The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author spotlighted is The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff along with an author interview!
Writing Challenge: Mist and History
Imagine living hundreds of years ago, in a country that’s always covered in mist. The sun is just a milky white orb trying to shine through the whiteness all around. For 5-10 minutes, write a scene where you’re at or near your home (is it a castle, manor house, cottage or hovel?) and describe your life, what you’re wearing, etc. Include what it feels like never to see sunshine. And remember there’s no electricity…no cars…no phones…no school…no hospitals…You haven’t even heard of such things!
You can write in another character if you like, and use dialogue. If you do, try making it sound old fashioned. Have fun with it!
Submit your response here for a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
Fiery-headed Jemma has always felt like the family misfit at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle, and is increasingly disturbed by the dark goings-on there. On the eve of her thirteenth birthday, Jemma discovers the dreadful reason why: She is not who she thinks she is, and the Agromonds have terrifying plans for her. Her life in danger, she flees from the castle.
But saving her skin is just the first of Jemma’s ordeals. Ghosts and outcasts, a pair of crystals, a mysterious book, and an ancient prophecy gradually reveal the truth about her past, and proclaim a destiny far greater and more dangerous than any she could imagine.
With her trusted friend, Digby, and her two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma faces enemies both human and supernatural. But in the end, she and her untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril.
Check out the book trailer!
An interview with author, Kit Grindstaff
1. Many of our young writers have tendencies to rush through writing the exciting moments of their stories. Many of your scenes in The Flame and the Mist are full of tension and dark details that make the setting even more creepy. Why do you think slowing down and building suspense is important? How do you approach building tension in a story?
I think contrast is vital. We live in a world of dichotomies and opposites; you can’t have light without darkness, and vice versa. Each offsets the other, and makes it stronger. Contrasts create tension.
There’s different ways to build in that contrast. Sometimes dramatic action coming out of the blue is great. But for a book like The Flame in the Mist, a slow build, never quite knowing when the Big Scare is going to hit, creates better creepiness and suspense. Winding up tension in a character also builds tension in the reader. For this, sensory details help a lot: a drop of condensation falling from a cellar ceiling; a slight movement through trees; a sinister rustle of wind…small things that contrast with the hugeness, say, of a dark night, or even the fear that the character is feeling. Details like that make the fear more human and palpable, so that when action breaks out, it has more impact and meaning.
Also, small details within an action scene, and not just leading up to it, are important. An example in The Flame in the Mist is where Jemma is fighting a vicious creature in the forest. I initially wrote it as pure action, but it felt kind of flat. So, at the point when Jemma thinks she’s about to die, I added a glimpse into her feelings: she thinks about all she’ll never experience, things she’s longed to see that she’ll never see. That ramped up the emotion and made her imminent death really matter. It didn’t take much – just one line – but it made all the difference.
2. In Inklings classes, we talk about doorways into stories, and how some authors like to start with character, others with setting, others with plot ideas, and others with theme. How do story ideas start for you? How did the idea for The Flame in the Mist start?
The idea for The Flame in the Mist fell into my head almost all at once. But if I had to choose, I’d say that character came a split second before setting (although the two feel sort of inseparable). So there was this idea: “girl trapped in castle miles from anywhere with weird/evil family”, and I thought, Hmm, that’s interesting. Now, why is she there, and where did she come from, and Oh, Look! There’s a mist! What’s that doing? And who are these evil people? From the answers, the plot began to unfold. The symbolism of the mist came pretty early on, too: the veil of lies the Agromonds have pulled over Jemma; the thing that hides the truth of who she really is, and her own powers.
3. Some young authors find revision to be a struggle and often give up when approached with revision strategies. How do you approach revision?
I’m probably not the best to give advice, because I leap at revision! I suspect though that a lot of resistance to it might be fear that one’s story is no good. So if that’s true for anyone reading this, know that we all go through self-doubt (yes, even revision fans.). Try taking a step back, and look at the big picture. Do you love your story? Do you want it to be the best it can be? If you answer “yes” to both of those, it might shift your fear/resistance to revision just enough to motivate you to do it anyway.
4. If you could live in a fantasy world from any book, which would it be and why?
Well, definitely not Anglavia under the Agromonds and their Mist! The problem with any fantasy world is that there’s going to be big trouble there, or else it wouldn’t be in a book. So however cozy Hobbiton might be, for example, there’s Big Scary Stuff not too far away. And while I’d love to spend time at Hogwarts and learn to do crazy magical things, I’d be nervous about you-know-who’s successor coming along, or something. So wherever it was, I’d rather just visit. Besides, our “real” world is where all my family and friends are, so short of uprooting all of them too…and also, here-and-now Earth has so many amazing places I haven’t yet seen, that I’m more than happy to live here.
Thank you, Kit Grindstaff!
Visit the author’s website
Learn more about the book and purchase it here
Watch the book trailer here