So, what have I been up to in the past two months since post 100? Well, mostly I’ve been working, both on the day job and various writing projects. I’ve also been editing and selecting short stories for the South Wales Short Story Competition which is a bi-annual event run by Candy Jar Books.
From an editing point of view I’ve mostly been working on Space: 1889 & Beyond, going through all the books and re-editing them in preparation for the eventual print releases. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and like so many directors, the print releases give me a chance to clean up a few things I was less than happy with the first time around. In particular, due to the turbulent events of season two (behind the scenes, what with authors dropping out at the last minute, etc), I had to pass the final edits of Leviathans in the Clouds onto another editor so I could tackle head-on the problems facing the next book in the series. Despite the good job he did, it’s quite clear that the editor wasn’t too familiar with the series, and so a few continuity errors remained between the preceding book and Leviathans in the Clouds, not to mention several stylistic choices that do not fit with the rest of the series. The re-edits allowed me to clean this up. The biggest casualty of the behind the scenes chaos was The Forever Journey, and still remains the one book in the entire series I am very unhappy with. It’s not that its a bad book — there is much within the pages to recommend it, and the authors involved did the best they could with the little experience they had. But it is such an important part of the series, a turning point in so many ways, that I’ve always felt it should be bigger and never quite felt like the game-changing book it was designed to be. So that will be my next task, doing a major overhaul of that book. The trick will be not to remove anything from the story, and so change it to the point that it will overwrite the eBook, but to enhance the story, add things to it. I have in mind a whole new sequence set on Earth prior to the journey, which will likely be told in flashback so as not to ruin the present narrative of the book. It was that present narrative that was damaged greatly by the initial release, as the book was released out of sequence and a bookend scene needed to be written so it still made sense when released after A Fistful of Dust.
Work on the re-edits, however, are paused for a short while since I am, due to illness, behind on a few projects. Primarily among them is The Forgotten Son, book one of Project Hush-Hush. The first draft is due at the end of October, which is tomorrow, and I’m still five chapters away from the end. I have spent the last few days re-reading the entire book, as it’s been a couple of weeks since I looked at it in any meaningful way. Re-reading with the distance of a few weeks has revealed to me some problems in the narrative — not plot holes, or even plot development, but the kind of things only an author would spot. I may just be seeing issues that aren’t there, so I’m not going to tackle them until after my editor gets a chance to read the entire first draft. If they’re really there, I know he’ll spot them. I think it may also be partly down to the responsibility that is inherent in this series; it’s always there in the back of mind. We’ve got the copyright of something that has been a huge part of peoples lives for so many years now, that we have an immense responsibility to get it right, to do it justice, and to honour the intent of the creator of the property. In some ways I felt the same responsibility when I developed Space: 1889 & Beyond, but this is multiplied by a factor of a hundred.
So, that’s two writing projects. Finishing draft one of The Forgotten Son, and enhancing The Forever Journey. After these? Well, it seems the next few months will mostly see me editing — be it on Project Hush-Hush or Space: 1889 & Beyond or on a forthcoming novel for Candy Jar Books. All this seems like a great time to get back to work on Augury, book two of The Garden. This presents me with a few problems. The original plan was to only have a year gap between Seeker and Augury, but it’s been almost four years since Seeker was first released, and it wouldn’t really work to have the second book set in 2012. So I’ve been pondering ways around it — how to make a gap of three years work for the narrative. It’s tough as a lot of the narrative is period specific, and the original year-long gap served a very unique narrative purpose. Part of my solution is to write a short novel set between the first two books, which I’m probably going to call Tales of the Three, which will detail the lives of Celeste, Theodor and Erwyn (and those affected by these lives — including, of course, Frederick, Edward Lomax and Julius), covering the background stories that were hinted at during Seeker. These tales will be surrounded by a framework showing the fallout of the events of Seeker for these three characters. In so doing, I will be able to remove a lot of material originally intended for Augury, this in turn should allow me to advance the main narrative forward a few years and bring it more or less up to the present day once more. Or at least that’s the plan. Fingers crossed it will pan out. Still have several things to work out, but currently it seems the most likely way forward with the series.
So, a little treat for you all, here’s an exclusive scene from the extended version of Serere, the prelude to Seeker, which can now be purchased direct from Lulu.com (and will soon be available globally for order wherever books are sold)…
‘We’re not liking this, Aly,’ Detective Inspector Carbis said, ‘are we?’
Rowe recognized the look in his dark eyes, but they had been friends since she joined the force. He was responsible for her transfer to CID. He trusted her instincts as much as she did, and he knew that she’d walk down whatever path she had to in order to solve the mystery. She didn’t care how dark a path it turned out to be.
‘You haven’t heard the worst of it, yet, Gary,’ she replied. This was, at least for now, still informal and off the record. They were meeting in a quiet corner of a pub near Hirst Park, Carbis drinking a bottle of Smirnoff Ice while Rowe downed a pint of lager. ‘I managed to track down the identity of the old man. His name was Cliff Goleman, and he went missing in 1917! At the age of nineteen.’
‘The same age as Robin.’
Rowe nodded slowly. ‘You saw Goleman’s body; did it look 104 years old to you?’
‘I don’t think I’ve seen a body that old, Aly, living or dead.’
At this Rowe smiled. ‘Okay, fair point. But according to the autopsy, the heart, liver… all the internal organs are consistent with a man of no more than sixty years.’
‘Then it can’t be the same man. DNA records didn’t even exist in… when did you say? 1917? This is insane, Aly. Insane.’
‘I know.’ Rowe grinned, and finished the rest of her pint. ‘The DNA results led me to Goleman’s grandson. He’s fifty-eight, by the way, and the spit of Cliff.’
Carbis shook his head. ‘No, I’m not buying it. How could you even have found out about Goleman’s disappearance? Our own record keeping was bad enough thirty years ago, let alone eighty-five years ago.’
‘Harry Goleman is a lifer at the Scrubs, so his DNA is on the system. Seeing his picture was a bit of a shock, since for a moment I was sure I was looking at our corpse. A bit of research later and I’m reading about his grandfather going missing at nineteen, only three months after his marriage, leaving behind a wife who was, unknowingly at the time, two months pregnant. The gears shifted in my brain.’
Carbis narrowed his eyes. ‘Knowing how your brain works, I’m not surprised.’ For a moment he looked down at the bottle in his hand, while Rowe watched his rapidly thinning crown. ‘What do you propose we do?’
‘Let me continue to investigate this. A man presumed dead eight decades ago turns up, healthy as a sixty year old – well, other than the complete loss of blood – next to eight pints of blood that should, by rights, still be in Robin Turner’s body, which is now missing.’ She paused for a minute, before delivering her final card. ‘We’ve not seen the last of Robin Turner.’
‘This is quite a limb you’re out on.’
‘I know, but it’s my limb. And I know I am right,’ Rowe added with complete certainty.