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The End

I think I've started this blog about four times now.... Anyhow, today it's going up because today Abendau's Heir is up for pre-order on Amazon and the release date of the 24 October has been confirmed. Which means that my days writing Abendau are over, at least for the foreseeable future.

This makes this blog a little more personal and reflective than I usually go. Abendau has been with me for nearly 30 years. That feels a very, very long time. Without going into horrid, hideous detail my secondary school days were not happy ones. When we face times like that, we react in many ways. I created a world to escape into.

That, partly, explains the classic SF feel of Abendau - this was back in the early to mid 80s. Blake's Seven had been part of my early SF viewing, Star Wars wasn't that long out and I was just to embark on the joy that was devouring the Dune books and finding out what a hero could really be. It, possibly, also explains some of the darker themes.
 But what I wanted to do in this blog was talk about the characters. Mostly, I wanted to talk about Kare, actually.

It's been a tad frustrating reading some of the reviews of Abendau's Heir, in particular, and seeing the comments that Kare is a little overshadowed by Ealyn (frankly, anyone would be) and wanting to say that I agreed, just a little. Sure, he had to be charismatic enough for people to believe he could the hero and likeable enough for people to read on, but he was never the Kare that I wanted to write about and who I knew in my mind so well. That Kare is the older man, the one we see glimpses of in book 2 and who fully arrives in the final book. In fact, when writing Heir, I had to get to know the young Kare properly for the first time - a very odd concept akin to having Time Travelling characters and regressing to their childhood.

When I got my first edits - the extensive ones - very, very few mentioned Kare at all. For the first time, I'd written a Kare from the heart, who didn't need editing, who I knew well enough that his actions made sense in the same way my own would (whilst being very different actions. Because he
is not me, or an extension of me, or anything to do with me - he is nothing other than a place to
escape and daydream about.) I'm hoping that is reflected in any reviews.

A trilogy is a huge undertaking. To take a story and wrest it into shape, to keep characters fresh and interesting throughout, to keep continuity in place over three books is something harder than I ever anticipated. To have that - one of my best achievements in life, I think - come out of difficulty and dark days is immensely satisfying.

Abendau accounts for about half of my first million words, between old versions, new versions, a version best never referred to (that I actually subbed about a decade ago. I'm so sorry, Snowbooks. Forgive me...), and ditched beginnings (70,000 of Abendau's Heir went in one single delete once. I think I still have it saved somewhere.)

From getting bored in June 2011 and deciding to write the story to joining my first forum to find out How-to-write-a-book in the November that year, Abendau has taken until now to complete. The timescale went something like this:

2011-12 I learned to write a book (mostly - I've got better since then). And wrote my second book (Sunset Over Abendau.) And then decided that churning out a new novel in 10 weeks was the done thing and wrote Inish Carraig for a competition.

2013 - I entered Abendau's Heir in an open window that took 18 months. Then I started to get agent interest in Inish Carraig. Whilst the sub process ground out I drafted Abendau's Legacy, just to know I could finish what I started.

I also got my first (very bad) offer and my second (good) offer on the trilogy. Happiness! And an agent. Double-happiness!

2014 - This was the year of a lot of work on Inish Carraig (and the first draft of Waters and the Wild). I thought Abendau was lost. Then I got a third offer, with Tickety Boo Press who were just starting up, and I took it. And then nothing more happened the rest of that year with it. (This is what publishing is, actually - a lot of periods were not a lot happens.)

2015 - Started on the bleak note of losing my agent. January. Dark, dreary day. Blunt email.

Moving on.

But Abendau's Heir came out! Hurray! My first book. And people liked it - mostly, I always knew some of the themes were a hard sell and that it was only over the whole trilogy that I'd do what I wanted with the characters and setting. From start to release, then - about 4 years. Urgh. Some of the self publishers I know do that step in a few months.

I can say, hand on heart, my trilogy has flaws (many of which reviewers have nailed) and many strengths (I think the set of characters is a strong one, and bringing them to life is where the book is best). But to write something like that as my first project, with no published short stories behind me, no knowledge of structure or storytelling, and make it successful, is something to be proud of. I don't often say that, actually - I'm quite embarrassed to say it now.

Today the final book of my first trilogy is available on Amazon. It's available here   And I'm very proud.


Peter Johnstone said…
Well done for finishing such a massive undertaking. Isn't it great to get a finished product out there? I'm so glad to hear about you living with your characters. I got to know mine so well that I wouldn't have been surprised if they knocked on my door, they felt so real.

Celebrate the majority of the work that you think is great. Every book has faults but the end result - did the reader enjoy it - is the main thing. I've read lots of terrible stuff that I really liked, and some of the fantastically well composed classics leave me cold. You're a story teller and an entertainer and, if we're entertained, job done.
Joanne Zebedee said…
It is nice to be finished and will be delighted to have them all on my book shelves! I can't think of a single book I love that doesn't have flaws - it would be a boring world if we attained perfection.

Good luck with your launch!