It’s been a tough year of stretch, build, collapse old ways, recreate, manage and double down on the sweat and effort. Rewarding? Yes, in the sense it feels like progress after a long backbreaking push to build.
But the real test will be when the shopping starts. This last year has been getting me up to speed for an industry in which I have no previous experience. (Let’s be honest, most of this year was teaching me how to pitch, and talk to execs) We’ve been securing attachments. Some were my own choices—very exciting! And others were requests from readers—AMAZING!
We’re at the last polish on the pilot, deck, bible… and here we go.
We are completing the package for The Pillars of Dawn to begin our shopping rounds for streaming studios. What’s that chewy mouthful? Oh, my heart is stuck in my throat. Can’t swallow.
I expect others will do most of the talking after that embarrassing pitch with the guy from Disney where I froze up and forgot everything, even the name of my own series I’ve been writing for two decades. Yeah. I was that girl. That pitch was salvaged ONLY because I won pity points, and he let me reschedule to try again. (Evidently it happened to him once too! So, he felt bad for me.) We’re unlikely to be that lucky again.
So probably they won’t let me do the talking this time. That’s okay with me. I’ll just answer questions. It’s better that way.
My plate is full of project deadlines, world builds, scheduling for the book relaunch, coordinating efforts for the label to bring out a full catalogue and so on. Thus, I haven’t really had time to think or even imagine what happens next. I honestly don’t even know what it’s supposed to look like or what’s expected of me. I’m just the writer, after all. Just tell me where to stand, and I’ll go park myself out of the way.
Since I can’t fathom it, and no one seems able to tell me how to prepare—I’m just focusing on my books, my work, and puttering around the cottagestead.
Here’s to whatever is next, whatever that looks like. I ask the Universe only this: Please put me in touch with ethical, wonderful, creative collaborators who love the build and play of worlds as much as I do. Please put me in the safe hands of those who ache for the joy of adventure as much as I. Please connect me with story-minded, delightful human beings with whom I can share this Muses-verse and pass it along to audiences with a light and satisfied heart. Thank you.
*crossing fingers* So it begins.
My winter writing season is half over already. Let’s be honest, I used some of that time to catch up on rest and getting organized, only to realize—I’m still far from being as organized as I’d like.
The updates are as so:
The Pillars of Dawn streaming adaptation comes to life more each day! The hardest part of the adaptation process so far is not being able to share the bigger breakthroughs. I am allowed to say, and I’m proud to do so, that all but two reader/fan requests were heard and answered with regard to casting suggestions and desires for the series. That is not to say that most of those performers and writers were interested in attachment, no. BUT I can say with pleasure they/agents were all contacted with the exception of two as they had no agent or manager to reach. What a privilege to be able to live in a time as an author wherein the ability to reach out and invite collaborators from the very hearts and minds of readers who enjoyed the books and envisioned certain performers in the parts. I can’t even express how grateful I am that we got to do that. It never hurts to ask, and it was such an honor to do so. Any unfilled attachments will likely be studio or producer picks. Although, I reserve the right to send a few more out as inspiration strikes.
I have dearly enjoyed this part of the process. Meeting new people, speaking with performers and creatives from all over the world has been such a wonderful surprise. So deeply fulfilling. I’ve learned so much from agents, managers, and executives at all levels. The next stage is a total mystery. I have no frame of reference for what happens next in adaptation, but I hope you’ll stay tuned to discover it with me. The wild ride continues!
Welcome to The Pillars of Dawn adaptation chronicles. I’ll be updating and documenting the adaptation process in this category over the coming months.
Secondly: BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS!
I’m in the process of finalizing The Pillars of Dawn refurbishment and relaunch for Sinnet of Dragons, Murder of Crows, and Scold of Jays. The editing and proofing team is coming together, and the story development group who will take over the wiki development is poised to receive all the Rubber Maid tubs and external hard drives from my worldbuilding stock as soon as we have a formal team decision.
Some big decisions still need to be made in the refurb process to align certain areas of the arcs and timeline to match slightly better with the streaming adaptation. This is only possible because I haven’t mass distributed before and the books are still being cleaned and repackaged for relaunch.
The most notable of these changes is pulling the first five chapters off Plague of Gargoyles and adding it to the end of the Scold of Jays relaunch, so the series will have matching season and book endings.
I’m still sitting on the fence about it—as it would require readers to repurchase Scold of Jays and that doesn’t sit well with me. So, meetings on the issue will continue.
This transition phase is messy. Most of the details and world building are currently in my brain- getting everyone on the same page, same timeline, same agenda/budget schedule/expectation is almost entirely dependent on extracting canon and pushing content out of my head onto a shared network which is also dependent on funding and an agile project management workflow.
From the wiki world build we will be able to hand off to producers and studios the full Muse-verse. All of it. It’s been in my head for so long, I didn’t realize how massive the world had gotten until I had to start teasing out the threads, sub-threads, and spinoff channels. Also, the game developers and other transmedia developed content will stem from that formal knowledge database.
Some days I sit in front of the screen to transcribe old notes from the tubs for the drobox and I’m instantly exhausted. Twenty years of notes… where do I even start? Yet, it needs to be done, so, coffee. Which brings me to worldbuilding.
This is one of my favorite parts of IP development. The adaptation has been an interesting challenge in that, there are few reliable IP adaptation sources for reference. At least not that I’ve found or that I trust. There are dozens of great worldbuilding guides and tools, but few of those take and existing franchise and convert it to transmedia functionality with team developmental support.
So, after an exhaustive tool search and several meetings with providers—I settled on my choice of platform, which will be a hybrid and mostly developed by myself and my group as we go.
That said, I made the decision to release some of the forms and processes as we go for anyone else out there who is struggling with taking a cumbersomely large IP and extensive world build and streamlining/packaging it for transmedia development.
Maybe it will help someone else, because hell’s bells, I would have loved to have been walked through this earlier in my career or set up with growth tools a decade prior to this point.
The parts I’m most excited about are the world constructs AND the exportable character maps for performer packages.
World constructs are a given, and used in multiple adaption platforms. So, that’s not new.
But being able to build out a performer package for each character is huge. I’m so stoked about this. Giddy with new tools to support crews, designers, and performers!
During the attachment process, there wasn’t much I was really allowed to say to prospective performers about the arcs of their characters without giving away spoilers. A standard handoff to a performer might include a set of attributes or characteristics/movement/motivations yadda yadda. BUT a character map export handoff allows the stages of a character’s development to be arced, broken into relationship interactions and sectioned into development stages and parceled out to a performer based on stages of production and publication, etc. It is a meatier glimpse into their background with extra tools and goodies the public might not know—while still protecting their future development and allowing a production team to control reveals, mitigate leaks, as well as allow performers to live more in the moment of the scene rather than the ending they know is coming.
It's controversial. Some folks are fully against the tool while others think it’s amazing. The plan is to build it in—and let the production team decide how to use it. There if they want it, but they don’t have to use it.
In the end, I hope the adaptation process made a bit more public will help others with their projects too. If you’re in the midst of building out an IP adaptation, follow this space for news and tools.
Have a fantastic 2023! I hope this year sets you all up for grand new adventures and an embarrassment of rich blessings.
Athena lives and writes in the Siuslaw Forest, Oregon.