Fantasy author Barbara Campbell’s latest novel, Foxfire, is the third and final book in her Trickster’s Game trilogy—but back when she wrote the first book, she had never even conceived the possibility of a trilogy.
“I started out to write a stand-alone fantasy novel, figuring I could never get my head around an entire series,” Campbell said in an interview. “After DAW bought Heartwood, my editor and I were talking about what I’d write next. I presented a couple ideas, but wasn’t wild about either of them. Then we shifted gears and began discussing a scene in Heartwood that might need more punch. I told my editor that I had considered writing another version of the scene. As I talked, I began sharing ideas about what would happen to the characters in the years after Heartwood, and before I knew it I had outlined (mentally, at least) the arc for an entire trilogy.”
What started it all was wondering what might happen if the natural order were disrupted. “And coming up with the idea of a nature spirit being uprooted (literally) and thrust into a human body,” Campbell said. “Those linked themes of transformation and balance are at the core of all three books—both for the characters and the world at large.”
Campbell had done a lot of research on tribal societies and the more “advanced” cultures of the Mediterranean world that existed during the early Bronze Age for earlier books in the series—broad issues like religious beliefs and social structure as well as specifics on tools and weapons, shipbuilding and herb lore, houses and clothing. But for Foxfire, she also needed battles.
“Not legions of thousands but small bands of rebels fighting a guerrilla war against enemy troops that are more organized and more numerous, but unfamiliar with the terrain,” she said. “Luckily, I could turn to fellow writers for advice, including a librarian and a military history expert. They recommended resources where I gleaned information about tactics and frontier fortifications that I could adapt for my world, and critiqued some of the critical battle scenes.”
The trilogy covers thirty years in the lives of one family and each book focuses on a different family member. “In Heartwood, it’s Darak, a hunter who must confront otherworldly forces in order to restore the balance of nature,” Campbell said. “In Bloodstone, it’s Darak’s elder son who discovers that his magical gifts—which are condemned by his people—are revered by their enemies. Foxfire introduces Darak’s youngest son, Rigat, whose powers give him the potential to save his people from the invaders who are occupying their land. But ultimately, his choices set up a series of events that could destroy the tribal way of life and the gods as well.”
Although this book brings the trilogy to a close, Campbell said that there’s a part of her that would love to continue playing in this world. “Still noodling about that possibility while I explore others,” she said. “That’s what makes writing fun.”