Happy New Year! I had intended to write a reflective post about the past year, but that's a bit egocentric and I doubt that I could add anything particularly new or insightful. I would rather look forward, since a new year is a lot like the wonderful blank page that is the foundation of every new story. I adore that moment when I sit down to write something new. The page is limitless in its possibilities. That perfect white expanse, awaiting the mysterious little black shapes that spell out letters and words and sentences that turn themselves somehow into scenes and fantastic worlds. And the best part is—I never know where the story is going until it's done. That first sentence? I am always clueless what the world is going to be like, how the magic works, or who is going to inhabit my pages. It's a mystery, it is, and so is every new year until it almost imperceptibly becomes the old year viewed in our rear view mirrors.
What do I know about 2014? I know that I
am writing Delver, the
fourth and last book in the Masters of the Elements series, the most recent of
which was Seaborn, released in September. We will all (including me!) finally
learn why Fire is in rebellion against Earth Mother, and what the clans must do
to prevent the ultimate firestorm sweeping away Metrenna and every living thing
in the land. The story is already developing layers I had no idea were lurking
in there. The story-within-the-story is poignant and shy and I hope I am good
enough to capture it as it should be captured.
I also know that I will be publishing at least
three other books this year, through Taliesin Publishing and Sky Warrior Books.
The first is In Heaven's
Shadow from Taliesin, a
Civil War ghost story/fantasy that I wrote the only time I took up the
NaNoWriMo challenge. I like this book a lot because it helped me deal with my
dad's death, and it is offbeat and let me put on my historian's hat for once
while still getting to put in some cool magic. I have a degree in history and I
love to research, so this one was fun to write even though the themes of death
and afterlife and respectability often hit pretty close to home. Did you know
that the American mortuary industry was pretty much born amid the horrors of
the Civil War, as both North and South struggled with the aftermath of battles
that produced as many as 12,000 dead soldiers in one day? Before the war,
most families buried their own dead; as the big battles began, it became
necessary to find a way to preserve bodies well enough to ship fallen soldiers
home to their grieving families for proper burial. While coffin-building and
embalming took a quantum leap forward, the actual shipping was quickly
abandoned as logistically impractical. The sad fact is, as the war dragged on, most
families got only the word that their loved ones were dead, with no body to
bury and only a funeral service to try and achieve closure. And when so many
died at once, often torn to pieces by cannon fire, many families only ever got
the thin hope of “missing” to cling to. Hope can be a terrible thing, as we
will see when In Heaven’s Shadow
comes out February 6th.
I am also launching a new high fantasy/soft SF series this year
from Sky Warrior Books called Fate’s
Arrow. I love the idea that humankind knows so little of what actually may
lurk in the vastness of the unexplored universe. It leaves open the
possibilities of what we may encounter on foreign planets when, someday, we may
finally set foot there. And when unsuspecting humans encounter alien catalysts—well,
who can say what is real and what is not when human wishing and human ambition meet
the very stuff of Creation? Oh, my.
The first book in the series, “The Mask of God,” is in the last
stages of production. The cover is looking awesome and I have only to return the
final proof to my publisher. And then a story I started over 20 years ago will
finally get out to the world, full of gods who aren’t gods but have all of a
god’s powers—and a god’s single-minded purpose; human pawns who refuse to act
like pawns; and two royal brothers who really only just want to get through the
day without somebody taking potshots at them. These books are about love and
loyalty and the deepest desire of the human heart to believe in something...but
just what our hero finds to believe in may surprise you. And they’re about
magic, that also has its own, inexorable requirements.
I plan to resume writing my “Horses in Fiction” blog series this
year as well. I confess that I have not had the heart for it because my own
riding was so severely curtailed this last year. It is tough having horses
standing around the pasture that you are not medically allowed to get on and
ride. But, rather than sit around and whine, I will play with them to the best
of my ability and share what I know with you all. Heh, see there? In Heaven’s Shadow, which is set in the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is lingering on my tongue, as I hope the story
itself will stay with you.
Have a very delightful new year, everyone. I hope we can share
part of the journey together!