While gearing up to get The Lethean and its sequels published, I’m working on manuscripts for the next series project, though it certainly didn’t start out as a series.
Over the last several years, I’ve been jotting down notes and incomplete chapters for various book ideas, though never quite able to make much of any of them. I wound up with some twenty-odd files with different concepts, characters, and plot ideas, but they had two problems.
1) No complete story concept for any one of them.
And, 2) All were in a variety of genres.
At first this didn’t seem like such a bad thing. I was still getting my feet wet and deciding whether I wanted to pursue writing as a career, and I wasn’t quite sure with which genre I felt most comfortable. Something about the idea of spanning multiple genres appealed to me.
As time went on, however, I started to feel all too overwhelmed by these various projects, and lost motivation to work on them because I kept bouncing from one to another as ideas came to me and had to keep switching gears to do so.
Then I woke up one morning with a wild idea:
Could I string them all into one series?
It was a crazy notion. How on earth was I going to take all these different novel concepts and connect them in some way that made any sense whatsoever?
Once I had the idea, though, I couldn’t let it go (yes, I can be quite stubborn), so I wrote down all the titles on little slips of paper, and spent three full days pushing these slips around my coffee table, trying to figure out how the characters and plot in one could smoothly lead to those in another.
I struggled and arranged and fought and rearranged, got angry and walked away, got a spark of inspiration and came back — rinse and repeat, three days in a row.
“If I change this character to be a little more like this, then he could live in this country or be the son of this other character in this other book, and if I tweak the timeline in this one a bit, I can make it fall right into place before this other story, and…”
On and on it went, and finally, by some miracle (and by a couple ideas being thrown out, since I was never too strongly enamored of them anyway), the last little piece of paper slipped into place, and I had fourteen book concepts that all fit into one cycle.
It also threw me quite firmly into the fantasy genre.
This is perfectly wonderful to me, since I began to realize I’m most comfortable writing when I get to literally make it all up. No trying to squeeze magic or the paranormal into the real world (like I struggled with in The Lethean). No, this would be anything and everything I could possibly imagine.
And now I’m having an absolute blast putting this fantasy world together. It’s already an overwhelming proposition in terms of work, but as I sit here making notes and writing chapters, I can only imagine how much fun writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien had when creating their own fantasy worlds.
Everything from the gods and creation of the world, to inventing cultures and religions, to creating countries and their demographics, and forming characters with their own unique physical and personality traits — hell, even making up words, calendars, holidays, and rituals has been a truly delightful experience. I’m having way too much fun disappearing inside my little fantasy world of the Shifting Isles, and I can’t wait to bring it all to light.
Here I sit, laughing at myself, thinking that I used to scratch my head over the fact that Scott Lynch had already managed to name and summarize all the forthcoming books in his Gentleman Bastard series, and wondering how he could have possibly predetermined it all. Now I know.
And oh, what fun it is. 😀