Luminary: Next up in the SPARX Epic Fantasy Saga

Such a hermit, I have been... 

And busy drafting the next couple of SPARX books to kick-off Series 2, called Luminary. I see this as a four-book series. It can be read after Incarnation (Series 1) or beforehand – the order doesn’t matter. A draft of the first part is nearly done. It’s about the same length as Mark of the Green Dragon . There is "just one more chapter" to finish. But that chapter keeps getting longer, and then I split it, and then the two parts get longer, so I split them, and so on. It’s a bit like fighting the Hydra. 

Oddly, the second book in this upcoming series is already written (well, mostly). I worked out a draft quite some time ago and have even considered publishing it first. I have since abandoned that notion though. It just wouldn’t work that way. And who knows? – I may still add to it before all is said and done.

BTW I haven’t forgotten about Incarnation (Series 1) – I plan to add a third part, currently on the drawing board. It will be a “whale of a tale” and is quickly shaping up to be a swashbuckling adventure set in the cool, subterranean waters of the Dim Sea. The story splits off from Order of the Undying just after the rather morbid Ritual of the Brilliant. Leviathans feature prominently in the storyline, as does a sleek and dangerous sailing vessel by the name of Black Sliver, with a diabolical captain. New underground races are introduced and rival factions of Il’kinik (Gloom) society compete for the upper edge.

Now back to the Luminary series. The kickoff book in Series 2 is tentatively named Out of the Grey. It has a real edge to it and targets a slightly older audience. For anyone who has read Incarnation , you may have noticed an Armageddon-like undercurrent to the story: the hidden agenda uncovered by Nud, how it shapes the future and how it ties into the past. Well, in this book, the Order Lumen of Gan is charged with preventing just that sort of thing from happening (doomsday). Members of the order – luminaries – are granted special privileges and access to old-world knowledge to help them monitor the Treaty of Nature and report violations to the High Council. Unlike present-day treaties in the real world that might be aimed at keeping us from annihilating ourselves, this treaty is in place to keep civilization from attracting too much attention… especially the wrong kind of attention… from something on the “outside.” Namely, the Orbweaver.

Due to their unique skills, luminaries are also involved in secretive projects under the auspices of the Lord of the March – officially to keep those projects in line with the treaty, of course, but really to push the limits of what can be accomplished within its bounds. Anyway, something goes very wrong and… well… more on that another day.

Out of the Grey has proven tricky to write. There are a lot of diverse characters to introduce and they all have very different ways about them. A few are downright weird and just getting behind their eyes to see the world the way they might is quite challenging. Also, there is a “higher plane” quality to the storyline that requires careful handling. It is inspiring though, and I have had a lot of fun exploring the practicality of extra dimensions in both real-world and fantasy or sci-fi settings, with a little help from our resident teen programmer who provided some visualization for rotating higher dimensional objects. He digitally stitched two dozen SPARX images (some repeated) to a tesseract (4D cube) and spun them around in 4D-space (projected into 3D of course... 2D really since the screen is flat).

Take a look. Very weird looking: 

Images rotated in and out of 4D. Music:

The Luminary series has many more “dimensions” to it. The stories are packed full of legends and lore about the strange races that play central roles in the setting: the powerful leviathans, Hurlorns, Wulvers, Elderkin Greys (who are skilled builders & shipwrights), and the hyperplane-savvy Djinxarai. There are also equally strange places like Tetherport, Whisperwood, and Ironeagle Peak. The Dim Sea will have to wait though. I am saving that for the third book of Series 1.

So, my goal is to have a first draft completed by about mid-February, which I will hand over to my editor for ridicule. About two months later, say mid-April, I hope to have the material together enough for an advance reading copy (ARC) to help generate some reviews early on. This is where things get interesting.

Signed ARCs and pre-release copies of Out of the Grey will be available through a Kickstarter campaign in late March or April, along with some shameless merchandise such as t-shirts and mousepads. This venue is a great way to preorder, have a little fun, spread the word and it will help to get production of this new series off the ground.

How I Write

Everyone has quirks.

Everyone has patterns they fall into again and again.

Everyone has conditions they like to see satisfied.

My research supervisor wrote both poetry and particle physics. He once told me that he listened to blaring opera for the particle physics. I'm not sure how he wrote poetry. I doubt the recipe was any different.

I would like to say that the words just pour out of me when I'm writing, that the blank pages fill with pixels before my very eyes like magic. It doesn't happen that way though, not usually, not for me. Rarely, perhaps, but the typical process is much different and depends on many things, most notably my state of mind. I have to become lost in my own inner workings. Another precondition seems to be that some idea has to have been rolling around in my head for so long that I just have to get it out before it drives me mad. I may have a few notes scribbled on an envelop to help me out, or typed into my cellphone, rolled into a mnemonic, or otherwise recorded using whatever medium was available at the time. 

The biggest obstacle to writing: there is no time. 

For anything.

Life is busy, and so almost all of my writing happens during the minutes, the tens of minutes, and if I'm lucky, an hour or two in between everything else. It happens when I am up in the middle of the night, sleepless, and when I am waiting alone in my vehicle. It happens when I don't expect it. It happens after dinner when, with a glass of red wine in hand, I might be able to sneak away into our back room. The "Great Room," I call it. And it is a great room. It's about 26 feet long by 26 feet wide, with a red hardwood floor and a twelve foot ceiling at its center that slopes down parallel to the roof. It has a phonograph behind the bar and a milk crate of vinyl to go with it. Everything in that room is interesting to look at, from fantasy art to brightly colored metal bugs to resin casts of dinosaur bones and even a saber toothed tiger skull. A ceiling fan with a tree-stump for a base and antlers cupping light bulbs keeps the air from getting stale. A 400-year old table from Mexico holds my laptop and candelabra. There are big windows looking out onto farmland. 

And there is a sword hanging above the fireplace that I found buried in a construction site when I was ten years old. Yes, a sword. It was encased in cement and all the kids in the neighborhood tried to pull it free, but couldn't. When I tried, it slid out easily. I knew then that I would be king of the block from that day forward (OK ... just kidding about the last part, but I did find one).

That's another thing: letting yourself get carried away. You can always go back later and make better sense of what you wrote while chasing some elusive thought. You need that raw material. The raw material comes when you forget that you are typing, when you forget who is in the house or even who is in the room talking to you, when you forget all that is happening in the world except for the one thought you are chasing, the one idea that is so hard to catch you think it might not be worth the chase, that it might just slip away. But it is worth it. And it will slip away if you don't catch it right then and there. 

In essence, I just keep chasing. 

Where was I again?