Behind the Scenes of the Novels of Terra Haven
Here you’ll find bonus material related to the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and the Terra Haven Chronicles.
For additional extras, including short stories, deleted scenes, and excerpts, be sure to sign up for the VIP newsletter. Some extra content is exclusive to the newsletter, and some will eventually show up here, but you’ll see it months earlier in the newsletter.
Exclusive to VIP Subscribers
If something threatens a gargoyle, Mika’s confident she can handle it. But can she save the day when it’s Marcus who needs to be rescued?
Read after Secret of the Gargoyles to avoid spoilers.
Novels of Terra Haven Series Order
Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles
1. Magic of the Gargoyles
2. Curse of the Gargoyles
3. Secret of the Gargoyles
3.5 Lured (a bonus novella; VIP newsletter only)
Terra Haven Chronicles
0.5 Deadlines & Dryads
0.75 “Once-in-a-Lifetime Question” (short story available on this page)
1. Leads & Lynxes
2. Headlines & Hydras
3. Muckrakers & Minotaurs
“The Once-in-a-Lifetime Question”
“The Once-in-a-Lifetime Question” bonus short takes place after the events in Deadlines & Dryads, and before the events of Secret of the Gargoyles.
If you’ve not read Deadlines & Dryads, Magic of the Gargoyles, and Curse of the Gargoyles, this story will contain SPOILERS.
"The Once-in-a-Lifetime Question" - A Terra Haven Short Story
I plodded into my studio apartment, my head buzzing with excitement but my body dragging. I was going to an everlasting tree blooming!
I’d been so focused on winning today’s competition to report on the blooming that I hadn’t given any thought to the tree itself, or rather to my extraordinary opportunity to ask an everlasting tree a question—any question—and get an answer.
How was I going to decide on just one question?
I tossed my keys into a wooden half bowl nailed to the wall inside the front door, not bothering with a light. The ambient glow from the porch light below the bay windows and the lamplights across the street provided more than enough illumination to navigate my familiar studio apartment. Pointedly not looking in the direction of my bed, with its soft sheets, downy comforter, and fluffy, cloudlike pillows, I crossed the room to the balcony door on the left. If I acknowledged the bed’s existence, then my exhaustion might overwhelm me, and I still had Quinn to take care of.
A ripple of gold flashed past the window, followed by a heavy thump and a creak of an overworked balcony railing. I made a mental note to remind our landlady, Ms. Zuberrie, to have the balusters reinforced. They hadn’t been designed to accommodate the repeated launchings and landings of a gargoyle, let alone five. Normally, Mika would have already spoken with Ms. Zuberrie, or more likely, figured out a way to reinforce the railing herself, but she had a lot on her mind right now.
I swung the balcony door open, wincing when the movement stretched a cut on my ribs. The numbing salve Grant had slathered on my deeper wounds had all but worn off, but I desperately needed a shower before I reapplied it. Quinn first.
The lion gargoyle perched on the railing, his thick citrine body hunched on itself to fit all four paws on the slender board, his wings cupped for balance. Light shone from Mika’s windows, casting heavy shadows across his face and accentuating the gouges in his normally glossy body.
“She’s still up,” Quinn said.
“She’s always up these days,” I said. “But even if she weren’t, we’d wake her for you. You need to have those cuts tended.”
I hurried across the short balcony that adjoined my room with Mika’s, getting out of Quinn’s way so he could drop from the railing to the boards behind me. He eased down, folding his wings tight to his body. Despite being only half grown, the gargoyle had to squeeze to fit on the balcony, and getting through the narrow door to Mika’s apartment would be a close scrape. Mika and I would need to move soon; we couldn’t stay in a place that wouldn’t fit the gargoyles. Affording more spacious housing wasn’t out of the question anymore, either, now that Mika was a gargoyle healer with a successful quartz artisan business on the side, and I had regular paychecks from the Terra Haven Chronicle.
But that was a conversation for another night, one when I didn’t smell like a harpy’s underbelly and every flat surface didn’t look like a nice place to nap.
I knocked softly on Mika’s door. She didn’t answer, so I eased it open; she could be jumpy if she were lost in a project, and I didn’t want to cause her to break anything.
Mika hunched in a cramped, high-backed velvet chair that had seen better days two or three owners prior. Books, pamphlets, and newspapers sprawled across the floor in front of her, some open, some closed, most bookmarked with slivers of flattened quartz and ripped paper. Even more research material layered her lap and draped the chair’s armrests, and the book she’d been reading before she’d fallen asleep lay pressed to her chest.
Oliver’s head snapped up, his orange-red carnelian eyes flaring awake, and he raised a stubby paw to his lips in the universal signal for silence. The gargoyle’s long Chinese dragon body lay in a tight coil beneath Mika’s worktable, which, in a room littered with half a library’s contents, was the only place with enough free space to accommodate him.
“She just nodded off,” he whispered before his jaw cracked in a yawn.
I hesitated, then pushed forward. If it were for any reason but Quinn’s health, I would have crept back out and let my best friend catch a couple hours of sleep before dawn. No doubt she needed it.
Mika had been pushing herself too hard, searching for a cure for the comatose gargoyles she’d discovered in Focal Park and scattered around Terra Haven. After weeks of research and hundreds of spells, she didn’t appear any closer to an answer, and the failures—and the grueling hours she maintained—had taken their toll. Even asleep, she looked exhausted, dark purple bruises underscoring her eyes and grooves bracketed her down-turned mouth. She’d lost weight, too. Hunting for the elusive cure was killing her.
I tiptoed across the room, mincing through the research materials to Mika’s side. The least I could do was wake her gently.
Quinn limped through the doorway, wings compressed to his body. Oliver surged to his feet and rushed to his brother.
“Quinn! What happened?” Oliver asked, voice raised in alarm.
Mika snapped awake, hands flailing to catch falling books, eyes darting around the room. Power surged from her, shivering through every non-living splinter of quartz in the room. I grabbed her forearm, drawing her attention before she lashed out in her half-awake state.
“It’s me. It’s all right,” I said. “It’s me and Quinn, and Quinn needs healing.”
Mika’s green eyes snapped to my face, then she launched from the chair and trampled through her research to Quinn’s side.
“It’s not that bad,” the lion gargoyle said.
“You look like you were attacked by a tornado of knives.” Mika dropped to her knees next to him and ran a gentle hand down the deep grooves in his side.
“That’s pretty close to what happened,” I said.
Mika shot me an astonished look. Seed crystals flew from her work table to her lap even as an elaborate weave of quartz-tuned earth magic encased in delicate strands of fire, water, wood, and air feathered from her into Quinn. If I’d tried anything half as complex with earth, it would have crumbled, but Mika made the intricate magic look effortless. I’d never met another earther who could do half what she did with the quartz spectrum of earth element, and it made her an ideal gargoyle healer.
Selecting a seed crystal from the pile, Mika pressed it to the deep groove cut through Quinn’s paw, her magic knitting the raw crystal into his citrine flesh in a blur of magic too complex for me to follow. Quinn’s face scrunched, then he closed his eyes and leaned into Mika’s touch. As fast as if Mika had turned the seed crystal into water and poured it into Quinn’s wound, the clear quartz knit to his rock body, filling the deep gouge. I’d seen Mika perform similar patches before, so I knew Quinn’s body would absorb the raw quartz and replace it with citrine over the next couple of days, erasing all traces of the wound. Truly, Mika was a miracle healer.
I settled into Mika’s abandoned chair, carefully stacking books onto the floor, and Oliver shuffled to my side to give Mika room to work. Exhaustion swamped my excitement over tomorrow’s departure, and I rubbed my eyes, fighting sleep.
When Mika finished tending Quinn minutes later, she sat back on her heels, lost her balance, and sprawled on her butt. Quinn reached for her, and Oliver jerked as if he could catch her from across the room, but she waved them both aside. Making a face, she scooted sideways and rested against Quinn’s side.
“All right. Tell me what happened,” she said.
“When was the last time you ate?” I asked.
“Is this your way of building suspense? Because it’s kind of late for that.”
“She hasn’t eaten since lunch,” Oliver said.
With a Herculean effort, I shoved out of the chair and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl atop Mika’s squat dresser. I would have tossed it to her, but she looked more likely to pass out than catch something.
“Here,” I said, handing it to her. “Eat while we regale you with our adventure.”
I minced across the cluttered floor back to the surprisingly comfortable old chair and waited until Mika had taken a bite before I began my tale. As much as I wanted to rehash every detail, I kept the retelling short, skipping over the entire encounter with harpy Beldame Zipporah and letting Quinn cover the details of the spriggan battle.
“Wow! What an incredible and terrifying day,” Mika said when Quinn finished. She raised an eyebrow at me. “Of course, you probably weren’t even scared.”
“Are you kidding? I was petrified!”
“Me, too,” Quinn said.
Mika scoffed. For some reason, she thought I possessed inhuman courage, and I could protest her superior bravery until I was blue in the face, but she’d never believe me.
“Let me guess,” Mika said. “You didn’t see a healer when you got back to Terra Haven, either. You went straight to the Chronicle.”
“Grant patched me up—”
“Oh did he?”
“And I will see a healer in the morning before I need to be back at the paper.”
“You’re not taking even a day off?”
Look who’s talking, I wanted to argue, but it wouldn’t work. Mika was the only gargoyle healer in Terra Haven, and she refused to take a day off so long as gargoyles were sick, which meant she had been working nonstop since she saved the city from imploding at Focal Park weeks ago.
She continued, her tone teasing, “Surely the other reporters at the paper can scrounge up a front-page story without your help at least one day this week.”
“She can’t take tomorrow off because we’re leaving,” Quinn said.
“Leaving?” Oliver asked.
“For the everlasting tree,” Quinn said.
“The everlasting tree . . .” Mika straightened, looking back and forth between us. “It’s blooming?”
I nodded, grinning. “Dahlia announced this morning that whoever brought her the best story would get to cover it.” I spread my arms wide. “You’re looking at the winning team.”
“That’s incredible! Kylie, that’s— that’s—”
“An opportunity of a lifetime? Absolutely amazing? The most exciting thing to ever happen to me?”
If it hadn’t been well past midnight and my limbs weren’t leaden with fatigue, I would have danced around the cramped apartment. I settled for doing a seated wiggle that made Mika laugh.
“You can get the answer to anything. What are you going to ask it?” she asked.
“I—” I started to say I don’t know, but the words died in my throat. “I’m an idiot. I’ve been thinking about all sorts of questions, but there’s only one that matters: I’ll ask it how to cure the comatose gargoyles.”
“You will?” Oliver sat up tall, his eyes shining.
“Of course.” It was the right thing to do. None of my other ideas came close to being as important as the lives of the gargoyles. If I hadn’t been so wrapped up in myself, I would have realized it sooner. Mika had an impossible task—she needed a miracle solution. She needed . . .
“What? What’s that look for?” Mika asked.
“You! Why don’t you come with us?”
“Go with you? But—”
“But nothing. It’s the perfect solution. Raquel is taking us. I’m sure her gryphon can fit one more, especially once Raquel learns it’s the city hero who needs a ride.”
She waved aside being called a hero, but her expression lit with hope.
“Really? Gryphonback? That would be . . . Well, that would be terrifying, but to get to see an everlasting tree bloom, and to get a seed with the answer . . .” She trailed off, her stare becoming fixed on the window, and I didn’t think she was seeing the reflection of the room in the dark surface. With a start, she refocused on me. “When does the tree bloom?”
“Soon. Any day now.”
“But you don’t know when exactly?”
“No one does. Based off records, it could be tomorrow or two weeks from tomorrow.”
“Two weeks?” The tension drained out of her spine. “Assuming I can hitch a ride with you, how long will it take to get to the tree?”
“A day or two. I’m not sure.”
“So two days there, up to two weeks waiting, and two days back, plus it’s not like I’d return with the answer. I’d have to figure out how to get my seed to grow before it would give me the cure.” She sighed. “I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”
“I can’t go. The sick gargoyles don’t have that much time.”
“But the tree could bloom the day we arrive, for all you know.”
“And for all you know, it won’t.” She shook her head, her mouth curling down. “I remember the reports from the last blooming. Some people’s seeds didn’t give them their answer for years.”
“And some got their answer within days.”
“I can’t chance it. I need to stay here and keep trying. If I go, and the gargoyles die, I’ll always wonder if I abandoned them when I had the answer right here.” She indicated the sprawl of documents across her floor.
I didn’t point out that if the gargoyles died before she found a cure, she would always wonder if she could have gotten the answer from the tree.
“All right. I see your point,” I said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t still ask. If you haven’t found the cure before I return, you can help me get the seed to grow . . . Why are you shaking your head?”
“Because the same time restrictions apply to you. What if I cure the gargoyles before you return? You’d have wasted your once-in-a-lifetime question.”
“It’d be worth it.”
“No. Thank you, but no. This is my responsibility, not yours.”
I slumped back in my seat. She’d gotten that stubborn look on her face that meant she wouldn’t be budged from her position. But I didn’t need her permission, and it’s not like she’d be mad if I returned with a seed that could give us the cure.
“No,” she said.
“I can see what you’re thinking.”
“No you can’t.”
“You’re planning on asking anyway,” Mika said.
“Please don’t. I couldn’t bear it if you used your question on a cure I’d already found the answer to, and I think I’m close to a discovery.”
“You do?” I leaned forward, bracing my forearms on my knees to study her face for the truth.
“I’ve found a handful of ancient spells designed specifically for gargoyles. I’m sure the answer is in one of them. I’ve not given up hope.”
That wasn’t the same as having a cure, but I didn’t push, trusting Mika to know what she was talking about when it came to gargoyles.
“You know, this is actually perfect timing,” she said. “You’ll be out of town when I heal the gargoyles, so there won’t be anyone to write an embarrassing story in the Chronicle about it.”
“‘An embarrassing story’? You mean a fascinating piece about our city’s most taken-for-granted citizens? It’s shameful that no one noticed these sick gargoyles until you. The city’s healers should have been working on a cure since the gargoyles first went comatose. If these kinds of stories aren’t put in the paper, then people will continue to overlook the problems right in front of their noses.”
“Whoa, slow down. I don’t want to stop you from writing about gargoyles, just not about me. You have a tendency to make me into some sort of hero, and that’s the embarrassing part.”
You are a hero, I thought but didn’t voice it. Mika was too modest for her own good, and trying to convince her otherwise was like butting my head against granite.
“Kylie is a professional,” Quinn said. “She doesn’t exaggerate in her articles.”
“I have read her articles, too, and she always sticks to the facts,” Oliver agreed, his eyes glowing with love for Mika.
She glanced back and forth between the gargoyles, mouth open, but her standard denials were useless in the face of their adoration. After a moment, she snapped her mouth closed and shot me a helpless look. I grinned.
“I guess I can’t argue with all three of you,” she said.
“Nope.” I yawned wide enough to crack my jaw.
“You need to get some sleep before you—” Mika’s yawn interrupted her. “Before you depart.”
Quinn’s mouth gaped in an impressive display of fangs and a long, curled citrine tongue. Oliver caught the yawn next, passing it back to me.
“We all need to get some sleep.” I shoved to my feet, disturbing the folds of my clothes and unleashing a fresh wave of harpy nest funk from the fabric. “And I need a shower.”
“Badly,” Mika agreed, sweeping the chair behind me with a quick cleaning spell.
Quinn backed out of the room, then hopped from the balcony ledge to the roof, his feet surprisingly soft as he prowled to the ridgeline and his usual sleeping spot.
“Promise me you won’t use your question for the comatose gargoyles,” Mika said, drawing me to a stop at the balcony threshold. “I’m close to an answer. I know I am.”
I searched her face, then nodded. “I promise, but only if you will promise not to give any other journalist the story of how you do it.”
“Deal!” She braved my funk and leaned in for a hug. “I want to hear every detail when you return, so don’t forget anything.”
“An everlasting tree blooming.” She shook her head in wonder. “That’s going to be the story of a lifetime.”
© 2018 Rebecca Chastain
Terra Haven and the Real World
The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and Terra Haven Chronicles are alternate-history fantasies, or as I like to think of them, alternate-history-light.
The setting is the United States, late 1800s…but with the slight difference of elemental magic and mythic creatures being the norm.
I tend to keep details like the architecture and modes of travel fairly accurate (with the addition of magically propelled crafts), with the huge caveat that the industrial revolution was more of a cultural whimper and less of a society-overhauling bang.
People have magic. They don’t need massive manufacturing machines and assembly line factories.
So while I veer from the timeline of historical events, I like to bring in real people and places whenever I can. Below are three examples.
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t yet read Magic of the Gargoyles, the following text includes mild spoilers. Continue at your own (nominal) peril.
The Blackwell-Zakrzewska Clinic
I wanted the healers of Mika’s world to be intelligent, forward-thinking people, so it made sense to name the local clinic after two trailblazers in American history.
From Magic of the Gargoyles:
“Stupid bigoted guards.” I stomped up the porch stairs. I was no closer to finding the kidnapped hatchlings and I’d lost precious work hours. I opened the front door to Ms. Zuberrie’s and came face-to-face with my deadline in the form of a stout dark-haired woman with an upturned nose and sour expression: Althea Stoneward, healer apprentice for the prestigious Blackwell-Zakrzewska Clinic and my contact for the unfinished project upstairs. My stomach sank even as I plastered on a smile.
The clinic is a mouthful, but doctors tend to like to stamp their names on things, and I didn’t think Emily Blackwell and Marie Elisabeth Zakrzewska would be any different if society had made it acceptable.
In the real world, Emily Blackwell was the third woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and Marie Elisabeth Zakrzewska wasn’t far behind her.
Together (along with Blackwell’s sister), they founded an infirmary for women and children in New York, Zakrzewska founded the New England Hospital in Boston, Blackwell became dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, and both were responsible for convincing Johns Hopkins University* to open its doors to women.
*Ahem. See what I mean about naming conventions in a patriarchal society?
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t yet read Leads & Lynxes, the following text includes mild spoilers. Continue at your own (nominal) peril.
Mayor Mary Lowman
Magic is a great equalizer, and gender roles are wildly more advanced in my novels than they were in the real 1800s.
Which is why I love including real-world women who were anomalies in their time and treating them like the norm.
Mary Lowman is just that type of woman.
From Leads & Lynxes:
Grant seized a massive amount of air and dropped a thick, soundproof ward around himself and the message, his barrier falling so close it skimmed against my face. I jerked back and surreptitiously rubbed my nose. When he activated the message, a larger-than-life image of a woman with long gray hair expanded in front of him. Wrinkles etched her sun-darkened cheeks, and worry laced her dark eyes. I recognized her instantly, as would anyone from Terra Haven: Mayor Mary Lowman. I edged closer again. I might not be able to hear what the mayor said, but I might be able to read her lips.
In real life, Lowman was the first female mayor of Okaloosa, Kansas in 1888. After working for the city (and being unimpressed with how it was run), she decided to do something about it.
Although white women didn’t achieve the right to vote in national elections for another 30 years, they could vote in the municipal elections in Kansas—and did!
What I love most about this story: her entire city council was made up of women. How incredible, right?
This is the type of woman I want running Terra Haven!
History makes its mark on landscape in Terra Haven, too. For instance, I have fun naming the rivers after real people.
From Leads & Lynxes:
I searched for roads or familiar landmarks, but I had been so disoriented and distraught when we had left the city, I couldn’t tell if we were traveling north or south. The glistening blue ribbon twining through the forest could have been Lincoln or Toypurina River. Either way, it didn’t matter. We had traveled far beyond my range for sending messages back to Terra Haven, so even if I figured out my location, I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone.
The tale of real-life Toypurina is both courageous and sad.
As a native Tongva living in now-California, she organized a rebellion against the Spaniard Missionaries overtaking her lands and people in 1785.
She was known among the local tribes as a talented medicine woman, and she rallied several Native leaders to join the uprising. When the men attacked the Spaniards, she went along, too, there to inspire the men to fight.
The group was caught. (You knew this wasn’t going to end well for the Native Americans.) Toypurina was baptized, sent to a far-off missionary, and married a Spaniard.
Today, Toypurina has become a symbol of defiance and a hero for those defending their cultural freedoms.
And outside Terra Haven City, a river is named after her. For me, it was a way to honor this brave woman. For Terra Haven history, I envisioned a much happier life for Toypurina, in which she practiced as a healer and served as a leader in her tribe. She was so incredible that people half a continent away knew of her and named the river in her honor.
I have spent more time than necessary contemplating the dining lifestyles of Terra Haven citizens, considering I rarely let my characters enjoy a meal in between their adventures.
But when I had the chance to send Kylie out for food, I knew it had to be to a Harvey House.
From Leads & Lynxes:
The trip exhausted me, and I napped through the afternoon, waking in time to beat the dinner rush at Harvey House. I bought a bubbling-hot potpie to go and ate it in bed while skimming the massive collection of borrowed reference books.
Fred Harvey started his eponymous restaurant business along the railroad line in the 1870s, but I don’t really care about him. I’m more interested in the staff he hired.
Namely: women. The company hired single women from the East Coast, trained them, and sent them west. The women lived above the restaurants and had strict dress, makeup, and lifestyle regulations they had to maintain to stay employed.
It was wildly sexist. (See above.) It was racist, too. Only white women were hired.
But it gave this small group of women freedom. Single women could earn money, travel, and be in charge of their own destiny (…so long as they didn’t stay out after curfew).
The women who worked in Harvey Houses went on to be founders of many of the towns in the west and are romantically credited with “civilizing” the west.
Imagine the courage it took to leave family and the city life you knew and venture out alone! It’s inspirational.
On a more personal note, I wrote a paper about the Harvey girls (as the women were called) in college, so these women have a soft spot in my heart. I enjoyed envisioning a misogyny-free, non-racist environment for them in Terra Haven!
If you’d like to learn more about them, check out Lesley Poling-Kempes’s book, The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West.
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t yet read Headlines & Hydras, the following text includes mild spoilers. Continue at your own (nominal) peril.
Peale and Callister University
There is a lot more to the world Mika and Kylie inhabit than their home city of Terra Haven, as an encounter with a more worldly traveler shows.
From Headlines & Hydras:
As if we had been conducting interviews together for years, Quinn and I drew all the key information about tomorrow’s event out of Adelaide as well as several anecdotal stories and personal facts to flesh out the article. The more I learned about the woman, the more I liked her. She taught history at the prestigious Peale and Callister University up north, had once apprenticed in the FPD’s records office, and now raised shangyang rain birds after learning they had been instrumental to the survival of a foreign city several centuries earlier.
I loved everything about Adelaide. She is a more grown-up version of Kylie: curious and forthright, dedicated to educating herself and others, and far less impressed by high society than she is by their libraries.
I wanted her to teach at a top university, and of course, that university needed to be founded by women.
For this, I choose Elizabeth Callister Peale and Sarah Callister, who were the first real-life women to be appointed as instructors at a college in the United States. They lived a generation or two before the setting of Headlines & Hydras, and I like to think that in a more equal society, they would have done far more than just teach: They would have founded a lasting university!
How Well Do You Know Your Quartz?
I admit that before writing Magic of the Gargoyles, I didn’t know quartz came in more than two colors. Now I’m fascinated with all the varieties available, and I had a lot of fun creating gargoyles made of all kinds of colors.
Here’s a guide to the most prominent gargoyles in the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles. (If you haven’t finished the trilogy, I don’t think knowing a few gargoyle names included here is going to be too much of a spoiler.)
His sinuous Chinese dragon body and eagle wings are pure, fiery carnelian.
Her winged panther body is rich dumortierite veined with green aventurine.
With a lion body covered in scales instead of fur, Quinn is as golden as quartz can come.
Possibly the most exotic of the siblings (maybe to offset his name), Herbert’s rose quartz armadillo body and toucan head are accented with deep blue dumortierite coils.
A swan with lion’s feet, her stone feathers are a spectrum of purple, pink, and orange.
Other Important Gargoyles
The size of a small horse, Celeste’s gryphon body is ebony onxy and amethyst.
With a solid jasper marmot body, all his dumortierite touches are concentrated in the tips of his antlers and the feathers of his long, sweeping wings.
Fox (name unknown)
With wings of golden citrine and a fox-like body of shimmering tigereye, this gargoyle might be nameless, but she’s beautiful.
* * *
There are so many more variations of quartz out there. If you’re interested in learning more, a simple Google search will reveal some amazing varieties.
Copyright © 2023 Rebecca Chastain. All rights reserved.
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