The new Death’s Handmaiden is out. Hope you enjoy it.
The new Death’s Handmaiden is out. Hope you enjoy it.
Okay, here’s a few things I thought I should mention. In no particular order:
The third Death’s Handmaiden book will be out soon (next day or two). It’s called Freedom, Humanity, and Other Delusions.
I’m currently working on Sign of the Dragon (though I’m having a little fun with it and I’ve taken it back to the drawing board). It should be out in a couple of months. This is going to be a replacement for the Fox books because…
There are going to be two more Fox Meridian books, and then I’ll be bringing that series to a conclusion. I hope to wrap up all the loose threads in those two books. Why am I ending the series? Well, two reasons. First, I’m running out of ideas. I think I’ve gone as far as I can with the overall plot, and I’d rather handle any other ideas I have for that genre with new characters. Two, my mother liked reading the Fox books. I wouldn’t say I wrote them for her, but she liked them. It’s going to be hard writing those characters knowing that she won’t be reading the results. I was aiming to wrap up the series before my mother died, but now it’s become more of a necessity.
Anyway, more about the new Death’s Handmaiden book in the next day or two. I’ll be posting the cover soon, as usual. I’ve also been posting a few random images (of Tatsu from Sign of the Dragon) on ArtStation; you can see them here.
Stay safe, and don’t break your keyboard hitting F5: I’ll post as soon as it’s ready.
The next Death’s Handmaiden novel, Bitter Wind, is due to come out around the first weekend in April and, once again, I’ve come up with a cover for it pretty quickly. So, here it is.
In other news, I may be rather quiet for a while. Some stuff is happening with my family which is occupying my thoughts a lot. This may cause a delay in the book after Bitter Wind, I just don’t know at this point. I’m sure you’re used to me going quiet for long periods by now, so it should almost be business as usual. I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but today I have something nice to offset the not so nice. Now that you’ve read the bad news, go back to the top and revel in those legs!
Lately, I seem to have been asked where I get my inspiration quite a lot. I really don’t have a very good answer. It’s usually a lot of things. In the case of Death’s Handmaiden, it’s a lot of things going back a lot of years.
The most recent influence is a light novel series and the anime made from it. Mahouka Koukou No Rettousei, better known in the west as The Irregular at Magic High School. (The literal translation makes more sense: ‘The Poor performing Student…’ Less catchy, however.) This is available on Netflix (at least in the UK), if you feel like watching it. It’s subtitled: you have been warned. The story is a bit typical for a high school anime, but the world-building is awesome and the characters are interesting. The protagonist (despite his protestations otherwise) has more of a personality than many. Anyway, The Irregular put in my head the idea of doing a sci-fi magic school story. or rather, it put it back in my head, because I’ve been trying to get that idea right for a long, long time.
So many years ago that I don’t want to think about it, I read a book called A Wizard of Earthsea. You may have heard of it, hopefully not just because of the fairly dreadful TV adaptation. Ursula K. Le Guinn was a rightfully-lauded author, but I have to admit that I find most of her stuff opaque at best. A Wizard of Earthsea is another matter. The world is beautifully drawn, the characters are relatable. The magic school on Roke became one of those inspirational ideas to me. (And I spent hours and hours recreating the magic system in my favoured RPG.) I recently got the trilogy as audio books, and they haven’t aged badly like some of the books I read as a teenager.
Around about the same time, I used to get art books given to me for Christmas and my birthday. Classic sci-fi and fantasy art, generally with some form of text, either fictional or fact. One of those contained a picture which, sadly, I can no longer find. It showed a floating craft of some description moving through a swampy environment, powered by magic. The vessel was obviously more to do with technology, but it was flying because its pilot was a magician. Okay, so that kind of fitted with the school on Roke Island: the students all learned to sail boats driven by ‘the mage wind,’ because they lived in a world which was basically a lot of islands in a vast sea.
And so, the ideas combined and I came up with the idea of a solar system in which magic would be learned by various races. They had to learn teleportation and levitation to get between the worlds in the system. They learned their art because FTL travel and communication relied on magic. And the idea of that system was about all I had for a long time. Eventually, probably twenty years ago, I developed it further. I now had a collection of races, each with a different speciality regarding magic, and a human newcomer who did not fit in well and would make a collection of friends from among the more put-upon races. Eventually, of course, it would turn out that he was something special. I’ve tried to kick that idea off several times, but I’ve never been able to feel the characters.
And then I got another kick in the form of The Irregular… Rehashing the old idea with one species (humans) and two magic specialities, a mysterious, out of place female protagonist, and culling the idea of spreading the school over an entire system seems to have worked. Frankly, Death’s Handmaiden came running out of me like water. So much so that I’ve gone ahead and set off on the sequel immediately. I figured I was looking at something in the 80k words region and it’s over 120k! (Don’t get used to it; the second book will be shorter.)
So, Death’s Handmaiden owes a lot to The irregular at Magic High School and A Wizard of Earthsea and some art in a book I had decades ago, but also Anne McCaffrey’s Harpers of Pern books and all those books and films where there’s an ancient, long-dead progenitor race, and all the weird ways my brain goes off on tangents when exposed to something. Where do I get my inspiration from? Just about everywhere.
Death’s Handmaiden will be out (Amazon willing) on February 1st, everywhere. (I’ll be processing it through for publication tomorrow, so even in Australia, it should be out when you wake up on the first.) The sequel, Bitter Wind, will be out at the beginning of April.
It’ll be out tomorrow.
Well, I’m now working on the next book in the Twilight Empress series, because the universe told me to. Well, YouTube. YouTube told me to write the next Twilight Empress book.
You see, I like music while I work. Some people find it distracting to read or write with music playing (especially music with lyrics), but I tend to work better when there’s noise. I have playlists for each book series which are supposed to be inspirational, but sometimes I want something purely random. Then I either just shuffle everything I have available, or I power up YouTube and listen to whatever comes up in my ‘mixtape’ list that day. I end up listening to some really weird stuff that way, but it works.
Recently, YouTube started throwing up a lot of AMVs based around Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra clips. It’s no secret that one of the inspirations for the Twilight Empress books is ATLA and TLOK, so I took this as a sign from on high that it was time for The Last Emperor to be written. (Another influence is the Matt Damon film The Great Wall, by the way, which I must get around to rewatching at some point soon.)
In season two of ATLA, we get introduced to Azula and her two friends Ty Lee and Mai. Azula recruits Ty Lee for her hunt for the Avatar from a circus where Ty Lee is the happiest she’s ever been. Azula basically threatens (non-verbally) to make Ty Lee’s life a misery unless she comes along. Ty Lee is later asked why she’s there since the universe told her to join the circus and she says that Azula spoke lounder. Whatever else I may have had planned right now, YouTube spoke louder.
Meanwhile, Blood Magic will be out next week. I have a few edits to do and a cover to come up with, but it’ll be out just after Easter.
Dance with The Devil, the tenth Fox Meridian book, should be out in the next day or two. Hopefully, Amazon won’t complain about a hint of shadowy, naked Devil butt cos I really quite like how this came out.
I know, I was surprised to learn I had a plan too.
I was planning to follow up the next Fox book, Dance with The Devil, with the start of a new military sci-fi series. Fox 10 is still happening (on time barring unusual circumstances; mid-February), but I’ve got a problem with the military thing which is going to take too long to work out, so I’m changing to a third Princeps Venator book with Dione, Mike, and the gang at SCU. I’m working through the plot at the moment and I’ll start writing tomorrow.
Unfortunately, that means there’ll be a longer-than-usual wait for the book after Fox 10. Hopefully, you’ll all survive without a new book from me for an extra month and, hopefully, I’ll catch up later in the year when I get the sci-fi thing sorted out and finished.
Also hopefully, Anthem turns out to be not as good as it looks. It’s the new release from BioWare (in case you didn’t know), the creators of Mass Effect. I’m going to end up buying it (I have Christmas money burning a hole in my Amazon account) and Mass Effect sucked a good three or four months out of my life back in the day. On the other hand, binging ME got me to write the first Aneka book, so Anthem may prove inspirational. OTOH, early reports of the VIP demo going on this weekend are not exactly sparkling with reports of crashing servers, glitches and bugs abounding, and other issues, so it’s quite possible the game will be unplayable at launch. Something of a problem for BioWare. They’re likely to die an undignified death if they mess this up as badly as Mass Effect Andromeda (which I actually liked, but I didn’t play it until months after launch when all the bugs had been ironed out, and it was also discounted a lot).