Each time a novel of mine comes out, I amuse myself by casting the would-be movie of the book. Not that this will ever happen. Furthermore, even if it were to happen (Hollywood, you know where to find me!), there’s no way I’d have any say in this anyway.
But I digress!
The third book of The Saga of the Redeemed, Dead But Once, is now available for sale! I’m doing publicity stuff, too! See my interview over on Dan Koboldt’s blog, or my guest post over with Bishop O’Connell! And now we come to my own little sales pitch: casting the movie of the book which will never be made into a movie! Will this entice you to buy? WHO KNOWS?
There’s only one way to find out, right? So:
Played by: Neil Patrick Harris
Tyvian is suave, debonair, and also a lot of trouble. Harris’s portrayal of Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother sets him up well for the role, I think. He’s fit without being too bulky, he’s good-looking in a rakish sort of way, and I could totally see him complaining about sub-par wine.
Played by: Emily Blunt
Myreon is courageous, determined, and willing to get her hands dirty in the name of justice. It’s taken me a while to narrow down the right choice for her, but when I saw Edge of Tomorrow, I knew she was my girl. Ms. Blunt can play the Gray Lady with style, I tell you.
Played by: Tom Holland
Much like Myreon, it’s taken me a while to nail this one down. This is, in large part, because I just couldn’t identify any 14-year-old actors for prior books. For Dead But Once, though, Artus is 16 and on the threshold of manhood, and nobody’s been doing that better in an action/adventure setting than Tom Holland’s brilliant portrayal of Peter Parker in the MCU. He’d be perfect for my idealistic, somewhat naive, and desperately-trying-to-be-cool Artus.
Played by: Michelle Pfeiffer
Lyrelle Reldamar, the most powerful sorceress in the world, is a woman who has seen to it that she’s aged gracefully. She’s stunning and forceful – when she walks into a room, everyone stares. She is a queen even among other royalty, and I think Pfeiffer has the charisma and the look to pull the role off very well. She also could, conceivably, be seen as a plausible mother to Neil Patrick Harris.
Played by: Gwendolyn Christie
Now, Christie would definitely be mostly CGI in this role, since Hool is an enormous hairy gnoll and she is nothing of the kind. But I think she has the physicality, the voice, and the presence to pull off the powerful Lady Hool and, conversely, when Hool is wearing her shroud, Christie could easily pull off the look of “Hool pretending to be a human” with all the intimidating glares and sharp words that such a thing entails.
Played by: Unknown
Much like Artus in earlier books, I’m not really sure what young person we could find to play the (also mostly CGI) gnoll pup. They’d need to be able to stand on their head, for one thing, and their human-as-puppy impersonation would need to be spot on. I’m open to suggestions.
Played by: Andrew Garfield
I don’t know about you, but something about Andrew Garfield’s face just has “I’m a teenage jerk-face” written all over it. Valen is a bit older than Artus, a bully, but is a charismatic member of Eretherian society besides that, and something about Garfield’s mug just fits the bill.
Dame Velia Hesswyn, Countess of Davram
Played by: Dame Judy Dench
Countess Velia is past her prime and yet is a powerful voice in Eretherian society and an eminent member of the peerage. She is constantly plotting and scheming to advance her own house, and bears herself with dignity at all times. Dench could play anything, of course, but this I think she could hit out of the park.
Played by: Anne Hathaway
The woman plotting to kill Tyvian Reldamar by any means necessary and the woman Tyvian Reldamar can’t help but be drawn to has to be somebody special. Hathaway’s excellent portrayal of Catwoman (in the otherwise terrible Dark Knight Rises) shows that she has the capacity to be playful and sexy and dangerous all in one.
Played by: Ron Perlman
You guys, you guys – I think I finally nailed this one. I’ve had a lot of trouble in the past thinking of an actor who could physically embody the imposing and violent Sahand while also having the ability to deliver a perfect villain’s monologue in a booming baritone. Ron Perlman is my man. The Mad Prince (in my mind) could not look more like Perlman if he tried, and his delicious threats would sound so good in his voice.
Played by: Simon Baker
Xahlven is a tough one, if only because he has to fit into that Reldamar phenotype, be a bit older than Tyvian, and be arguably more handsome. He needs a brilliant smile and a smooth voice, too. Baker, I think, fits the bill, though I haven’t seen him in anything other than The Mentalist, so I don’t know how well he can play the villain. In any case, him, Pfeiffer, and Harris would make for an interesting family dynamic, I bet.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. There are a lot of secondary characters out there I didn’t get to, but here’s the core of the book, for sure. I think it would make a pretty cool movie, myself. Of course, I would, wouldn’t I?
What do you think?
TYVIAN IS BACK, ladies and gentlemen!
For those of you just joining us since the last book released (about 18 months ago), this is the story of Tyvian Reldamar, archcriminal and impeccable dresser, who has been cursed with a magic ring that forces him to do the “right” thing. It has tortured him now for two books in a row and its been very, very difficult to get the damned ring taken off and as a result of all his forced “nobility” he’s wound up with, well…
Friends, lovers, and allies. And enemies. Lots and lots of enemies.
And, indirectly, a hell of a lot of money.
The novels are packed with action and intrigue, dueling and sorcery, and a fair amount of clever repartee. I’ve pitched it as “James Bond in a fantasy world” which is a slight exaggeration, but not by much – Tyvian is the smug prick you hate but also love but also want to be when you grow up. And this is the story of his long journey to becoming less of a prick. It’s harder than it sounds.
This book is written so that if you haven’t read the first two books, you can still read this one and follow the plot (though you will be missing a few things here and there–that’s somewhat unavoidable), so there are no excuses, blog followers! Get it! Read it! Give me glowing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (or any reviews, really – I’m not picky)!
Want to know more about book 3? Well, I’ll be posting a fair amount in the coming week, but for starters, check this out:
A brilliant schemer never rests, but for Tyvian Reldamar, he might finally be over his head. The Saga of the Redeemed continues with Dead But Once, Auston Habershaw’s latest fantasy following The Oldest Trick and No Good Deed.
Arch-criminal Tyvian Reldamar has gotten complacent.
For him, he’s reached the pinnacle of all he’s really hoping to achieve: he’s got money, he’s got women (some of which aren’t even trying to kill him), and he’s got his loyal friends and family nearby and safe.
Except…maybe not so safe.
Because this is Eretheria, a city known as much for its genteel aristocracy as for its diabolical scheming. Long without a king, the scions of the ruling families scrabble for control–including levying cruel taxes and drafts on the peasantry in order to wage “polite” wars against each other.
And now, of course, Tyvian is finding himself drawn into it.
With a swashbuckling flare, old fans and new readers alike will be swept up into this world of magic, crime, and political intrigue where life is cheap and justice too expensive.
Got something to show you guys:
Amazon has the release date as March 27th, 2018. Go here to pre-order.
What’s it about? Well, here’s a brief teaser I whipped up just now (I’m sure it will be subject to change):
After years of staying one step ahead of his enemies, Tyvian Reldamar has finally made it. He and his friends now live incognito in the posh city of Eretheria, living the high life and rubbing elbows with the city’s elite.
That is until someone starts a vicious rumor about Tyvian – they say he is the long-lost heir to the empty Eretherian throne.
Now, hounded by assassins in a city on the verge of popular revolt, Tyvian has to find a way to placate the devious noble houses while also protecting the peasantry and avoiding civil war. And all with that damned conscience-amplifying ring fused to his hand.
It’s a tall order, but if anybody can do it, it’s Tyvian.
But it just might kill him.
Exciting, no? Hold on to your powdered wigs, Tyvian fans! More adventure is coming your way in March!*
(*-barring any unforeseen delays or changes beyond my control)
Hi, folks! More fun stuff about me has hit the inter-tubes. I have an interview up on Grim Tidings Podcast, where the guys ask me about all kinds of things, from my Writers of the Future win to how I got an agent/book deal to my favorite edition of Dungeons and Dragons and so on. Go check it out here!
Man, do I ever talk a lot, huh? Sheesh.
Every author, from time to time, imagines what their books would look like as a movie of television show. Now, the vast majority of us never have that experience, granted, and an even smaller sliver of those that do actually see the book come to life in a way they imagined it, but that doesn’t stop us from trying anyway. So, I’ve been thinking about how to cast my books, and this is what I’ve come up with.
Ron Perlman (Banric Sahand)
So, first on the list is the big bad from Book I, the Mad Prince of Dellor, Banric Sahand. I needed an actor who was big and an imposing presence, somebody with a big voice and who can be really menacing. I got Ron Perlman, which I think is pretty damned spot-on. He’s been playing a lot of heroes in the movies of late, but this guy can play a hell of a villain.
And that’s just what Sahand is.
Michelle Pfeiffer (Lyrelle Reldamar)
Tyvian’s mother needs to look regal and sharp. She needs to bear her age well and have the Reldamar eyes. This is a tough one – I had a lot of ideas here – but I settled on Michelle Pfeiffer for her ability to command a scene above most other things.
Levi Miller (Artus)
It’s something of a fool’s game to bother casting somebody in their early adolescence, since in two or three years this kid will look nothing like Artus anymore, but this guy (from the movie Pan) is the right age with the right look and so on. Granted, if the movie ever were really made (and I’m not holding my breath, superfans), I’d honestly expect the Artus role to go to an unknown. You’d need somebody to grow with the role, in any event, as those who are reading No Good Deed right now can probably attest.
Charlize Theron (Myreon Alafarr)
Myreon is supposed to be tall, graceful, and no-nonsense, all of which Theron can definitely pull off with panache. She’s also able to effortlessly take Tyvian’s breath away, and Theron does that to me, why would Tyvian be any different?
Part of me, though, would like to see Theron play Lyrelle, though, if for no other reason than her portrayal of the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman.
Gwendoline Christie (Hool)
Since Hool is mostly going to be CGI, what I was mostly looking for here would be the voice. Christie’s voice fits really well, but I also gave some serious thought to Viola Davis. In any event, it should be a woman with a relatively deep voice or someone with a lot of vocal force. Plenty of options there, I suppose, but Christie was who jumped to mind first.
Neil Patrick Harris (Tyvian Reldamar)
Took me a long, long time to nail this one down. I went from Damian Lewis to Chris Pine to any number of other leading men, but I’ve settled here, on Harris, because he’s got the best damned smirk in the business, and that is Tyvian’s go-to expression. He’s also got the right build (though Harris is a bit too tall), and we’ve all seen that he knows how to dress, so yeah, he’s got the whole thing sewn up. Honestly, to some extent Tyvian is a weaponized Barney Stinson, so it all makes a perverse kind of sense.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I have ideas for some of the more minor characters in the two books, too, but let’s not get bogged down in minutiae. I’ll let the casting directors have fun with Carlo diCarlo or Gethrey Andolon, Hacklar Jaevis and Maude Telversham. Authors can’t have all the fun, can we?
Hey there, Tyvian Reldamar fans! It’s time to delve back into Tyvian’s massively dysfunctional life as the second book in the Saga of the Redeemed, No Good Deed, has been released in e-format TODAY! Yes, today! Behold:
Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.
That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody is playing a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.
Tyvian’s own mother.
Still skeptical of the magnificence in store? Then read an excerpt of the book on Laura Bickle’s blog!
Want to know how I got to this magnificent turn of my fledgling writing career? Head over to Michelle4Laughs site and hear all about my journey to publication, with its twists, turns, and incredibly long wait!
“But Habershaw,” you say, “that’s about your first book! How was writing the second one different?” Well, as luck would have it, Teresa Frohock has a post by me describing that very thing! Check it out!
Over the course of the week I’m going to be making a lot of noise, here, but to give you a heads-up, here’s a handy-dandy overview of the blog tour I’ll be doing at 3 Partners in Shopping. The first feature over at VoodooPrincess is already up!
Let’s see…what else…oh, right! BUY LINKS:
Go go go! Read! Also: Review! Thanks to all of you for your positivity and support, and here’s to more books in the future!
On the one hand, I could make this blog post about how I was getting on the T the other day (Boston’s subway system) and saw a LCD screen displaying the warning that hoverboards are not allowed on the MBTA, which I take to be proof positive that we are, in fact, living in the future (no matter how lame that future has turned out to be). I’m not, though. I’m here to talk about what it’s like writing while stuff you’ve written is being published. Because it’s weird.
Did you know I have a novel coming out tomorrow? No? Why the hell not? Well, I do – NO GOOD DEED comes out tomorrow in e-book form (sold wherever fine e-books are found). Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances come up and express how excited I must be and congratulations and so on. What’s weird, though, is that I’m not thinking all that much about NO GOOD DEED. I mean, yeah, I am excited and I’m very pleased it’s coming out and so on, but my thoughts aren’t on it that much. I’m on to the next book, you see. I’m eyeball deep in the umpteenth draft of my next book, trying to pry my way out of plot problems, trying to breathe life into the characters and so on. When somebody interrupts that internal thought stream to talk about NO GOOD DEED I’m forced to stop and remind myself “oh, right -everybody else is still six months behind me!”
Writing and publishing stuff steadily means there is no time for your to rest on your laurels. You’ve got to keep going, keep writing, keep editing, keep submitting – there is no “break,” really. So, while the thing you finished a year ago is just getting a publishing contract now and won’t hit shelves for another six months, you’re still moving. You kinda have to push what you’ve done out of your head for the stuff you’re doing now and the stuff you want to do next. When the things you publish (stories, novels, whatever) do hit print, it’s enormously gratifying, but it’s also a bit like traveling back in time. “Oh yeah,” you think, “I remember this now – that story was pretty cool!”
So, it’s a little weird. There’s the time-lag between you and the audience – they’re behind you, reading the stories you worked so hard to create, and you’re out in front, still creating new ones nobody will see for months. When you hear from them, it’s like a radio message from the past, telling you how you did all that time ago.
And that’s totally awesome, mind you. But it’s still a little weird.
The blog tour for NO GOOD DEED gets under way tomorrow – watch this space for updates! The book releases then, so be sure to pick up your copy!
If you like paperback instead, I’ve received intel indicating the paperback release of the book will be August 9th, 2016.
- I’ll be on an episode of Grim Tidings Podcast on this Friday, 6/24. I think.
- Again, if you’re in the Boston area, consider checking out a reading and lecture on world building I’ll be giving at the Hingham Public Library on June 30th, from 7:00pm-8:30pm.
That’s all for now! Be talking to you all soon!
So, time for a writing update!
Thing have been going very well, lately. Lots to update everybody with, so I’ll start with the short fiction news and move into the novels.
Short Fiction News
Galaxy’s Edge Sale!
My short story “Lord of the Cul-de-sac” was just purchased by Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge. This is a great market with a typically stunning table of contents and edited by the man who has won the most Hugo awards in history, so that’s pretty damned sweet. No word yet on when my story will appear, but I’ll keep you all posted.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sale!
I mentioned this a few weeks back, but I’m still pumped that I sold a story to CC Finlay over at F&SF.
My story “The Mithridatist” (set in Tyvian’s world, Saga of the Redeemed fans!) went on a heck of a journey through the pro-markets, garnering personal and, dare I say, glowing rejection letters from places like Tor.com before finally earning itself a home. Again, no word on release yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
I also recently sold a story to Escape Pod podcast about a month ago. It’s free and in audio or text. “Adaptation and Predation” is a space opera-esque story set in my Union of Stars world and has received a very positive response. I’ve even gotten some fan mail! Yay!
Then there’s this as-yet-untitled Time-Travel anthology over on Chappy Fiction, which bought/will buy my story “The Day It All Went Sideways” dealing with two-bit gangsters and fifth-dimensional time. I’m being called an “anchor” for the antho, which is a great compliment and I’m excited to see what Zach Chapman puts together!
Beyond that, I’ve got another five stories or so on submission to various places on and in various stages of review and another two I need to spiff up and send out again. Pretty good haul for a guy who spends *most* of his time writing novels!
The first book in the Saga of the Redeemed, The Oldest Trick, and its two halves (The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood) are currently selling very well – particularly the two halves – thanks to a price promotion and a BookBub at the end of last year. The Iron Ring peaked at #115 overall for Amazon (#2 for Fantasy) on the day of the BookBub “Book of the Day” promotion, which is mind-bogglingly awesome. It and Iron and Blood have been selling in the low 5-figures in rank ever since, which, in Amazon terms, is really goddamned good. So thank you, all of you, who have read!
That said, I could still use more reviews! I have ranked up a few over the past month or two (all very positive – thanks!), but you can never have too many reviews and, given how Amazon’s algorithm works and how important word-of-mouth is for book sales, more reviews is essential! If you’ve read any of my books, I would be ever so thankful if you left a review (even if you didn’t like it very much!).
Now for the kinda-sorta bad news. My editor at Harper Voyager has left for another publisher and, as a result, I have a new editor (hi, Rebecca!). Since she has just been saddled with a lot of my former editor’s old workload, she’s had to delay the publication of No Good Deed again. Bummer. It’s new release date is June 21st, 2016. This is disappointing, but at least now it seems like that date will be firm. I’ve also seen the cover art, which is really pretty awesome. Not time to reveal it just yet, but very pretty, trust me.
So, yet, Tyvian will be yet a few more months before he arrives in his second adventure. Of course, that’s typical Tyvian – never arrive on time when you can arrive late and make a splash. This also gives people world-wide more time to read the first book and be ready when the second comes out, so silver linings abound.
Overall, then, a great batch of news. I leave you, Tyvian fans, with the teaser text from No Good Deed, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I hope it sounds as intriguing as I hope it is:
Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.
That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody plays a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part.
The worst part is that somebody is his mother.
Picture me: I’m nine years old, lying on my back beneath the skylight in my bedroom, rough carpet biting into my shoulders. I’m reading The Hobbit, enthralled. It’s summer. My mom is somewhere downstairs, yelling for me to get outside and play. I pretend I don’t hear her. I’m not there, you see. I’m in Mirkwood, starving with the dwarves and stumbling after elfish feasts in the dark. The last thing I want to do is go outside and play.
When I was a kid, I started making up imaginary places. Even before I read Tolkien, I was constructing cosmologies for my He-Man figures and establishing a chain of command among my stuffed animals. At the beach, the sand castles I built each had a story to them. They got names: Rampartiste, Gondria, Trudéal. I was the kid who wondered at the economic structure of Candy Land—did they eat it? Was the candy in the landscape distinct from the candy that made up their bodies? Did anybody ever get eaten and, if so, what was the punishment?
I was a weird kid. I know.
Fast-forward to 1991. A friend of mine is telling me about this game called Dungeons and Dragons. “Is it like a video game?” I asked, trying to wrap my head around it.
“No! You just write up your character on a sheet of paper and then somebody is the Dungeon Master.”
That piqued my interest. “What’s the Dungeon Master do?”
“He makes up the world and the monsters and stuff. Then you go and fight them.”
Makes up the world, you say? At that point, I had notebooks full of video games I wanted to create, primarily because those were the only things I knew how to script (level-boss-level-boss—a pretty simple plot). I tossed them away and started writing my own Dungeons and Dragons world. My parents gave me a copy of the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook for my 13th birthday. That book changed my life.
Dungeons and Dragons carried me along my obsession with building worlds until I got old enough to realize I couldn’t make a living playing D&D (at least, I don’t think so. If anybody has any hot leads, let me know). So, how did a fellow make a living creating stories and worlds? After some trial and error (tried acting, directing, and a bunch of theater stuff), I settled on writing science fiction and fantasy. Mostly fantasy.
I have always thought of myself as more of a novelist. Novels were what I grew up reading, and novels were what I wanted to write. When I got out of college, I rejected the prospect of a stable career teaching high school English and, instead, flung myself into writing novels, figuring I could make a living at it after a few years.
Okay, you can stop laughing now. No, seriously. Cut it out.
Anyway, after getting my MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, I started to figure out that short fiction could give me the ability to hone my craft more effectively. It also could give me the opportunity to submit more work and possibly get some publishing credits that might help me towards my eventual goal of being a novelist. I put the novels on hold for a bit and threw myself into short fiction. After a few years, I got a few sales, but nothing big.
“A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration” was probably my tenth entry into the Writers of the Future Contest (before my win, I got one Honorable Mention, two Semifinalists, and a Finalist finish). The story is set in a world I’ve been creating for years and is far, far bigger than just the city of Illin. The challenge for me was getting the giant, sweeping landscapes of my imagination to fit into a short story. Abe’s story is part of a larger tapestry, but the story also needs to stand on its own. That took some doing. When I sent it into the contest, I was on the verge of trunking it—I didn’t think it worked. Shows what I know.
Meanwhile, the week before I found out I won the Contest, I was offered a three-book deal through Harper Voyager. The last year has been a whirlwind of writing, deadlines, and learning the publishing industry in a very hands-on, no-holds-barred kind of way. The contest win has been a vital part of what success I have had thus far, and will continue to guide me in the future.
An omnibus of my first two novels, called The Oldest Trick, releases this Tuesday, August 11th (in e-book form). I am currently working on the fourth book in the series and, in the photo, you can see the wall of index cards in my office I used in the final stages of editing the third book. I’m off and rolling and I don’t intend to stop, and the Writers of the Future Contest has given me an edge in the business that is frankly irreplaceable. For that, I am eternally grateful.
In that vein, let me entreat you all to pre-order The Oldest Trick! Below is the description and links to where you might buy it, currently only in e-book form. The print version, I have been told, will be coming “a few weeks later.”
Compiled for the first time, The Oldest Trick comprises The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood in the Saga of the Redeemed
Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.
Revenge just got complicated.
On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.
Help a budding author out! My publicity footprint is fairly small, so if you like the book, tell your friends! Leave a review! Thanks so much for all your support so far!
When I sat down to start writing the Saga of the Redeemed, I knew where it was all going. Maybe not on a micro level (like, the individual scenes for all the books were pretty damn far from being plotted out), but in general, I knew where I wanted Tyvian Reldamar to start and I knew where I wanted him to end up (don’t worry – I won’t spoil anything). I also knew it wouldn’t be contained in a single book. Probably not even three books.
How did I know this? Well, I don’t really know. I think it was because of two reasons, and I think these two reasons are pretty important factors to consider anytime you’re planning to write a book or series of books:
#1: How Big is the World?
I don’t mean physically, either. Maybe “deep” is a better word – basically, how much story is there to explore in the setting you’ve created? If you don’t visit every single nation on your world map, will the audience miss it? How much of the world matters in the story, anyway? For Tolkien, of course, he had a vast mythology and epic forces of good and evil clashing, and so he needed a bunch of books to give the story the space he felt it deserved. Likewise, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files just keep going and going and going because it always feels like there’s more to discover. On the other hand, there’s The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – an excellent, excellent book, mind you – which is contained in a single volume. Why? Well, Maia’s story fits there, neatly and cleanly. There simply isn’t a need for more.
#2: How Much Does the Character Change?
This is crucial. For the most part, stories are about how the protagonist changes as a result of their experiences. Now, there are exceptions (*cough*JamesBond*cough*), but mostly that’s true of almost every story, regardless of genre. We are reading to experience some kind of change, subtle though it may be. The further a journey your character has, the more books you’re going to need to write. Tyvian, in my novels, begins as a shallow, narcissistic, self-involved criminal. The story is about his slow change from that to…something else. Now, I don’t think people change on a dime, nor do I think stories of redemption accomplished in a weekend are convincing (sure, sure – Uncle Paul found Jesus this weekend and is going to stop drinking – what’s this, the seventh time?), and so I feel that Tyvian’s shift must be a gradual one. It is going to take several books to accomplish.
The series, however, presents some significant challenges for the new author, such as myself. At a basic level, you need to get a publisher to keep buying your books (or, I suppose, you can self-publish, but then you need to keep paying for cover art and editing and so on and so forth, so the basic problem is the same, even if the specifics are wholly different). Are my books selling? Well, sure they are! They are pretty steadily floating between 1000th and 2000th place on Amazon for Fantasy novels! So…yeah, people are buying them, but nobody is putting a down-payment on a summer home. I’ve got a contract through Book 3 (which, technically, is Book 2), but I need two more books to finish the story to a point where I feel satisfied walking away.
Can I get a contract for those other two? Can I score an agent to represent me? I don’t know. It’s worrying, frankly, and it’s something you need to consider about your series. They might not want to publish books 5 and 6, no matter how dear they are to you.
Of course the other, perhaps more daunting problem (even if it is more under your control) is actually writing a satisfying series of novels. You know how you read the first book in a series and you’re like “whoah! That was the most awesome thing ever!” and then you read the next one and you’re like “Oh…uhhh…it was okay, I guess,” and then by the time you’re at book 3 you’re totally fed up and the story is lame and you don’t care about the characters anymore?
Yeah, nobody does that on purpose.
All writers try to make their second and third and fourth books every bit as awesome as the first one. The problems, however, are two-fold as I see it. A sequel must:
- Be true to the original in tone and feel.
- Advance the story so that things are totally different.
Clearly, these two things are potentially at odds. Doing it well requires you to have a keen grasp of what matters in your story and what does not. This is harder than you think, too. First off, you’ll probably guess wrong – the things you love about your series might not be the same things your audience loves (hence: WRITE REVIEWS, PEOPLE!). Secondly, even assuming you guess correctly, you still need to change things to keep it fresh enough. Remember the Star Wars prequels? Remember how boring they were? Well, each Episode did not sufficiently advance the story we cared about enough to make it work and, furthermore, the world as presented was not deep enough to support all three films. Could you have done them so they worked? Sure! But we would have had to focus on Anakin and his gradual change into a monster rather than on four-armed lightsaber duels and CGI effects.
The pitfall of keeping it fresh, though, is losing the thing that made it fun to begin with. To use George RR Martin’s series, A Sword of Ice and Fire, I’ve basically checked out of the books at this point because the thing that kept me invested – the struggle between the Lannisters and the Starks – is basically over and done with. Everybody I loved is either dead now or changed so as to become lame. The books go on and the world is certainly deep enough, but the characters just aren’t there anymore for me. I’m out.
So, to circle back, I find myself writing Book 4 of The Saga of the Redeemed at the moment and I need to keep reminding myself of why I love this series in the first place (answer: the characters) and what has to change in the story to keep it fresh (maddeningly enough: the characters). It’s a balance, and a difficult one. I mean, honestly, how many more swordfights can Tyvian get in before it becomes boring?
(looks at notes)
Gosh, I hope it’s a lot.
Just wanted to take a moment to remind new readers of the Saga of the Redeemed that the first two books are being released in one volume – titled The Oldest Trick – which is how I always intended them to read. A great opportunity to get started and save yourself some dough, to boot. It is currently available for pre-order from:
And probably on Apple iBooks somewhere, but I can’t figure out for the life of me how to find it.
Anyway, preorder today!