The Morrigan’s Curse is Dianne K. Salerni’s third book in the Eighth Day Series, which began with Jax Aubrey discovering an extra day of the week sandwiched between midnight on Wednesday and 12:01AM Thursday. At first Jax thinks it’s the Zombie apocalypse but he soon discovers that there are certain people—Transitioners—who experience this day in addition to the other seven, and others—the Kin—who only experience this day.
Today, Dianne is here to talk about the third book, The Morrigan’s Curse.
Happy release day, Dianne, and thanks a bunch for stopping by to answer a few questions! For those who haven’t read the series, tell us a little about how the idea came to you, and how it evolved from the idea to the story.
Thanks for having me here, Marcy! The idea of a secret, extra day of the week came from a family joke. Whenever my daughters asked my husband when he would take them to the amusement park – or ice skating, or the beach, etc – and he didn’t have a specific answer, he’d tell them, “We’ll do it on Grunsday.” And the girls would exclaim, “Oh, Dad! There’s no such day!” I started wondering what it would be like if there really was a Grunsday, but only a few people knew about it.
Then I started wondering what it would be like for a person who lived only on Grunsday and didn’t experience the other seven days of the week.
You know I’ve loved this series from the moment you first started it, but when did you actually start thinking it would turn into a series? Did you have ideas for a second and third book, or did it come to you as you were writing?
I wrote the ending of the first book with a clear resolution to the conflict, but a hopeful “We’ll-have-lots-more-adventures-together” tone. I hoped that it could become a series, but I didn’t have the subsequent books planned at that point.
After HarperCollins bought the book and at least two sequels, I began to plan the other books. I was asked to write a 5-book story arc, even though they had only committed to three books. At that early stage, I planned a premise for each of the books but didn’t really outline the plot of each one until it was time to write it.
Lots of us dream of writing a series, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Tell us what was hardest about writing a series, and what was the easiest.
The easiest part was falling back into character with each subsequent book. I knew my main character, Jax, and his friends, Riley and Evangeline, so well it was easy to write their parts. That isn’t to say they didn’t grow over the course of the series – and that was one of the easier things as well. Their growth seemed natural and obvious to me.
The hardest part was that with each successive book, I was locked into the circumstances of the prior books. When writing the first book in a series, or a standalone, you can change the events, characters, or world-building as suits you. But when writing sequels, you are stuck with what appears in the published books.
Luckily, the publication process takes so long that there is often time to go back and change small details in the previous books before they go to print, just to make sure everything lines up correctly.
You drew a lot on Arthurian legends and Celtic mythology in the writing of these books. Was it planned, or did it just happen? And did your research prompt any new ideas?
While I was researching legends about alternate time and suspended time, I re-discovered an Arthurian story about Merlin being trapped in an eternal cave by his apprentice. Several aspects of the story matched what I was planning for the inhabitants of the secret eighth day and the people who put them there. The more I considered the parallels, the more characters in my planned book started clamoring for Arthurian-based ancestors.
Once I got to the third book, however, I was introducing a group of characters who needed to come from outside the Arthurian saga. For The Morrigan’s Curse, I delved into Celtic mythology (which sometimes mixes with Arthurian legend anyway). The race of people trapped in the eighth day are loosely based on the Tuatha de Danaan, and I mined lists of Celtic deities for the names of my characters and their special abilities.
In The Morrigan’s Curse, you introduce The Morrigan—a three-in-one deity who embodies chaos and destruction. Did you go looking for her or did you discover her?
My research into Celtic mythology for Book 3 led me to the Morrigan, and I was immediately fascinated by her. She didn’t exactly fit among my planned villains, and it occurred to me that the Morrigan could be an outside force manipulating both sides of the conflict for her own dark purpose. If this were the case, however, her arrival needed to be foreshadowed earlier in the series.
This is one of those times when the slow publication process worked in my favor. As soon as I knew how the Morrigan would fit into Book 3, I went back and revised Book 2 to set the scene for her arrival. The Morrigan is mentioned a number of times in The Inquisitor’s Mark and makes a brief appearance at the end – but it’s in the third book that she becomes a force to be reckoned with.
The Morrigan’s Curse is the third but possibly final book of the series (I’m rooting for more!). How the heck did you manage to write a book that serves as both?
I was contracted for three books, with an option for a fourth and fifth, so I knew from the beginning of my planning that Book 3 needed to serve as either the end or the middle of the series. In order to do this, I had to write a story that would leave the reader feeling satisfied that the conflict in the series seemed resolved. However, that doesn’t mean that there was a happy outcome for every character. There’s one character in The Morrigan’s Curse who does not get the happy ending readers will be rooting for. If the series continues, that character’s fate will be further explored.
In addition, one of my editors suggested that I plant a version of “Tom Riddle’s diary” in one of the early books. If you recall, at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Tom Riddle’s diary is destroyed, and we have no reason to think about it anymore. However, we later find out that the diary is one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, and the search for the rest of them drives the plot in the later books.
Therefore, there’s an event in The Inquisitor’s Mark (Book 2) that appears to be resolved but is actually only the tip of an iceberg. Marcy knows what it is. (wink, wink) Everyone else will have to look for it!
Oh, yes! The scene in the…no, I won’t say, because everyone should discover it for themselves. In fact, everyone should immediately go buy all three books (if they haven’t already) and read them because The Eighth Day series is perhaps my favorite MG series since HP. Not to mention the fact that buying these books increases the likelihood of a book four and five, and I really want a book four and five!
Dianne, thank you again for stopping by and congrats on the release of The Morrigan’s Curse!