Caye Marsh is joining us today to talk about her novel, Peace in the Sky. Here’s the publisher’s description:
When Peace-in-the-Sky awakens as a captive with a young girl by her side, she only understands one thing: she must escape the tribe who captured her. A brutal head injury makes the past a swirling fog, so she is reliant on the girl-her precocious daughter Anissa-to guide them. She must return Anissa to the Tribes-under-the-Dome to keep her safe from warring and vicious tribes inhabiting the wasted landscape.Every group they shelter with along the way sees something different when they look at Peace-in-the-Sky-a god, a savior, a valuable commodity, a volatile danger. She doesn’t know herself, but soon realizes she can protect Anissa with the scorching power of the pillars-of-flame. Only her tender love for Anissa and her mission to return the girl home to the Tribes-under-the-Dome matter. As her body grows weaker, not even the inexorable unraveling mystery of who, or what, Peace-in-the-Sky really is can deflect her from the task.
What’s Caye’s favorite bit?
My upcoming novella Peace In The Sky was my first attempt at writing after the birth of my first child. I had been away so long, not only from writing but also from reading, that I wondered if I would ever get back to it again. The demands of a new baby seemed boundless, and my new-parent struggles seemed never-ending.
I thought I might start small. A novella?
I picked up Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti and I was immediately entranced. All doubts were driven from my mind. I loved reading, I loved writing, and I would never be parted from them again. I’d been ruminating on a story only glimpsed during late night nursing sessions, and Okorafor’s writing helped it to gel in my mind. I loved the arid, desert setting at the beginning of Binti, and I loved how the sparser prose and more straight-forward style complemented it. I wanted to do something similar.
But my natural writing style was flowery and lavish and… perhaps a little purple.
I thought it would be a chore to write differently, but it was an absolute inspiration. I would start every sentence and be re-writing it, cutting it, simplifying it in my head as I was typing it out. Instead of allowing the story to flow onto the page in my accustomed voice, I carefully chose each word for its meaning and economy and feel. It was a meditative way of writing. Writing the sentences was slow, but writing the book was surprisingly quick and streamlined. I missed my lush descriptions and deep world-building, but for the story I was trying to tell in Peace In The Sky, the style just fit. The main character thinks very linearly and deliberately, she has to in order to make sense of things. And the landscape of the book is sparse and austere.
After I left the world of Peace In The Sky I was relieved to return to the more ornate style I’d been writing in all my life. I set out to write something completely indulgent, perhaps never to be published, something just for me. But the exercise of consciously writing in a different style had transformed my prose. The lessons I’d learned writing Peace In The Sky insinuated themselves into my style and yielded richer, clearer, more versatile prose. I was delighted to find myself a more fluent, assured writer with a more diverse skillset to call upon.
My favorite bit about writing Peace In The Sky is how much I learned from it, in many ways, but specifically how much it honed my prose. It’s also the first thing of note I’ve published, so I’m profoundly grateful for this novella, the inspiration to write it, and the insight gleaned from the writing of the exceptional Okorafor on how to bring it all together. If you pick it up, I hope you will enjoy it too!
Caye Marsh is a former biologist writing Sci Fi and Fantasy. She cherishes the unbroken quiet of wild places and the true dark of night, so please keep it down and remember to extinguish all outdoor lights.