This is the fun stage. Having this big pile of paper arrive, and seeing drafts of the cover design, have made me rather excited to say the least. There are maps to be included (and potentially an extra illustration), but only now does Drakenfeld start to take the shape of a real book. It seems an opportunity for reinvention. The whole package, from story conception to the cover itself, feels more considered and mature. Yes, I’m definitely excited.
“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years with treaties and laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, a long harmony has existed, nations have flourished, and civil wars are a thing of the past. But corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive…
Upon receiving news of his father’s death and recalled to his home city of Tryum, Drakenfeld is soon embroiled in a mystifying case. King Licintius’ sister, Lacanta, has been found brutally murdered during a night of festivities – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. Despite hundreds of revellers, no one saw anything. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld soon has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty.
With his assistant, Leana, he embarks on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, revisiting the ancient streets of his past, tracking down leads, interviewing suspects and making new enemies in his search for the truth.
His determination to find the killer soon makes him a target, as the underworld of Tryum focuses on this new threat to their power…
Publication date: October, 2013
Flavours: fantasy, locked-room mystery, crime, historical, nostalgia.
Aesthetics: Ancient Rome, Byzantium.
Male to female death ratio: pretty much in harmony. Despite the first body being female.
Ethnicities: a real-world comparison being people from the Mediterranean through to Asia. Drakenfeld in my eyes is very much of Persian origin.
Magic: viewed as per the ancient world. Sort of.
Ghosts: real, probably.
German copies of Stadt der Verlorenen (or City of Ruin to you old-school English-speakers). You can see the cover art better on Amazon, but it certainly does come out well. I love the mood of theses German editions – they’re evocative, knowingly fantastical, without descending into nonsense.
For those wondering, the edits have pretty much been finished and handed back to my editor – who likes the changes (always useful). There may well be one or two very minor things to massage out, but the bulk of it has been worked on and we move on to the copyedit, which is marginally less humbling.
1. It’s definitely going to be called Drakenfeld.
2. We have a blurb – I’m not sure when we’re going to release it. It’s probably the sort of thing we’ll sit on until the right time, but then Amazon auto-updates and it gets out there anyway.
3. I’ve discovered Drakenfeld shares the name with some sort of ceramic glaze.
4. With distance (and you need distance to really assess these things) this is the book I’m most proud of – and that’s a personal perspective, of course. Other people might think it’s not as good as one of the Red Sun books, but I hope I’m now writing with much more subtlety and consideration. Each novel is a failure of some kind, but I like to think I failed less with Drakenfeld.
5. Still awaiting the cover art. Word on the street is that it’s going to be quite different to the previous series. Not a hooded figure in sight, you’ll be pleased to know. I think there’s going to be some sort of reference to the classical world – probably more inspiration than it being a fresco, but I’m looking forward to seeing the new direction.
6. There will be ARCs.
I’ve written a piece for the Tor UK blog on having my first two books receive new covers, and on being able to revisit Nights of Villjamur to make certain changes to the text:
Who doesn’t like getting a new coat? All right, I know that some of you will love to fester in the trendy / dodgy peacoat you bought over a decade ago, but fashions change whether you like it or not. (Admit it – you’re getting older and you don’t like the change so much.) Anyway, the world of publishing does have to change. What appealed five years ago to the average punter stepping into a bookstore on a wet Wednesday probably won’t work today. Sometimes, you need to freshen up book covers to appeal to new readers.
These came in the post today – which means that the new edition of Nights of Villjamur should be on the shelves shortly. These will probably be phased into stock as and when bookstores reorder them in over the next few months. Amazon should have them online pretty soon though. And I believe it’ll take a few more weeks or so until City of Ruin makes it in, due to there still being some books at the Pan Macmillan warehouse.
Anyway. It’s going to be great to have the series in stores with one coherent look.
For completists or those looking to start the series, there’s a new edition of Nights of Villjamur which will be published on the 25th of October. Look for the above cover art (I’m sure Amazon will have it updated soon). I also think that ebooks will be updated with the new version, so acquiring the new edition might vary depending on your chosen device. Let me know if you have any problems with that and I’ll chase it up.
There are about 200 minor alterations, all in all. Some of the more unusual words have been cut out and replaced. The occasional bad sentence has been removed. Swearing has been reduced. Ultimately, they’re to make for a smoother reading experience. It’s not a full re-edit by any means, but it’s certainly allowed me to get rid of the worst of those first-novel excesses.
I’ll be at the Wantage Literary Festival on the 3rd of November with Ben Aaronovitch, Mark Chadbourn and Mary Hoffman. The panel is a general fantasy and science fiction discussion, so there should be some pretty broad chatter.
We’re actually, and rather bizarrely, going to be having the panel at Wantage’s Shush nightclub at 3.30pm, that most coveted of DJ slots. Bring your glow-sticks.
Anyway, more details here – come and say hello.
Still working on the edits for the new Drakenfeld novel, which has gone back to being untitled – that’s a brief way of saying my original title was considered crap. Fair enough. I’m toying with the idea of just going with Drakenfeld, since the book is really about him as much as anything else.
The edits aren’t major, but there are plenty of ways to improve things. I actually really like being edited, though the process is a bit of a chore. I’m always amazed at the psychology of it all – how your foibles and thoughts seem to present themselves again and again. Not necessarily in terms of errors, but the things that seem to preoccupy you as a writer. Death is one of those things I think I’m still obsessed with – or maybe it’s part of my psyche. Hopefully I’m not simply regurgitating that theme in this book, but doing something slightly different with it. Can a writer ever escape those things though? Probably not.
I’ve tried to keep some distance between myself and genre for the past year, as well, which I think is only healthy for a genre writer from time to time. The older I get, the less things like genre taxonomy really appeals to me. Not even being focussed on categories or boundaries or debates about what makes a book fantasy has been rather liberating. I like to think the benefits are now showing in the book, but perhaps few will actually notice.
As for publication date, Drakenfeld is going to be published October 2013 now – not because of the edits, but to avoid clashes on the schedule. It also conveniently gives me more time to
be lazy work on refining the book that little bit more. I’m also told there will be proof copies, too, so reviewers will be able to get their hands on it earlier.
There have also been discussions on the cover art for the new book – I’m sure more than a few people will be pleased to know there’s not a hooded figure in sight…