Sunday, 11 March 2018

Black River 3: The First Post

Is it too early to start discussing a book that I only began writing five weeks ago today?  Well, maybe, but I'm over halfway through, I have it planned out to the finish, and anyway, what the heck, right?  I want to talk about the next Black River novel.  I'm already excited about it, and there's no reason I shouldn't try and share some of that excitement!

So here are a few small teasers that I think it's okay for you to know at this early stage.  Rest assured that nothing here will meaningfully spoil your enjoyment of the third book (or even the first or second, if you haven't read those.)  But of course if you really want to come to this second sequel blind then you should probably stop reading right now.

For everyone who's left, here are six insights into what will be coming at the end of 2018:

- This One is Arein's Story

Astute readers may have spotted the fact that, while each of the two books so far has been about Durren, Tia, Hule, and Arein as a party, they did tend to focus in on one character in particular.  In Level One it was Durren; in The Ursvaal Exchange it was Tia.  Well, this time around it's Arein's turn.  And she's in for a rough ride.  You know how Arein's always been a bit scared of her own magic?  Now imagine how she'd feel if a spell ever got really, wildly, disastrously out of control.

- But it's also Pootle's Story, Kind Of

Where Arein goes, Pootle is sure to be following close behind.  And Pootle's a little mysterious; we've never really delved into just what's going on there.  How do observers work?  Why do they work?  Everyone's favourite floating eyeball may not have done much but hang around so far, but it's about to make its presence felt in a major way.

- It's a Dungeon Crawl

At least in part.  I've been intrigued for a long time with the notion of what a dungeon crawl would really be like; in D&D campaigns and video games, you spend days or even weeks underground, and not once does anyone get claustrophobic, or trapped by a cave-in, or stress about lugging a tent around or the practicalities of starting a campfire when you've been under the earth for so long that you barely remember what sunlight looks like.  And since I'm the kind of person who worries unduly about those sorts of practicalities - and since this series could hardly go on forever without some serious time spent in a proper dungeon! - that's a little of what we'll be delving into.

- There's a Scene That's (Loosely!) Based on My D&D Campaign

A small confession: before I began writing the Black River Chronicles, my hands-on experience with D&D extended to one afternoon at the house of a friend of a friend.  And since I insisted on playing as an alcoholic dwarf bodyguard who wouldn't lift a finger unless his client was in danger, it didn't go tremendously well.  But finding myself writing a series that draws from the game so heavily, I felt it was time I gave it a proper go, and I've been with my current group, under the not-so-tender ministrations of dungeon master Jimi Jibodu, for a few months now.  The scene in question was not, however, from Jimi's campaign but from a fill-in session DM'd by another member of the group.  I've modified it heavily, of course, to make sure that it slots comfortably into the book (and to not be a big plagiarist!)  Nevertheless, it's my first instance of D&D life influencing D&D art, and that warrants a place on this list.

- Book Three is Going to be a Bit Longer

Of these points, this is perhaps the one I'm least certain about right now; but midway through the chapter plan, the wordage was already at nearly two thirds of The Ursvaal Exchange's final count.  That doesn't necessarily mean a great deal, since I tend to write verbose first drafts and then hack them up heavily when I return.  Still, I've a feeling that this one might come in around the one hundred thousand words mark, which equates to a couple more chapters than the last.  It's a big, ambitious story, with an awful lot to cover.

- It Actually Already Has a Title

Last but certainly not least ... the third Black River book has a working title, which may or may not end up being the final title.  Currently it's called Eye of the Observer - which might raise some interesting questions for readers who've followed the series so far!


So there we are: a tiny glimpse into what's coming in, oh, about eight months time now.  There's a great deal still to be written, and a vast amount of editing to come once the writing's done, but for all that, it's safe to say that The Black River Chronicles: (maybe!) Eye of the Observer is beginning to come together.  I'm certainly having a ton of fun writing it, which always tends to be a good sign!

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