I had a great time with the Storymen guys this month. The Storymen podcast is fantastic in its really vibrant appreciation for great storytelling, and its appreciation for the craft of writing (while keeping it very relatable for regular readers). In this episode we talk a lot about storytelling, but we also talk about Van Halen, Kaiser Soze, and a lot of other great things. Here’s the link.
I’m happy to announce that the second volume of the Tommy Black series, Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility, is now available. You can buy it directly from Amazon or at multiple locations in paperback.
In the new book, Tommy finds himself searching for magical artifacts and fighting Nazi magicians in World War 2 Europe.
Dedicated to reshaping his family’s legacy, Tommy Black has spent two years mastering the powerful Staff of Light and freeing the magical creatures in England. While he was focusing on his personal mission, however, Germany had invaded Europe, igniting the flames of world war.
Desiring to help, Tommy volunteers to free the magical creatures in Germany to disrupt the Nazi war machine. Joined by his friend, the powerful magician Naomi, and two others, the group soon discover an extraordinary secret that changes everything–Tommy may not be the only Archmage in the world.
Book 3, Tommy Black and the Cup of Jamshid, will be released in Fall 2016.
The first Omnibus edition of the Guildmaster Thief series has been released. It collects the first four ebook novellas in my epic fantasy series about Ralan and the city-state of Ness. The book can be purchased via Amazon in both ebook and print format.
Omnibus 2 is scheduled to be released in Fall 2015, collecting books 5-8. The series is scheduled to run well into the future, as readers learn more about Ness and the mysterious history of the guilds that rule the city.
I’ve had the idea for a truly epic series told via smaller stories since I read two things at nearly the same time: The indie graphic novel Cerebus and the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. Both take a look at individuals and smaller scale events and slowly build them into epic stories that sweep the reader up. My goal was to do something layered in similar fashion.
Each book in The Guildmaster Thief series will be a novella of 15 to 25 thousand words and will be priced at 99 cents. Each of these novellas will be a stand-alone story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Every set of four novellas will be collected into an omnibus edition that will be 80 to 100 thousand words and will be priced at $2.99. Each omnibus will have a complete larger story arc that connects that various subplots running through the individual novellas. So these will be true stand-alone novels, in addition to novella collections.
Finally, the series is meant to extend for a very long time. There are currently three major epic story arcs that cover the history of the Ness city-state and will take multiple novels to discover and resolve. I will add more. There are hints of this larger history snuck into every book, with book 3 having the most. This is a series where random details in book 3 may show up as major plot points in book 12.
In short, The Guildmaster Thief is a complex undertaking combining short action adventure stories with an epic background of a city-state that is facing decay, revolution, and rebirth. There will be multiple characters through the series that take up the mantle of individual novellas.Blade of the Guildmaster is a great example, as it features Maela, a guildmember introduced in book 2, and Guildmaster Ralan doesn’t make an appearance at all.
Make no mistake, Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings is the most important epic fantasy release since A Game of Thrones in 1996. Liu redefines epic fantasy in a way that is refreshing, compelling, and has been long overdue.
Ostensibly written in an Asian setting, the book itself is actually a combination of several building blocks, of which Asia is but the most overt one. As a novel, it would be a serious mistake to peg the book as an Asian version of Western fantasy. The cast of characters, which ebbs and flows over time with a few core protagonists, is much more reminiscent of Eastern European epics or Latin American family epics. The coming together and disruption of family in a time of traumatic change, so brilliantly explored in epics like One Hundred Years of Solitude, is just one part of The Grace of Kings.
Comparing The Grace of Kings to One Hundred Years of Solitude is a great jumping off point for what makes this book so original and compelling and, ultimately, a game changer for contemporary fantasy. Liu doesn’t play in the George R. R. Martin or J. R. R. Tolkien playground. His book is epic in the way of War And Peace more than A Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings. He takes global events and illustrates how the people living within are just small pieces.
The audio from the Allcon panel that I was on is now available via The Storymen podcast. It was an interesting discussion that wandered from Arthur C. Clarke to Brandon Sanderson to Babylon 5. I had a great time with my co-hosts, Clay Morgan, JR Forasteros, and Gabriel Guerrero. Here are the audio chapter breaks:
2:00 Meet the panelists
4:30 God(s) in fantasy
15:00 God(s) in science fiction
35:00 Babylon 5
40:00 The limits of language
I was sitting in a conference room and a corporate radio client was talking about how he is constantly annoyed by the local radio stations calling him and complaining about the most minor things. He then outlined something I think is brilliant:
“There should be an app on everyone’s phone. The ‘Perspective’ app. Whenever you are about to complain about something, you are required to first grab your phone and open the app. It will then show you random pictures of starving kids in Africa, guys with flesh eating diseases eating their face, cancer patients, and shit like that.”
I could see this being huge. “Dammit, it’s raining today.” “Dude, you need to open your Perspective app.”
I swear someone is going to make a mint on this.