Bone Weaver tells the story of a girl raised by benevolent undead, a tsar on the run, and a boy witch helping each other survive in a secondary world fantasy inspired by imperial Russia. Its layered world-building, examination of monstrosity, sisterly love, and queer characters make this an enchanting read that will delight any fan of historically-grounded Slavic dark fantasy.
Today, Aden tells me a bit about putting this dark fantasy adventure together, from its open image to the research behind the tale. He also shares how the story evolved and what he’s working on next.
Stitching Together Bone Weaver
What aspect of this book came to you first? Was it the magic and the worldbuilding, your research on early 20th century Russia, or something else entirely?
The first thing that came to me was the opening scene. I had this image in my head of a girl repairing an undead child’s hand with a snowstorm outside. At the time, I didn’t know that the world I was developing would end up leaning so heavily into Slavic folklore and imperial Russian history, only that I couldn’t get that scene out of my head. The first 50 pages of the book came to me swiftly, written within the first two days, but developing the world and plot took me much longer.
This book has three main characters and I want to know: how did you go about deciding Toma as the primary narrator?
Toma has always been the primary narrator. There were times where I thought Vanya would make a better narrator, but knowing his character, I feel like he probably has five random lines of thought going at a time, and there’d just be too much random internal dialogue and dark humor to hold a good story.
What kind of additional research did you do for this work?
Although it’s a secondary world fantasy, I really wanted to take care in how I portrayed the setting and folklore. Along with heavily researching the folklore, I did a significant amount of reading on imperial Russian history, the way that society was structured in the Pale of Settlement, and the ethnic and religious demographics of imperial Russia throughout its history and changing borders.
Throughout the writing process, what parts of the story changed? What stayed the same?
In previous versions, Koschei played a smaller role, and was more of a shadowy background figure. I tried to bring him more to the forefront in this version. More or less, the plot remained the same from first draft to last. The ending scenes changed, but the heart of the story stayed the same.
What scenes or moments are you most excited for readers to experience?
I’m really excited for readers to get to the train scene, which was one of my favorite parts to write in the book. I also love the last few chapters of the novel.
Off to the Publishing Woods
The City Beautiful was your young adult debut. In terms of the books you’ve written and published, where in the drafting order did Bone Weaver come in?
Bone Weaver is my second book published by a big 5 press, but it isn’t my sophomore novel. Before The City Beautiful, I had published two YA thriller novels and a novella with Entangled Publishing, a smaller publisher that primarily deals with romance titles. Bone Weaver was drafted before The City Beautiful, but because when it was sent on sub, the fantasy market was oversaturated, it died on submission. After The City Beautiful was published, I was able to revise Bone Weaver and submit it to my publisher, during a time when fantasy was making a comeback.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a psychological horror novel, although I don’t know at this point whether it will be YA or Adult. I’m also writing the sequel to The City Beautiful.
What’s something you know now that you’d love tell Past!Aden about?
That his dream of becoming a published author will become a reality, and he should hold on.
Are there any books coming out or out now that you are excited to read?
I have so many books on my TBR list. I’m really excited to read What Moves the Dead.
Aden Polydoros grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets. He can be found on Twitter at @AdenPolydoros.