Today marks the release of my first ever credited novel, Unbound Life, which I cowrote under my pen name, Marie McCue, alongside rising star Riley Rookhouse, as part of a new dark fantasy saga, The Cast-Offs. Although my ghostwriting adventures have taken me all sorts of different places, encompassing genres from romance to self-help, it seems fitting that my first official published novel is a good, old-fashioned fantasy story.
Fantasy books captured my imagination when I was a child. I still remember my father reading me The Hobbit when I was in elementary school, followed by the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Circle of Magic and Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley’s Damar series, and of course, later, A Song of Ice and Fire. No matter where my other interests have taken me, fantasy books have been a steadfast partner throughout my reading and writing journey, and I couldn’t be happier to see that passion come to life with The Cast Offs.
What’s the book about, you may ask? Turning traditional tabletop RPG archetypes on their heads, it tells the story of a pair of religious initiates whose worlds are upended when a mysterious stranger arrives at their monastery, bringing chaos with him. Their conflicting agendas intersect against a backdrop of tradition and magical subjugation in a conflict that will change them all in unspeakable ways.
Collaboration in writing is rarely ever a straight path. It’s a winding road full of twists and turns, surprises, new lines of inquiry, and creativity that goes beyond the inspiration of a single person. Riley is a world-building master with an amazing knack for coming up with interesting magic, complex organizations, and political intrigue. His ability to visualize a storyline spanning two, three, or even four books is astounding, and he constantly pushed me to think bigger and more creatively. What began as three individual novellas evolved into a sprawling story that spans characters and settings. While navigating multiple points of view was tricky at times, these kinds of challenges are what make storytelling so fun. I’m honored to have been a part of this collaboration, and I couldn’t be happier with where the series is going next.
Unbound Life is available on Amazon.