To buy my fantasy novel The Apprentice to Zdrell, here are my current links:
Thoughts on the day of my book’s release
I never would have believed, when I started this journey in fall of 2000 that I would be releasing this book eighteen (18!) years after I started it. In part, I wrote this book because the story in my head just wouldn’t go away, but I also wrote it, in part as a way to write a fantasy novel that didn’t contain most of the tropes common to fantasy novels that irritated me. Along the way, I discovered that avoiding all of those things was much harder than I’d anticipated.
One of those tropes that consistently bothered me was that the “chosen one” wizard protagonist frequently lucked his/her way into way into magical competence. Not only were they the right lineage/heritage at the right place at the right time, but they often were able to wield their powers with little or no effort and frequently no practice and sometimes even no understanding of what they were doing. In spite of this they were able to dominate other magic users who might have decades if not centuries of experience.
I wanted to make sure that I wrote a story where the protagonist actually has to learn how to wield their power and that they wouldn’t be instantly competent. I’m okay with the protagonist being better than others and more talented, (as Jonny surely is) but instant dumb luck competence makes me crazy. I am apparently not alone in this as Brandon Sanderson feels the same way.
I have another long list of typical fantasy tropes that always annoyed me that I tried very hard to make sure I didn’t repeat here. Sadly, there is one common fantasy feature that I initially tried to avoid and couldn’t. For commercial success, it’s probably best that I didn’t avoid it. I’ve never been fond of multi-volume sagas. I think this comes from reading science fiction primarily when I was growing up. I liked the idea that when you started a book you were starting something new and that when you finished it, you were done, no cliffhanger you had to wait months or years for or buy another book and then another to finish the story. I can’t tell you how personally humiliating it was to me when I was writing my first draft and saw that at 70,000 words I was only a fifth of the way through the events in my outline. At that moment, I realized, against all desire, I was writing a trilogy.
I have since modified my stance on multi-volume works. The industry has changed too. Both readers and publishers nearly demand multi-volume works, especially in fantasy, though now in science fiction too. So, I publicly admit here that though I didn’t want to, I’m happy I’m writing a trilogy.
This book could have been released nine years ago. In fact, it nearly was. The reason I didn’t release it then was that I had only written around 20,000 words in the next volume and every one of my beta readers asked me how soon the next one was coming out. At that time, my life was not in a place where I felt I could get the next two volumes done in a reasonable amount of time (less than two years after releasing the first volume), and so it sat, waiting.
Two years ago I joined a new writing group. That group has been both the goad and the inspiration I needed to take this book the last steps I needed to get it published, and to move forward in writing volume 2 in the trilogy, which I’m happy to report has a first draft at around 100,000 out of 130,000 (estimated) words completed.
My current plan is to get the first draft completed by year end and have it edited into publishable shape by mid-2019 so that it is available by this time (or earlier) next year. Assuming I can pull that off, I want to get volume 3 done before the end of 2020.
All of this is pretty ambitious considering how long it has taken me to get to this point. I’m going to have to become a lot better at writing nearly every day. I know that having fans breathing down your neck is a good incentive, and I hope it will be sufficient for me.
Time will tell.