My brand new copy of The Mighty Warriors turned up in the post yesterday. I can’t remember when I had a NEW anthology chock full of sword-and-sorcery. I mean, I’ve had old anthologies that were new to me, but not one that was hot off the presses.
I’ve been friends with two of the authors for years, Charles Rutledge and Paul McNamee. Charles is the fellow who spoke so highly of Shotokan karate and therefore helped me choose which school to attend many years back (and I’m STILL there). I’ve known Paul since I used to edit the old Flashing Swords e-zine. He helped manage the related web site for a while when I was busy with grad school. Yet I’ve never read any of their work! Now I have the chance, because they both have a story in the volume, along with one of my favorite writers, Charles Saunders, my friend David C. Smith. There’s also work by friendly acquaintances and industry standard bearers. I’ve been hearing good things about Adrian Cole’s Elak pastiches for a while, so I’m particularly interested to see what he’s cooked up.
Anyway, I’m pleased to have a copy and eager to get to reading. Your own copies can be found here.
Maybe I should label this novel as “2.5” because I’d started my second Dabir and Asim novel, The Bones of the Old Ones, before I set to work on Plague of Shadows. But I set Bones aside and gave this one my attention all through the summer.
I didn’t write it as I’d written my first novel, in part because as a work-for-hire, I had to present an extremely detailed outline and get it approved before I started working. That meant I had a pretty solid blueprint, even though that blueprint ended up changing a lot as I went. It was a little harder than my first novel, but not so hard as the next one would be, probably because of that outline, one that a talented editor had provided me with feedback for.
Why was it a little more difficult? Well, the characters and their relationships were all brand new to me, so it took a little writing and rewriting to get used to them and how they’d react, something I hadn’t had to do much with The Desert of Souls.
The most obvious lesson in writing Plague was to be flexible. Somehow I managed to roll with the punches on this one far faster than I’d roll with challenges in later books. I was about a third of the way into the draft, about 30 thousand words, when I heard from James Sutter. James, by the way, is a great editor — and a talented writer as well — and this wasn’t at all his typical way of communicating. But the Paizo Pathfinder novel line was new, and they were still working on marketing. He said that they had realized that novels with dragons on the cover sold better and asked if I could work some dragons into the plot. I said sure, I already had one, but he wondered if I could have a big fight with a dragon. So I said sure, why not? And I found a way, and I think it ended up strengthening the book.
You may have noticed from the increased activity that I’m rethinking how I use my web site. I’ve got some more novel writing posts ready to go, and that will be a regular feature on Mondays for the next several weeks. I’ve also started exchanging notes with Tales From the Magician’s Skull contributors for the opening salvo in a new Friday feature I’m tentatively calling “Creatives Corner.” The plan is to post interviews or occasional guest posts on many Fridays, and I’m starting with some of the people who’ve worked with the mighty Skull.
The object is to point visitors to neat sites, good writers, editors, and fans. If you have ideas about questions you’d like me to ask, guests you’d like me to invite, or even subjects you’d like to cover, please let me know.
Likewise, if you have questions about writing or publishing, keep them coming. I’m still working on answers to a few that were asked last time I mentioned this, and I’m eager for more ideas.
I hope to hear from you. So does The Gorn.
Tonight I’ll be dropping by Night Moves Radio to chat with hosts Josh and Ariana about sword-and-sorcery, its authors and its tales, and the writing and editing of the same. I hope you’ll drop in for a listen!
The show starts at 7:00 Central time and it’s going to be held live! I’ve been on plenty of podcasts before, but never a live one, so this should be different!
My friend Troy asked the other day about my ” ideas on usage of language – how you change it per the setting and world you are writing in, how you find not only the narrator’s voice, but the voice of your characters.”
When it comes to altering language for the setting and world, most of the time I turn the dial only a little. The big exception would be the historical fantasies I’ve written in the voice of an 8th century Arabian swordsman. In preparation for writing those I read a lot of translations of work written from around the same time I set the stories in, and that prose was a lot more formal. Many of the writers were also highly religious, sprinkling in praise to God every few sentences or so. I knew that if I wrote in exactly the same style I’d put off modern readers and erect a barrier between them and the work, so I wrote in sort of a faux version of that. It’s a little more formal and flowery, so that it sounds different without (hopefully) being too distant. I mention praise to God every now and then but far, far less often, and the sentence structure is more varied. Read More
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