How Ring of Five Stones was Written

Book Five ended as I had intended it, with Jeanette learning that she would not be allowed to continue. She had accomplished more than any of the one hundred twenty seven heroes before her had in her effort to put an end to Kada Barros’s destruction. But the powers behind her told her to stop. She had just one task left to do, to choose a successor. Not all of her predecessors had been able to do that, they had felt too strongly the moral distress for committing someone else to what they themselves had gone through. But she did it, accepting the responsibility for whatever that poor girl might suffer as a consequence.

It took me a long time — ahh, it took her a long time to find a suitable candidate. (Not all who were chosen accepted, and many of those who had accepted in the past gave up after the first test.)

Leslie Ann Drover was younger, not at all small, far more independent, and was constantly proving herself in her job. She had no desire to be a hero, only to work her way up the ladder, and maybe to find a boyfriend. But she accepted the first challenge and succeeded. Then the second, then the third. And, being the kind of person that she was, she accepted the role which had been offered her.

Leslie Ann was different from Jeanette in so many ways. Her character in the story was her own, not a variant on Jeanette’s, and it was a challenge to me to tell her story the way she would have lived it, not the way Jeanette might have. She had different weaknesses, different strengths, different life goals. I got a great deal of pleasure from watching her grow, even though, unlike Jeanette, she was in no way modeled after my thirteen-year-old self.

I wrote Book Six, in part, because I did not want there to be any possibility of sequels. I had to solve the problem, end the evil, and in a way that admitted no further stories, and in a way that was different from any other endings I had read or written. It took me a long time to work that out, and I feel like I did it well.

From first dream to final draft took me something over sixty years. Even if I had another sixty years, I wouldn’t do that again. I have, after all, different stories to tell.