Victory went to the Free!
A week and a bit on from the launch of “The Lords of Midnight” and the first reviews are in (beware – minor spoilers if you haven’t read the book). It’s with a little bit of relief, and big dollops of appreciation, that I’m able to report that the book has, so far, been well received!
It’s tempting to say that I had no doubts whatsoever that I’d done a good job, but that simply isn’t the case. “Pride cometh before a fall” is a familiar cliché, but it’s often true. You can think you’ve done a great job only to discover that folks didn’t like what you created. I’m always nervous before I launch a book, and this one was no different. Rather like my original Elite story ‘Reclamation’, there was an awareness that I was dealing with a venerable and very well-established franchise with a long history dating back 34 years. You muck these things up at your peril, the weight of fan expectation is significant.
Chris and I had long discussions about how we could deal with the overly Tolkienesque background to the story, the complete lack (by 21st century standards) of diversity in the original game, how to adapt the lore to cater for the inconsistencies between games and potential future novels, how to expand on the lore without writing ourselves into a corner, how to deal with the vast number of characters and do justice to them all. This was tricky stuff, particularly when a change to that lore could upset fans who are particular on a given point. Folks, particularly after thirty four years, have very concrete expectations and understandings of how things work.
All that said, it seems we have navigated those rapids and stayed afloat. At the time of writing a full 10 5 star reviews have been submitted to Amazon, many of which have praised the work Chris and I undertook on the lore and design of the story. That’s come as a welcome relief and a growing sense of achievement over the last week or so. It seems we pulled off a successful novelisation of Mike Singleton’s seminal adventure game, which bodes well for the future.
It’s also been heartening for me to see that I’m bringing new readers to my work, and that many are transitioning from my Elite books, to Shadeward and now onto (what I hope will be) the Midnight Chronicles. It means I’m not a ‘one trick pony’. Like an actor who doesn’t want to get typecast into a particular role, I was keen not to be just ‘that guy who wrote stuff for Elite’ either. The Midnight Chronicles and my Shadeward series are showing me that I can tell stories that folks want to read outside of the cockpit of a Cobra Mk3.
I’ve also transitioned from pure SF to pure Fantasy in terms of a move of genres. I’m not a big fan of genres per se, as I feel they may artificially constrain story-telling. However, there are differences between SF and Fantasy and having now done both I’ll say that I find fantasy is easier overall in terms of having less constrictions on what you can do. SF is much more rigorous, particularly ‘hard’ SF. That said, my approach has been the same, concentrate on the characters and the adventure and don’t ‘try to be clever’ – my stories are designed to be very accessible, readable in straightforward chronological order and don’t employ clever literary slights of hand. It’s a combination that seems to work.
I’m also conscious of the community of readers who’ve got me to this point. I’ve been thinking of ways to ‘give things back’ to the folks who’ve read my books and supported me along the way. One of these is my upcoming Twitch stream. I’m planning to answer questions regarding the ‘craft’ of writing and something of an insiders view of what it’s all about. I’m by no means an expert, in fact my highest academic qualification is a ‘C’ Grade O-Level in English Literature from 1986. However, writing a book that people enjoy reading isn’t the same as passing an exam, and I have now published 6 full length books which folks have enjoyed. That’s given me a certain experience of what works and what doesn’t and I’m looking forward sharing that and comparing notes with other people. If you want to join that you can follow me here > https://www.twitch.tv/drewwagar on Mondays at 8pm UK time.
So, many thanks to all of who have read Lords of Midnight, and particularly to those if you who have reviewed it! Reviews really do make a massive difference to the book’s visibility, so please review if at all possible. In this case, the success of Lords of Midnight will have a direct bearing on the likelihood of being able to write the second one, Doomdark’s Revenge. If you want to see the ongoing story, please, please review the current one! 🙂