Outtake 1: Secret of the Shadow Beast

“Everyone talks about my first battle when I became a Legendary. I was only seventeen, but no one got bit. I was so used to fighting out there with them as their senior knight, and then there I was, sitting in the car, telling them how to manage, but not out there with them, which…” [long pause] “…I managed.” [pause] “As I said, no bites.”

—Sophie Moncrief, Legendary, Order of the Oak, The Noye’s Hill Interviews (internal)

In a later draft of Secret of the Shadow Beasts, I had a snippet like this at the start of every chapter: interviews with every knight and every Legendary at Noye’s Hill, the training ground. I did this to deepen characters and highlight aspects of the world. And also to flesh out these characters and that world. Part of my goal with this novel was to depict every character as real, to know clearly who they were and what they cared about. These snippets helped with that.

The problem, though, with snippets like these for every chapter, is that they slowed the action (assuming people read them!). And so I cut nearly all of them, keeping only the interviews with the major characters (the Order of the Hawk, including Lucy Ahn, the knight Nora was replacing, and Murdo).

I was sorry to cut this one, though. This gives voice to a character that some readers may find challenging. I originally had this quote late in the novel, after the reader learns secrets about Sophie that would create that opinion. In writing this, I hoped that readers would better understand the pressures Sophie was under, what her world was like, and, hopefully, gain a little sympathy for her. This snippet shares an aspect of Sophie’s character and what she carries. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

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