An introduction to The Chronicles of Pandora, my 'Lord of the Rings' meets 'Once Upon A Time' magical, zero-to-hero adventure for YA readers of fantasy.
If you've been following me for a while, or if you've read any of my young adult fantasy novels, you may be familiar with Arriette Monroe and her adventures to locate and protect Pandora's box on the futuristic planet, Haeylo.
The series was a 2010 creation; my first attempt at self-publishing a fantasy series, as I previously wrote women's fiction novels under the name E. R. Hardcastle in my late teens. I called the books: "World", "Heaven", "Infinity" and "Eternity", under the series, "The Recruit Adventure". William Blake's poem "Auguries of Innocence" partly inspired me to write them, and, you might say, birthed the supernatural powers I imagined while I worked my 9-5 call centre job dreaming of bigger and better things.
At the time, I wasn't long out of full-time education and had released two books already under that name. Big surprise—I wasn't the coolest of kids in high school, and part of me just wanted to separate that person from the talented writer I knew I could be. My classmates were aware I wrote novels and a few of them probably read the first, but let's just say it did NOT move me up the social ladder. Yeah, I know... shocker! So, with authors like J.K. Rowling using their initials with success, I thought it made sense to distance myself. And for a while, it worked fine.
Come 2017-2018, I began to see I'd made mistakes not only in the early books I released (though I will never say they were terrible, because I'm extremely proud of them), but in choosing a name I no longer connected with. I decided I needed to do some re-writes, spruce up my branding, and kickstart my writing career as E. Rachael Hardcastle. Authors like George R. R. Martin made using a name and an initial (or two) work, so I thought it made sense. My original novels went out of print, and I re-wrote and completely re-branded "The Recruit Adventure" as "Finding Pandora" with the same individual titles.
"Finding Pandora" ended up as one large paperback with four individual e-books. And, I did try individual paperbacks (oh, the covers were hideous), but when only the first novel, "World" reached #1 on Amazon and got any reviews, seeing three pointless paperbacks made me... sad. At least the reviews were decent! Phew!
E-books were increasingly more popular—I owned and used an Amazon Kindle (with the original keyboard which I still own to this day!) and knew the benefits of having access to tons of titles on the go and for a fraction of the cost. I offered "World" free as a means to invite new readers, but if anyone still wanted a physical copy, the entire series was available in one chunky collection. And it was beautiful. The purple, pink, and electric blue background against the title and the strong female protagonist on the cover increased interest. I began to see more paperback sales than e-book sales, so I allowed myself to take a step back and move on to other things for a while. I promised myself I'd return to Haeylo, but I never did. I had 12 novels drafted for the series and only four of them ever made it to print as "Finding Pandora", despite many of my biggest fans asking me for more. I tried and tried, but couldn't pick up Arriette's story again.
After the birth of my son mid-2022, I began to feel that pull once more. I needed my familiar imaginary friend to comfort me. I do not claim to be even 10% of the badass Arriette Monroe is, but I saw parts of my former self within her character, and that strength and sass called to me. In November 2022, I met another imaginary friend, Ash, and he and I got to know one another (and a deck of gorgeous tarot cards) pretty well over the following months as I worked to release "Elemental Ascension", a dragon and elemental magic-based universe I'd been tinkering with since 2015-ish. So close to the end, I had to give Ash's story priority, and Arriette's future went on the back burner... again!
Come mid-2023, feeling overwhelmed by a full-time job, a toddler, responsibilities, and general adulting, once again Arriette tapped my shoulder and held out her arms. I wondered if I had ever really done her justice, and if was there a potential for me to not only re-brand my author career the way I should have back in 2018, but honour her with an overhaul of the series and, most importantly, the next books! Now, this is not an easy task, fellow authors... am I right? When the name E. Rachael Hardcastle appears on every printed book you've released since 2018 (a name you no longer connect to), it's difficult and expensive to suddenly decide, 'Hey, I think I'm ready to just be Rachael now, thank you very much!'.
Why? I'm now in my 30's. I'm a completely different person. I do miss teenaged E. R. Hardcastle—she carried a notebook and pen everywhere, took photos of spooky buildings, and pretty flowers, and hosted 'writing evenings' with another author every chance she got. Now I couldn't give a sh*t what my classmates think of me, nor anyone else for that matter. I've developed my skills.
In 2017, I released what is possibly my most controversial title, "Noah Finn & the Art of Suicide" as a means to deliver a very important personal message to the world. 2023 me—Rachael Hardcastle—has decided to listen to my own advice. I've come a long way, and I deserve it.
"World" and "Heaven" (books one and two) are now "To See A World", and this is the introductory nove to Arriette's story, and her wacky gang of supernatural friends. Books three and four, "Infinity" and "Eternity" are now "Of Heavens & Wild Flowers". This new edition will also be released in early 2024!
You may be wondering why I took four novels and made them two. Well, some were originally a little shorter, but follow on from one another perfectly, so I figured they would read better in two chunkier titles. Hello, value for money! And honestly, I HATE smaller spines; they are impossible to design.
I would have been releasing the next installments as "The Resurrection of Pandora" and then the "Rise of Pandora" with four smaller novels under each (eight total). With the above in place, as I'm re-writing, I'll be releasing them as only four.
Yeah, I have a headache now too!
Did you make it this far? Thanks so much for your support and your time. I'm glad you're still with me and I haven't bored you to death... yet—shall we continue and risk it?
To read more about my 'Lord of the Rings' meets 'Once Upon A Time' magical, zero-to-hero adventure series for YA readers of fantasy, please visit the home page where you can access the first three chapters of "To See A World" absolutely FREE.
If you would like to buy copies of books 1 first, once I announce the release date I will be posting links to various platforms and retailers offering it. I may even have some signed copies available via my online store if you're UK-based, so be sure to check those out first (as they'll come with freebies!).
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