2013 saw the publication of Dragon Queen, the first book in my second trilogy of dragon fantasies, and while I kept the world the same, I took a different approach to the writing of it. The politics are still there, the battles and the dragons and the magic, but Dragon Queen was supposed to have a much more intense focus on character. I think Zafir was and remains the best character I’ve ever written (but I’m a little biased by knowing what happens in the second and third books). Dragon Queen was well received by the handful of people who read and reviewed it, but the sad fact (for me) is that it didn’t sell. I suppose I have to take that as a reflection on the books that preceded it. Which is a pity, because it’s light-years better.
2013 also saw the release of three Nathan Hawke novels in quick succession, much more swords and sorcery. Three novels in consecutive months, under a different name, straight into paperback (which isn’t the usual Gollancz way) and with those glorious covers with nothing but the artwork on the front. They didn’t sell terribly well either, although they did better than Dragon Queen. If there’s one ray of hope for Nathan Hawke it’s that there’s still a steady trickle of sales, and that the second and third books are selling close to as well as the first, which suggests that maybe, on the whole, The Crimson Shield is a strong enough story to make you want more.
On the whole, 2013 didn’t work (actually 2013 sucked for a whole variety of reasons, professional failure being the least of them). So just as well 2014 hasn’t been about fantasy nearly as much. As well as the second Zafir dragon novel, The Splintered Gods, 2014 saw historical crime fiction, The Royalist, military SF (Empires: Extraction) and a co-written SF game tie-in (Elite:Wanted). Turns out I was also a lot less productive this year than I was in 2013, writing only a little over two hundred thousand new words over the course of the year as opposed to over half a million the year before. That had a lot to do with needing to have a real job for a bit.
Will this year’s titles sell? The Splintered Gods won’t. I guess by now you either like my dragons or you don’t, so whoever liked Dragon Queen will probably get on with The Splintered Gods, but it’s definitely part two of a trilogy.
Elite: Wanted will probably do well enough. Don’t expect great depth of character or some startlingly original piece of world-building. It seems popular enough among Elite fans, but as with most tie-in fiction, it will doubtless struggle to reach beyond the game-playing audience. Whether there can be any more Ziva and Ravindra seems unlikely, and will depend very much on Frontier and their plans for further expansions of the game. Here’s a the most recent review I could find, which is fairly typical. “…a fast, frentic space opera that pays homage to Elite in the best possible way.” SFbook.com
Bulldog Drummond: Dead Man’s Gate is an e-book onyl novella I did for the small e-publisher Piqwiq. I have no idea AT ALL whether it’s selling any copies. The fact that the first novella went through three stages of editing and the second two are only going through one each smacks of desperately trying to save money, so I’m going to guess probably not, and apologise right now for the inevitable typos.
Empires: Extraction hasn’t been out for long and it hasn’t had many reviews, but so far they’ve all been pretty grim and they all like Infiltration better (OK, the two that I’ve read have. I haven’t read the SFX review), which largely sucks for me, but I can see their point that Gav’s aliens are better. Early impression is this is an experiment that didn’t work. I can’t see me and Gavin being asked to write a second pair of books in this form. There might be a different way to go forward.
The Royalist, by contrast, has enjoyed a rather kinder reception. Here’s the most recent review I could find; again fairly typical. “a very enjoyable and refreshing read that gave you a new understanding of the time and the New Model army and how it was anything but united” Reality is a Bore. A second William Falkland volume comes out next summer. If anything from this year is going to carry on, I reckon it’s this one.
2015: The Silver Kings comes out in the summer, the last of the dragon books I’ll be writing for a while. Like Dragon Queen it’s very much Zafir’s story, and all the better for it, though it does leave a few other things hanging as a result. That, for me, will be the pick of the bunch for next year because it’s so close to my heart. There are two more Bulldog Drummond novellas in the pipeline. Nathan Hawke has three Gallow shorts coming out in the first half of the year, and then I guess the title I’m most hopeful for is the second William Falkland novel: The Protector, but more about that closer to the time.
I have no idea what I’ll be writing in 2015. Another William Falkland novel, I hope. Maybe, if the Gallow shorts do well, there can be another Nathan Hawke outing.