Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Next?

The next volume of The Glastonbury Chronicles, "The Coin of the Realm", will be out May 1, and the second instalment of Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe "The Great Queen's Hound" (sequel to "Son of Air and Darkness") will be out June 21.  Earlier today I finished Volume III in that series, "The Pale Mare's Fosterling", which is slated to appear June 21, 2012, filling the schedule of three books per year through the end of October 2012.

The post-partum depression is beginning to set in, as it does with the finish of each book.  I have been writing at a frantic pace, five novels in under 14 months comprising two series.  Not to be awakened in the middle of the night by one or more of my characters demanding to be heard is going to seem odd for the next couple of days, but I know it won't last much longer than that.

There will be at least three more Dubhghall books...probably six.  I just need to get back to Britain and France for a refresher course on the lay of the land, the smell of the air, the colours of the clouds and the topography and practical geography that cannot be learned by reading two-dimensional maps and trying to figure out how far a horse can ride in a single day or night in the rain or sunny weather or whatever else the conditions might be.  There is no substitute for real research, the kind that finds a writer noting the taste of the water in a certain place, the colour of the ocean in a certain season, the shade of stones in the walls of a certain castle; some of these can be invented in pure fantasy in a world which exists solely within the author's head, but when the author is creating a fantasy around historical events, that author had better be able to ground in fact.

I hope I have done my homework so far.  In the events which take place in the future I have tried to base that world upon that which is known and project that which is yet to be.  In the events which surround the past history or legend I sometimes feel like an ancient astronomer, seeing the bright points of stars in the sky and playing "connect the dots" with them to form patterns and pictures possibly not seen before by others and then trying to influence others to see the same shapes and picture as I do.

With all these novels in the can do I plan to take a break from writing?  Not for long...a few days at the most.  Spring cleaning is calling and it's time to get the house I moved into three years ago organised at least enough to be able to find some of the things I have not seen since the move, including the beginnings of a couple of novels I had started before then.  There are a couple of mystery series in the works, one of which managed to get all the way into the middle of Chapter Four before Dubhghall bullied it out of the way and demanded to have his third story written down.  I have told Dubhghall he may have to wait until the autumn to get his chance again, as I am trying quite hard to get back across the pond for at least a couple of weeks in October and November to block out some of his movements and look into some of the historical figures he will be tangling with next time.

What next?  Whatever The Muse has in mind, I'm up for it.  Meanwhile I shall grab a few hours of sleep while I can, until the 2:00 AM call to the keyboard is sounded once more and the cats start gazing up at me with that knowing look of creatures who have answered the call of the night winds and the mysteries that are whispered only when the world is still and the mind receptive...

But for now, my pillow awaits.  Who knows what I'll dream up next.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When The Characters Kidnap You (or This Is Not The Book I Thought I Was Writing)

You start with an idea, a premise, the inkling of where you're going and how you're going to get there and then BLAM!  Somewhere about Chapter 15 you realise that your main character has definite other ideas and hasn't bothered to let yo in on any of them. 

Sound familiar?  Well, if you're writing from the aspect of the third person omniscient narrator who knows all, sees all, and generally plays God in the world being laid out in words, probably not, but when it's all first person and you're more or less taking dictation from your character, it's bound to happen sooner or later.

In the first volume of THE GLASTONBURY CHRONICLES, "Uneasy Lies The Head", Stephen Windsor gave me my first taste of that.  He was a bit wilful, arguing with me that yes, in fact, that was the way the story went, and more or less ordering me to shut up and take down what he was telling me, as it was his life, his story, and he knew better than I what was happening.  He also assured me I would see why it had to be that way later on.  Damned if he wasn't of the things of which I had voiced the most ardent criticism turned out to be a major subplot in the next book. 

I had learned my lesson and was content to let him take me along his merry way, often having no idea what was to come next, as he had not yet experienced that part of his life, and often the surprises were very fortunate and very important to the growth of the character and all around him.  Sometimes the fate and future of an entire world hinged on his decisions.  It all worked out.

That was that series.  That was Stephen.  He was telling the story as he knew it, from the point of view of one man, one of several lives, pretty much contained within the framework of one story.

And then there's Dubhghall, the narrator of the second series, TALES OF THE DEARG-SIDHE, whose appearance was first made in last year's "Son of Air and Darkness".  The second book of his saga "The Great Queen's Hound" will be out in June and is all nicely finished, edited and tucked away.  It's the third book that I am working on now that is literally keeping me up at night.

Did I call Stephen Windsor "wilful"?  Compared to Dubhghall, he is a lamb willingly being led to slaughter!  (Well, I guess that is is an apt description, all things considered.).

Dubhghall is infuriatingly immortal and defiant, with a continuous life spanning centuries.  This book was supposed to, for a giggle, open with the first chapters set in one place, and then jump a dozen or so years and spend the rest of its time and plot in another country.  No, Dubhghall likes the English countryside too much to go to France just yet, and has found his real niche with the group of characters who had captured him in the beginning of the story.  They're as thick as thieves, and that's saying a lot.  And he's saying a lot, so I guess I'll just sit back and listen and let him take me, and hopefully the reader, where his story leads him.

I can hardly wait to find out how it ends.