When I became disabled in 2018, I thought all the writing projects I started before then would just go unfinished and unpublished. Thanks to some amazing people in my life, that isn’t the case. My husband and contracted team of fellow publishing professionals banded together and got the last few installments of my self-published Angels and Avalon and Tyrel Hanson series published. They also kept and continue to keep my social media and writing/editing career alive where I am unable. I chose self-publishing in 2014, publishing my first book in 2015. I chose the self-publishing path after a 10 year journey in writing and editing preparing to kick off a writing career I planned to make fulltime. My first series isn’t marketable in a traditional publishing world, but many of the projects I had started after that series are marketable/potentially desirable by traditional publishers. But my disability made writing and working towards becoming a hybrid and fulltime author impossible.
That is until Algonquin author S. P. Joseph Lyons agreed to coauthor one of those backburner books for me.
In a world where the traumas and racisms of our world are being called to light and challenged, there were some concerns when I was writing a particular work in progress tentatively titled Rose’s Thorns. Rose’s Thorns was going to be a story about a train wreck of a woman who choses destructive coping mechanisms to manage her grief. With the help of Death, who becomes her friend, main character Rose would rise out of her grief and poor choices into a world of magic.
I wanted to share a story of struggle and trauma, something deeply connected to my own life, but I am a white woman. While the main character Rose is white as well, there was a character I wanted to do right who was not: the embodiment of death, a spirit who guides people to the spirit world at the end of their material life. He would become Rose’s friend and introduce the spiritual and magical elements of the story. He was also Algonquin.
In my mother’s passion to discover our origins through family genealogy, she discovered a mysterious distant relation. This woman married into the family, and little is known about her, likely due to the assimilation into the French family and racism. My mother did discover that this woman was Algonquin. To honour her, I wanted to make the death reaper character of her heritage.
One day while perusing Twitter, quietly following my fellow authors’ and editors’ worlds, a break in my homebound and disabled life, I stumbled upon the moving and deep quotes of a Science Fiction Fantasy (SFF) work written by author S. P. Joseph Lyons.
“S.P. Joseph Lyons is an Algonquin Anishinaabe children’s author, fantasy Sci-Fi novelist, speaker, and Indigenous education advocate. As a 60’s Scoop adoptee, and intergenerational survivor of the residential school legacy, he endured abuse and segregation through the child welfare and school systems. His wild experiences and encounters inspired his many novels’ rich themes and unforgettable characters.”
With the bones of the story written prior to 2018, I planned to hand it off to a ghost writer, but I wanted the death reaper’s Algonquin heritage and character done right. I took a shot in the dark and reached out to fellow author Lyons, and Lyons answered. He agreed to consult on the project, reading it for accuracy and to ensure none of my colonialist upbringing unintentionally inserted socialized racisms into the death reaper’s tale.
Originally, this death reaper character was going to be a supporting character, but it was quickly clear he needed to become a main character as his story was more important to the series than Rose’s.
I didn’t feel like the right person to write his story. His story, as all indigenous peoples in colonial countries, was touched deeply by the experience of colonial abuse, residential schools, and traumas I could not write. So, again, shooting in the dark, I asked Sean if he would consider coauthoring the work with me, writing the character’s pieces and helping with some of Rose’s pieces as well.
Sean’s history, writing, and spirit fit well with my vision for the story, but I didn’t expect a response from him initially. After all, in traditional publishing, there are agents and teams to go through before you can directly connect with an author. I had hoped that Sean would be a bit more accessible and open, being a fellow self-published author (his DRUX series has been picked up by a publisher now). All of my hopes became reality.
He graciously agreed. Having Sean on this book has been a blessing and pleasure. He is honest, collaborative, and a very skilled author. Our styles mesh well, as do our writing practices. Now, Rose’s Thorns is a 75,000 work in the querying and revisions stage thanks to Sean’s support and skills. Should we fail to find an agent or traditionally publish, we will get the story to readers one way or another.
If you’re looking for a good SFF or children’s story in the meantime, I suggest you pick up one of Sean’s books. It is well worth the read.
I have come to know Sean as a dedicated family man, a talented author, and a reliable colleague who is easy to work with. He has a heart of gold, and he hasn’t let the challenges of his past stop him from becoming one of the best types of people. While I may have created the idea of the story, Sean is the real star of the book. Without him, the story wouldn’t exist. So please give him a follow, purchase one of his books, and share with him the same appreciation you’ve shown me all these years.
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