Rowan Hood. This encouraged me to find the "first" Robin Hood book and read it, so I could read this "second one"--about his daughter. My happy plans fell into dismay when typing "Robin Hood" in the library search engine brought up 7 pages of titles. Which one was the "real" one? I gave up.

In 2005, however, things changed. My mother had started a club and we decided that the first thing we would do was a puppet show. We chose Robin Hood.

For a show, you need a script. Who was to write the script? Moi. I began scouring the library and the internet. I discovered that there wasn't a "real" Robin Hood. I requested piles of Robin Hood books. I still remember reading my first--Robin of Sherwood. That wasn't a very good one to be thrown into after years of fox-Robin Hood. I kept going. We ended up using an edited version of the fox-Robin Hood script for the puppet show, but I kept on with my "research," tearing into Robin Hood book after Robin Hood book, until they became a jumble in my mind. I began to pick out favorites, finding ones that were more original, more funny, standing out from the rest of the swirling mass of material available.

As I said on my first post on this blog, it was pretty much inevitable--I had already been writing fairly steadily for four years. Why not write Robin Hood? The first date I have for the adventure that would become Forest of Lies is November 1st, 2006, when it showed up in my learning log. This earliest version involved Marian, her maid Adelaide, her father Andrew, the Sheriff, and the very earliest version of something that still exists in Forest of Lies--the "Great Hall scene," or Robin's intro. It also involves a very typical plot with Marian getting locked up for refusing to marry the Sheriff and Robin rescuing her. They also fall in love in about 16 single-spaced pages. There it stopped (not because I was done, but because I didn't know where to go next).

Enter Elaine.

Elaine's story was a side-story, of a servant-girl of the sheriff's who is sent into Sherwood to betray Robin. This then dissolved into a story where he got hurt, Marian found Adelaide, and then had to go back to her father, Robin got captured, and Adelaide had a change of heart and let him go. It also involved a trap involving a caravan full of soldiers. A lot of Elaine's feeling where a very condensed version of what Marian would eventually go through, as well as some of Adelaide's. I must admit I left the entire band in somewhat dire straights and moved onto what I dubbed Robin Hood II.

Robin Hood II consisted of changing the book to Marian's point of view (it had previously been in third person). Both Marian's and Robin’s characters started to emerge better in this one, though at this point Much was very Will Scarlett-y and annoying. Her father was still Andrew, and Guy of Gisbourne was actually an outlaw (later to be Gaston). This one also contained the Great Hall scene and Robin's rescue of Marian from the outlaws and then her bedroom (still one of my favorite scenes). There was more hostility from Marian, but she still fell for the lot of them a lot faster. I had a Nottingham Fair scene in this one, where Robin ends up proposing on the fly and the getting shot with an arrow (I have abused him as long as he’s been in my head, as you can see) and taken to Sir Richard at the Lee’s castle. During this whole “episode” Much had one scene where he acted “very odd” in my terms back then, that is, more like the Much he is today. Robin also exhibited his: “let me alone I’m just fine!” attitude. Along came “Jane” - the new “Elaine” - and I started on this side-story again. I once again left the outlaws in dire straights and jumped to Robin Hood III.

Bridging RHII and RHIII was my introduction to the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum (OYAN site). I even turned in parts of them both some weeks, though I was working on Betsy Flowain officially. OYAN changed a ton of my approach to writing in general, and would affect Forest of Lies tremendously.

RHIII is the one that showed its face on the OYAN forum in 2008. I worked on Robin’s background and showed it in flashbacks at the beginning of several chapters. I begin to develop the reason for the scar on his face (first coming into play in RHII) and Marian began having arguments with him. I skipped through much of that phase, however, and she again converted. It also involved the side-story of Elaine/Jane and Robin getting caught in a trap. It is also from this version that “Nairam” originated. I considered naming the book “Nibor.” There was another trap, this time with an outlaw named Henry doing the betraying. It also involved Marian going to the torture chamber, except that it was Henry, not her, who put Robin there. Then I rewrote it. Then the whole document dissolved into random snatches of scenes from all over the place, including the Elaine story again (in all, I wrote part of it a total of three times).


I began working on something I labeled thus:

CAUTION! Entering work zone III take 2:
Turning the legend of “Robin Hood” on its head


And began making notes. Little John being little, Friar Tuck not being fat, Much NOT being little, Marian being the one bested Friar Tuck (yeah...I wish I could’ve fit that in too), etc. I sorta tried to work on that, and then I wrote something I called: “Marian as the bad guy?!?!” in October 2008, complete with an outline that didn't have chapters 5, 6, or 12. I wasn’t sure if Robin would survive this newest version.

Oh yes.

Forest of Lies, here we come.

I began work on using Mr.S's OYAN outlining process to outline this "Marian as a bad guy" thing about the time I was one month into taking his class again, and outlining a book for it. The two did much jockeying for time, with Marian's being both the harder and more exhilarating one. In December, after failing to write Chapter 1 of James Zarnor but rolling Chapter 1 of Forest of Lies (it was called this by now) off the press in a matter of days, I emailed my teacher and switched gears (or really...just abandoned the gears having to do with JZ).

I wrote Draft I in a little under three months. I adored it. It flew by, and when I wrote the showdown (a little out of order, actually--I was writing chapter nine or ten at the time, while the showdown comes in twelve) I found out what I was REALLY writing about, and it, quite honestly, brought me to tears. I plunged into Draft II, and then Draft III. Then I chugged to a halt, submitted Draft III to the OYAN contest, and put it aside. I was ready for the break by then. When I submitted it, I'd been working on it almost nonstop for 354 days.

Forest of Lies was one of seven finalists in the contest. Despite earnest attempts to keep my hopes down, so many people had told me that I would win I had bought into it. It devastated me. I loved that story. I had put my heart and soul into it, and not even placing second or third really hurt me. In more ways then I could originally tell, even. It might sound too drastic for something like this, but I doubted God. I had come to believe that Forest of Lies was a gift and for it to place like it did seemed to convince me it wasn't. I wrestled with this for months afterwards. I still wrestle with it some to this day. I'd given my best, and it wasn't enough.

That was a lie. Forest of Lies WAS a gift--to me, at very least, and maybe to others. But definitely to me. It made me realize things about myself I hadn't before, made me think about things I hadn't before, and drew me closer to my Creator. It continues to be amazing to this day. I still adore it.

And I fight on. My attempts at editing usually put me in dead ends. My attempt to write a sequel also fell, and was replaced by my sci-fi novel Quintessence. Thing is, though, I don't think Forest of Lies is done with me yet. Or God's not ready for me to be through with it. Something like that. Waiting and listening...

Around the first of the year, a small discovery turned into a major breakthrough in my Forest of Lies editing process. As it is now, Quintessence draft I is waiting for an edit and Forest of Lies is getting the edit it's so long begged for. It's been worth the wait!


Anastasia Cross said...

This sounds like a seriously cool book. I must say, I am impressed.

Let me intro: I am seventeen years old, homeschooled, Christian, and the second eldest of seven kids, and also a teen writer myself (though I must say that I do write fantasy... ;] ). I became seriously interested in Robin Hood after reading a collection of modern-written short stories about him. I experimented with writing stories for a while, but never got anywhere with them and just sort of shoved him to the back of my head.

Well, with the coming school year, my mom ordered school books and with it came the "Outlaws of Sherwood" book by Robin McKinley. It was my little sister's book, so I grabbed it up and devoured it. I've almost finished it and my Robin Hood obsession has returned in full, and now I'm dying to write a book about him. I surfed the internet looking for inspiration and found your blog! :D

This book, "Forest of Lies", sounds like a really, really cool book. I can't wait to read it one of these days!


P.S. Sorry for the long, rambly comment. It's the first on this page, so I thought I had a little freedom... ;)

My Blogs (hope you can check them out sometime!):

Nairam said...

Hi Anastasia!

It's always fun to find another Robin Hood fan. I must say, I'm very surprised that internet surfing would lead to my little blog!

Thank you for your kind words about Forest of Lies. I am still working on it, and your comment on this page made me realize I need to update my progress! I hope you do get to read it someday. :)

Best of luck on your own Robin Hood adventure!


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