Secret Projects and the Wish for Style

HJ Sagan TreeMonday I briefly touched upon some secret projects and sparked some speculation. Rather than answering thedarkman’s question on that older post, I thought I’d open by touching upon it today. Yes, one of those secret projects is rich with old school sword-and-sorcery. So much so that your socks are going to be blown off when you get it in your hands. I am grinning with delight every time I think about the quality of the work involved, and the art I’ve seen, and other components, and when the time comes I’ll shout about project x from the rooftops and hope that you’ll help me spread the word about it so it can reach as wide an audience as possible. With a little luck and hard work more and similar things will come to fruition.

Yes, I wish I could say more. Soon I shall. No, it’s not a secret novel. And yes, the new novel project is definitely sword-and-sorcery as well, although it’s got more of a Zelaznian than a Howardian spin… and I’d like to say it’s got a Howard Jonesian spin to it as well. It would be nice to think that I’ve got my own style at this point, although maybe that’s not always apparent.

I mean, in the Dabir and Asim stories I deliberately use a formality to give it a faux “ancient manuscript” vibe, and relate everything through an unreliable narrator, and THAT’s not my style, just one that I use for those stories. And the Pathfinder books are a little pulpier — though in a good way, I hope — than what I might normally draft.

So maybe THIS series is more like a straight presentation of my prose stylings. I think you can see all of my favorite writerly influences, and my love of strong pacing and interesting characters. Perhaps the most common thread in my fiction is that I believe in heroes who will stand up and do the right thing even when no one is watching. As a student of history, I know that they have existed and come through for us in the past, and I know that heroes still live today among us. And I’m frankly a little tired of reading about the unhreoic ALL the time.

That’s not to say I like flawless, unrealistic do-gooders. Or that I never want to read about anti-heroes or rogues. Any frequent visitor to this blog knows how influential a lot of the Lankhmar stories were on this storyteller, and the tales of Leigh Brackett, and maybe they know just how much I love the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There are scads of rogues in that there fiction, folks. But I like to write stories about heroes and I don’t see any sign of that stopping.


4 Comments on “Secret Projects and the Wish for Style

  1. Crom’s Wrath man! You dangle a savory treat just beyond my reach! Damnation!
    Looking forward to further news regarding this now much anticipated release.

    On another note, a friend of mine is mailing me a copy of Lamb’s biography of Alexander; any thoughts on this particular book?

    • I’m about the biggest Harold Lamb fan there is, but I have to admit that’s not a favorite of mine. It’s a weird mix of biography and historical fiction and it should have been all of one or all of the other. Some people do love it, admittedly.

      I wish it was more like his wonderful Hannibal biography, which made me a lifelong fan of both Harold Lamb AND the great Carthaginian.

      Some of those Lamb biographies are straight biographies, like Hannibal, and some are that weird mix, like Alexander. (Cyrus the Great is like Alexander, but it has this cool bit in the middle with a really strong sword-and-sorcery vibe to it.)

      I wish that he’d simply written some straight historical novels. He only did two — Nur Mahal and Omar Khayyam — and both read a lot like he was writing a super long story for Adventure magazine. I wish he’d just kept doing that. But for whatever reason, he didn’t.

      My fav of his non-fiction is his own son’s favorite, March of the Barbarians, which is a fantastic history not just of Genghis Kahn but of the Mongolian rulers who followed him. Right below that are a number of great ones: the aforementioned Hannibal, his two Crusades books, Tamerlane, a couple of his Russian histories, and maybe one or two others.

      His Genghis Khan biography is STILL in print and is a good book, but his treatment of Genghis Khan in March of the Barbarians is more thorough. In an interview later in life he talked about how he’d been trying to write about Genghis Khan for a while and the publisher finally said they’d take a book, but only if he could deliver it in two weeks! Fortunately he already knew the material, but still. He was amazed people were continuing to read it rather than ones that he’d taken more time on that had been better researched.

      Hah! Sorry to go on like that… Hope it was helpful. You can always visit for details on these and a whole host of other books. I can’t update the site anymore because my computer doesn’t support the software I used to create it! Someday I’ll have to redesign it from scratch.

      • Thanks for the info Howard. I’m getting the book for free in a trade, so it’s got a place on my shelf. I have the Gengis Khan book and Babur the Tiger as well. I prefer his adventure fiction, but I like to collect the historical stuff too. I have a line on a copy of Omar Khayyam for cheap too. Would love to find a copy of March of the Barbarians and The Crusades; maybe one day!

        • All of those are worth a read, and I’ll bet you’ll want to re-read some of them, especially March of the Barbarians.

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