Notes on The Bone Road

The plot of the Bone Road is a circle. It was always envisioned as a year cycle, starting in late winter at the top of the year, going counterclockwise down to the events in Gold Harbor in the summer, and ending back up past Wintering in early spring. I don’t mean all the events take place in the same year, since they obviously don’t, but the Rhona sections are spring and summer, and the Ani and Jak sections pick up in fall and winter.

Wid is from ‘widdershins’, an old word meaning ‘counterclockwise’. The corresponding word for ‘clockwise’ is Deosil, which was the original name for the other moiety. Since the mountain began and remained Deo, I thought it was too confusing for the reader to have Deo, Deom, and Deosil, so I changed Deosil to Zeosil. At one point early on the Wid would travel only counterclockwise, and the Zeosil clockwise but that became impossible to plot character movements against. Their campsites remain on either side of the Road and switch sides depending on which coast you travel.

All my early readers had a problem with the word ‘moiety’. It’s a perfectly good word, used by sociologists and the definition is exact: either of two kinship groups based on unilateral descent that together make up a tribe or society. However I was told to take it out and for months I struggled with alternates: clan, tribe, sept. None of them seemed right. While I was working on the manuscript of Bone Road I was also independently publishing Matcher Rules and it finally occured to me independent publication meant all the decisions were mine. So I put moiety back into The Bone Road; the entire manuscript snapped into place, and not one reader has either queried or complained. Fantasy and science fiction readers are used to weird or made-up terms; it’s part of the experience of the genre, they take them in stride.