From Storybrook to Riverdale, audiences gravitate to fantastical universes. These universes stoke our imaginations. They allow us to build relationships and to feel at home in a community we’d love to be a part of.
Havenwood Falls, a fantasy universe architected by a collective of award-winning and best-selling authors, is no different. Set in a box canyon in the picturesque western Colorado mountains, a couple hours’ drive from the nearest box store and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, forested acres, and streams and hot springs, Havenwood Falls is home to more supernatural creatures than one could shake a stick at—vampires, shifters, witches, fae, and even a unicorn or two. The town, which is protected by memory wards to keep away unwanted visitors and protect the privacy of its residents, is populated by both human and non-humans alike, a careful balance that is monitored by the town’s Court of the Sun and the Moon—a covert, governing body which consists of leaders of the Old Families of the town’s earliest settlers.
Created in 2017 by author Kristie Cook, the Havenwood Falls universe has grown to include an impressive 71 titles (compiled into 14 volumes) that span four distinct series—the titular line (Adult/NA), the Havenwood Falls High (YA), the Legends of Havenwood Falls (historical), and a darker, steamier line of paranormal romance, Sin & Silk—that guarantee a new favorite series for every reader. Each title is a standalone contribution to the universe, comprising endless stories with new and recurring characters that exist in the Havenwood Falls universe.
In this interview we sat down with Havenwood Falls creator, Kristie Cook, to learn more about the inspiration behind the world and where its characters might take us in the years to come.
When you did start HAVENWOOD FALLS, and who was on your initial team?
The idea of Havenwood Falls sparked several years ago, but it was just a fun thing in the back of my mind until early 2017, when I decided to see what I could do with it. A few of our authors—T.V. Hahn, Kallie Ross, Morgan Wylie, and Lila Felix—were part of my initial sounding board, as was a group of my readers. By the time we publicly announced it, we had several authors and our amazing cover designer, Regina Wamba, contracted.
Why did you decide to build a shared universe?
Partly, because I thought it would be fun to have a place to play with my author friends. Writing is such a solitary activity, sometimes even lonely. I noticed more and more authors looking for co-writing and other collaborative opportunities, so I was inspired to take that little idea I’d had for years and run with it. But more importantly, I wanted to create something readers would love—an escape from their realities—brought to them by various authors they know and love as well as those new to them. I hoped they’d not only look forward to their next trip to Havenwood Falls, but at the same time, they’d discover authors they might have never known otherwise and find even more books to read and enjoy.
How do you select contributing authors, and how has this changed over the lifetime of the project?
In the beginning, I reached out to authors I knew well socially and professionally—writers who I knew were committed to producing quality, well-crafted stories and understood the business side, but also who I thought would be all-in on the creation and collaboration aspects. This is not a typical writing project, and collaboration and teamwork is key to making it all work. Most of our authors I’d worked with on other projects and knew they’d be an asset. From there, our contracted authors made recommendations of other writers they knew. Now, we have a huge waiting list of authors wanting to participate, and I often hear authors say that writing for Havenwood Falls is on their bucket list. That floors me!
What are the struggles of building a shared universe with so many contributing authors?
One of our biggest challenges is keeping track of the world elements—characters, places, rules, etc.—because we all use each other’s elements, so we have to ensure we maintain consistency. We keep a “world bible” that’s massive and can be overwhelming. Keeping that updated with the most recent information from new stories is a constant job, but necessary so we don’t have conflicting details. Thank the story gods for our proofreader who helps me keep track of everything! Readers often say they wish they could live in Havenwood Falls. Well, Liz Ferry, our proofer, and I often feel like we do! We’ve read every story (I read each one at least three times!) and constantly have our heads in the world, but that allows us to stay on top of those details.
Strong organization is the only way to manage a project like this with nearly 50 authors. As long as we stay organized and closely monitor timelines, we’re good. But if we get off track at all, things can easily spiral out of control. So that’s a constant struggle, but fortunately, I’m pretty organized and very deadline-oriented.
What do you think HAVENWOOD FALLS’ strongest points/weakest are?
Our strongest points are our amazingly talented authors. I’m blown away with each story I read—they’re just so. Stinkin’. Good. I mean, I knew they were talented when I signed them on, but they just go above and beyond with these books. I fall in love with the characters and feel like they’re my neighbors. Our reviews are spectacular, so if they’re any indication, readers agree with how good these books are.
Our level of collaboration is another strong point. Each story has characters and places from other authors’ stories, making it feel like a real small town where you see familiar faces on the street and in the coffee shop. The way we all work together ensures readers get an experience that’s unique to Havenwood Falls.
I think our weak points are (or at least were originally) strong points—the length of the stories and the quick releases. Most of these books are novellas, easily read on a Friday evening or weekend afternoon. So yes, they can be read quickly—however, we have a new release almost every week, so you don’t have to wait long for the next one. This does mean we have a lot of books in the universe, but the good news there is that you don’t have to read them all if you don’t want to. It’s all designed so you can read those that grab your interest the most. We’re pretty sure, though, that you’ll want to read them all once you get started. Don’t be overwhelmed—just pick a book and start—but if you want an order, they’re numbered by series.
What do you want readers to take away from HAVENWOOD FALLS?
Havenwood Falls is like a TV show, where each episode is about a different set of characters, but they’re all intertwined in each other’s lives because they all live in the same town. Because of this, we say it’s like Supernatural meets Gilmore Girls. I want readers to wish they lived in Havenwood Falls—to feel like they’re friends with the characters, like they’re sitting in Coffee Haven or Napoli’s with them. So much so that they look forward to each release because they feel like they’re going home.
If you could be any HAVENWOOD FALLS character, who would it be?
I’d have to say one of my own characters, Addie Beaumont. My first main character, Michaela, owns the inn, and in the beginning, I thought she’d be at the center of things—involved with both the town and locals as well as any newcomers. But her BFF Addie, a badass witch who works for the governing body (the Court of the Sun and the Moon), inadvertently took that role instead. She shows up in nearly every book in the present-day timeline, usually helping the other characters solve a problem. She especially likes helping young women empower themselves—many are new to their abilities and often fear them. Addie encourages them to overcome those fears and embrace who they’re supposed to be. I love that about her! She’s also powerful in her own right, and she’ll do anything to protect her town and the people. She’s no-nonsense, no BS, yet she’s vulnerable in her own ways. She’s become an iconic character in the world, and I look forward to writing more about her.
What do you see for the future of HAVENWOOD FALLS?
I’d started this project saying that it will keep going as long as we have writers to write the books and readers to read them. But I’ve always envisioned it going beyond the books. There are so many ways to bring this world to the people—it’s prime for various forms of media. I’d love to even have a HAVENWOOD FALLSCon, a weekend of living in Havenwood Falls with other fans and the creators. Right now, though, we’re not even two years into building the brand, so we’re still growing the audience. Once we hit certain milestones, we’ll be exploring how to expand this amazing universe.
Havenwood Falls shared world is a collaborative project with multiple series, dozens of authors, and countless stories. Learn more at http://havenwoodfalls.com/.