We are on course for the new edition of Children of the Shaman to come out with Kristell Ink in January 2017.

It’s going to have illustrations, about which I’m incredibly excited. It’s  like all my dreams coming true at once! The artwork, which includes a map, is by the talented Evelinn Enoksen, and I’m very happy with the results.

I’ve been flat out editing Malarat, my third book and the one I self-published. When I was selling it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc, it was 240,000 words long.

That’s long.

Most regular novels are 140,000 if that. A behemoth of a book at 240k, it needed to lose some weight, not unlike its author.

So I got out the “blue pencil” and cut it savagely (ow) and got it down to 186,000 words.

All the other books – Children of the Shaman, The Glass Mountain and the new kid on the block, Winterbloom, are shorter. If you can believe it, removing the word “that” got rid of a lot of surplus. Not to mention the old favourites like “at that moment” and “then”.

I am also working on a sequel. I think. I was going to do Nanowrimo but then I was too busy finishing the edit on Malarat (that’s my excuse anyway) and when it came to the crunch, I paused.

Oh fatal pause.

Because I would love to write something else set in the real world, like Winterbloom. There are two possible projects – Tunguska, which could be very short, and another less crystallised one, possibly called The White Rose.

Given all the rose-related stuff that pops up in Winterbloom, it would obviously be a follow-up to that. I have tried a few times to write something about Richard III, who I’ve been interested in since at least 1973. The problem with that idea is there are already some exceptionally good novels about Richard III, historical and fantasy, and since the recent surge of interest in the king there have been a lot of self-published novels as well.

So whenever I’ve started to write about Richard III, it doesn’t work. I feel as if I’m just rewriting other books I’ve read. And unfortunately one idea I had mulled over for years in a very vague way kind of got done by someone else – it was a self-published book but there is no way I could cover the same ground.

And I have a real problem. It’s called 15th century England. A Catholic country, before the Reformation, and imaginatively a very long distance away. I’ve used 15th century tropes in Malarat (a bit) and it made me aware that if you’re going to be realistic to any degree, it’s a tight squeeze.

Writers have dealt with this in a number of ways. Phillipa Gregory concentrates on the women characters – Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort. Freda Warrington has sympathetic female narrators and creates an alternative history version of 15th century England. John Crowley invented an alternative pagan version where Richard was a Mithraist and Christianity was a persecuted minority sect. I haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire (yet) but George R.R. Martin completely reworked the Wars of the Roses.

And that is to name but a few.

My predicament is rather like that described in this clerihew:

Cecil B. De Mille

Much against his will

Was persuaded to keep Moses

Out of the Wars of the Roses.

(DeMille and Hayne 1960: 106)

Or to put it another way – if I wrote a book about the shamans and introduced Richard III, or wrote a book about Richard III and crash-landed the shamans in it – that would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it.

Wouldn’t it?