Work-in-Progress Update: The Thousand Shattered Gods & “The Rose and Honey Soul”

The Thousand Shattered Gods

My WIP novel finally has a name: The Thousand Shattered Gods.

I don’t want to say too much at this point about the plot, etc., but I will say that it’s set in the same universe as “The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tou Ma,” my novelette that was originally released in Unfettered II, and shares a principal protagonist: Farid Sulayk. My plan has always been to have a series of novels with intersecting short fiction, and this is the start of that.

You may have seen my Twitter conversation last week about epic fantasy. It began with me searching for book recommendations, but an off-hand comment about how, in my heart-of-hearts, what I *really* want to be writing is big, adventurous ’90s-style epic fantasy, but that I was under the impression that it was a hard sell. Thanks to encouraging feedback from Brit E. B. Hvide and Hannah Bowman, two people with loads of experience in the publishing industry, however, I returned to my outline for a novel I started working on a couple of years ago. It didn’t have a name, and I’d stalled on writing it after about 20k words because something just wasn’t quite right.

The fact that the novel didn’t have even a working title was always a big red flag for me. Titles are always one of the first pieces that falls into place for any of my writing projects (in fact, several of my stories, including “The Penelope Qingdom,” *began* life as a title and the story came afterwards).

On reflection, a lot of this is because I was trying to write to “the market,” and the structure of the novel, and a lot of its conflict, was trying to emulate the post-GRRM fantasy that’s so popular right now—dark, political, gritty. Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time revising the outline, filling in gaps, shuffling stuff around. Characters have changed. Plot lines have changed. It’s received a big ol’ shot of ’90s epic fantasy, and it’s SO. MUCH. BETTER.

The big thing for me in trying to write to my heart’s content will be capturing the tone, texture, colour, and emotion of ’90s epic fantasy. A world you *care* about, bright, lively action, adventure, big set pieces, awesome magic, harrowing escapes, plucky heroes—The Thousand Shattered Gods has it all.

As a teaser, one of the main settings in The Thousand Shattered Gods is inspired by the Kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger and Airbender Temples from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Hope you’re not afraid of heights!

But, before I get too deep on it, I’ve got to finish:

The Rose and Honey Soul

Most of my writing time is going towards “The Rose and Honey Soul.” I’ve been working on this novella on-and-off for about 2.5 years now. Inspired by Dark Souls—a dark, gothic video game in which the player explores a dangerous fantasy world—its one of the darker stories I’ve written. Literally. Its set in a weird post-apocalyptic fantasy world full of armoured knights who search the land for relics of the old world, mythical dragons, fungus-powered generators that provide life an sustenance to cities that are like small islands in the darkness. But, it’s also a story about hope and clinging to that which you love, about refusing to bow to darkness.

I wrote about 5k words of the manuscript a couple of years ago, and had a bare outline to work from, but hit a wall and progressed no further. Earlier this year, after months of working on the outline sub-consciously, everything clicked into place, I beefed up the outline (taking it from novelette range to novella), and started writing furiously. It’s about 18k words now and I’m just reaching the second act climax. I hope to have a good draft done before winter.

Upcoming releases:

  • “Youngblood”—This short story (5.5k words) was originally written with Uncanny Magazine’s Dinosaur issue in mind. It’s about a young woman named Youngblood, her raptor companion, Lady, an island populated by dinosaurs, and a harrowing escape from an armed militant group. I like to think of it as Jurassic Park meets LOST meets Predator. I’ll be officially publishing it on Medium in the next couple of weeks—with snazzy cover art and nice formatting—but you, dear patrons, can read it RIGHT NOW on Patreon.
  • “The Dinosaur Graveyard”—This long flash story (or short short story?) will be released on the ROBOT DINOSAURS! website for free next Friday (Aug. 24)! I wrote it specifically for A. Merc Rustad’s anthology, and cannot wait for you all to read it. It’s about growing up, letting go of the past, parenthood, and, of course, robot dinosaurs. More info here.
  • “The Penelope Qingdom”—This story was first published in Mothership Zeta in 2016, and is being reprinted as a podcast by Cast of Wonders later this year. I am *beyond excited* to have a story in Cast of Wonders—I’ve long been a fan of the Escape Artist podcast magazines, so this is a bit of a dream come true. In the meantime, you can read “The Penelope Qingdom” on Curious Fictions.