Last night, I finally finished the draft of ‘Not In My Name’, and I can say without fear of contradiction that it has proven to be one of the hardest Alamo novels to write yet. I got around fifteen thousand words into it before ending up discarding the bulk of what I had written, simply because the plot wasn’t working. Characters would have been forced to do things that were not in their nature, everything was getting a bit contrived, and I was trying to pack in too many disparate plot threads. The solution was to start from scratch, and cut the plot down to the skeleton once again, before building it back up again from more solid foundations this time. The result is a pretty action-packed book, denser in plot and story than the original conception - so at least all was well that ended well! I’ve got some editing to do now, but I did quite a bit already while I was writing. Hopefully, you’ll see it on sale within the next ten days. Certainly well before the end of the month.
Work will begin on the next book in the series soon, for a November release, and herein hangs quite a tale. As I’ve mentioned on this blog a lot, I’ve been trying to come up with a new series, a second series of books to be written parallel with the Alamo novels. That’s been the big goal of this year, and so far, I must confess, I have failed. During the ‘hitting-my-head-against-a-wall’ stage I decided to spend two or three days thinking about something else, and tried to come up with a new science-fiction series. A bigger challenge than you might think, because the critical factor here was that it mustn’t clash with Alamo. No point doing a second series if it is stealing from the first one.
First of all, I came up with a near-future space-adventure series called ‘Xenopunk’, a sort of Blade-Runner-Meets-Alien concept, mega-corporations harvesting dangerous alien organisms in the darkness of space. I came up with two concepts for this, ‘Ultimate Predator’ and ‘Malware Blues’. Then I stumbled across a little problem. Both of them work a damn sight better as Alamo novels than as stand-alone; hell, for Malware Blues I’d have had to create a carbon copy of Harper, and given that I already have that character...well, let’s just say that I now have plot outlines for novels Fifteen and Seventeen, and that Malware Blues is now the next Alamo book, with ‘Cage of Gold’ pushed back to Sixteen.
Then I came up with another series, ‘Wormhole Wars’, which was to be an ‘Admirals and Ambassadors’ concept, everything at a much higher level than in Alamo. If Alamo is the tactical level of warfare, this was to be the strategic, and I thought I could do a lot of interesting things with it. I came up with the bad guys, with some interesting twists, and then began work on a few other bits and pieces. Then I came up, increasingly, with a problem. First of all, the ‘bad guys’ seemed rather similar to the ‘not-men’, albeit with some more intricate features, and the core idea of the ‘good guys’ actually fitted a lot better in, well, let’s just say that I know have plot threads for Fifteen, Seventeen, Eighteen...you get the general idea.
I won’t say the end result of all of this hasn’t been positive, because it very definitely has. I had some rough ideas and concepts for Fifteen and Sixteen up to this point, but now I have the net four books in considerable detail, some firmed-up character arcs, some much stronger ‘bad guys’ for the current Alamo run, and some much better solutions to key mysteries of the setting. (Little tip here when writing series. Whilst you always need to know where you are going when you set things up, don’t tie yourself totally to such solutions. Odds are in the time between setting something up and resolving it you’ll have thought of something better. Don’t commit to things unless you have to.)
In ‘Aces High’, I wrote a few extra bits and pieces - there was a rank table, that I will probably put in again, and some author’s notes. Henceforth, the plan is for each book to have such notes - which means I’m going to have to write them soon, but the idea is for them to talk a bit more about the conception of the series as a whole, with reference to the threads in Aces High and Not In My Name. There is a lot of deleted material this time, enough that I might end up posting some of it here. Any interest?
So, that’s where I am at the moment. The current plan for future Alamo novels now reads:
Book 13: Aces High (Published July 2015)
Book 14: Not In My Name (To Be Published Late September 2015)
Book 15: Malware Blues (To Be Published November 2015)
Book 16: Cage of Gold (To Be Published January 2016)
Book 17: Ultimate Predator (Working Title - To Be Published March 2016)
Book 18: Shattered Legacy (To Be Published May 2016)