Well, it's that time again - time to start a new story! Writing a book is often described in terms of scaling a mountain; at this stage the peak looks very high indeed and far, far away.
I’ve spent three years planning, researching, writing and editing This Sacred Isle. I dived deep into the Dark Age, and loved learning about the history, mythology and cosmology of the Anglo Saxons. It was fascinating (and such fun to write about warriors, dragons and Dark Age gods!) and I feel the novel stretched and improved my writing ability and allowed me to develop new techniques. Every book is a chance to learn new things – it is part of the experience, a good part.
As far as modesty permits, I’m very happy with This Sacred Isle – it’s the book I set out to write - but now it's time to move on. I cannot wait to start a new story, and this one is tentatively called: Second Sun. It is a SF novel set in an alternate Earth, where the destiny of humanity has been altered by alien visitation. It is a world like our own in many ways, but being a generation after colonisation by an extra-terrestrial race, also very, very different. The main character is something of an outsider, and he has grave misgivings about the alien 'benefactors' controlling the planet and the 'paradise' they have created. He leads a quiet, almost solitary life, but then his routine is shattered when he is approached by forces who secretly oppose alien rule...
Why write a SF story? The genre has long interested me as a reader, and some of my favourite books are SF (for example, Dune, 1984, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Day of the Triffids). Although I have written predominantly fantasy books, writing a SF novel has always been an ambition of mine and it's exciting to finally embark on this project.
I also believe SF, like fantasy, provides the author with a canvas on which to explore a range of issues and themes, and can hold a mirror to the real world. Within Second Sun, I want to write about inequality, about indifference to the suffering of others, and the effects of colonisation. And above all I want to write a compelling, exciting tale with relatable characters, a tale which will stay with the reader long after they have read the final page...
So, what stage am I at with Second Sun at the moment? I suppose the best way to describe it is ‘ideas gathering’ - my notes are filling up with thoughts, plans, inspirations and snatches of dialogue. I am researching a number of key subjects and developing characters. I also need to decide what format to use. I currently think that a novella is more appropriate than a full novel, but of course the tale can grow in the telling...
As with all stories, it's going to be tough at times. So many decisions: narrative, characters, tone, imagery - headspinning, but I love the process!
So when will Second Sun be published? Late 2017 is the aim but as Douglas Adams famously said,
"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."
The hard work has started though, and I'll keep you posted...