Two weeks ago, I finished writing my first novel.

So that’s it, I can officially say I’ve done it, I’m not a quitter. A smidge under two-and-a-half years (2 years, 4 months, and 21ish days, to be exact), from the first typed word (‘Bye’, if you’re curious) to the last (‘Man’, again for you curious types) and I’m still in bloody love with it. Sure, after a few edits and several read-throughs, it might lose some of that lovely new-car-smell, but right now I’m in that honeymoon period, and we’re very very much still in love.

Through Bended Grass, a fantasy by Aidan Moher

Through Bended Grass is the story of Rowan Hayes, a young mother searching desperately for her son, violently stolen from her home by his Fey father. Dragged halfway across the globe, she is forced to the gritty streets and wondrous countryside of modern day Ireland, but soon finds herself embroiled in the mysterious, bastardized world of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Fey folk of ancient legend, and exposed to a host of dangerous characters she thought only Fairy Tale. Rowan soon learns that her halfbreed son is purported to be the lynchpin in a mysterious war engulfing the Fey world, and threatening to spill into hers. Travelling through both our world and the alien landscape of the Fey, Rowan must face challenges both physical and spiritual to have any hope of ever seeing her son again.

Perhaps, though, it’s easier to sum Through Bended Grass up with my submission to agent Colleen Lindsay’s ‘Query in 140 Characters or Less’ contest, in which I was selected runner-up out of over 300 entries:

LABYRINTH – (David Bowie and Muppets) + Fey mythology x The dirty streets of Ireland = THROUGH BENDED GRASS, a 90k contemporary Fantasy.

I tend to think of Through Bended Grass (when I’m thinking highly of myself, and feel like an ego-stroke) as Tad Williams’ The War of the Flowers meets Mark Chadbourn’s The Age of Misrule by way of Neil Gaiman. I know, I know, setting the bar a little high, and if I become half the author those three are I’ll be lucky, but I wear those influences very clearly on my sleeve. They’ve been there since the beginning (well, except Chadbourn, I came to him late; but we must’ve been drinking from the same well, give some of the similar themes and mythology we work with) and their work made an indelible mark on Through Bended Grass.

It may be a total cliche, but Through Bended Grass started life on a slow, summer afternoon while I was bored at work. At the time, I was working on outlining a huge Epic Fantasy trilogy, but knew somewhere deep down that I wasn’t ready to write it yet, that it was too big a story for me to tell before I better understood how to craft a novel. I still want to tell that story, even now, but at the time I needed something smaller, something more intimate. That boggy summer afternoon, I was shooting the shit over IM with Shawn Speakman, blogger at Suvudu and an aspiring author like myself, and he mentioned that he was flirting around with an idea of writing an Urban Fantasy. My head was deep in my Epic Fantasy trilogy, but I mentioned that an Urban or Contemporary Fantasy was something I also wanted to tackle some day. I didn’t know anything about it, just that it would be set in Ireland, a country I’m familiar with and love dearly.

I spent the rest of that afternoon brushing up on Irish and Celtic mythology, diving deeper into the lore than I ever had in the past, and all of a sudden the story started forming in a nebulous, parasitic way in my mind. I had to get those ideas written down on paper, so I started jotting down random notes, not even plot, just random titbits of character and story, the nuts and bolts that would later be used to construct the plot. And then I just didn’t stop. I outlined rather heavily before really beginning to write, which is an important part of the process for me, and started blogging about my experiences writing the novel. Mightier than the Sword may have tuckered out, but my passion for Rowan Hayes’ story never did. A little over two years and 98k words later, I had a draft of a novel.

The story I leave behind is one that greatly reflects my value of family, and also my love of discovery and travel. Ostensibly, Rowan’s journey is a mad race to find her son, but it is also one of self-discovery and, well, discovering the world around her by being able to look at it in a way she never has before. The journey, as they say, is more important than the destination. As with any story, Through Bended Grass grew greatly in the telling, and even I was surprised at some of the places the tale took our heroine. Perhaps most surprising, though, were the characters that jumped to the fore, supposed secondary characters that took on a life of their own and proved, in the end, vital to Rowan’s story. They’re all a reflection of a different piece of my personality, and damn if I won’t miss ’em now that they’re gone.

What next? Edits. Then a bit of editing. Then, once that’s wrapped up, I’ll move on to doing edits. No, seriously, though, I plan to have a solid manuscript in hand by Spring of 2010, after I’ve spent some time away from the novel and received feedback from several of my early readers; after that it’s time to struggle with the dreaded query letter, then to the slush pile, where I’ll join the legion of other aspiring writers, hoping to catch the eye of an agent or editor.

I don’t like to use A Dribble of Ink as a sounding board for myself as an aspiring writer, so you may not hear much more about Through Bended Grass until I have major news on it (like finding that aforementioned agent/editor/schmuck-who-I’ve-coerced-into-publishing-my-novel). But if you’re interested in keeping track of the progress on my novel, and my unending attempt to become a published writer, you can always visit my other blog, Mightier than the Sword, which I promise will see more activity now that the novel’s finished.

Writing Through Bended Grass has been an experience that will leave a mark on me for the rest of my life. I always wondered whether I could write a novel, and now, looking back, it’s almost hard to believe that I did. It’s my baby, and it’ll be bloody hard to let her go, but man am I excited to set her free, toss her into to the wild where maybe, just maybe, she might bring someone just a small bit of the enjoyment and comfort she brought me. Then, it’s on to the next novel.

  • Patrick December 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I will give you 5 dollars for the publishing rights*. I will then print it on beautiful white 8 x 11.5 standard office paper, bind it with large black alligator clips, and cover it with the best MS Paint artwork I can create.

    It will be marketed via tweet and, if you are lucky, retweet.

    *Note: Publishing rights are only valid in Nepal and Pluto’s only moon, Charon.

    -Stomping on Yeti Publishing

  • aidan December 17, 2009 at 11:37 am

    It’s a tempting offer, Patrick, but I think I’m going to weigh my options, especially with those Nepalese publishing rights. Those are valuable, you know!

  • Patrick December 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

    You’ll change your mind once I get around to the cover art.

  • Tia Nevitt December 17, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Congratulations, Aiden! It is a tough thing to finish a novel. One bit of adivce I read recently is that when you think it is perfect, do another edit. I think that’s some of the best advice I ever heard, along with “read it aloud.” Yes. The whole thing.

    I think the story sounds great.

  • aidan December 17, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Bring your A-game, Patrick!

    Thanks Tia! The ‘reading aloud’ tip is one I’ve got from several writers and editors. I’ll definitely be utilizing it! As for the extra edit, I think it’s a good idea, but you also have to be careful about getting bogged down in the endless cycle of editing. There comes a point where you have to let it go. No matter how much I edit, it won’t be as good as a version that passes through the hands of professional editors.

  • neth December 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Congrats and best of luck getting it pubished!

  • aidan December 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks Ken! I expect a glowing review whether you enjoy it or not.


  • neth December 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I look forward to exploring different ways to make a review glow :P

  • PeterWilliam December 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Congratulations. It’s great and inspiring news. I am trying, somewhat lazily, to accomplish the same thing. If it gets picked up, I definitely want to know so that I can pick up the first big sf&f blogger (that I know of) to break through to major publication.
    Best Wishes,

  • edifanob December 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    My honest congratulations! And I really hope and wish you get published.
    I don’t play an instrument and I can’t write novels BUT I love to read books. And so I look forward to read your novel in near future.

    I think this is the best Christmas present you will get in 2009.
    Good luck for 2010.

  • Richard Sutton December 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm


    It feels good, when the stress momentarily lifts as that last word is typed and the save button is clicked. It feels good when you give a copy of the printed book to your wife, or mother, etc. It feels good when you get your first good review…

    It feels really shitty when you find the typos you missed pre-press. It feels really shitty when you don’t think you ended it right, about a month out. It feels shitty when all the agents you pitch do9n;t want to read prolo9gues. It feels really shitty when you’re not selling any…

    You’re right of course, though, there is no love like your first book. Mine was set in Mayo and took 6 years to write and edit and five or so in research. The honeymoon was finally over and now, it’s like an old flame — you may think of it from time to time, but you don’t bring it up with your wife in the room.

  • Shawn December 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Congrats, Aidan!! Now comes the fun part!

  • Phillip December 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Congratulations! An amazing achievment. When I think about the amount of work it took me to write the first part of my first short story I can’t begin to imagine the task of writing a novel! It sounds like an amazing read, the very best of luck finding a worthy publisher.

  • Rhiannon Hart December 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Your blurb had me piqued, and then the whole Labyrinth thing, I’m sold! Good luck with the edits and querying and congrats on finishing it.

  • Jonathan December 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Your story (both Through Bended Grass and your path to finishing) are intriguing. Thanks for sharing your experience. I found after writing my first draft that I need some sort of outline at least running ahead of my writing. My first draft was awful. Second draft + outline = something I’ll maybe be able to actually revise. Congrats on finishing!

  • Sam Sykes December 17, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Still quite eager to give it a read, if you both need it and are comfortable offering it to me.

    I expect massive quality after seeing the cover art.

  • Harry Markov December 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Way to go Aidan! It is quite awesome to have that manuscript finished. Get those edits done and storm the publishing world.

  • William December 18, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Congratulations on having a complete draft of your future novel! I’ve enjoying following your blog and I wish you the very best of luck seeing your efforts come to fruition. I look forward to seeing (and reading!) it in a bookstore near me.

  • Mark Chadbourn December 18, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Just left a comment on your writing blog, Aidan, but wanted to congratulate you here on what is an amazing achievement. So few people get through to the end of their draft. Good luck with the next step!

  • Mihai (Dark Wolf) December 18, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Congratulations, Aidan! And I hope you’ll get your novel out on the market very soon. You have to have a strong word on the cover artwork also :)
    Then you will have to run the gauntlet set by the community of reviewers ;)

  • sean December 18, 2009 at 7:08 am

    congrats buddy.

    secondly, i was sad to see no shoutout given to me on those rr martin covers :(
    i emailed them to you on 9-28-09 @ 1:00am alaskan time (checked my sent files).

    Because i, in fact, did know your love for coverart. oh’well. I suppose you probably get a million emails a day and don’t have the time to check them all–especially links people think you should check out.

    Either way, glad you finally stumbled across them. Its some beautiful work, to be sure. And glad you had the platform to bring them to the masses, which i obviously lack outside of a small social circle of my own (most of which could care less about book inspired artwork).

    Sean B.

  • RedEyedGhost December 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Congrats, Aidan!

  • Simon December 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Hahahaha @ you ever being accepted as a writer..fuck it im laughing my nuts off here. TALK ABOUT DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.Just vomitted im laughing so much.Good luck is most certainly the order of the day. Oh pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Simon R

  • gav ( December 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    And the weird comment of the day goes to Simon R – not that he’s ever going to come back – but what makes you say that?

  • Vidalizer December 19, 2009 at 3:34 am

    That is the longest thing Simon will ever write.

  • Gabriel Novo December 19, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Congrats on the achievement. One step closer to becoming published.

    Out of curiosity, since you’re an uber designer, you think they’ll let you make your own cover? You already have a killer title graphic…

  • James December 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Congrats on finishing, Aidan. Now good luck with the edits… and the ones after those. Hope you manage to coerce someone into picking it up. :)

  • Aarti December 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Congratulations, Aidan! Best wishes getting it edited and published and out to all of us who want to read it :-)

  • […] me? Aww shucks. Well, I’m too humble for that so I’m not going to tell you about my recently completed novel, or that you should visit my blog a couple of times a day. Maybe next year. Because 2009 is over, […]

  • […] a struggling writer and who isn’t. It isn’t bad at all if you are, so you might as well be open about it. One of the things I got used to very quickly as an editor was not to approach a book with […]

  • […] Tell me about the cover art and why Geralt the Witcher is going for a dip in a seething ocean.    Let me begin by saying I very, VERY eagerly await the cover art for THROUGH BENDED GRASS. […]

  • Kris January 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Sounds great! (I left a longer comment on the Mightier than the Sword blog).