I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how long I’ve worked on The Emperor’s Mistress. Way back in about 1990 I first discussed taking stereotypical characters of a D&D adventure—thief, cleric, mage, knight—and fleshing them out in a novel to prove the genre still had life in it. That discussion took place with a buddy of mine. I wrote the chapters and would pass them by him for his suggestions for improvement. We lived in separate states so we relied on Netmeeting to review chapters. His input was indispensable. In fact, I’ve dedicated The Emperor’s Mistress to him…Bill Bradford.
In the ‘80s, Bill and I were reporters at a daily newspaper in Leesburg, Fla. He covered cops; I covered the city of Leesburg and the citrus industry. The two of us and a cadre of friends played D&D and drank strawberry daiquiris on the weekends. Those were fun times playing with Sharon Benson, Jayne Love, Marge Holloway and Jennis Slaughter. Those “adult” adventures were the seeds of what became The Emperor’s Mistress.
Several years ago Bill suffered a stroke that put him in a nursing home in Fort Myers, Fla., near his son Morgan. At first, we telephoned each other on a weekly basis, but over time the calls became less and less frequent. When Wing e-Press told me they wanted to publish The Emperor’s Mistress, I tried to phone him with the good news. I was told he was no longer in the nursing home, and privacy laws would not let the staff tell me what had happened. Efforts to contact Bill’s ex-wife Terry and their son were not been successful. Since then I’ve learned that he is actually still in the original nursing home, and I’m not sure why the nursing home administration would not tell me anything.
The original first draft of the novel was finished about 2002 (the years begin to run together). Frankly, the manuscript was a mess. The story unfolded over 1,400 pages. I broke it into three novels, and began to workshop the first novel on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (OWW). The reviews were not dreadful, but neither were they glowing. I rewrote chapters, added new ones, and when necessary deleted others. The Emperor’s Mistress became a new novel. Book 2, Thief’s Coin, is completely new; nothing survives from the 1,400 page monstrosity. The detailed outline for the third book, Assassins’ Lair, is new as well. The outline is a nice roadmap, but I expect there will be detours once I begin writing the chapters. It’s the way the process works.
I’ve become a much better writer over the last seven or eight years, and I can’t praise fellow writers on the OWW enough for the help they’ve offered me. I’ve included on my website (lareniashadow.com) links to the OWW and to the websites of some of my “online friends.” Check out Michael Keyton’s web journal and the web journal and the goblin brothers’ website of Lindsay Buroker. Keyton is a true wordsmith and Buroker’s short stories about her goblin brothers are a delight.
You’ll like The Emperor’s Mistress as well. The girl thief Stealth comes to life within the pages. She’s a street-smart yet soft-hearted heroine who will steal your heart as you read. So please click on the link for the Wings e-Press website and consider purchasing The Emperor’s Mistress. And while you’re on the site, check out the works of the other authors.