2019: Back to Wisimir
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
It's 2019 and hopefully, this will be the year we return to Wisimir.
Way back at the start of the decade in 2010, I received a professional critique of my first drafted novel, The Forever Man. This was (and is) an urban fantasy novel that (at the time) I was incredibly proud of. I'd managed to get the draft to just under 100,000 words and was making a few tweaks whilst exploring publication options. I'd spent four years writing the book and had opted for (what I thought) was quite a cerebral mystery based novel, influenced by a variety of mythologies and contemporary fantasies.
The professional critique changed my perspective on the book entirely.
After reading the notes and the overview, I knew the book was not ready. I was also worried that I wasn't ready. At that point, I'd been teaching Creative Writing for seven years and was very concerned that I couldn't practice what I preached. I had something of a writing crisis. I didn't know how to fix what was wrong with what I'd written.
So I mothballed the project. It wasn't to re-emerge again until the winter of 2016 when I began collaborating with Rob Malan at Luna Press. The Forever Man was eventually published by Luna Press in 2017.
However, back in late 2010, I needed to work out what I would do next with my writing. At the time, Kindle was just beginning to emerge as a platform and I could see several self published writers making a success of their work as ebooks.
I decided to go back to what I loved; writing epic fantasy. I'd been tried to write that for most of the previous decade, finishing a novel draft in 2000, which I'd been continually trying to revise and re-work. However, looking at that again, I knew it would be quicker to start again.
So, start again I did, with The Sword of Wisimir.
Writing The Sword of Wisimir and its sequel, The Dragon of Wisimir took me around 20 months. Both books are approximately 60,000 words long. My plan was to release them together, taking advantage of Kindle's free book and low price promotions to 'hook' readers into my series and then writing one sequel a year to retain the audience. My writing stamina and pace had gradually been improving, so I felt able to manage the pace of one 60k book a year whilst I considered other stuff.
I published both books together in the fall of 2012. About a week later, I got involved in the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter and over the next three months, I became immersed in working on the lore for the subsequent computer game and official fiction release. I began work on Elite: Lave Revolution alongside working on the third Wisimir book, The Lord of Wisimir, which I published in 2013.
After that, for a variety of reasons I got stuck.
The Wisimir series is designed to be six books, essentially three 120k novels split into six 60k stories that continue straight on from each other. According to the schedule, The Magic of Wisimir should have been released in 2014, but Elite: Lave Revolution took up my time and it was pretty clear to me that I wasn't reaching a big enough audience for the Wisimir books. Part of that might come down to my lack of promotion of them, but I also had the sense of missing the boat. If I'd been able to leap on Kindle a year or two earlier, they might have flown, but I hadn't managed that, so they weren't. Putting the time into a fourth book became more and more difficult to justify as other projects emerged that seemed to offer me more opportunities. However, I did keep plugging away at the script and slowly, The Magic of Wisimir emerged. Better late than never, right?
Then in the fall of 2016, my father passed away.
The Wisimir story begins with a simple premise. Jack Von Drey steals a bag of gold coins. The ensuing conflict this provokes reveals a huge political battle being fought over the control of the city of Wisimir. One of the characters who is an integral part of that story is the incredibly powerful and ancient wizard, Magister Leel.
The Magic of Wisimir has whole sections devoted to the story of Leel. For the first time he takes the narrative perspective, which is something I'd avoided for a variety of reasons. The removed enemy as espoused by Tolkien and other writers had always been something I admired, but by book 4, I felt the 'greyness' of Wisimir's cast had been established enough for Leel to become a viewpoint character.
However, to write the viewpoint of an old man, I had been drawing on some of my Dad's perspective and thinking about the daily struggles he would have to do things younger people could manage without thinking.
To be clear, Leel is not a character based on my father. I have written other characters who draw on how I saw him as a man far more clearly. Leel is nothing like my dad in terms of his moral and ethical outlook on the world, but he does share the experience of feeling his mortality, something my dad struggled with after his kidney failure back ten or so years ago.
Prior to Dad's death, I had got about 35,000 words done on book 4. As with all my projects, I want to finish it. So, this year, we're going to make a bit of a push on the Wisimir books and try to reach out to the audience I think they deserve.
Since I wrote the last Wismir book, I've learned so much about writing and hopefully some of that learning can make its way into the next book. I've also made a lot of friends and acquaintances in the publishing industry. At first, I thought that might help raising the profile of my work, after all, people were asking me to read their books and review them, maybe they'd do the same for me?
Well, that's not really happened much. Those contacts and connections are more useful for my next projects, which is why I've found it a bit easier to approach agents and publishers with new stories. There's been some success with that and some nice opportunities when people have approached me, but it turns out I'm a bit shy about pushing my work under people's noses and my confidence gets affected more than I'd like when I get rejections. These are things we all need to deal with, but it can be hard and actually, you're allow to feel a bit down despite the "get straight back on the horse" attitude writers try their best to adopt.
When I wrote the last Wisimir, I'd never really heard of Grimdark Fantasy. I don't really know if Wisimir is Grimdark Fantasy, but its pretty gritty and dark. If you choose to read the series, I'd love to hear your views, and as with all writers these days, I'd love you to spend a few minutes reviewing the books on Amazon. The more you do, the more people see my work and the more encouraged I am to write book 4.