Tag Archives: The Forever Journey

Beginnings and An Ending

SecretWell after a few months of hard work, I am pleased to say that the first draft of The Forgotten Son is complete. It now resides with the publisher for notes (feedback, edits, etc) as well as the other authors of Project Hush-Hush. Speaking of, soon I’ll be able to stop calling it that. Five months of me not being able to speak openly about it will be over. The cover for book one is almost complete, the press release is all set to go out… We are THAT close to officially announcing the project. The reaction should be pretty intense. And I can’t bloody wait.

I have to say, I am rather pleased with the finished book. I think I’ve done the concept and the property justice. It’s been quite a ride building the foundation for the series and establishing new and interesting elements for the lead character. The responsibility is still heavily resting on my shoulders, but I feel really good about it at the moment. I will talk more about it once the series is officially announced, and interview the rest of the team, but until then I must remain as evasive as ever.

forever_a_print_Front_ENLittle bit of information I can tell you. I’m in talks with two authors for the second batch of books (with a further two authors still considering their involvement, authors very connected to the source of the property — I hope to get all four on my wish-list, so fingers crossed!), and some really interesting ideas are being bandied about. Ideas that feed into the mores of the time in which the series is set.

In other news, next up I shall be re-editing The Forever Journey, which will include adding new scenes set before the original beginning of the book, and then I’m onto editing a new novel for Candy Jar Books. No rest for me.

Oh yes, I want to take this opportunity to announce that I have officially resigned from the Space: 1889 & Beyond series as line editor with Untreed Reads Publishing. An official statement from the company about the future of the series will be released soon. Watch this space.

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Project Updates

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.

forever_a_print_Front_ENFrom 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 Bannersome 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.

seeker-preview (2) copySo, 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)…

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‘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.

Outing a Fictional Character

Space: 1889 & Beyond has been running for over two years now, with ten books published and a further two on the way to wrap up the second season. Since day one, one of my own personal goals was to explore Victorian views on sexuality, both through the characters of Annabelle Somerset (not your clichéd Victorian adventuress – although she does have her moments) and Nathanial Stone. Exploring such views via Annabelle would seem obvious and not worthy of pointing out, although holding her own against a predominantly male-led society is only one issue Annabelle has to deal with – losing a limb is another, not to mention certain revelations explored in the final three books of season two. With Nathanial it would seem to be less obvious, although this line from the opening chapter of Journey to the Heart of Luna (published September 2011) would offer up the first clue…

When we do, I hope I am there. For I would like to ask him this: Why, O Lord, did you make me wrong? My dean at Mortarhouse College could never answer such a question, and he was a very learned man. Only the Almighty can answer me now.

Throughout the two years and ten books we have revealed hints and clues about Nathanial’s personal journey, most especially in Conspiracy of Silence (published August 2012) and Mundus Cerialis (published December 2012). One would hope that at the end of the latter book all our readers would be able to work out that Nathanial is a gay man. This is how Mundus Cerialis ends…

Arnaud noticed Nathanial standing there. “Annabelle suggested we ‘bunk together’. I do not think Captain Folkard would like me to be in his room.”
 
Nathanial glanced up the gangway towards the control deck. “No, I don’t suppose he would.”
 
Arnaud placed a finger in his mouth and looked around the lab. “Not much space, non? What to do? I have no sleeping bag.” He coughed abruptly, and looked up with the most pathetic expression Nathanial had ever seen.
 
“You are unwell?”
 
Oui. A virus from the Ceres underground, I think. Ne vous inquiétez pas,” Arnaud said, waving away Nathanial’s concern. “No snuggling,” he added, with a slight smile.
 
Nathanial shook his head. There was a time when he would have responded to that, but instead he smiled. Always the same Arnaud.
 
“I think we shall have a lot to discuss, then,” Nathanial said and stepped into the lab, feeling better than he had in a long while.
 
Things were not perfect with Annabelle, but they were on the right path to healing the wounds, and he had made his peace with Folkard. Surely he still held some animosity because of Edwin’s death, but the captain had brought Arnaud back to him – from death in some respects. That went a long way.
 
He closed the door behind him. It was finally time to move forward again.

fistfulMEDIUMThe most explicit confirmation of Nathanial’s sexuality, and his difficulty with such, was due to be shown in The Forever Journey, but due to some ‘technical difficulties’ the book which followed this, in terms of narrative, was released first. Thus the consequences of certain revelations and themes from The Forever Journey were felt throughout A Fistful of Dust (published October 2013). In terms of narrative I, as editor, had no issue with the consequences being seen before the events that led to them. In fact, I felt (and still feel), it adds to the mystery, leaving the readers to wonder what actually happened to our gallant crew on the way to Mars (answers to which will be revealed next month when The Forever Journey is released!).

Our readers have been very supportive of the series thus far, with many applauding us on the ongoing stories for our regulars cast of characters, as well as those who appear occasionally (such as Doctor Cyrus Grant and Commander George Bedford). They seem to understand that, as author David Parish-Whittaker put it, ‘it’s not just “Airships and Adventures!” (Not that it doesn’t have those, too). I think this particular subplot helps remind the reader of the very real social differences and constraints of the time period. We’re not writing about modern people in top hats here.’ This personal journey for Nathanial has been there since day one, as I said, and I knew that once we brought it to the fore it would illicit some interesting responses. I especially expect some choice comments being made in reviews of The Forever Journey, not just about Nathanial, but about other revelations made in that book, but what I was not expecting, not in a million years, was this ‘review’ on Amazon.com for A Fistful of Dust

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So shocked was I that I posted it over Facebook, to get the opinions of fellow authors, readers and even Anne Rice – since she’d recently been talking about reviews on Amazon.com, and was curious as to how she, a best-selling author of world renown, would respond were it in response to one of her books. Her response was, ‘it’s typical of some of the trash reviewing going on, on Amazon. I clicked report and gave the reason. Imagine a review like this attacking “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” because Uncle Tom is black.’

I am still somewhat miffed as to why, ten books on, someone should take such a position. One person suggested it was akin to revealing that a character like James Bond was gay all this time, a comment which I find bizarre in itself. With the Bond example, I agree it would be a case of ‘what were you thinking?’, since he has a history with women and is quite clearly a straight character. Not so with Nathanial. As shown in the examples above, Nathanial has always been gay, and his personal journey encompasses this element of his character. From actively allowing people to believe he had some interest in Annabelle, to his flirtatious behaviour with, at first, Erasmus Stevenson in Journey to the Heart of Luna and Dark Side of Luna all the way to his first meeting with Arnaud Fontaine in The Ghosts of Mercury to his insistence on having Arnaud join them on the season two mission. Later the reviewer did go on to explain why he made the above comment, in an equally inexplicable manner…

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The implication that we included a gay character because it’s ‘cool’ to do so, is one that puzzles and irritates me. It seems to suggest that we made Nathanial gay all of sudden, that it was a stunt to fit some kind of political correctness. Never mind the previous nine books of character development and steady unveiling of this aspect of Nathanial’s character. Surely the whole point of fiction is to not only tell good stories, but to explore the nature of people along the way? This is done gradually and carefully, without being offensive or, in this case, explicit. To be offended and thus reject a series of novels you were, presumably, previously enjoying just because a character is revealed to be gay, strikes me as a very silly and bigoted way to react. Would it not make more sense to stick with it, and see how the character’s journey pans out? After all, Nathanial is a man living in the 19th Century, the implications of his sexuality will have consequences.

Despite this and the somewhat unexpected reactions from a few people yesterday, I still hold true to what we are trying to achieve here with Space: 1889 & Beyond as a whole, and with the character of Nathanial Stone in particular. All I can say now is this; readers, stick with us, there’s an end game here, one that most will not see coming, but hopefully one all will find interesting and will spark some thoughts in you all. In closing I’d like to quote Arnaud’s father, Sébastien Fontaine…

“Could it not be that they are merely laws man has attributed to God, led by their own fears and ignorance? It is my belief that not everything can be split between right and wrong. There is a whole area that falls in-between. Just because someone disagrees with another, it does not make one more correct than the other.”

Back by Popular Demand

Hi, gang!

We’ve noticed a few people asking if we’d be doing a season-pass for the second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond. Originally the answer was ‘no’, due to the initial behind-the-scenes chaos with getting the series together. However, we’ve found a way to change that. And so, we’re very pleased to announce that ‘yes!’ we are now doing a season-pass. But there is a catch!

It’s a good one, mind.

The season-pass is only available until August 15th – so if you fancy saving £3.20 ($5) off the entire second series, then run along now and pick up the season-pass for only £10.87 ($17). Yes, that’s just over a tenner for six books! Who can pass up such a deal? But hurry, this only lasts for two weeks.

Visit the Untreed Reads Store HERE to purchase the pass.