writing & publishing

Sequel Blues

A little angst. I finished Nights of Villjamur thinking that no publisher would take it. I wrote this book I hoped would go into new territory, some genre-bending fantasy, whilst keeping readers in touch with more trad markets. When the pen had been put down, I was thinking about dozens of new ideas, radically different directions. Then of course, Peter Lavery waltzed into things and said, yes please. More!

So, I’ve been working around following ideas. Sure, I wanted it do be a ‘series’, that word that strikes fear into the heart of many a reader. But I wanted it to stand alone too. Now I’m thinking about even more new territory within the framework of epic fantasy. Still doing this Epic Noir. I’m fascinated with the taxonomy of this genre.

It’s pretty tough taking your mind back a few months. You have to remember what your intentions were. Remember where you were taking the bigger arcs, should anyone care enough to buy the novel.

I was chatting to big George Mann at work, and he highlighted this split in fantasy between Peake and Tolkien, the two schools of thought—as featured on the BBC Worlds of Fantasy series I’ve pretty much been working in between these philosophies, mixing the widescreen epic and the close, intense psychology and weirdness of the Peake school. And throwing in those elements of crime noir—which has it’s own set of literary conventions to play with. Anyway, the point is, it’s difficult developing ideas when you strive to be an innovator, as well as being commercial, and appealing to a wide audience. In doing New Stuff, you have to not turn off readers so much with what’s effectively an author masturbating on the page.

I suppose it all it comes down to is telling a good story in the first place, then telling it well, or stylishly, and then putting in your symbols and themes. But it’s certainly a bizarre place to be in. I’ve a new found respect for the best series authors to keep people entertained in the long haul. People might sneer and say it’s selling out—well, I’d say it’s tougher, and comes with more pressure, to entertain readers over so wide a plot.

I’m sure there was a point to this waffle. Maybe there wasn’t.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.