F.T. Lukens: On When the Writing Flows
F.T. Lukens is the author of In Deeper Waters and five young adult novels published through Interlude Press. Their book The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Winner for YA fiction, the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and on ALA’s 2019 Rainbow Book List.
In this post, F.T. discusses the process of writing their new YA fantasy and romance novel, So This Is Ever After, the feeling of when a book flows through the writing process, and more!
Name: F.T. Lukens
Literary agent: Eva Scalzo
Book title: So This Is Ever After
Publisher: McElderry Books – Simon & Schuster
Release date: March 29, 2022
Genre/category: YA Fantasy Romance Comedy
Previous titles: In Deeper Waters
Elevator pitch: So This Is Ever After is a fantasy romantic comedy that follows the main characters after they complete their quest, defeat the villain, and have to rule the kingdom while learning how to navigate life without a prophecy guiding them.
What prompted you to write this book?
I’ve always loved books/stories/media that focus on questing groups, but I didn’t want to write the typical epic quest where the group comes together to defeat evil and fulfill the prophecy. I thought it would be fun to start at the end of the quest and take a group that had come together with their singular goal and then all of a sudden achieve that goal. Would they stay together? How would they handle life post-quest? Are they bound to the roles given to them within the group?
And since I love romance tropes and wanted to play around with those in a different setting, I threw in a dead princess, an empty throne, and a curse that makes the main character have to find a romantic partner by their birthday. And the story became a rom-com in a castle with Dungeons and Dragons vibes.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
The path to publication for this book was actually fairly swift compared to my book In Deeper Waters. I started writing So This Is Ever After in November 2019 and finished in the winter of 2020. It had a few quick rounds of edits with beta readers and with my agent and then was pitched to the editor at McElderry.
Then it was edited again. And then again. And while a lot of the smaller details were changed and there were scenes and subplots that didn’t fit and were dropped or reworked—the overarching ideas and characters and tropes remained the same from inception.
So the whole process will be about two and a half years from the start of writing in November 2019 to publication in March 2022.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
The biggest surprise was when my agent submitted the first five chapters and the summary to the editor on a Friday and then about three hours later, the editor emailed back and had already read the materials and requested everything else we had!
I scrambled over the weekend to write a synopsis and fix a few things in the back end of the manuscript. Then Monday we submitted everything. I was expecting to wait a few weeks or longer, but the turnaround was quick!
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
There are some books that just flow once the writing process starts and this was one of those books for me. Some books I struggle with and have trouble finding the correct voice or POV or maybe need help with characterization, but this book was very fun to write, and I wrote it rather quickly.
It helps that I have a deep love for media and stories that center on quests, and I love role-playing games and romantic comedies. That’s not to say that the book didn’t need substantial editing once the writing whirlwind was completed, because it did, but it was one of my favorite books to write.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope readers have fun when they read the story. I hope they have a few laugh-out-loud moments. And I hope the readers find something they can relate to within the pages whether it be about defying expectations or accepting themselves flaws and all, or maybe about breaking out of roles that family or society have determined for them. Whatever they take away from the book, I hope readers enjoy their hours spent with the characters.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Keep at it. Be tenacious. Read widely. Write the stories you want to see in the world. And be as true to yourself as you can be.