It's been a week since my last post; I hadn't intended it to be this long, but it's been a bit of a week. I have managed to progress significantly with my research, though, and over the next few days will be talking about some of the books I have read – some of them have obviously been more useful than others, though I've managed to find a lot of inspiration from pretty much everything I have read so far. This is the first time I've worked at this from the fictional standpoint, but I'm getting flashbacks to my dissertation. Very similar sort of feeling.
I'm getting a lot closer to the sense of what this story needs to be for me to make it work. In fact, I had what I consider to be the key breakthrough just this morning; rather than a more traditionally written historical epic, this one is going to be a lot more in the Robert E. Howard and Harold Lamb tradition – not surprising, given that the former certainly is one of my key influences – focusing on a single character rather than the three-POV story I had originally intended to tell. This is going to keep it manageable – because I am more comfortable with the short-novel format than I am with a longer series of works. Each of these will now be of a length more on par with the Alamo books, around 80k.
As to the lead? Well, according to the few accounts we have, the key figures in the final revolt that threw out the Northumbrians in 658 were a trio of ealdorman, major players in the kingdom, and I plan to focus on one of those – casting him as a surviving member of Penda's hearthguard, his key circle of elite warriors and companions – who survives the terrible final battle. Most of the key intriguing in the Mercian court that is of interest to me takes place in the early stages of the period in any case; after this the plot moves further afield, with the search for the lost heir of Penda and some interesting fun in other courts across England, primarily in Scotland and Wales...oh, those fun Picts!
This concept means I only need to focus on one court at a time; in my mind, it also makes it much more of an adventure, because the 'quest' element is the one that is really calling to me at the moment, roaming as it does around most of Anglo-Saxon England and beyond into the Celtic hinterlands – I'm still not sure at this point how far it is going to run, and that's a good thing – this is how I'm going to make it play into the discovery writing that is my wont, because my central character can roam within historical limits around all the events that were taking place in this critical period – and it really is a major one, with turmoils in most of the courts, civil wars sprouting up everywhere, invasions, all manner of fun to explore.
This will not be permanently open-ended, though – tempting as that is sounding as I write it – because the end plan remains to tie off the book with the end of the Mercian Revolt. Having said that, I suppose there is nothing at all stopping me from continuing the adventures of the central character on into further tomes, and that idea, funnily enough, is becoming more and more tempting as I type it! I suppose it will depend on how I feel at the time, and the desires of the readers, really. This is a period that interests me, more so the deeper I dig into it, and it seems logical enough that I should continue to delve into it for as long as the stories can come.
Hmm, what else to report? Well, I'll be starting the revisions to the third Alamo book in a week or two's time, with a projected release date around the 22nd of this month. Naturally, you will all be the first to know as soon as it all goes live! I'm looking forward to the response to this one; to answer the questions of a few of the reviewers – yes, this time the crew of Alamo actually get to do some exploring! The fourth Alamo book I intend to write in October for a November release. There will almost certainly be another historical series as well – the goal for 2014 is to have three series on the go, with three or four books in each in the year, though what exactly that third series will be is still something I am considering quite heavily. Currently – well, the list is pretty long. I suppose I could try and add a fourth series...