Introductions are over. False history has been shown. Now it’s time for the real meat of the story. And it’s a bit of a mind-bender.
But who are these characters coming to life in A King’s Decree? Why should you care about them, and their path?
I can’t answer that second one, except to say that it’s a lot of fun, and this is based on the original series of D&D games we played that my friend Ian asked me to write about. But I can certainly tell you about Grace, Sardo, and Traithaius, the protagonists who are featured in the Strongblade Siblings series, which begins around 450 years after the events of the Empire’s Foundation trilogy.
Grace was once known as Gregor around the gaming table. As the eldest sibling, he became the natural leader with a sarcastic sense of humour. A mercenary by trade, Gregor was highly motivated by money. That all remains the same with Grace, who’s strong-willed and caustic. Not afraid of a fight, or saying it how it is (or at least how she sees it), Grace doesn’t want to be doing whatever it is she’s been told to do. She’s moving forward into the unknown with confidence. Although she doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her siblings, and antagonizes them every chance she gets, they’re her siblings, and if anyone messes with them, they’re going to have to deal with her.
Sardo has the same name, but also gender swapped, because I wanted a story with two female leads. The old male Sardo had been a charismatic ladies man. Quick on his feet and jumpy, Sardo slips into a state of paranoia, fearing that an attack is around every corner. No one is to be trusted. That’s all the same in this book, with the exception that she’s openly bisexual. That’s not a central focus of the story. She just is. Not because she’s confused, or hedonistic, but because she loves fiercely. All of Sharrow’s children are beautiful, and even when her older sister is being a jerk, Sardo still loves her.
Traithaius is the most unchanged of the three. He’s the youngest sibling, and acts the part. Despite just becoming a man (this story starts on his 16th birthday), he still has some childish habits that annoy his sisters. While he is deeply interested in some vocations, he remains largely removed from those around him, instead finding solace in his own mind. Although Grace teases him relentlessly about never having had a girlfriend (using harsh, rude language aimed at belittling him), he’s pretty sure he’s just never found the right person yet. He hasn’t been interested in any men or women that he’s met, which makes him feel like an outsider, but he hopes to one day find someone who can challenge him mentally. Thoughtful and awkward, readers may get a sense that there’s more to him than what they’re shown.
Fans of my first series might be thinking, “Well, those characters are completely different from the three in the first series.” Let me just show you something quickly.
Thomas – highly protective of friends, a ladies man, and thoughtful
Sarentha – sarcastic, quick on his feet, introverted
Eliza – strong-willed, charismatic, intelligent
So yes, these new characters are their own unique individuals, but they borrow from each of the three who came before them. Why do they share those personality traits? Well, there might be a short story or two about that, eventually. Suffice it to say that I have a reason, like pretty much everything else I write.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a word count update, but this week I wrote 4000+ words on A King’s Decree, and 1600+ words on a bonus story for fans. I’m happy to have jumped right back into the thick of things, and gone past my usual goal of 3000 words/week.
“Wait, you’re going to tell us what this bonus story is, aren’t you?”
Sure, since you asked!
My dad is one of my beta readers. I know, I know. Before you get all “family makes the worst beta readers!” on me, the reasons I ask my dad to look over my stuff are: 1) he’s read a ton of fantasy and sci-fi over the years, and 2) he’s not afraid to be brutally honest. He knows that saying, “Wow, that’s great!” won’t help me in the long run if something isn’t great. I trust him completely to tell me when something isn’t right.
So this week he e-mailed me and requested more scenes … scenes I was really looking forward to writing when I was outlining the book. But there was a problem – I’m trying to keep the book in tight 3rd person point of view, and seeing events through the eyes of Eliza, Thomas, and Sarentha. I feel like the looser 3rd POV worked for A Noble’s Quest, because there was a lot going on all over the place, and I needed to show readers a lot of cool things. When A Wizard’s Gambit went out for developmental editing, it was suggested that I try to cut it down to just the main three. I looked at the scenes I had with other POVs and agreed I could cut them, and it would actually increase the tension in the story. Information from those scenes could be related to the main characters in other ways, which wasn’t the case with A Noble’s Quest.
These scenes I had planned for A Hero’s Birth were from Ramar’s POV, and none of my protagonists were there. I had put so much thought into everything Ramar went through, and had to scrap it. I chalked it up to, “Important for me to know. Not important for the reader.” So when Ramar returned from his solo adventure, his experience was summarized into two or three paragraphs, because they were pressed for time upon his return.
The problem is, it sounds freaking awesome, and my dad wanted to read more about that. Seeing Ramar letting loose with powerful magic and wrecking many assailants sounded so amazing that not having it in the book felt wrong.
After discussing this problem, I’ve decided on a solution: bonus story. I’m going to write Ramar’s missing scenes and create a hidden page on my website. Fans who read A Hero’s Birth will find a link at the end of the book that will take them to Ramar’s story, if they’re interested in reading it. Free of charge. It won’t be terrifically long. I just wrote the first scene, and it was 1600 words. I think two more scenes ought to do it justice.
Luke from Vocamus Press made contact with a local shop called The Roundtable, which has a definite fantasy vibe to it. You can rent a table to play games from their large selection, and it’s pretty fun. The owner is planning on starting up a store where you can buy games and genre fiction books, and wants local authors to read at their grand opening. They’ll also sell books on commission there. So I tried e-mailing them this week to set up details, but haven’t heard back. I’ll be calling this weekend. It sounds like a great opportunity!
If you’re a genre fiction writer in and around Guelph, feel free to get in touch with me, and I’ll make sure you’re included in the grand opening readings.