Here we are, then. You, me, t'internet and a blog. Cosy, isn't it? Hope you're comfortable and ready to go on a walk together.
So, where to start? Well, the purpose of this is to talk some more about the new book and how it came to BE the new book, so I guess I should get cracking. Firstly, the obvious question is what's it all about? Well, lookie here - see if it floats your boat.
War and worse is coming…
The continent of Achelos. Once a single, prosperous Country, it has long been divided in two following a bitter and brutal civil war. After years of sporadic peace, things are about to change. In the South, the zealous Penitents of the Swarth prepare to invade Drellak in the North, where religion itself is outlawed. Their invasion is backed by powerful and enigmatic new allies from across the Unending Sea.
At the same time, a survivor of a mountain tribe massacre will embark on a personal quest for vengeance, an army scout will find himself unjustly imprisoned and under a virtual sentence of death, and a drug addicted assassin will be manipulated and betrayed. Each of their destinies is linked to the oncoming storm, and unbeknown to everybody, something far, far worse than anybody can even comprehend, is watching, and waiting…
From the desert wastes of Etain Jar to the heights of the Blackmount, from the frozen tundra of Todmoor to the Island of the Dead, where the ghosts of ancient Kings linger and the dead feast on the living, The Price of Paradise is the first part of a sweeping new fantasy epic in the tradition of George R R Martin and Robert Jordan.
Yeah, ok, I know what you're thinking. Comparing myself to RJ (God rest his soul) and GRRM is a big reach and a pretty egotistical thing to do. I should clarify it by saying that I'm not, even for one second, suggesting that I'm in their league in terms of the quality of their writing (who is?) but in terms of scope and ambition, I'd like to think I'm certainly aiming for them, if not getting pretty damned close.
So why am I writing a book, and why in the fantasy genre when it can be seen as very "niche"?
I have an over-active imagination, a very VIVID imagination, and I needed to do something with it - it really IS that simple.
And why this genre? Because I love it. I adore it. I embrace it.
As for it being niche, and at the risk of sounding hideously pretentious, it IS true that most fantasy novels (and films) are part of an exclusive and often rather geeky club. Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc inhabit far away lands and talk in ways that your average reader finds quaint at best, completely unintelligible at worst. However, the success of Lord of the Rings and (although I accept that's sci-fi and not fantasy - but the two are not mutually exclusive) Star Wars, dear old Harry Potter, and not forgetting the recent television adaptation of Game of Thrones; suggests that there is a mass audience out there for these sort of stories, it's just finding out WHY the aforementioned achieved wide spread success when others haven't.
Personally (and, to be fair, you could say what I don't know about marketing a successful fantasy novel could fill a warehouse) I think it comes down to how people can relate to the characters. Lets be honest, in "real life" very few people are moustache twirling villains or square jawed heroes, and the closest we get to a quest is trying to find that elusive birthday or christmas gift. I strongly believe that if you take identifiable, likable characters and put them into situations and scenarios that resonate, then even people who wouldn't normally read and enjoy a fantasy book can lose themselves in it.
I started writing it about five or six years ago, but the story as was had a different feel to the one that's going to see the light of day on Friday. Originally, the story began about 20 or so years into the war between Swarth and Drellak, and dealt with the dying days of the war, when one side (not telling which, ner ner ner) is mere weeks from a decisive victory. I wanted to explore to what lengths a people would go to in order to prevent their total conquest - would it be a scorched earth policy similar to the one the Russians adopted in WWII, or would they roll over, show their belly and accept their fate, in the hope that they and their lands would be treated with a kindness that might not be so forthcoming in the face of resistance (Finland, I'm looking at you)?
As I wrote it though, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the unwritten backstory that I'd created. People in positions of power, how did they rise to that place? Heroes who had long since died but left a legacy that inspired those that followed, what sort of people were they in reality, and what did they do to write their names in legend? What motivated and drove both sides not just to go to war but to sustain it, even in the face of death and suffering on a massive scale?
It occurred to me that there was a potentially gripping and fascinating story to be told there, and handing out small portions of it in flashback wasn't satisfying my need to explore the past I'd created. So, I started to write a small scale, limited "prequel" to the main story, a novella that would explore the start of the war and the people involved. As these things often do, it soon spiraled out of control, and what was intended to be a short story to satiate my need to expand on the past soon turned into a full blown book in it's own right.
So, here we are then. The original first book, "Siege at Jahngar" will now be the second book, and the original prequel short story "The Price of Paradise" is now a standalone book in it's own right. For those that care, I intend to make "TPP" (as it shall now be known for brevity's sake) the first in a sequence of six. Yes, six. We're talking a timescale of a hundred years from the first book to the last, and there is one over arcing plot that will flow from start to finish, although each book will have it's own self contained story. There will be a handful of characters who will feature in the majority of the books, some characters will appear in just one book, and others will feature sporadically from one to another, but hopefully, everyone will find someone they can identify with and want to know more about.
I'm trying to avoid cliched fantasy tropes whilst still bringing those facets to the genre that means fans will recognize and enjoy what they're reading, and although I'm not naive enough to think that a whole legion of people who have never picked up a fantasy novel before will suddenly jump head first into the series, it would be nice to think that it will be accessible enough for "newbies" to want to give it a try.
I'm in email dialogue with a couple of specialist fantasy and sci-fi mags regarding the possibility of a review and a plug, and I've also bought to the table what I feel is a unique marketing idea that could benefit all of us, but, as is often the way of these things, I'm thinking that very little will come of it. TPP will start slow, and small, and the price will be reflective of that, but who knows where it can go from there. Some guerilla marketing, some creative advertising, and, hopefully, an ever increasing loyal fanbase, and the sky's the limit.
Watch this space, folks. This could be the start of something very special, and you're here at the start. It's a great place to be, and if you let me, I'll take each and every one of you with me.