Saturday, September 3, 2011

Discover the World of Stealth and Derrius...

A novelist can’t help but wonder if readers will feel about his book the same as he does.

He knows the publisher liked it enough to take a chance and publish it.

The staff at Wings, my publisher, uses test readers to initially assess a novel for readability and quality.

Two test readers get the first look at a novel. You want both readers to enjoy the read. That makes it more likely the book will eventually get the publisher’s nod of approval. That’s the way my first novel, The Emperor’s Mistress, got to be one of Wing’s General Fiction/Fantasy offerings.

My second novel, Thief’s Coin, had an easier route to publication. It didn’t have to go through screening writers. It went straight to the copywriter. Thief’s Coin is the second book of a fantasy trilogy called Larenia’s Shadow. I figure the staff felt the writing of The Emperor’s Mistress was high quality, and Thief’s Coin wouldn’t suddenly become blubbering awful.

I workshopped Thief’s Coin through two drafts on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Everyone seemed to like the main subplots – the ongoing love story of a prince and a thief, and the struggle of two fractured personalities sharing the mind of a sorceress.

A published author read my final draft and disliked the personality of my prince in the second book compared to how I left him at the end of the first book. She felt Derrius was far too wimpy and nonassertive and let Stealth make the decisions. She also felt I had made the sorceress into a character who no longer had overarching evil goals but wanted to torture people for meaningless reasons.

So I took the book through another draft, tweaking Derrius’s personality to make him a more forceful character once more and making clear that the sorceress’s off-the-wall behavior is due to her multiple personality disorder.

I like complex characters with personality shortcomings they must overcome if they are to succeed at their endeavors. All my main characters have flaws.

At the end of The Emperor’s Mistress, Derrius’s party has barely survived an attack of horse-size dragons called amphipteres. Half the party is dead. One of the main characters, an elf maiden named Arlienn, has been poisoned by amphiptere blood. The cure requires a potion with one unusual ingredient – the grounded up finger bone of the sorceress. One of the subplots of Thief’s Coin is how Arlienn and mage Teverus make plans to pilfer that finger.

In the first book Derrius pretends to lead a coming-of-age trade party while actually questing for a magical sword – Larenia’s Shadow – that dispels magic and if put in the hand of his uncle the Emperor would free him from the sorceress’s charms and love potions.

Early in Thief’s Coin, Derrius and his lover, the thief Stealth, must separate from the rest of the “trade party” and by themselves make their way to where the sword is hidden. They masquerade as runaway peasant lovers on the way to a nearby city to get married. Will the sorceress find them before the warring personalities in her head drive her mad? Will Stealth and Derrius use their new-found love to bond even closer and convince everyone that they are peasants on the run or will their old class differences lead to disaster?

Buy Thief’s Coin and find out.