Return to The Desert of Souls

Desert ZeusEvery once in a while nice surprises float up from the ‘net. I just read an enthusiastic new review of The Desert of Souls from a mystery review site, and there’s discussion in the comments page wondering if there are to be more stories about Dabir and Asim.

Well… Sooner or later there probably will be. Certainly my wife would love me to write more, because she likes Dabir and Asim more than any other characters I’ve ever used, even the ones I’m writing about now. At the least, I’ll one day write a third novel and resolve what happens between Dabir and the love of his life, from whom he was separated at the end of the first book. Maybe I’ll launch it as a Kickstarter or something.

Alas, the first book didn’t sell that well. The second, despite even stronger reviews, including a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly (and I was SURE that would guarantee good things for the series!) sold even more poorly. You can gauge this by dashing over to Amazon and comparing the number of reviews for each book.

I’ve stayed busy since creating a replacement series and writing Pathfinder novels. I didn’t PLAN on wandering in the wilderness for a while getting my act together, but that’s kind of what happened. I thought I had taken the news in stride and moved on to create new things, but watching that series tank really took the wind out of my sails. I love those characters, I love the Arabian Nights, I love the era — I spent years immersing myself in the time and culture. I spent years creating the characters and finding the right voice. I thought I’d found my calling, but I discovered, much like Crane’s man speaking to the universe, that the universe didn’t really care.

Kirk with the BonesOn the plus side, I got two hardback books published (and more, if you count the short story e-book). Many writers don’t even get that chance, so I was lucky. And I’m very lucky to still be under contract for more. But then I’ve been fortunate with my book editors. Both Pete Wolverton from Thomas Dunne Books and James Sutter with the Pathfinder novel line are talented and supportive.

The long and the short is that I’ll be writing new books for Pathfinder for a while to come (one’s due out in Fall and one’s coming out next Fall) and I hope to launch a new series through Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s soon. The novel’s getting whipped back into shape since I stopped trying to write like anyone else and began writing like me again. And as for Dabir and Asim, when I get the chance I’ll write an occasional short story (as I did for last year’s Kaiju Rising anthology) and some day I’ll probably write at least one more book. I can’t see myself carrying out my original plan of drafting seven more Dabir and Asim novels unless the Kickstarter for the third and self-publishing turn out to be lucrative. My guess is that I’d have to have a wider following for that to happen.

As to why they didn’t succeed, I just can’t tell you. I wish I knew. I could tell you how often I paced and gnashed my teeth and all that, but that was distracting and pointless. I’ve finally let it go. Onward and upward.

Oh, and for that handful of you wondering when I might launch a Dabir and Asim Kickstarter, it’s a ways down the road. I’ve got to revise a Pathfinder novel and write a couple of more books for my new series before there’s any kind of hole in my schedule. Watch this space.

8 Comments on “Return to The Desert of Souls

  1. _The Desert of Souls_ and _The Bones of the Old Ones_ were amazing, and it saddens me when I hear they didn’t sell well. I would stack them up against any other fantasy coming out now and expect them to come out on top. And I know I’m not alone in that, because I recommend them to anyone who mentions a love of sword & sorcery. I have yet to hear anything except echoes of my enthusiasm from fellow readers.

    I am thrilled to hear that you working on both Pathfinder novels and your own stuff. As long as you’ve got stuff to sell, I’ll be out here buying it.

    • Thanks, Fraser. I sincerely appreciate your kindness and support.

  2. Howard, It brings me no end of sadness to hear about the Dabir and Asim books. I really enjoyed the two existing novels and the collection. They were by far some my favorite stories in recent years. You had me hooked. I was looking forward to reading the rest of the Chronicles of Sword and Sand. I had no idea the series was in suspension. In fact, on your Amazon page, there is still a mention of you working on a third book. If you ever do go to kickstarter with a new one, I’ll back you!

    As a quick digression, and this is in no way to disparage the other book or twist the dagger in you, but Saladin Ahmed’s own “Arabian Fantasy” novel Throne of the Crescent Moon came out at about the same time as Desert of Souls (you’ve written about it on the blog, I know) and seems to have gained traction. This boggles my mind. I would have thought similarity of “unusual” setting and publication dates between Desert of Souls and Throne of the Crescent Moon would have driven traffic to and from each work. It is extremely frustrating to me additionally because I find your Dabir and Asim books to be far superior. No offense meant to Mr. Ahmed, but I’m calling ’em like I see ’em and I far prefer your work.

    In all honesty, the current fate of the series promises to disturb the reader in me for many years…until/unless you change your mind. Here’s hoping something changes.

    On a brighter note, I eagerly await this “new series” that’ll be out next year. Can’t wait to find out what it’s about and to read it!

    • Thanks, StevieJoe. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the stories so much.

      Saladin and I are friends and mutual admirers, and he has been unstinting in his support for my work. As to why he gained traction and I didn’t, well, that’s one of the things I gnashed my teeth over. It felt like if the bookshelves were wide enough to have dozens of books about assassins and thieves every year that there should be room enough for TWO guys to be writing Arabian fantasy, but alas, no.

      I’m not sure what you would have thought of the new series in its original incarnation, because I was trying a little too hard to emulate some of the features I’ve found in other modern fiction. Since I began to refurbish it I’m now fairly certain that most of my current readers will find the same kinds of things they liked in Dabir and Asim, the only difference being it’s pure fantasy and not historical. And, of course, Asim isn’t narrating. It’s strange to me that some people love his voice, but that there are very loud dissenting opinions who find him “immmature and off-putting” or think I should have made Dabir the narrator (I think he would have been about as interesting as Holmes narrating instead of Watson). I guess everyone’s entitled to an opinion and a reader’s tastes aren’t always going to align with mine.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments and support!

  3. To put it short
    I have yet to read a better book then The Bones Of The Old Ones. Im stacking that up against all the books out there yup even against the lord of the rings ect best fantasy book and such wonderful ideas would be such a huge shame a devastating blow to the world of fantasy literature if you did not right another 100 books in this series!! My wife is completing her masters in publishing and trust me saying she reads books is an under statment and she recommended this series to me telling me it was a very good read and boy was she right! dont mind she is more of a shakespear fan so your books never made her top ten but whoever iv recommended your books to has absolutly LOVED them please continue no other book appeals to me anymore im lost without them HELPP!

    • Farhan, thank you for note. I read it aloud to my wife let night when I saw it, and she was nodding along. She’s right there with you – she really wants more Dabir & Asim stories.

      I DO intend to write more. The problem is that I also have to earn a living, and, alas, there wasn’t nearly enough demand for their adventures as might have been nice. If my newer series launch and do well I hope to be able to do an occasional Dabir and Asim novel on the side, and of course I’ll occasionally write short stories about them.

      Thank you again,
      Howard

  4. I want to back that Kickstarter! Dabir and Asim are wonderful characters, and I hope they will be back.

  5. Pingback: Vision for Fiction | Sword's Edge

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