Skip to main content

Tracy Deonn: On Writing a Contemporary Fantasy Sequel

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Tracy Deonn discusses the process of continuing her contemporary fantasy series with her new novel, Bloodmarked.

Tracy Deonn is the New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award–winning author of Legendborn, and a second-generation fangirl. She grew up in central North Carolina, where she devoured fantasy books and Southern food in equal measure. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication and performance studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tracy worked in live theater, video game production, and K–12 education.

When she’s not writing, Tracy speaks on panels at science fiction and fantasy conventions, reads fanfic, arranges puppy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, and at TracyDeonn.com.

Tracy Deonn: On Writing a Contemporary Fantasy Sequel

Tracy Deonn

In this post, Tracy discusses the process of continuing her contemporary fantasy series with her new novel, Bloodmarked, her advice for other writers, and more!

Name: Tracy Deonn
Literary agent: Joanna Volpe
Book title: Bloodmarked
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release date: November 8, 22
Genre/category: Contemporary Fantasy/Young Adult
Previous titles: Legendborn
Elevator pitch for the book: When Bree Matthews infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights, she discovered her own ancestral power. Now, she must go on the run from the Order’s leaders and decide whether to live the legend, or break it.

Tracy Deonn: On Writing a Contemporary Fantasy Sequel

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

The first kernel of Legendborn was born when I lost my mother. At that time, I found out that she had also lost her mother when she was my age, and that the same was true of my grandmother. Being a writer, I needed to understand how this pattern came to be.

Of course, there's no real answer here—life is strange and sometimes the odd and surreal happens to us without a concrete explanation. But as a science fiction and fantasy writer, I began to imagine a character, Bree, who could go on a fantastic quest to answer an impossible question. That's the core of Bree's journey Legendborn: "What happened to my mother and why?"

In Bloodmarked, she has the answer, but now she must decide what to do with that knowledge and the other revelations that came with her discovery. This sequel is about identity and responsibility, and what it means to inherit a legacy that is both painful and triumphant.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I imagined Bree as a character in 2008 and although I imagined her quest, she didn’t have a name. I didn’t start the process of writing her story until fall of 2017, and Legendborn was bought in spring of 2018, alongside a synopsis for a sequel.

Bloodmarked was already in my mind, but I found that the revision process for Legendborn sharpened the themes I wanted to explore and created more avenues for exploring the world and secondary characters. I began drafting Bloodmarked in 2020 and it expanded, shrank, and expanded again in length through the revision process.

The major emotional beats stayed the same, but the worldbuilding shifted to accommodate Bree’s new journey.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I learned a lot about the indie bookstore community through the success of Legendborn, and how much heart indie booksellers put into handselling books. That human element is what keeps a book and story moving from hand to hand, and I am so grateful that the indies have supported this series for two years and counting.

Tracy Deonn: On Writing a Contemporary Fantasy Sequel

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I learned that writing a sequel is extremely difficult! I think I knew that to be true intellectually, but didn’t realize how much of the process would be shutting out other voices (good, bad, in between!) in order to find the core of the book and hear my own desires for the story.

Fantasy sequels in particular have to expand on the magical elements presented while also solidifying them in reader’s minds, so it’s a tough balancing act of introducing new fantastic things while keeping continuity and familiarity.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope that readers see in Bree a bit of American history as it plays out on the micro level, in the daily lived experience and journey and mind of a teenage Black girl living in the modern day. I also hope that Bree’s journey, which is driven so much by her emotional arc and desires, shows that a Black girl’s internal journey is valid and powerful.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Deconstruct your favorite stories and novels. Why do you love it? Is it the characters? The voice? The magic system? Etc. Understanding the elements of craft that personally thrill me the most helps me gain clarity and focus on my goals and challenges within my own projects.

writing the young adult novel

Are you new to writing fiction for young adults? Do you want to learn how to write a young adult book and break into the market? Let Writing the Young Adult Novel be your guide. When you take this workshop, you'll get step-by-step instruction on writing for young adults and learn how to sell your novel.

Click to continue.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 26

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 26 requires a second thought.

12 Books That Make Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

12 Books That Make Perfect Gifts This Holiday Season

Here are 12 books released in 2022 that make perfect gifts this holiday season for the reader in your life.

Writing a Nonfiction Crime Story in a Literary Style

Writing a Nonfiction Crime Story in a Literary Style

Rigorous research, incorporating  authentic dialogue, and adding details from true-to-life moments, author Deborah Larkin shares how she wrote a nonfiction crime story in a literary style.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 25

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 25 gets serious.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Deal

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Deal

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character make a deal.

5 Rules of Ethical Journalism

5 Rules of Ethical Journalism

Alison Hill shares five rules of ethical journalism and shines a light on why more and more people may be growing weary of journalism and journalists.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 24 considers what it's all for.

12 Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

12 Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

Cookbook author Deanna Martinez-Bey shares 12 pros and cons of self-publishing your cookbook to help you make the best choice for you and your manuscript.

Chloe Liese: On Changing Character Dynamics in Romance

Chloe Liese: On Changing Character Dynamics in Romance

Author Chloe Liese discusses the classic Shakespeare play that inspired her new romance novel, Two Wrongs Make a Right.