On to Book Four!

Well, The Fiend and the Forge is finally in the bag. Edits are completed, the drawings are finished, and now I turn my attention to Book Four….

Given the fact that I was so late with Fiend, I’m anxious to get back on schedule with the fourth book and ensure it’s arrival in 2011. To make that happen, I’m now camping out in cafes and plotting out the storyline in some detail while also kicking around cover ideas so that the fantastic cover artist (Cory Godbey of Portland Studios) can get cranking. Typically, the publisher likes a cover well in advance so that the sales/marketing people can get excited about the book and start bringing it up in their conversations with booksellers, etc.

We’re still deliberating titles, but the current leader in the title race is The Maelstrom (which is an epic storm that threatens to pull everything into its vortex). It’s a neat concept and lends itself well to a cover, but we’ll see if it’s the final choice.

Planning the fourth book poses some unique challenges. Although there may be more books that detail Rowan’s past or future, the fourth book is the last that will involve Max and David as the central characters. Given that, I have to tie all of the plot threads together and bring their tale to a satisfying conclusion. In some ways this makes things easier as it forces me to conclude a number of storylines, but it’s also a tricky thing to do so with a sense of proportion and elegance (i.e., there will inevitably be some subplots that I wish I could explore in more detail).

When I’m planning out the story, I tend to think in a playwright’s terms – acts and scenes. I break up the storyline into five acts, which have four to six chapters that each comprise some two or three scenes. Given that this is the last book in The Tapestry, I’m also making big lists of characters and plot threads to ensure that I give each the attention they deserve.

Experience has taught me the value of flexibility. Ultimately a novel is not a five-paragraph essay and I’ve learned that it really doesn’t pay to plan things out in excruciating detail. During the writing process, new ideas inevitably occur and sometimes a character or scene will clamor for more attention. There are times when I might even decide to change a major plot point or development. That’s one of the more fun aspects of writing and I always try to leave the story and characters a little room to stretch their legs.

I’ll be checking in as the planning and writing unfold. I’ll also be making some changes to the website (a character guide, updates for Book 3, and maybe a new game). Please keep checking in and thanks again for all the nice notes.