Rowan of the Wood: Chapter 1

Rowan Maquiogae, by Ia Ensterä

Welcome the serialized audiobook for the Rowan of the Wood fantasy series! Enjoy this reading of the Prologue and Chapter 1 where you meet Cullen, our young protagonist, as well as the powerful Druids Rowan and Fiana. Stay tuned for Author Notes at the end of the chapter, or if you prefer, you can read them below the audio player.

Rowan of the Wood: Chapter 1

It’s been fun listening to these chapters again after so many years. It’s amazing how the world and characters we created can sound like a mildly familiar tale. The overall story I still know, of course, but the details have long since faded away. It’s really great to recreate it in my imagination by listening to my own voice (and a little strange!), but I feel proud of it once again. 

Through the trials and tribulations of life, including a series of deeply traumatic events endured by both me and my ex-husband and co-author Ethan (which largely contributed to ending our marriage, amicably, I’m pleased to say), my memory not only lost the details of this wondrous world we created together, but it also magnified what I considered to be my failure as an author, and by extension, the feeling that I failed Ethan. Some of the things I survived caused the end of my career as an author and sent me into a dark depression that lasted over 5 years. Some of what I was going through found its way into the last three books: Fire of the Fey, Power of the Zephyr, and the final tome Spirit of the Otherworld. Those three never were recorded all those years ago, so if I still have the energy after re-releasing all of Rowan of the Wood and Witch on the Water, I might just record the last three books, too. 

Ethan and I didn’t have children, so frankly I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother. While I have a strong ability for empathy, I don’t know what’s appropriate or not for different ages of children. Rowan of the Wood was supposed to be a “Young Adult” series, and in my early research, I found that Young Adult was between ages 12 and 17. Since Cullen would be 12 and some of the content lended itself to a more mature audience, I thought Young Adult would be the best target audience.

Boy was I wrong on many levels! First, it became clear that 16 and 17 year olds didn’t want to read about a 12-yr-old kid. If I knew then what I know now, I would either have made Cullen 16 or I would’ve marketed it as Middle Grade fantasy, taking out some of the more mature parts. 

I remember my sister, who had young children under 10 when I wrote these, thought that the talk of “union” and using the word “consummate” wasn’t appropriate for a young audience. I wanted it to also be enjoyed by adults—pretty much any who liked to read fantasy with the benefit of marketing to a tighter niche. I thought I was making those sexually suggestive parts far enough above kids’ heads for them to ignore them but available for people, like teens and adults, who already knew about those things. If I had to do it over again, I would tone that way down in the first chapter and take out the word consummate all together. I think the depth of Rowan and Fiana’s love would’ve been very clear without emphasizing how long they waited to “become one.” 

This one was one of many, many mistakes I made in my ignorance and rush to get something together to help Ethan “off the roof,” as I used to say. 

It had always been his dream to be an author because books were such a huge part of his entire life. He worked hard day after day as a general contractor, often doing dangerous things like roofing, which always frightened me. I tried to “make our dreams come true” by writing these books with him so he wouldn’t have to take such risks each day. It’s one of the ways I feel like I failed him, for the biggest traumatic event he survived was a fall —from a roof in the end. I was afraid he’d die, and then I thought he wouldn’t walk again, as he was in a wheelchair for months, but ultimately what changed was his personality—very subtly—from the brain injury. Subtle, but it was enough to make marriage unmanageable for him.  

He’s still very kind and a good writer. In fact he’s working on a book now: a steampunk adventure currently called Charlotte. Hopefully it will be available by the end of 2021.

You can purchase your copy of Rowan of the Wood, as well as the other books in the series and others written under my former pen name O. M. Grey, at Amazon in paperback or for the Kindle.

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