As I half-expected, I’m launching into this novel two days ahead of schedule. I’ve done the reading I needed to do, gone through my source material, commissioned my map (actually made some updates today, found a better one), drawn my castle, and outlined my plot to the point that I think it is ready to go. The ending now works, and leads nicely onto the next one; I’m quite comfortable with the future plots of three more books after this one. (Right now I’m planning to do four, then see how things are going. I have other historical series in mind as well - Vikings, Romans, Greeks, so I’m not short on ideas in this genre.)
There were a couple of last-minute hitches. One of my plot points looked like it had collapsed this morning when a new book arrived, one that I’ve been waiting for, and it seemed to have invalidated half my plot. One panic and an hour’s thought later, and I realized that it had actually enriched it somewhat; I can’t go into too many details, but there is now considerable more chaos and confusion in the area than I had conceived, and with a little tweaking, all of it still fits into what little there is of the historical record. (The Siege of Saruj, if anyone is interested.)
I’m pretty much ready with my Ospreys. I say pretty much, because annoyingly, I only have one of them in PDF at the moment; the book is on its way, and has been on its way for a while. Hopefully it will be here tomorrow, it’s so much easier to flick through pages on the desk than try to skim through a file. Certainly it should be here well before I finish the book; my target end-date is August 7th. I should have the map before then as well, sometime around the end of the month, and though I’ve got one for working purposes, it’ll be nice to have the real thing to refer to.
Why not wait, you ask? Hold off a few days until these things arrive? Because when you reach the boil on a plot, the worst thing you can do is wait and start to second-guess yourself. Once you are ready to go, it is best to just go, to get on with it and write, get some words on paper and commit yourself mentally to the plot, the characters, the setting, the story. Even if everything isn’t totally optimal, I’m still close enough that I don’t anticipate any serious problems. I’ve got a lot of soundtracks on hand to play, and I’ve even run through a lot of them already, the notes are printed out, and I’ve written out my progress track.
So, at last I can, I suppose, tell you a few things about the book. It is set in the year 1105, on the Upper Euphrates on the southern borders of the County of Edessa, about mid-way between Edessa and Aleppo, two of the major cities of the region. The lead is a real figure, a man named William de Albin, and aside from his name, we don’t know a damn thing about him. (The only extant reference is that he fought with Tancred during the Crusades. I picked him because, well, I liked the name.)
It’s going to be around 48,000 words long, and I think that’s going to be the standard for the series - a little more on the length in a post I’ll make later, and will retail at $2.99/£1.99, with a release date of some time in September. The ‘frame title’ of the series is ‘Knight of Outremer’, and the four books I currently have projected are, ‘Sword of the Traitor’, ‘Sword of the Usurper’, ‘Sword of the Assassin’, and ‘Sword of the King’. That will constitute ‘season one’, if you like; I have some outlines for a sequel series as well. As to why it’s settled down at four books, I haven’t really got the slightest idea. Well, I can do a little better than that, I guess; think of it as a trilogy plus one - the first book to introduce setting, characters, concepts, and the next three books as an interconnected story. That’s part of the way to it, in any case. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out in practice!