Crafting a Series

In one of my first blogs I wrote that I enjoyed writing a fantasy novel that was stand-alone. The story was completely encapsulated. In Ahvarra the mystery at the center of the story is resolved, and each of the characters finds resolution. I have always been fond of Guy Gavriel Kay’s works, because most of his works are also stand-alone.

However.

Several of the first handful of reviews on Amazon indicated liking the world I’d created so much that they hope for sequels that will explore more of it. And so I indulged my imagination and started down the path of what that would mean. Should I write a direct sequel? What would the conflict be? Which of the key characters would it involve? Would it require going back through the Heart again?

And I came to various conclusions. The first is that, yes, the world on the other side of the Heart can support additional stories. The second is that, no, those stories do not require all the same characters. 

What I have, therefore, is an idea that will span four books. The first, obviously, was Ahvarra. I am busy writing the second, which will not involve characters that were in Ahvarra. The third book won’t involve characters from the first two either. But, like Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe, the world-building, magic systems and terminology inherent in Ahvarra will stretch across the series. The fourth book will, in my mind, bring characters from the first three together for one epic conclusion. 

So, three separate books, separate stories, separate characters, all in the same world with that world’s rules. With a fourth that brings matters to a head, as it were. 

One of the more interesting trends these days is major writers using self-publishing to bridge major books in their series via novellas. Brian McClellan is doing this successfully with the Powder Mage series and Patrick Rothfuss has also gotten into the mix with a novella in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Which of course gets my imagination flowing. Because certainly how each of the story threads–and the characters who will retain importance in the world–will need to get from their point of origin to where book four finds them, may be of interest to fans. And so telling those stories might also involve novellas. 

For those of you who think “ugh, another series” fret not. Like Ahvarra, book two will be stand-alone. And so will book three. You could read them by themselves and be entertained. Book four will likely be a challenge, as familiar faces from the first three will return. 

All in all it’s been a fun challenge over the past couple of months, seeing how readers have responded positively to Ahvarra and setting my imagination to how to craft more stories from its world. I hope each of the books entertains the readers as much as imagining them–and writing them–entertains me.

And It’s Complete!

I just finished. I hit the “save and publish” button and Amazon whisked Ahvarra away for review. In 12 hours or so, the English version of the book will be available.

It’s difficult to describe my feelings. I’m both tremendously euphoric that I’ve gotten the book to this point, where I consider it done, ready for the world; I’m also quite a bit nervous that the world will say, “Meh.” And obviously I’m full of hope as well, that many readers will find the story interesting, riveting and will feel the pull of the characters and world I’ve created.

When I began writing Ahvarra I wanted to tackle different themes than what I saw in traditional fantasy. Much of the genre had seemed to me at the time to be locked in the epic tale of good vs. evil. It also seemed that you couldn’t pick up a fantasy novel without understanding that it was the first in a trilogy or an even longer series.

I wanted to write a story that didn’t need a sequel. I wanted to write a story where the characters weren’t good or evil necessarily, but where the reader could recognize and even sympathize with their intent. Don’t get me wrong: there are characters whom you will want to see win, and there are characters whom you will want to see lose. But that doesn’t mean that the winners are good and the losers are evil. These characters are, for the most part, people. They have goals, ambitions and interests that conflict with one another. And where there is conflict, there is a story.

I hope you enjoy reading Ahvarra as much as I enjoyed writing it.