Warning on Sorcerer's Legacy: it is all cliffhangers and won't let you stop - it is also "first novel" but reads tight enough for all that. Here's a "run down" to help guide you for the future: Sorcerer's Legacy - intrigue & somewhat of a romance. Master of Whitestorm - adventure with a twist - the mind of the hero drives the plot as much as the action. Cycle of Fire - closest to "coming of age" fantasy, involving 3 children who are flawed, and must rise to their intertwined destinies - with a few surprises in the world's fabric... To Ride Hell's Chasm - a bit of everything - at least among my close family, the ones who loved Empire are warming to this one in much the same way.
Wars of Light and Shadow (which includes the Alliance of Light) DO start at the beginning with Curse of the Mistwraith. This book is complex; the style will force you to take its own pace. There is a very good reason for this. It is the deepest of the works I've done, to date: the detail all counts. It is a moving experience, but NOT to be rushed - it will demand your thought and interaction, and can't be skimmed for "what's next" Rule of thumb seems to be - read 5 chapters, by then, the style will have "grabbed" you - the experiential nature of the story's flow will be apparent. NOT FOR MORONS. (grin) My personal guarantee: if you finish Vol. I (Mistwraith) you will NEVER forget this book...there is extensive material on this series as a whole, which may let you know if you'd like it or not - in the Writerswrite interview, which is also linked from this site.
When I hear that standard knee jerker, I smile Very Politely and, (depending which angle of snobbery fits and how cynically the question was put) point out one of the Three Stock Answers:
I wrote each one with a "specific" in mind...there is no clear favorite, though one can easily see I have the Most invested in War of Light and Shadows. Sorcerer's Legacy was started as a joke - a "put the heroine Soooo far into jeopardy she'll NEVER dig out....done to "con" a writer's group...well, I thought of an ending. The writer's group went nuts and said, "hey, this could sell." and well, it did. Stormwarden began because I did this picture of a "weather working wizard" and he stood right up, named himself, and belted out his opening chapter. It turned out to be Jaric's story, but if I ever write STARHOPE, THAT one is Anskiere's. I felt, too many fantasies in coming of age stories do NOT acknowledge personal responsibility - of characters who fail to admit they are wrong. First step to changing - owning the behavior. So I chose to do one where all 3 kids had severe handicaps of sorts - two were willing to be self-honest, one was not. And there were consequences of that - not just the one kid's life was affected - ALL WERE.
Master of Whitestorm was done originally as 11 short stories, then novelized later. It was sort of a "snapshot" chronicle of a man's life, where, from the "outside" he was phenomenally successful, but the interior view was one of disintegration...I needed to "try" this approach - to have you view a difficult hard to understand character from Outside, then only later, know the internal landscape - because in many instances this is how I must depict Arithon. I had to practice that ground, though the characters are very different.
The Empire series was done because Ray roped me. And the story finally weaseled its way into my heart. The idea of a woman in jeopardy breaking down a male dominant culture to save her family - well - it has its appeal! I understand we've become "subversive literature" for Japanese women...at least, that's what one Japanese woman told me...her view could be right or wrong, though - by gosh - the Japanese bought Daughter of the Empire happily enough. Not Servant or Mistress where the "real" shifting and moving starts to happen.
Hell's Chasm - Mykkael - what can I say about Mykkael? He created himself. Totally. Taskin as his mirror image - it was an amazing synergy. And in walked Jussoud. No bit of him in the outline. It was a story that just took off and ran. A sheer pleasure to write. And amazing in hindsight how all the characters just put themselves right where they needed to be. No, I didn't know all of what I was putting in, as I wrote it - the scene where Mykkael crosses the market and listens to the silence of the sword, and looks for "colored lights" but sees only the women's drop glass earrings....Mykkael knew right well what he was about, even if I did not, in the moment...amazing how they do that, those characters.
It IS about engaging the characters emotionally, but also - to keep balance - it is equally about knowing how they think - what forces shape them. I don't look "back" and find new stuff...I just see where the stuff knew where it fitted in the first place. I can say with firmness I knew there would be a Paravian presence in Wars of Light and Shadows - and I can say with precision just where it will impact in force. I had NO IDEA it was going to present itself in increments - or that we'd see that living unicorn meet Elaira in the sacred grove in Peril's Gate. Or have Jieret call in that centaur guardian when he did....the scene was "charted" to do as it did - the how of it was Jieret's thing. I've said before - writing a scene is like playing pinball. You know you loose the marble in the maze that it will go out the chute. How it gets there - that's the amazement. You know the character going in - you know the frame of the exit. The steps between - that's where the magic happens. And it is that undying thrill that keeps me loving what I do -- I know the exit points - but the ride getting there is never rote.
Looking back can't compare with the "ride" of writing it for the first time. It's a review of the nuance of watching that character play his or her stage...and it helps, maybe, to reconnect to that energy. Sometimes in "look backs" to check a detail, I see other small stuff that needs picking up - little stuff, like Arithon's promise to the trapper in Peril's Gate. Arithon would not omit an obligation to a man like that....it's essential I don't forget this, if the character is to "play true" to himself. It IS necessary for me to "look back" to recheck - as my test readers for the new book well know! If I get too pressured to do this, it can breed up errors....and it is Very Hard to keep schedule writing for production, with so much back-story to encompass. Your questions, direct, to me on the chat help me keep in touch with What has Gone Before. So in many ways, you are a help. Even if you don't ask - if you read and post an opinion, it "bounces" a ping off what I knew I did write, and evinces a True or False comeback....reminding me of what I DID write or intend in that scene, that connects to what I know later, but you don't frozen in time limbo of what's written to date. It helps keep the weave tight. Very Occasionally - your looks touch mine.
People saying "how could Arithon BE the way he is" - well, there are reasons - some you now know, some you will shortly find out. All is backed up like granite. But without some comment or other - those scenes of Arithon's training at Rauven would not have NECESSARILY been as fleshed out. I knew they were there - but it wasn't as apparent the readers needed to see - so perhaps there were three paragraphs in the Kewar sequence pertaining to Arithon's training that may not have been as fleshed out.
The books that run characters on the leash of an idea - I think of the idea, but the characters disappear...Crichton comes to mind. Brilliant idea books - the characters just vanish. I can recall the IDEA from Andromeda Strain, read 30 years ago = tight as a snapshot. Not one character. The books that HAUNT me are the ones that have the emotional thread to the characters - them, I remember as Characters. Ideally - thinking and feeling are a dynamic balance - one feeds the other and back again. The ideal book does BOTH - and the idea and the character become inseparable. Arithon AND his compassion provoking everything from the Havens to his handling of Jinesse and her children....Mykkael and his code provoking the splintering clarity of his ethics...I can hope the thought and the feeling define something more than just the idea, or just the emotion.
Last - on Mac James - he was a character I had lying about on scrap paper - and I got the offer to write for the Fleet - he took the job...but the Fleet universe isn't my property. I'd have to work out with the initiators of that universe to finish Mac's story. I understand Ace is reprinting the Fleet stores - if they sell well, who knows, maybe there will be more. I wasn't asked to write for Fleet Six. There is no Fleet Seven scheduled, but if there was - I'd do it. Here's a case of: I know what the character Does - but the How of it - the Frame of his action - was the Fleet universe backdrop. In each anthology, there was a backdrop scenario - and we fit our stories into it. So I don't "know" what the next battle play is to be, there. To "create" what the next battle play Would Be - I'd have to take the reins of that universe and play it....and it wasn't my backdrop. So it isn't too likely I'll get opening to do this one UNLESS the project gets waked back up. It has that opportunity coming = keep your eye out for the new reissues from Ace.
The Empire trilogy was a true collaboration, in every sense of the word. Ray had the initial idea of the opening scene, and another scene, where Mara was awarded the highest accolade, Servant of the Empire. Nothing between. He wanted a collaborator (me) and he had to badger. Hard. I was busy. Eventually, the story grabbed me, and I agreed. We met at a World Fantasy Convention, sat down one afternoon to talk about it, and in about 4 hours, collaboratively talking, created the outline of what was to become Daughter and Servant. We met again and wrote chapter one, and sold one book (Daughter) based on that.
When Ray asked me to collaborate, he had already created his Riftwar trilogy, and the characters were already established. Since I was "coming in" to a universe already structured - and Tsuranuanni had appeared in his book Magician, basically, his characters were "his." In our case, we created a contract that defined, very carefully, what was what - since many collaborations don't end kindly, we preferred to work out details in advance.... although I helped design many of the internal details of Tsurani politics, and fleshed out structure he had left vague, we did this work together.... and with clear understanding that this was "his" universe. Characters like Pug were always his take - he had final word, which felt entirely right, since he knew the internal mindset. I had of course read the trilogy before we started the collaboration. From there, we fell into our "rhythm" - although I did fly to San Diego once more for face to face creation - the entire rest of the series was done by "you draft this scene, I draft that" then, we exchanged files electronically over the phone lines, and overwrote - once, twice, or three times, until the scene was done. So each of us wrote all of it, so to speak. Who drafted what has long since been lost under the layers of adjustments, additions, alterations, and connectivity. We wanted the result to be seamless, and it is.
When Daughter was about halfway through, and monstrous large, we realized: Servant of the Empire would arouse the wrath of the magicians because Mara was a woman with too much power. We therefore opted to split the outline, into Servant - and added Mistress. The publisher agreed. So here we are. Again, the outline of what became Mistress happened very fast, face to face, I think at another con. If you know Ray's work well, and you know mine well, you might see the threads we each contributed - and then, seamlessly interwove - but I think we were successful in that, you can never actually be certain! Because truth to tell, neither can I be precisely certain, at this point, either. that is the beauty of it - the story took over, utterly, and came through. I think, with time, writers sometimes shift their focus; and readers shift theirs, as they grow, change and live, and what is important, once, changes.
I have seen books I loved deeply as a teen change focus, that way. And other books, that I would have HATED then, become just the ticket, now. Which is wonderful, because life is never static. A wheel that has but one spoke cannot turn. It is that balance of tastes and viewpoints that enables the best of free movement.
When we did the short story last summer, it was like fitting on an old glove. The knack of working was still there. The only characters that overlapped were Pug and Kamatsu of the Shinzawai, so for the most part, the story's sweep had free rein.
There is a sequel in outline for Cycle of Fire, it is titled Starhope, but it is not under contract. It will be Anskiere's story, though.
Coincidences happen. I read Lord of the Rings and Hobbit when I was 12 - 13. Once. The seed ideas for Wars of Light and Shadow began in the spring of the year I turned 18. I reread Lord of the Rings once, after college, when I had the $ to buy the books for myself. (My first read was via the high school library) I bought the Silmarillion - never finished it.
Late twenties, a friend donated me a box of books with some of the other volumes of Tolkien. Material - upstairs on the shelf, not read, even yet. Unfinished tales is there... someday, I'll pick it up. (grin)
The language used for the Light and Shadows - the formative bits - foreran the story seed by about 3 years... I originally used that language to "found" the names and map places so I could keep track of them! The language deepened, fleshed out, expanded, with the concept of the Paravian culture.
Anyway - have fun with the coincidence(s) as you encounter them. Human thought, cultural ideas, sometimes run in similar tracks.
If you look wider, deeper, than the works of other fiction authors - you might see the actual underpinnings that are there, intuitively assembled, or set there through awareness, and right there in plain view.
That statement seems to me to be open to interpretation two ways....that the character doesn't seem "real" as in, they lack synchronicity with their setting.... or, they don't feel authentic as individuals. Setting: look at your world, and not just in terms of storyline. It is the backdrop, the setting, and as such, it will have structure - infrastructure - supporting organization to sustain the societies (or lack of them) - and each area will have a "past.present.future" perspective. To be solid, you can't, say, have a vibrant society in a desert setting without a way to FEED and SHELTER that population. Add to that their history, and their moral high ground, their customs and way of life. Your character has to "fit" into the puzzle - and have a past.present.future backdrop, a moral high ground, a purpose and a place in the setting. OR a contrast to that setting, if the character's origins were from another place....
Lack of research may mean you didn't place that character, fully fleshed, into a fully fleshed out backdrop and setting. Expertise, and ignorance, skills and stupidities, beliefs and capabilities, weaknesses and strengths - if these aren't consistent with setting, or handled with a believable sense of connection, you missed your mark. If your character's actions are not consistent with the internal makeup - and the product or dissonance with the setting - you better have a reason WHY that is believable or the sustained thread of belief - the reader's trust in you, as author, is broken. They fall out of the story. In short, the gently reared girl thrown into the world who talks like a street tough better have a REASON for being inconsistent with her upbringing. She can't change form, given her background, just to further the storyline. She has to evolve in step with her experience. And in a way I can grasp, as reader, or she's not "real" enough to engage me. OR You didn't research your characters as CHARACTERS. Again, they evolve. They are, in the story "moment" the product of: their past experience their current passions (what they want to BE or DO) Their future hopes Rested on the foundation of: their beliefs, their attitudes, their expectations (projected off their skills and knowledge) and their perceived sets of limitations and strengths. Just like you. They will have disappointments, fears, hopes, dreams, hates and loves and shortfalls and truths.
How do I "research" this? I don't. I start with the premise: who have they BEEN? What sort of person would this "experience" make them> What friction happens when they desire to become more - or to gain the goal that the story projects for them. WHO are they, who do they become, as they pursue their life mission? This can start ANYWHERE. A person's appearance, speech, and body language say a very great deal. What a woman carries in her purse - this will begin to reflect a character....what sort of PERSON is this, who, perhaps, has pictures of dogs, but no children - whose key ring might have a plastic toy dangle. Whose shoes are expensive, but whose clothing is mismatched....what characteristics describe THIS personality - I tend to begin with the internal drive, and what has balked the flow of that - and see where it takes me.
Arithon: a compassionate musician with intense, introspective awareness, forced to react to forces that inflame those very strengths - how would he REACT? What would the pressure cooker of other peoples' violent expectations make of him? How will he handle himself, protect himself, fight for his integrity? This gives the character his DIMENSION. It looks "researched" but really it's not. It's looking at the "spin" on the marble, before letting it into the pinball chute. It's going to react to obstructions according to its nature. The "research" involved means: developing a sound, INTUITIVE knowing of its "nature". I tend to start with the drive, and the binding obstructions, then let the character go into that, and identify HIMSELF. The research happens like a snowball gaining substance in its roll downhill through the storyline. If your character never gains substance, but is a transparent puppet playing to YOUR events - nothing but a hollow thing enacting a story without emotive input of his own - you have effectively made dead space - a puppet in fact, with no impetus driving it BUT the plot - and that's boring. If you consider your character is a "tough" - they study how "tough" people act in real life. If they're a sweetie, look at the variations on that theme. They surround you. Lastly: the character will reflect himself in mannerisms, acts, thoughts, reactions, self-judgments, attitude, speech, and appearance. Note: you show ONLY those details that will add mood, impetus, force OR CONTRAST to the scene at hand. Otherwise, if you show more than applies to further the story - you have created window dressing that has no impactful meaning. Choose what snapshots you show to further the story, the emotion, the suspense, the mood - and you will have spun a full tapestry to sustain the reader's interest and belief.
It's a complex answer - because there are so many layers and levels. Which hero? What Quest? Whose POV?
Then there are the mystical layers, and the architecture of choices - willed choices, misled choices, what is wisdom? How does each (the more limited, or the less limited) viewpoint approach the attitude of "right choice?"
The Wars of Light and Shadows is JUST as much about that, as about what happens to its characters - and who is the "hero" anyway, as, turn the page, change the vantage point, that continually changes?
On originating the idea, I HAD MEANT to illuminate the ramifications of conflict, with certain twists that are quite evident (see the interview) - that's a cold concept - it requires human characters to give it spark - seen at a stripped and basic level (at point of entry, Book I) two characters collide; one makes his way in an outward quest, battling his demons on a worldly battlefield, the other follows an inner one, wrestling the demons within himself. Both are operant within the same setting - the same conflict, seen in two relationships - each with a different focus and orientation.
That's way, way oversimplified! But the layers and strata of the society, reflect the varied layers and strata of those two polarities. The questions raised about war and conflict, willed choice, and coerced or blind faith choice, free choice, or controlled choice - all these play, threading around and through the question itself, of what constitutes consciousness?
What in heck is "the basic format' of the hero's quest, anyway? Does what I'm creating fit that? I truly wouldn’t know. You tell me - and if your conclusion feels short sighted, then I'll tell you where I think it may differ (or not).I want a story that challenges thought, challenges presumptions, challenges limited beliefs - far outside the more petty matter, of "who might win, and who might lose, and whose cause might be 'wrong' or 'right'
Other stories are linear - you start here, and end there, without that spiral that expands from one core set of concepts and keeps on developing without sprawling 0r destination. Until the finale. Which composite picture - is living, and motion - and clicks into place and the whole spinning hoop in all its layers is apparent, and unveiled.
This is not a "journey" it is a map to a destiny.
This series will not sprawl. Neither IS it a 'linear' story.
I get (wry tone and a chagrinned laugh here) rather miffed, when it's now QUITE apparent, this expansive spiraling treatment - (since PG this pattern has been undeniably established) - that this series still gets "measured and judged, and sometimes even condemned" as a linear storyline. that "nothing happened."
Well this one's not linear - and quite a LOT did happen in fact - if seen as an UNFOLDMENT.
And the last arc will be all the more satisfying for this -- (or not! for the linear reader who skips from surface event to surface event, and does not wish to see emotions and depths and motivations and growth and be startled by the changes of perception that will drive the finish.) This tale is not about "who wins and who loses" - but HOW each faction and character self-creates their own fate.
To Anyone: Linear stories are quite OK (I read and love many of them too) readers who like that kind of story to the exclusion of others are quite fine - and I would rather people feel free to express themselves. Argue your points here, whatever they are, at least the discussion is open.But if I hand you a computer when you expected a radio - ah well. We can agree to disagree as to our concept of what's fun to explore.
True Epic fantasy defines the way society(ies) view life and choices. This one will take that from every angle and depth. Humanity on this planet has made Necessity the mother of invention. We regard suffering as "challenge" and ennobilize it, looking for the 'greater good' - and finding that, without looking further, we've made that "justification' the most beaten path to uplifting change - until so MANY of us seek our challenges in the depths -- Our defining moments are TOO often sought in the most acute conditions.
And since we are driven to grow, evolve, and redefine ourselves constantly, we "create" more suffering for this signal purpose. Sadly.
There ARE other ways - past question the road not taken is the most untested one - but to create a life without 'drama' to drive us (as people) to exercise the utmost of our human gifts and therefore to change -- it's the overlooked direction. How do we choose to find our true selves? How do we "strip" off the dross and arrive at our heroic humanity?
And in so many cases, the "scoffed at" direction is the one that has no backdrop of stress.
This story will not tolerate the "ambivalence" of that view....it will show the cost and penalty of that sort of world view - the cost of the "reward" as it were, AND - AND ... its opposite.
Yet for the opposite to have its full value, the beaten path must be "tested and tried" first - with all of its flawed logic and pain. Jieret's path is the most common. And the known route that has been venerated by history and collective attention, to the detriment of other examples. EVEN our Ghandis have stood tall and shone in times of war....our mother Teresa's, against backdrops of suffering....why? WHY? This can't be All.
Stormed Fortress will, in a headlong and determined way, challenge that stance, and begin to unveil the less traveled concepts.So - your answer - if I had no purpose, I couldn't. Past question, as ME, I COULD not. When the primary thrust of this story was conceived, Arithon was the "character" who stepped forward to take that role. His "character" qualities made the "choices" at each pass - he is Named 'Fate's Forger' for a core reason -- and this story is really just hitting its primary stride.
First - Wars of Light and Shadow is a major, major undertaking. I NEVER intended to write it "all in a row." Too intense. Too intricate. It is not frivolous play! The editors who signed the first five volumes INSISTED that I had to do it this way, my preferences to the contrary.
After Peril's Gate, I had to put my foot down - and To Ride Hell's Chasm was right there, screaming to be let out. It was the right move. I did 800 pages in less than six months. It relieved a LOT of my creative frustration! I got to write a story that was direct, that flowed, and got to create a whole new setting and backdrop of characters. It refreshed the well, people!
Peril's Gate was emotionally exhausting, the fulcrum of the series - what follows - it's massive and intense. The opening of Stormed Fortress is on a level of intricacy, unparalleled. I know what happens, and how, but it took me many many months of juggling scenes to know just HOW to present the material in a fashion that would engage, and not disperse, its focus. To give you the story you want to read is requiring an enormous amount of "side time" to examine all the trends, tweak the action, know how to interweave just what, just when, and where to introduce (show) the changed character's expansion "in action" and not just tell it in a dull clunky lump. Timing is critical. Logistics also play. There is a whole new element (planned for, you'll see) coming into full view now - and the action does not "backstep" into the past, and, it must fit within one volume... it is planning on the order of Ships AND Warhost, and then some - and Ships took years!
I was faced by a difficult choice with regard to this book: it is so tightly written, plotwise, it squeaks....the careful scripting of events are on schedule with what I had envisioned, all these years of intricate planning. At the last stated page length, I was ramping into the closing action sequence which is intricate, complex, and as you might expect: multi level.
The story blocked. I went on hiatus - working overtime and a half to try to solve how to get all those layers to overlay and fit - in a book that was already crowding length. Beyond crowding... longer than any prior volume. At the same time: Britain is facing reprint of the early volumes - and looking at figures - and the decision is made to go back in and reprint (with a new set of art). Good news. But predicated upon: keeping the December 2004 schedule. And P&L (profit and loss) statements with current market conditions showing - you got it - difficulties with the expense of length.
It's a no brainer. Stormed Fortress's draft was already too long to print. Period. The December schedule can't be met without turning it in now. And the ending encompassed too much - it's not just one chapter set worth of material - it was struggling to overlay and compress into three, even four, just covering basic action and not looking at the entirety of all of the intricacies.
Therefore: to keep the integrity of the story as I planned it all along - to keep all of what has been spun - the story must be split. Yes, I swore I would not do this - I meant every word. Still mean it. I'd happily keep this volume intact all the way - but - and but is emphatic - the publisher is not willing to print that page length. Period.
The early bits are all monumental - and while I can trim language, there are no extraneous events. All have telling scope and reach in the entire plan. This decision was not made to make me money - right now, that hasn't even come up... bluntly, this series has always been a labor of love. "The cheap out" for me would be - reduce scope, hack the finish, get the length down, and ram the ending through in a shallower form.
For my integrity - the above is not an option. Period. I always put all I have into what I write - am critically honest with my self first. The story I set out to deliver will be the one you read, no matter what and where the binding packages it.
Next, we have a publisher who is backing that quality - reprinting the early volumes, and allowing the story to stand as written. It's a compromise in package. Not content. At this moment, I am rewriting for polish to give you a book in December of 2004. The title will be Traitor’s Knot. It will encompass a great deal that you do not expect, a massive and deep exploration into some things you've waited for, and it will not be shifted one bit from the plotline I have arranged.
Stormed Fortress will follow - you'll have to wait for that finale of the arc. It will be worth it.
It will be kept in integrity. I will do my utmost to work in partnership with an editor and publisher who have been with me on this since the inception. They need to produce books they can print and meet their payroll. I need to tell the story I meant to tell. I can't do more than give my word this is a decision of packaging and not story content.
Two more Arcs follow - they are much shorter - MUCH. The action in them is angled differently. Not Less - More but not in the same way. These books are not contracted yet - nor have they been marketed. When that moment comes, I will know whether I will be doing them right away, or fitting another project in between.
In between projects - this is 'controversial' - I LIKE doing single shot novels with a more direct approach - they are a "rest" from the massive complexity and intensity of the big series. When I conceived Wars of Light and Shadow, I always thought I'd be doing them between other books. But the industry said, Series one after the Other, or nothing. So I did that.
Wars of Light and Shadow takes a particularly astute mindset - it's not pleasing to somebody who wants the "quick, simple, don't question the motives fix" - it requires an intensity of participation some readers are not willing to step into. Usually because they don't want to "discover" or "encounter" the story - they want it given in black and white....(you readers, correct me if I'm wrong, and you are not adventurers into the unknown for the thrill of it).
People may presume that I'm "drawing" the series out on purpose - quite the contrary! I am doing it as a labor of love - uncompromised - and working with patience to keep its presence in a market that is increasingly less interested in much else but bottom line. Therefore, the adventure for me, is holding onto the integrity within a commercial market.
If it takes shorter books to "hold" the space for the more complex, I'll need to do that route. If I can do none else but the series, and it sells enough to hold its shelf spot - I'll do that route.
This said - To Ride Hell's Chasm was NOT a sidestep in quality - no way. It just pursued its storyline more directly - and "ended" in a plotline that spanned 5 1/2 days. All its threads converge and "tie up" very quickly, with no diffusion...this should satisfy people who want resolution.
Wars of Light and Shadow HAS just as tight a resolution - when it reaches its end...it has two more main areas of storyline yet to tap, before it will do so.
My notes on each of the subsequent Arcs is in chronological file, and each one has some 50 - 70 pages of "scene" notes, all tagged. I expect this series will be 2 Volumes for Arc 4 and -IF- I have very good publisher support for Arc 5 - one vol. This is a book I really want under one cover - but it may cost too much for its market numbers - who knows, that's the future - so it may be done in two bits. I do not want this, for plot reasons - but if it happens, I think you'd rather have the story!
Stuff happens to "pause" even my best estimate as to when books get done - cover art being one of the major "delays" that brakes production of the writing.My 'usual' rate of writing is about 800 manuscript pages of "finished" text and one cover, per year. Wars of Light and Shadow books run about 1000 manuscript pages, more or less, and they can take just a bit longer because of the complexity....to keep the scenes pitched at their best efficiency for delivering information sometimes takes a Chinese number puzzle sort of approach, to keep that timeline running either simultaneous or forward. the books don't backstep - and the logistics of making that happen sometimes makes the angle of approach of each scene very convoluted to work out. Which character, Which act, Which angle of approach actually goes on the page to deliver the goods with most impact...the "work out" time between actually writing the scene can take one to three days of jiggling, whereas in a Hell's Chasm type direct plot book, there's no such. Just sit down and tackle it.
Wars of Light and Shadow will be a series like No Other, when completed. There's a careful staging plan for the whole thing - and a creative thrust in each arc. The focus of which shifts, as each arc is complete. ROUGHLY (given the progression of ONE main thread, not all of them) Arc I set the stage. Arc II Showed the "shift" in Arithon's perspective - from "running from" response to the Curse, to what happened to those he had engaged with, while in this phase of avoidance - to his first effort to "engage" and mitigate the damage - which fails....and Lysaer's "defeat" which also shifts HIS perspective. Arc III begins with Arithon's reassessment of that failure, shifts focus to another form of "engagement" (Peril's Gate) And TK begins the "play out" of that shift, with its culmination in Stormed Fortress....and shows Lysaer's next phase, also, playing itself out.
All the arcs gradually deepen your understanding of the other factions and the interaction/flow of the various forces inherent in Athera, coupled with those that live there. Arc 4 and 5 each handle another phase. Each book, as much as possible, answers or lays a complete set of groundwork for deepening the layers, and completing a cycle of understanding and comprehension. This is, however, a project of very immense scope. It cannot POSSIBLY be done in short format. Nor is it possible to make each book "stand alone." Hell's Chasm, Sorcerer's Legacy, Master of Whitestorm ARE and were designed to be stand alone stories. War of Light and Shadow never was designed to be "stand alone" but all one overarching story that encompasses an intricate tapestry of concepts and events.
While it is "risky" to create art of this scale in today's commercial world of "instant gratification" I have made my decision with regard to this project. I will not shorten its scope for a reason that ONLY makes sense for the short term. For people who desire instant gratification - for any who are frustrated by the fact I can't DO this story in a format that is quick or shallow - there are plenty of books available that are less demanding. By all means, anyone is welcome to say whatever they FEEL, and frustration is a valid emotion. My creative choices are mine, however. The vision that has inspired these books is not negotiable. The "pattern" driving these books is not "good vs. evil" - and that departure alone demands the thorough exploration of an expanded outlook. Five Arcs. No apologies. Thanks, instead, for the patience and support AND for the honesty of your reactions, if your drive and my goal don't seem to match.
Perfection doesn't exist. Life isn't static. As a living artist, you have to do the best you can, in the moment. IF in hindsight, you see what you'd do differently now - you cheer, because that's the best indicator you have that you have grown! At least, I don't want to be one that just squatted on my last laurel. Get wilty and prickly, staying there. Best move on. If I don't feel a story is my BEST EFFORT, I have the honesty to admit that up front, and I DON'T SEND IT OUT. Now those would be the ones that would make me, as an author squirm. Knowing up front that I valued my readers' time so little, I'd foist my shortfalls on them.
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Special thanks to Jeff Watson and Andrew Ginever for their tireless friendship and website support through the years! - JW