Writing a book is something Colleen Oakes wanted to do for a long time. Then she made a New Year's resolution to do so -- and followed through on it.
That's worked out well for Oakes. Her "Queen of Hearts" -- a YA-targeted trilogy that explores how the infamous queen in "Alice in Wonderland" became so evil -- has been optioned by HarperCollins, after indie publisher SparkPress released the first two volumes.
Universal Pictures has also taken interest and hopes to adapt it for the big screen.
Her newest fantasy saga, "Wendy Darling," re-envisions "Peter Pan."
Oakes spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.
Read an excerpt from "Wendy Darling, Volume One: Stars":
Reprinted from WENDY DARLING VOLUME ONE: STARS by Colleen Oakes with permission of SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint, a division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC. Copyright (c) Colleen Oakes, 2015.
It was coming.
They had called it, and now, it came. They could feel it in the thrumming quarter seconds that reverberated through the tips of their wings and down their bodies, each second playing out like a lifetime in their minds. The wind had changed as it wrapped around them; there was a funnel structure now in the way the breeze blew their wispy hair. Dust streamed down from the tips of their wings, and they could feel it leaving their veins, the power and the love, a constant pouring in and back out, power and love, power and love, more with each tiny breath.
The ground beneath their feet shimmered, its crystalline properties shaming the diamonds the humans needlessly worshipped. Their toes were covered in the dust as they raised their arms and voices together, their many bodies pulsing and breathing as one mind as they lifted their tired sister up in song. They sang of her body cradled forever in the stars, that her wings would rest after her long journey into the great night sky. She rose above them, the years trailing from her fingertips like water off a leaf, her body spiraling and convulsing at the beauty of their pitch. Oaks and bluebells bowed their heads to the melody, and even the sky seemed to curl in on itself, so great was their song.
It was coming, they could feel it, could feel its gentle breath, its arrival like the inky darkness that comes before slumber. The song swept through the trees, causing the souls in Neverland to let peaceful smiles drape across their faces, unsure of why, but grateful for this unexpected pinprick of contentment, their ears turning to hear this melodic song that came from their own hearts, yet from somewhere else as well. Their voices carved out the lullaby as she rose up in front of them, a life so lived, a surrender so sweet.
So entranced were they in their song that they did not hear the soft crunch of twigs underfoot, nor did they see the eyes that watched from the trees. They did not sense the ears that turned curiously toward their heavenly dirge.
“See that star right there? Second star to the right.”
Wendy Darling squinted her light hazel eyes, straining to see the star, the lavender flecks of her irises illuminated by the bright moon.
“Papa, I still don’t see it.”
Mr. Darling was practically leaning out of Wendy’s bedroom window now, his red robe flapping around his worn flannel pajamas in the cold London air. He sighed exasperatedly.
“Here. Here, Wendy, sit here. You’re not looking right. You’re just not looking in the correct manner.” He pulled his daughter close to his side, taking her pale hand and curling it within his weathered own, pointing it to the sky. “If you squint, if you really squint, you can see it there, just over Cygnus, straight over from Lyra.”
Wendy placed her hands on the window frame and leaned out as far as she dared, her eyes trained on the dotted stars rising out above Big Ben, just barely visible in the distance. The dark streets of London lay out before her, bedroom lights glimmering in the shadows, the streetlights rising out of a hazy evening like the masts of ships.
“Careful . . .” her father muttered, his eyes trained on his only daughter, who had always leaned a little too far out her bedroom window. “Careful, child.”
Wendy closed her eyes, feeling the bitter evening air ripple across her lips and chin, making its way through her thin nightgown.
“We wouldn’t want your mother to . . .”
“WENDY MOIRA ANGELA DARLING!” A shrill shriek filled the room, and Wendy cringed, her hands clenching. Her mother tended to enter a room in hysterics, and it seemed the older Wendy became, the more it rattled her. Her mother barreled through the nursery like a storm, picking up clothing as she walked, kicking drawers shut, throwing toys into bins, and pulling curtains. “Get away from that window right now! You’ll catch your death!”
Sadly, Wendy pulled herself back from the sill, her father rubbing his head anxiously, as he always did when her mother was near.
“George Darling, how dare you let our daughter run wild, hanging from windows?”
“She was hardly hanging, Mary. We were simply looking for . . .”
“I know, the star. No one minds it, George. It’s simply a figment of your imagination.”She pushed past her husband and pulled the window shut with a huff, her ample chest bouncing with the effort. Once the window was shut, she straightened the beds before turning back to her daughter and husband. Wendy curled to the floor with disappointment and folded her arms.
“He was just showing me, Mother. I wasn’t leaning over.”
George, always the peacemaker, reached for his wife, who always seemed to be in a tizzy. “Mary, we were just looking. Poor Mary, always working. My darling, I love you. Have you taken anything for your nerves today?”
Mary Darling looked at her husband for a long time before pressing her pillowy body against his. Even though Wendy’s father was a bit aloof and her mother a bit of a nag, the love shared between them had always felt sincere, and Wendy couldn’t help but smile as they wrapped their arms around each other. Her father ran his hands through her mother’s hair. Aside from the lustrous light brown and honeyed locks that fell on either side of her face, there was nothing terribly beautiful about Mary Darling . . . except for the fact that she had very beautiful children. Wendy considered this now as she stared up at her mother.
“Mother, I wasn’t leaning. I was looking. And I believe in Papa’s star. He said he saw it last year as well.”
“Yes, yes, we all saw it the year before.”
Her mother was lying, and Wendy had a sneaking feeling that perhaps as she grew older, lying about her father’s star would become harder. But she had seen it last year — hadn’t she? Tucked against her husband, Mary Darling continued warning him about the dangers of windows. Wendy looked over at him as her mother railed on, seeing his shaking hands and the slight quiver in his step. Feeling protective, Wendy pushed herself off the floor and wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist, hoping to be a distraction.
“Mother, I’m sorry I was leaning out the window. You were right; I was leaning out too far.” Mary Darling dropped her lips to her daughter’s head, and Wendy smelled the lye and lemon soap on her mother’s skin.
“Thank you, my dear. I’m glad someone has some semblance of sense in this room.” With a hard look at her husband, Mary kissed Wendy’s head again before retreating. “I’ll have Liza put on the tea downstairs, and she’ll be up in a few minutes. It’s time for bed, Wendy. The boys will be up in a moment, and your father has work to do tonight. He doesn’t have time to play.” She gave George the look, clarifying, “Work that doesn’t have to do with stars.”
Wendy resisted the strong urge to stick her tongue out at her mother, and she gave a submissive nod, always the good daughter. “And you. You are sixteen years old. You should be focusing on your studies and etiquette so that we may find you an appropriate match when the time comes. Your head should be in your books, not the stars.”
With that, Wendy’s mother stomped out of the bedroom, and they could hear her steps echo down the stairs to the kitchen below. Wendy’s hazel eyes found her father’s blue ones, already sparkling with mischief.
“We really shouldn’t . . .”
“No, we shouldn’t.”
Without another word, they both scampered back to the window, flinging open the wide panels, each pane ribbed with decorative iron swirls. This time Wendy was more mindful of the steep drop down to their small garden below, a drop that could easily kill a child, impaling her on the fence posts encircling the yard. Wendy shook her head as a blush rose up her cheeks. What a terrible thought! Her father took her hand and pointed it back at the dark sky.