On writermind and what comes next

So, in reference to the latest PSA, someone asked this, seemingly simple, question:

Uh, you DO have one more “Theo book” coming along some day, don’t you?

The answer to this question is. . . not simpleNot only is it not simple, I’m not certain I can adequately explain what we’re attempting with this sequence of five books, of which Dragon in Exile is the first.  Possibly, I could explain it. . .less disjointedly. . .to another writer (who isn’t Steve), but readers and writers are separated by the fundamentals that bring us together:  writers write; readers read.

So, I’m going to try to explain what we’re doing; apologies in advance if it makes no sense as you read it here.  We trust that the execution will be more illuminating.

. . .

Steve and I are now embarked on the writing of, as stated above, a sequence of five novels.  These five novels, in their entirety, are the. . .sequel, if you will, to I Dare and to Dragon Ship, in particular.  Discerning readers will have noticed that there are many people in play, and many. . .unsettled situations left at the end of those two novels.  You will also notice that there are several. . .Big Problems still on the board to be solved.

Solving those Big Problems is going to take the combined talents of All of Those Characters.  (Even Rys, who, when “his” book was pitched, was never intended to survive his redemption.) Theo, for instance, can’t solve All the Problems by herself.  Theo doesn’t even know what All the Problems are.

(We, ourselves, don’t see Theo and her adventures as being a spin off books.  In our view, Theo is very much entangled in the troubles that were introduced in Agent of Change, and which have only gotten more tangled since.)

The only way that we can proceed, being the writers that we are, is to continue as we began, and braid the character and story arcs until we reach the Thrilling Conclusion.

What this means is that it’s extremely doubtful that we will be writing a one character/one problem novel within the Five Book Dash.  The reason we pitched five intertwined novels is that we knew we couldn’t reasonably cope with all the necessary characters and arcs in one novel, and to write another Theo novel at this point in the Universe. . .would be cheating.

So, we’ve broken the characters and the problems out into sets, all aimed at the Thrilling Conclusion.  Some characters will move through several novels.  Some will vanish on a mission, and not be seen. . .for a while.  This will probably produce some very odd books and some folks will grow impatient with us for writing endless stories where “nothing happens”.  (Just got our first reader review of Dragon. . . in which the novel is described as being an unending series of lunches, tea breaks, and dinners in the snowy summer of Surebleak.)  We expect to see some readers lose patience.  We hope that most of you will stick with us.  We really think that we can pull this off, and that ultimate arrival will be worth the journey.

. . .that’s all I’ve got.

And now I need to go to work.

 

21 thoughts on “On writermind and what comes next”

  1. well, call me simple-minded, but I had heard that complaint of “nothing happened” before I was more than a little way into Dragon in Exile, and I have to say I thought a LOT happened. Of course, the kind of things that happened are the kind of things *I* care about, so, well, I’m in for the long haul anyhow, no matter what you do, I always enjoy it.

  2. I am *thrilled* to know that I have at least FOUR more novels about the best characters I have ever read in science fiction.. and God bless my daughter for saying quietly to me one day “um Mom, there are some books I think you would like.. they have lots in them about manners and speech and .. ” by that time I was Googling and buying on Amazon.. 🙂

  3. Sandra Neville, you raised a smart daughter.

    I’m always in favor of Thrilling Conclusions, as long as there are more things that occur after said conclusion in multi-faceted universes like Liaden. The idea that it takes five books to get there is a feature, not a bug, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. W R I T E ON! There will always be critics and some of them will write unfavorable reviews. Your fans love you and the characters and worlds you create for our amusement. Hopefully there are enough of US to keep YOU in reasonable comfort while you create our next FIX.
    MUCH LOVE! B

  5. Makes clear sense to me – and I am a reader, not a writer. To me a “Theo” book is one in which Theo has a role. But really, at this point, I’d like her to have a break – some boring and ordinary for a bit (which I sadly don’t see happening for a while). My real concern at this point is Daav, but I’m willing to be patient – I think I see where you are going with that. [Worried about Win Ton too, but at least he’s out of the box.] Oh, and Kamele – I’m *fascinated* by the possibilities of what she will do out of her Delgado shell, confronted by the “custom” that is Korval (and Surebleak).

    Passionate about the books as I am, I have not yet bought an eArc from Baen. So I am trying to avoid any/all spoiler material out there. Waiting for the real publication is like waiting for Christmas or my birthday – it builds character. [So don’t TELL ME!]

  6. I don’t mind five more books (or more). One author I know of pitched a trilogy to the publisher. Lets just say she had more than three books of writing to get the whole story down, and has finished (for now) the project after six (plus a collection of short stories). She has stated that while the major tale she wanted to write is done, the process gave her more material for her to come back to when she feels the urge to return to that world/setting. Keep writing until the story is told – the number of books is just a number, subject to change.

  7. I definitely sympathize. A couple of friends and I have been writing a series of stories set in a shared universe that sprawls madly across space and time almost as much as the Liaden Universe does. It started out of what was intended to be a short story, grew organically in the telling, and now spans more words than I really feel like counting.

    And we’ve found that we run into all sorts of troubles along the way as some stories run out of inspiration halfway through, and others have to wait on other stories that haven’t even been written yet. We write side stories to introduce new characters. Sometimes we find that other characters who were only supposed to be there as momentary foils to our putative protagonists suddenly (and rather rudely) shove our protagonists to the side and inform us in no uncertain terms that the story is now about them, thank you very much. Sometimes we write stories full of action and adventure. Sometimes we look back at a story find it’s made up of almost nothing but characters talking to each other. And we can’t always tell which a given story is going to be ahead of time. Inspiration is a messy thing.

    I’d really love to know what happens next with Theo, but I can certainly understand why she’s on the back burner for a while. It seems likely that the specific events she, Bechimo, and crew are most needed to take part in haven’t emerged in the main narrative yet. Theo can’t reenter the story until whatever she’s needed to do is ready for her. It makes sense.

    Really looking forward to finding out what happens next…

  8. One reader’s nothing is another reader’s everything. The Liaden books require close reading. Skim to the action, and a reader may miss significant information. The books have always been filled with seemingly mundane, quiet interactions that grow the world and the characters that inhabit it. Those moments are one of the many things I love about the books. If asked to describe what Dragon in Exile accomplishes, I would answer that it fills in many blanks. That isn’t nothing. That is everything to a reader like me, who tends to ask “but what about…?” frequently while reading. Many of my “what abouts” were answered, while many more arose, so thank you for your attention to detail and the mundane, life stuff that makes the characters so very real and rich.

    I enjoyed the Theo books, but she has grown up now and entered the wider world of Korval. To expect that she will “star” in her own book at this point doesn’t seem reasonable. She has become one in an ensemble cast of unique characters. I do look forward to learning what has become of her, Win Ton, Bechimo and the newly discovered sapling, but I will wait patiently with full faith that all will be revealed at the appropriate moment.

    While I wait for the June publication of the edited book, I believe I will read the entire universe again. Seems a good use of my reading time.

  9. Lots of luck getting it done in five books. Robert Jordan had planned to write his Wheel of Time story in three – and we both know what happened to that. lol

  10. I agree with Mary, yours are often subtle actions and consequences in the Liaden books, and as a devoted reader, I love finding out what direction things will go in next for all the Liaden characters. I am looking forward to getting a hard copy of Dragon in Exile as soon as it hits the shelves.

  11. It can seem as if nothing much happens in the opening moves of a chess game but that isn’t at all the case. If you just skim the surface looking for the ‘action’ you’ll miss all the subtleties. Most of your readers appreciate them. I’m starting my second read to see what I missed the first time around.

  12. Thank you so much for making the universe we love so rich and interesting. I would rather wait for one of your well written, beautifully crafted books than have you dash something together to get it out the door.

  13. That reviewer sounds like someone I don’t wish to know. Sniff.
    Please forge ahead – the rest of the universe is waiting with baited breath.

  14. I loved this eARC, partly because (on one hand) so much happened while at the same time (on that proverbial other hand) much of what happened was subtle, and going on in the interstices of the moments that make up lives. I can see how people who prefer explicit physical action may have found it slow, but to me, it was dense and full of movement.

  15. I think the attention to detail, world building, characters etc. is what makes the books able to be read over and over again. I’m usually in impatient reader, but I love your work.

  16. SO looking forward to more of these. SO much. Readers who think “nothing much happens” aren’t reading deeply.

    So write on, and I’ll keep reading ’em.

  17. I imagine it’s highly probable Theo and company might well appear in a book that isn’t exclusively about them. We haven’t really had a “Shan book” since Conflict of Honors, but he’s been present most of the time since nonetheless.

    I’m really looking forward to the meeting between Kamele and Theo when Theo gets back to Surebleak and discovers the amazing new person her mother has grown into…

  18. this reading-household is definitely not losing patience, and we are definitely ‘in it’ for the long haul! Bless you as you write! Sending warm thoughts your way – B.

  19. Just finished the Dragons in Exile e ARC – loved it.. looking forward to the full five novel sequence. Plenty of action, enjoyed how the characters were handled, interesting sociological issues confronted, loved the echoes of Georgette…

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