Firstly, thanks to everyone who pitched up at the various signings.
For those that didn't, and that do want a signed copy, watch this place. I have plans afoot.
It's been a while since the last new story went up, partly because of, you know, writing books'n'all, but also because of being unable for some reason to upload to the site, which is being looked into. I actually have two stories waiting to be popped on, so look forward to some more shortly.
So: go here for "The Price of Salt" which, in a blatant display of false advertising, isn't a sequel at all, but is arguably one of a series, for the first time, following up on the adventures of the four reprobates we met in "An Old Man in a Harsh Season". More on the content of Price in a moment. However…
One of the FAQs I get concerns the longevity and future of the series, so I thought I'd better set something out here to satisfy those people who want to know but haven't already read the yadda in an interview, and haven't asked themselves. Obviously, book 4 of the series has come out. A great many people seem to have been surprised by this, such surprise manifesting itself round about the middle of book 3 when it was clear thata any conclusion fo the "trilogy" would have to be horribly rushed.
There is nothing magic about trilogies. Ok, not entirely true. The basic story structure of beginning-middle-end obviously lends itself to a trilogy, which may be why many trilogies flag in the middle. However the fantasy genre got hooked on trilogies after Tolkien, and Mr T didn't intend to write one, instead producing a long book in six parts. I think the publishers decided to chop it into three, and so unleashed the trope that is still stalking about the place making a nuisance of itself. The two most prominent fantasy authors who were Tolkien's contemporaries — Lewis and Peake, neither of them had trilogies in mind (although the tragedy of Mervyn Peake's medical condition meant that Gormenghast ended up as a trilogy with a very odd last book (which I love(1)) he intended to write more. This is one of the great losses to literature as a whole, and to fantasy in particular.)
These days you get three book series, and you get series that aren't. Notably, the two biggest names in epic fantasy are looking far further — Erikson and Martin are both going for broke, with Erikson's 10th book due to round off the Malazon Book of the Dead, but still unlikely to close the pages of the world that he and Esselmont write in. So: Shadows of the Apt — also a 10 book series, if all goes according to plan(3). However there are plot arcs and plot arcs. Whilst the overshadowing plot will run from 1 to 10, the series itself will be subdivided into three segments (think not of trilogies, but of insects, after all). Salute the Dark brings the first segment to an end, and the next three books (and I'm getting beyond my brief here, because we're still in negotiations, but hey) will be a second plot arc, but slightly more stand-alone. If fortune favours me, books 8–10 will then be the final arc that will conclude matters. Will the world remain open for further writing(4)? You betcha.
Next topic then: Vampires.
Yeah, well, not exactly. Vampires have had a stranglehold (6) on the genre recently, or at least a sub-sub-sub-genre of vampire/supernatural romance seems to have been lording it around the place. Yes, yes, yes, the Mosquito-kinden are vampires, or rather magically-powerful blood-drinkers, as they're not undead in any way. However Uctebri surely owes Nosferatu for a few pointers, possibly through a filger of Shadow of the Vampire. If he's a vampire, he's old-school bald and creepy, yo (7).
However something's coming to hamstring the vampires and overtake them, I think, and it looks like it's werewolves, ever the cybermen to the vampire's dalek (8). At the SFX Weekender I ran into Steve Feasey, whose Changeling series is a young-adult take on the werewolf myth, and sounded pretty damn good from his reading — and sex, lots of sex (9). Vampires and werewolves are both still going strong, for one reason at least, because they have that undercurrent of sex, taboo, sweaty emotions, all that jazz.
Anyway, obviously no werewolves in Shadows of the Apt. No wolves, after all. Absolutely no way that I could do my own take on the lycanthrope legends in insect form…
So go read The Price of Salt and check the phase of the moon…
(1) An acting friend of mine one held up Richard E Grant's portrayal of Withnail as The Place That Actors Do Not Want To End Up (2). There is a similar cautionary tale for writers, and the character lives within the pages of Titus Alone, in the Under-River, surrounded by stacks and stacks of unsold copies of his book.
(2) Not the portrayal, which is masterful, but the despairing, wretched, battered and hopeless pride of poor damned Withnail on his terminal decline.
(3) There have been writers who have ended up with more books than their numbering knows what to do with, owing to unusually high page count — George RR Martin and Tad Williams, for two. I'm sure there are also authors whose publishers have slapped them and told them to stop it.
(4) Both mine and other peoples', I hope, as shown by some of the third-party stories on this site. Everything on the site is Shadows of the Apt Canon(5)
(5) Or leadshotter, at least.
(6) When it come to vampires I'll mix whatever damn metaphors I want.
(7) As I think one phrases it.
(9) Not explicit Janine Ashbless Black Lace sex, but from the bit he read, the series is very much aware of just how sexually-charged the whole werewolf thing is.