Sunday, September 21, 2008

Texiana - The Next Chapter

These last few weeks, I’ve been in the process of wrapping up the final loose ends of the Adelsverein Trilogy. The cover for it will be done when the cover artist comes back from vacation, and my prospective-hopeful-maybe employer is going over the final draft with a fine toothed comb. She edits for a living, to the very strictest standard, and asked me if I would let her do this – she loved reading “Truckee” but said there were a fair number of spacing errors and typos in it. So – the first two books are pretty well wrapped up, and I sent out most of a box of twenty of the first volume – Adelsverein: The Gathering as review copies to various websites and publications. (I will link to the reviews as they appear)

Time to think about the follow-up writing project – what to do next? Blondie, my daughter, wanted me to do something set in Ancient Rome. She had an idea about some characters, a family of jewelers in 2nd century Rome, and a children’s adventure set in 1st century Britain, about the children of a Druid who escape the massacre of the Druids on the Isle of Mona. I just couldn’t warm to either proposition. This writing thing, creating characters and a story, making it live so that other people get into it — you have to be into it yourself. It has to kick up a spark in you, one way or the other. It’s hard work, long and complicated and pulls a lot out of you. And it also helps to already have a lot of the required reference books on hand.

So, it’s back to the 19th century frontier. I had been kicking around the idea of going back and doing a sort of prequel about the early American settlers in Texas. I had alluded to some of the incidents and accidents involving the Becker family, and thought it might be interesting to do a book about Margaret Becker, who was a walk-on character, but with a fascinating story in her own right as a society hostess and entrepreneur. I also wanted to carry on the story of some of the Becker children, perhaps with involvement in some of the hairier range wars, like the Mason County Hoo Doo War. I did fear I might beat the franchise to death, or get into a boring rut… but there were so many angles and characters I wanted to explore, and if I had given in to that impulse as I was writing Adelsverein, it would have been several times longer.

The next project came into focus when the notion popped into my mind that I should also do a book and follow the adventures of another peripheral character in Adelsverein. I had made a passing reference to the fact that this person had gone to California with a herd of cattle during the Gold Rush, had stayed for a bit and then come back. Ah-ha! I had always wanted to write a picaresque adventure about the California Gold Rush, of following the trail, and of the whole great and gaudy Gold Rush experience, when Argonauts from the world over poured into California by ship, by wagon train, mule train and on foot.

So there it is – another trilogy; independent of Adelsverein but linked to it, focusing on certain minor characters which I have already created and know something about. Three different roads, three different searches; working title “The Western Trail Trilogy”. I’ve already done a couple of chapters on the first one, and begun reading a tall stack of books. Books about pre-Republic Texas, about the Gold Rush, about range wars and vigilantes… some of them that I can even take into work with me and sneak in a couple of pages between phone calls. So there it is – something to look forward to, when you have read all of Adelsverein. Which will be available in December, don’t forget.

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