Featured Book: 'Raindropt' by Deena Byrne
Deena Byrne's humorous fantasy novel, and the first book of the planned trilogy, Raindropt, is a "girl meets gnome" story about a socialite named Leah Fox. She condescends to a witch one day, and before she knows what's happening, the witch enacts a spell that causes Leah to free-fall through a subway grate and land in the Bosch rainforest. She struggles with being an outsider for the first time in her life, and she's desperate to get back to the comforts of home. Her plans are derailed entirely when she falls in love with a humble gnome. Suddenly, Leah doesn't know where she belongs, what she wants, and who she is anymore. Raindropt is about her coming to terms with her fate when she's not in control of what's happening.
Byrne was living in New York when she first came up with the idea. She wanted to create a fun character who was accustomed to the wealthy lifestyle. Byrne said that people who are drawn to the city are usually not outdoorsy by nature, so the idea of this privileged socialite forced to make it in nature made her laugh. She brings her socialite character with some fantastical creatures, an unusual love interest, and an entire world that views her as a bottom feeder to create a unique and entertaining story in Raindropt.
Interview with Deena Byrne
What are the main conflicts of your story?
There's two main conflicts - an external conflict around a sense of belonging and an internal one around fate. Leah is a "portie," which means she arrived via portal and is therefore an outsider in Bosch. Many creatures hate porties and don't want them to have the same rights as "Boschers." At first she just wants to get back home and doesn't want to belong, but then she falls for the gnome and isn't in such a hurry anymore. Then, it escalates when it seems someone is trying to have her killed.
There's also an internal conflict around fate when she starts to fall for the gnome. Leah knows her family and friends wouldn't approve, so at first she treats her time there as if it's temporary. When the stakes are suddenly raised and they fall in love, Leah seeks to take control of her fate. This proves almost impossible since the witch is the one in control of her spell.
How did you develop the world of Raindropt?
Bosch rainforest was inspired by the triptych painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymous Bosch. I created three lands for the three panels on the triptych - the center panel is Bosch, the land to the West is Hiero and the land to the East is Nymus. This story focuses mainly on Bosch and later on, Hiero.
I've always loved the painting and the multitude of creatures frolicking in the center panel, and I wanted to visit the land Bosch created. Something about it has been drawing me in for at least a decade, so I figured I should do something about it. I filled the land with centaurs, fairies, unicorns, gnomes and elves who I thought would best exhibit the carefree nature of the canvas. Everything from the mountains, river, and lakes are drawn from that center panel. It's also where I found the creature who is the king of Bosch.
The even more liberal Hiero exhibits the left side of the panel, which Bosch created to depict the Garden of Eden. I also created a dark "underworld" of types to pay tribute to the darker right panel in a Bosch club called "Nocturnus." This club is where you can find sirens, succubi, gargoyles, and minotaurs.
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
What is it about "The Garden of Earthly Delights" that inspired you to create your world?
It's a fascinating allegory on life versus the divine, and it is so rich in imagery that it basically reads like a book. My book isn't religious in the slightest, but I love the way Bosch depicted morality, sexuality, death, and sin. Also, there were a bunch of characters that intrigued me in the painting. Characters like Adaeze, Aves and Bastiano are taken right from the triptych.
Why is your novel titled 'Raindropt' ?
There's three main reasons:
1.) It's a play on words since Bosch is a rainforest and Leah was "dropt" there
2.) I wanted the title to reflect how lighthearted the book is meant to be, and something like "Rainstorm" or "Forest Fire" seemed far too dramatic for the style of the story
3.) Both Leah and the gnome are small like raindrops.
You said that your novel's sub genre is "humor". What makes 'Raindropt' humorous?
I think the humor is in a lot of the details. For instance, I describe Leah as having been "gently coerced from the womb and swaddled in mink" at birth. She is attracted to the gnome when she witnesses him expertly playing the triangle as a musical instrument. Their shy pet unicorn has to wear a diaper until he stops having accidents indoors.
The broader concept itself is funny to me also, because the characters are so unusual for fantasy. I found it hilarious to make the gnome seem sexy, of all creatures, and I think I succeeded. The witch is also unusual, since she has a deep respect for proper social conduct and only enacts spells to better society.
How much of 'Raindropt' takes place in the real world?
A couple of chapters are based in New York, but we do get insight into Leah's prior life in the form of flashbacks and musings.
What other fantastical creatures does Leah deal with in the Bosch rain forest? And how does Leah interact with them?
There are all types of creatures in Bosch - elves, centaurs, fairies, gargoyles, succubi, unicorns, sirens, griffins, etc. We hear from a quirky, bubbly elf quite a bit, and she becomes Leah's best friend. She strikes up a friendship with a discerning gargoyle doorman and gets mislead by a self-satisfied centaur. She also gets cast in a play by a gruff minotaur director and meets an overachieving succubus who offers unlikely console when Leah feels rejected by the gnome.
What do you think your readers will find most surprising from reading 'Raindropt'?
I think they'll be surprised to find themselves rooting for the socialite and the gnome, even though their union at first seems highly unlikely.
Check out 'Raindropt' by Deena Byrne on Amazon.