I have been busy working on chapters 16 and 17. There has been discussion on a few sites about what happens unseen to the text of a book as it goes through the many re-writes and necessary edits that publishing generally demands.
Despite the lure of the sun and the airplane-free, ash flecked skies, work on Invisible City continues at a furious pace. Thirteen chapters now have passed under the many bridges and life is getting interesting both for the finder Sevius and his adopted sister, Alyia.
The metropolis is transfixed by the nightly spectacle of the festival of Veostalia/Uropolis while the days have been plagued with odd outbreaks of violence and simmering unrest across the great ruined quarters of the Invisible City.
As our intrepid finder emerges from the belly of the earth mother and three dark figures appear unbidden at the feast in the hall of the caravaners, the next chapters await.
I'm having a grand time as wellliving in interesting times, watching the story change and shift from its abstract conception into something that at times possess all but a will of its own.
There exists, or so it is whispered in hushed voices by the wise in those places of the world were great secrets are known, an Invisible City. It is the centre and the beating heart of a vast unknowable empire. Four diverse quarters span this uncertain terrain; alien zones pushing outwards in each cardinal direction. Together they form a shifting endless sphere of city, each with their own ruling species, and not all of them human. On the land, under the earth, beneath the waves, and high above the broken spires, each zone a part of this most secret of metropolises. The great quarters of the city sprawl further fragmented into a mosaic pieced together from a thousand strange districts and unnumbered lesser wards. Communes which like their denizens, can not all be sure of lying beneath the same sun and moon as their brethren. Amid the ruins of long forgotten shrines and ancient boulevards, its citizen walk in circles, hands set perpetually upon each other’s shoulders, blindly seeking the way; each one following the next but none knowing where they go. It is a city whose greatest walls are built not out of stones but of secrets. Nameless and overlooked, it hides itself from the finding. It is a city which has had so many names over the long march of eons that now in the present thin age of our day it has none. There are of course those who argue that such a city belongs to no more than the annals of myth; a story told by passing fire-licked travelers to hold back the darkness and bifurcate the night. To those who think such a capital a physical impossibility, these tales are not worth the re-telling save to be presented as evidence of the easy credulity and simplistic superstitions of those whose current state has not moved far apace from the primitive. They are, of course, wrong and on all counts. For the city exists, sat behind its occluded walls like a transparent spider hidden in the silken funnel of its web; a principality not of the lands on which it touches, but a wedge, an opening, a void of an un-place which hangs cradled like a crack in the walls of the world.
Welcome then traveler, welcome to the Invisible City.
So I've taken the (bold, the foolish, the unadvisable) the maddening step of introducing multiple points of view to the novel. Let me rephrase that. I have taken the step of introducing a few chapters which follow more closely the actions of a handful of other characters important to the story.
Now in and of itself, this is old rope in my chosen trade. Large multi-book epics like those which are to comprise the Secret Quarto series are full of digressive bolt holes, swarms of characters, and the frequent switching between the main (or even minor) protagonists, sometimes chapter by chapter.
However, the book Invisible City follows a central path which revolves around a single character. He is not alone, but he is the flame to which most of the others are drawn.
For a while I wondered if I should simply keep the narrative anchored to his solitary viewpoint, as after all, the story unfolds mostly (or entirely) in traditional third person narrative. There are ample opportunities to give a bit of the light over to those others who crowd the scenery without bestowing on them more.
But I'm finding that it's not enough. Other voices and other stories are demanding to be heard. Reports from places just a little to the left or right of the centre, seem to clamour for their fair share of my words. Of course, to a degree I must deny them this or risk plunging into a morass of stories and characters from which the central tale might never emerge (George R. R. Martin might be able to pull it off, but for my first book I'd like to stay paddling in a smaller pond).
If they are to have a separate voice in the narrative, it will be one that is unequal. I simply have too much to do and say with the main character of the tale to leave him absent from the stage for long. Whether he shall turn out to be the hero of his own story, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, my pages must show.
I am left feeling a bit like a ship's captain on the night of a planned mutiny. I can see it coming. I'm uncertain if I'll survive it intact or even be able to influence the course it takes; but it is too late to stop it entirely with liberal rations of rum and the lash.
Perhaps I'll just tie myself to the wheel and see where the current takes us.
Work on Invisible City is progressing nicelyat a glacial pace. I feel as if I'm getting a real sense of the place. Something so important to me, as otherwise, it's hard to feel the imaginary spaces my characters need navigate, and not just the physical ones but the hum and vibe and smells of a living place that only exists in my feverish imagination. Alongside them, the characters are drawing into clear focus as well.
One thing I'm struggling with, or perhaps a better description would be "considering," is whether or not I want a prelude or prologue in the work. I chose both. The nice thing with this, is that for now I can leave it hanging and always come back to one if I desire, further down the line.
Why bother? Many writers and critics are dismissive of prologues, but personally I enjoy them. And like maps (this is going to be another interesting knot to work out -how to map an invisible city whose very streets, houses, and districts frequently go wandering) they seem an important nod to the holy conventions of my chosen genre. The solution, no maps.
Anyway, I like them because you can throw in something light and interesting, like a starter or even an amuse-bouche, with characters and outcomes only distantly related to the main thrust of the story, before moving on to the weightier courses.
We'll see. For now, I'm moving on, full steam into the next chapters.
It's official: Book One of the four books I have planned to form the core of the Hidden Universe series, is in production. The project started on 1 April, a fools journeyI know, but who but fools dare to try in the face of today's publishing industry.
As if that was not enough, I've decided to make thing more interesting: I'm outlining the entire book, from start to finish, in just 10 weeks. My goal is to produce around 5 chapters a week with a final count of about 50, resulting in a book of 480-600 untold pages, give or take a bit more or a bit less.
After that, I'll package it up with my already written cover letter and off it will go to the list of agents that I'm trying to seduce with the smell of its freshly inked pages. I'll spend more time editing and rewriting than all the time spent writing it to begin with. And that's just a start, it seems.
I think it can be done, and more importantly, be done well. If nothing else, it will be exciting to see how things develop working to such a tight schedule.
I am now part way through chapter 5, with 97 pages under my belt. I've spent some time as well choosing my epigraph, plotting out the major events of book one, creating most of my major (and a few minor) characters, locations, world building, races, magic, technology and figuring out the various threads from other existing works that I want very much to weave into my own special creation.
The book holds quite a very few classic fantasy tropes, but I'd like to think it is a recipe leavened by liberal amounts of the weird, wonderful, strange, and down-right noir-ish, and that I've done them better than most.
Well, that's it for now. Keep your eye on this space for regular updates, though most of my limited time as a full time carer for two under fives has got to go into stealing those scant few hours each day to actually do the writing bit which I'll admit, is hard graff if you can get it.
I'm now on Twitter as well all the time, so some of my updates will likely find their way there as well.
I hope you enjoy the ride odyssey, and as they say, buy the book.
The Invisible City has shimmered into view. Enjoy it traveler. I've put up this blog to keep a watch on my newest creation, and what will be hopefully, my debut novel in the realm of fantasy fiction.
I hope you'll enjoy watching it go from a misty conception to a full-fledged creation. There are bound to be bumps and various cliffhangers along the way.
Watch this space for regular (but not too frequent, seeing as most of my time right now is to be tied up in my tight writing schedule of 10-12 weeks to kick things into motion) updates on how the project is progressing.