Most of my trip this summer will be done on bicycles, which have the dual virtues of being outdoors and of seeing things more closely and deeply than from cars or busses. I have a few upcoming novels and stories that need to feature some medieval-esque towns and castles, so France is always an excellent place to do research. I’ll also be spending a couple of days on the famed Mont St. Michel specifically for a book I’m writing that’s set in a similar monastery separated from the mainland by a causeway. So much opportunity for gothic fantasy there!
Archives for August 2021
In Southern France
Travel has been a huge part of my life since I was a young boy. I drove $200 beater cars so I wouldn’t waste money that could better be spent on plane tickets and learned to love youth hostels and the sounds of other people snoring because it meant I could go on longer trips. My wife and I are a lot better off financially now, of course, so for the last ten years we’ve been able to travel as often as our schedules allowed. But of course, Covid came along and we’ve all been largely stationary for the past twenty months.
With the minor miracle of effective vaccines and the greater miracle of health officers making tough decisions, travel is starting to open up again. It’s not easy, of course, and there’s never an absolute guarantee of safety, but both the risks and the inconveniences of following COVID protocols are manageable for us now. So, we’re off to France, specifically, Dordogne.
Writing Our Lady of Blades
Our Lady of Blades is the first book in the Duellist Series.
Story Journals are where I talk about the writing of the books I’m working on. I update these with the latest content at the top, so start from the bottom if this is new to you.
August 2021 – A return to the Court of Blades
Our Lady of Blades is one of the novels on which I’ve spent the most time not only writing but in long stretches of just thinking about the book, its characters, themes, and all the complex intertwining plots. It’s a mammoth project, but one that is now ready to get done . . . I hope!
January 7th – An incomparable work of unimaginable genius . . . or a mess, I’m not sure which.
This is by far the most complicated novel I’ve ever written from a structural perspective. It’s turning into The Count of Monte Cristo meets The Sixth Sense. May need to u-turn here somewhere . . .
December – Oh, hell, what am I doing?
Wrote myself not so much into a corner as a long, dark, and very deep hole in the ground. Now attempting to dig myself out.
November 21st – First 19K words meet with Jo’s approval
One of my favourite things about writing Greatcoats novels is working with editor-to-the-stars Jo Fletcher. In addition to being monumentally experienced and skilled in this arena, she’s also incredibly patient with me, and frequently agrees to read things that are nowhere near finished. Long story short, we’re in agreement now that this new opening is headed in the right direction.
One interesting note: so far Our Lady of Blades has more resonances with Traitor’s Blade in terms of approach than any of my other novels. I kind of like the idea of a return to that style.
November 1st – A new opening . . . and new problems.
There’s a strong Count of Monte Cristo vibe in my new opening, which I love, but by starting the novel the way I am, with the main character as a mysterious stranger who comes to town with their own devious plan, I’m going against a ton of modern narrative conventions. “Save The Cat” this ain’t.
October 15th – An excellent false start
Wrote the opening to the book and it had all the flair and style I was aiming for: swashbuckly, quirky, and full of intrigue. There’s just one teensy-weensy problem: it doesn’t work. I have this entire outline which makes perfect sense and has all the right dramatic beats but I’m realizing now that if I go ahead this way I’m going to end up writing an unintentional YA novel. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great coming of age story, but that’s what Spellslinger is for and I don’t want to dilute that series or this one.
So . . . back to the drawing board.
October 1st, 2018 – Duels, duels, and more duels.
This book is in many ways the biggest challenge for me since I first wrote Traitor’s Blade. The Duellist is meant to be a new series but set in the world of the Greatcoats, but I don’t want to repeat myself, so that means navigating new territory without any assurance that fans of the original Greatcoats series will want to come along.