Trials and smiles of an author (6)

I had a pleasant meeting with my publisher about two weeks ago, and “The Servant’s Voice” has been accepted for publication.

I am hoping to supply the final final version by the end of April. This needs to include Acknowledgements (recognising of course Judith Renton’s contributions to character naming) and Meaningful Quote for the beginning. Also I will need some pictures, but Ian is well on the way with them.

Publication will probably not be till early autumn.

People who have criticised earlier books as too complicated, or with too many characters, will I fear have the same problems with this one. It has possibly the most convoluted plot yet.

I do want to write another full Ragaris book, or more than one. The Swords Without Misogyny project is not a story-in-three-parts, nor is it a trilogy.

But I’m not sure about the fourth book. For its setting, I’m still dithering between about three different kingdoms. There is Defardu, the administrative centre of the church, where priests are trained, and committers of manslaughter atone for their crimes. There is Falli, traditional ally of Marod, a land where wealth matters less than glory and heretics are protected. Or I might write the story of an anonymous corpse and a self-exiled priest in an impoverished province in the south of Jaryar.

As the web of character and history gets more complicated, it’s harder to work out where to go next, especially since I don’t think I want to go backwards chronologically at any stage. How have the adventures of Dorac and Gormad, Prince Braidoc and Talinti, Hridnaya and Mejorad – or the reigns of Arrion, Nerranya and Aigith – affected the continent?

But in the meantime, a thought has occurred to me, arising in part from another issue that some people have with the series, and I might as well seek advice on this blog.

I am aware that my sequence is unusual in the way it jumps around both in time and place, so that the longsuffering reader has to get to know a whole new set of characters each time, and even a whole new map and set of customs. I’ve been wistfully asked a few times for more stories about favourite people, and I keep refusing. Dorac’s story, for example, has been told. I do of course know a bit more about him than appears in “We Do Not Kill Children,” but most of it can be deduced from the backstory hints. I don’t normally think in terms of short stories and individual adventures – I move directly from tiny-incident-backstory to 400-page tome.

On the other hand, just before Christmas I posted the short story “The Queen’s Gift”. And while messing around with people and ideas some years ago, I wrote a description of a visit to Makkera by a certain Kingsbrother and his squire in the days when Prince Jendon was wooing Lady Igalla.

I am wondering about writing more snippets that fill in some of the gaps or expand some of the situations. (This is not instead of the fourth Ragaris novel, but in addition.)

Would this be a good idea?

Such stories ought to be readable and worthwhile as stories, not just filler.

Is there anything that you would like to read? Why Gormad became a Kingsbrother, how Duke Haras was bullied by his sister, how Meril rose at court, the mistakes Queen Nerranya and King Barad made when they moved to Makkera, and whether Lida or Fric were to blame for any of them… Or whatever.

(Do not distress yourselves if you’ve read the books, but can’t remember who all the above people are. Some of them are minor characters.)

In the gap, I’m still pondering how best to advertise without spending too much money. When I have an issue date for “The Servant’s Voice”, I’ll be seeking to recruit cheerleaders from this blog and elsewhere.

Love from the PPI Blogger


  • Judith Anne Renton

    3rd March 2019 at 10:38 pm Reply

    I love the idea of some short stories…Gormad for example, and more about Meril… and for your longer ones the one about the self exiled priest is intriguing. And of course anything more about Dorac. Keep them coming.

  • Stephen Sheridan

    3rd March 2019 at 11:25 pm Reply

    I would love to read a collection of short stories, which can fill in so many of the enticing gaps in your novels. For your fourth book I would really love you to explore the structure of how the Church operates and the tensions between spreading faith and morality, while maintaining an organisational structure which is always tempted by wealth and power. You have given hints of corruption in the Church in your first two books, so it would be interesting to see how the church battles it and how the debate about doctrine is conducted. For instance you have noted that inequality between the genders is regarded as heresy, so it would be interesting to see if there are men who espoused the heresy of male supremacy and how they are dealt with. Since the medieval Church basically ran education it would be interesting to see how scholarship, literacy and research (especially the attitude to science and technological innovation – assuming it starts to appear – is handled).
    Whatever you decide, please keep writing – you have created something very very special.

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