Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New dates for the new series

HarperCollins has let me know the new publishing dates for the upcoming series:
Book 1 (currently called The Cursed Tears but may well become Bridge Of Swords or indeed something else entirely!) will be out in August 2012.
Book 2 (now The Grieving Son but hopefully Pass Of Arrows) will be out February 2013
Book 3 (now The Raging Night but perhaps Hill Of Shields) will be out August 2013.
Now this means it will be fully two years between The Radiant Child (July 2010) and the first of the new series.
That's my fault!
HC pushed my dates back partly because of overseas releases but mainly because I have rewritten the first book so dramatically - and taken a long time about it.
Part of that was the injury to my index finger, which stopped me writing for the best part of a month but it was mostly the sheer scale of the rewrite.
Basically I took the main character, Sendatsu, and changed him completely. This means about 25% of the rewrite is all new and 50% is substantially changed - not a task you can finish in a few days.
The other issue was book two, which I had written about 80,000 words. Now Sendatsu had changed, about 70,000 words of this had to change. Basically I was back to the beginning with book two - and had to deliver that by the end of the year because of the old deadline.
I took the decision because of the feedback I was getting from my beta readers. The bottom line was the original character was too polarising - a real love/hate character. Hanging an entire trilogy on someone like that is too much to ask. The danger was readers would turn off him before he was redeemed.
It's a classic trap of a trilogy ... your character's arc is designed over three books, so you begin with an unsympathetic character who wins over the reader (ideally). The problem is, you can end up with one who turns off the reader, so they don't read on to find out what happens!
I've written before about David Gemmell, one of my inspirations for writing fantasy. He managed to do something similar with Sigarni in Ironhand's Daughter. His follow-up book, The Hawk Eternal, relegated her to a minor character and put someone more sympathetic front and centre.
Of course Gemmell had, by then, a large and dedicated readership who stuck with him.
I don't have that luxury!
I have many other stories I want to write - and want the opportunity to see them in print.
It was a big call to rip up a main character, change them utterly and go again. But the alternative was worse.
Honestly, it was a scary call but I've always been of the opinion you should do things that scare you!
The good news is, I'm sure it was the right decision.
Of my two beta readers, one said the new opening was ``100 times better'' and the other said they ``love, love, loved it'' and was ``instantly sympathetic to Sendatsu''.
Infinitas Bookshop, which has been a wonderful supporter of The Dragon Sword Histories, once said to me that fantasy was ``all about the characters''.
That's absolutely correct.
I had to get the characters right. I think they are now ... but it has taken longer than I thought.
Hopefully the wait will prove worthwhile!

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