A quick update on the arrival of the Lords of Midnight novel. Been in conversations with my publisher (FBP) this week on the timing of editing, cover production, typesetting etc. Unfortunately, we have a further short delay. Editing, in particular, can’t be rushed and needs to be done properly.
Apologies for this, but it’s a combination of workload and a few other events beyond our control. The birth of books is never a straightforward thing!
We are now expecting the book to be available at the end of May this year (rather than March) about an additional 8 weeks.
On a more positive note, my wife is reading the draft at the moment (she’s particularly good at spotting plot-holes) and so far we have a thumbs up. She likes it more than my previous book, Elite Dangerous: Premonition!
Another milestone today on the road to the next book. The second draft is completed!
This is an essential point on the road to getting the book ready. We’re not quite done, that’s the third draft, but we’re a ways along from the first draft. 🙂
So what do we have at this stage?
Simply put, Chris and I have fixed the major continuity issues, we’ve sorted out the pace and the structure, we have an end-to-end story that works. All the lore aspects have been checked and adjusted where necessary. This is the biggest concern at this stage, particularly as Lords of Midnight is very ‘lore heavy’, there’s a lot of detail that needs to be right, both for this book and for potential future ones.
Much of the stuff that is mentioned in the Lords of Midnight foreshadows the events of the other games in the series, and we want to be able to write those books too. Thus we’ve planned to ensure there is an ongoing continuity to the lore that will straddle several stories. Hopefully we will see the events of Doomdark’s Revenge, The Citadel and the Eye of the Moon.
So what’s next – that would be the third draft!
The second draft gets sent to professional editors, who sort out all the detailed ‘writing craft’ issues; POV, typos, repetition, overused adverbs, clichés, dodgy dialogue and so on. Basically tidying it up and making the scripts punchy and tight. It makes a massive difference to the quality of what you end up reading.
All those changes come back to me for review. Typically I agree with about 95% of them. A few I will reject (usually because the editor doesn’t understand the lore in depth and they’ve picked on on something lore specific which looks odd) and a few will be just because I prefer the original.
After that? It’s proofreader time. I have a bunch of folks that will read my book with a view to eradicating any remaining typos (they are tricky beasts to get rid of!). Then that final version goes back… and it’s turned a book!
Yesterday I reached a major milestone in the production of my latest book, The Lords of Midnight. The first draft is complete!
Those of you who have followed this blog for quite some time will know that this is an important step, it means there is a ‘story’ end-to-end based on the original plot and direction and that the greater bulk of the writing itself is done.
Yet, in some ways, it’s just the start!
From here the story has to be tweaked and fettled. I do edit quite a lot as I go on, so this draft isn’t as rough as many fellow authors’ would be, it’s probably more akin to what most writers would consider a ‘second draft’, but it still needs a lot of work.
From a pure editing perspective there will be typos, grammar issues, clunky sentences, insufficient character differentiation, repeating words and phrases, too much or too little description, continuity errors and bad POV changes and scene transitions. This is quite tedious to fix, but I’m fortunate to have an excellent editor with her red pen poised to wreak bloody havoc over my manuscript…
However, before that, the story needs to have its lore, characters, situations and overall feel checked by the LoreMaster himself; in the case of the Lords of Midnight this is the inestimable Chris Wild who is both the expert and the ultimate decision maker on the lore as it relates to Mike Singleton’s world. As of yesterday evening a draft is with Chris for review and comment.
Thus there is an awful lot of work still to do, we may have won a skirmish, but the battle continues!
However, having skim read what we have already, I’m confident we have a good foundation to build upon. For me, after the event, it’s fascinating to see the differences between the first draft and the final edit. There are massive changes in some places, minor nips and tucks in others.
It’s all aimed at ensuring the book, and the story it tells, is of the highest possible quality. This book was original promised back in 1984 by Beyond, the company that published the original game – they failed in that particular quest. 33 years later we’re on track to close that circle – but we want to ensure that we do the best job we can, making something that Mike himself would be proud of and that lays a solid foundation for future books if this one is successful.
For now then, a brief hiatus as the year draws to an end. The Solstice is here, but before long glad hearts and minds will turn to longer days and the promise of spring. A new dawn for Midnight cometh!
A little bit of a milestone today – signed off the official Elite Dangerous forums for an extended leave of absence, after a 5 year stint I’m leaving that universe behind me and moving on to pastures new. I’m not involved with the game content at all any more – so please don’t ask me about the v2.4 narrative or the Thargoids – nothing to do with me!
Oddly enough, I played the original Elite for about 5 years (from 1984 to 1989) when I headed off to university, so it feels like a good time to move on after a similar timescale. I’ve uninstalled the game from my PC (along with a few other games too) in order to focus all of my spare time into my own creative endeavours – no distractions – though I’ll obviously be popping along to conventions and community events where I can.
In its place comes the space simulator “Space Engine” which provides similar, and often even better looking, space backdrops with the advantage that I can ‘go anywhere instantly’ and programmatically alter the contents with a bit of scripting. I’ve also acquired a commercial license for it, allowing me to export and use videos from it without having to worry about royalties. That gives me huge flexibility and creative control I didn’t have with ED.
Alongside this I’m also learning some 3D character animation software – I rather liked the ED character creator, but it was very limited, now I’ve got the opportunity to create animated characters all of my own.
With the combination of these two elements, a truly compelling narrative, some music and a lot of work, I’ve got all I need to make my own audio and video stories.
These will, naturally, be based on my books – the bread and butter of what I do won’t change – hopefully I’ll be able to crank them out faster.
What I have decided to do is expand the Shadeward universe quite dramatically. Shadeward is set in a semi-post apocalyptic setting, but the event that precedes the Shadeward series of books is only alluded to, never detailed. I plan to go back there and write books about that, but also go forward to alternative worlds that are concurrent with Shadeward, and tell other stories.
Whereas the folks in the Shadeward series suffered from regression in their technology, other worlds may have advanced in the same time frame, leading to the possibility that worlds not too far away may have very advanced technology.
In short this gives me the ability to write a space opera in the same setting, combining the best of what I did in my ED books in a new and more consistent universe where I don’t need to worry about ‘retcons’ or the limitation of gameplay. I can also stick to ‘real’ physics too. What I plan on providing is a space opera series set in this universe which fans of my ED books will find familiar in many ways – politics, skullduggery, machinations, space battles and so on – but in a fresh new environment and backed up by some ‘transmedia’ content in the shape of audio and video.
With my ED books I could never be in full control of my destiny, as I was subject to decisions that could sometimes overrule the stories I wanted to tell. I couldn’t construct as much detail in the plots as I wanted to, as I was never sure whether I’d be able to continue the story in the time-frame I needed, which required me to wrap things up – sometimes prematurely. There will be no such limitations for the upcoming books – I’ll release them when I’m ready and I’ll be free to convert them into whatever media I want to, when I want to – that gives you, the reader; listener and watcher – a better end result too.
So what is coming?
The expanded Shadeward universe (working title ‘Diaspora’) will be my ‘magnum opus’ 😉 In total I plan for it to be 16 books (4 of which are the classic Shadeward series) – 4 will be a high tech ‘space opera’, 4 will have an ‘exploration’ focus and 4 will tell the story of ‘what happened before’. That’s a lot of stuff (another 14 years worth) ! By the time I’m finished I’ll be somewhere near 60 and ready to retire.
Alongside this, I’m hoping to continue working on the Midnight Chronicles too – expanding the Lords of Midnight official novels – assuming the first one is successful. 🙂
So, moving on from ED is going to result in more stories… and I’m confident they will even better than what has gone before. Right now I’m close to completing Lords of Midnight – Shadeward 3 is up next… and the project will continue.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me in my writing all the way from my Oolite fan fiction and through the Elite Dangerous novels – I hope you’ll stick with me for more adventures in the void.
Rather pleased to announce that my latest book, the official novel Elite Dangerous: Premonition, won ‘Book of the Month‘ over at KindOfBook.Com.
Premonition was selected as a nominee amongst 12 other books that have recently been published and was the only SF novel in the mix.
One of the other novels was (and is!) an Amazon bestseller, sitting in the top 100 ebooks sold. Another was by a New York Times bestselling author. Frankly, once I saw that I didn’t think Premonition had a chance, but I was honoured to be included.
After a few days Premonition had pushed itself into a credible third place, unsurprisingly behind both of the novels mentioned above. However, with a few posts on social media, the FDev forums, reddit and a mention in the FDev newsletter (Thanks to Ed and Zac!) the word got out and Premonition’s share of the vote began to climb.
Soon we were in second place, and a few days before the end of the competition, the combined might of the Elite Dangerous community and the fanbase for my stories pushed Premonition into a commanding lead, 15% ahead of the bestselling Amazon entry.
To be frank I was a little gobsmacked by the result, but I shouldn’t have been. Time and again the Elite Dangerous community has proved its worth, it’s ability to mobilise and come together to support things.
This was also brought back this week in a different way. The charity I support with 10% of the proceeds of my books suffered from theft compounded by an arson attack. They pretty much lost everything as a result, utterly devastating. They’ve been working for years to support young people who’ve fallen out of school and college and need help getting their lives back together.
My family and I set up a JustGiving page to raise a few funds to help them get back on their feet. We set a modest target, and cracked it in a few days, but then the word got out to the Elite Dangerous community once more. In fact, the community got behind the funding before I had a chance to ask them. Lave Radio, Obsidian Ant, NatScrambles, Malic and DJTruthSayer were already on the case. As a result funding has skyrocketed to over £2,000. An amazing, humbling and astonishing result.
The page is still live if you’d like to donate > https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrew-wagar
Once more, I can only say a big thankyou. The Elite Dangerous community has supported me far more than I could ever have hoped for. You’re all brilliant.
Right on, Commanders.
The top question I’ve received regarding Elite Dangerous: Premonition (well, other than about boy wizards) has been “When is the audiobook version coming out?”
A little backstory here, if I may. 🙂
When I was writing my first Elite Dangerous novel, Reclamation, back in 2013, I wasn’t really all that aware of audiobooks. I did recall them from my youth, when I’d listened to Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, but at the time it hadn’t occurred to me that you did that sort of thing with science fiction.
However, when I undertook a small reading at the original LaveCon back in 2013, the response was hugely positive and it quickly became clear that I had to find a way to provide an audio version of Reclamation. Fortunately my publisher, Fantastic Books, was able, via Kickstarter, to fund the recording of Reclamation and by combining the voice talents of the wonderful Toby Longworth and the recording and edit expertise of Chris Jarvis, Elite Dangerous: Reclamation the audiobook came into existence.
You can play a sample here, courtesy of Audible.
Audiobooks are extremely popular. They provide some notable conveniences. It’s impossible to read a book when you’re driving, but an audiobook is the perfect accompaniment to a long journey – and that applies whether your commute is on a road, train or in supercruise! Some folks either don’t enjoy reading directly, or don’t have the time, whereas an audiobook can fill in that gap.
Additionally, audiobooks bring a different dramatic emphasis to the story. I’ve listened to Reclamation myself and it comes across in a new way in its audio format – not better or worse, but different. The addition of actors, actresses, editors and sound technicians adds new creative ingredients.
Fast forward a few years and the sequel, Elite Dangerous: Premonition is out in ebook and paperback… so where is the audio version?
The answer to that question is that the decision rests with Frontier Developments themselves. Whereas I Kickstarted my license for Reclamation, and FBP kickstarted the production costs of the audio work for it, this time around Premonition is Frontier’s IP, their book. I was commissioned to write it, but the production of different versions of the book is up to them.
Creating an book isn’t cheap, but creating an audiobook is significantly more expensive. You have to pay actors/actresses and their expenses, you have to hire a studio, you have to pay for extensive editing, potentially license music and incorporate sound effects. Ultimately it’s a commercial decision – will sales of the audiobook justify the costs involved in creating it? Can Frontier make a profit? They’re a business at the end of the day.
Many folks want an audiobook version of Premonition. For Frontier to be able to gauge that demand, a forum thread has been set up. If you genuinely want a copy of Premonition in audiobook format, please let them know with a post to that forum, indicating your support and the reason you want it.
Essentially, the more people who indicate their support, the more likely they are to product it – it’s as simple as that! 🙂
At the time of writing 3 pages of posts are already there, which is fabulous. Please keep it coming. I’d love to see this happen myself.
Right on, (and listen on!), Commanders!
I’ve been giving the website something of a belated ‘spring clean’ of late. My intention is for it to be solely about my published books and associated events – various other stuff was cluttering it up. That’s now been pared back to the essentials and I’ll be focusing on that from now on.
One of the major components of this was my Elite Dangerous Lore articles. After Reclamation was released back in 2013 I began collating information from the game and my own work, with the intent of producing a ‘close to definitive’ lore account of the game. Back then not much was available, these were the days before prominent youtubers and twitchers, before wikis and so on. As time went on this became more and more complex, and not helped by the frequent ‘retcons’ of what had gone before. Other folks began covering the lore and doing it more justice than I could. Time was also an issue, researching items and writing them up is very time-consuming – a luxury I can no longer afford if I’m going to keep writing my books! I need to concentrate on my own lore too.
So, those articles have been transferred to the custodianship of, arguably, the most notable lore enthusiastic organisation in Elite Dangerous, Canonn Research. You can find my articles here.
You may also wish to check out the recently released Elite Encounters RPG by Dave Hughes, as it contains a 50 page Elite Dangerous lore guide within it – far more comprehensive than anything I wrote.
Alongside all this was my previous fan-fiction work with the Oolite Saga. This was very much unofficial work. I never charged for it and always allowed it to be freely available. Unfortunately there are some issues with hosting unofficial content side by side with official content, so I’ve taken the step to only have my licensed, or professionally published books available and referenced from this site. You can still find the Oolite Saga from Ascorbius.com, or via Google Play and Smashwords – and probably thousands of other less reputable sites. 😉
Hopefully this isn’t too inconvenient for everyone.
There have been lots of community events organised around Frontier’s games; LaveCons, FantastiCons and EliteMeets to name the most obvious. Frontier had their original launch party too, but this was the first event they’d organised specifically to celebrate and promote themselves. Frontier Expo 2017 was held at ‘Here East’ in the Olympic Park at Stratford, London.
Frontier have come a long way in a relatively short time, with new offices, new franchises and their own ability to publish games. The future looks bright indeed. 🙂
Jurassic World needs no introduction and, whilst it’s not really my thing, Planet Coaster is also a major source of excitement for many. It was clear though, from the cheer that went up, the the majority of folks were there for the most well known franchise – Elite Dangerous.
The Expo itself was a portfolio, a showcase of both past and present, with a collection of past titles and current ones on display, counterpointed by a variety of talks. These were provided by some notable people, with a heavy scientific bent; Professor Brendan Walker, who has the exciting title of “Thrill Engineer”, Astrobiologist William Bains and famous palaeontologist John ‘Jack’ Horner. There were second stage talks too. I’m sure all of these were excellent, but I can’t comment specifically as I never got into any of them during the day – I’m going to watch them online. Reasons for that later. 🙂
I was lucky enough to have a VIP pass, and thanks to the wonderful Bo Marit, I was able to avoid the main queue with my two sons after having a close up look at the scale Cobra Mk3 model outside.
Within, having picked up a ‘Goodie bag’ it was time to say hello to friends old and new. Lots of streamers were already on duty in a special room. I managed a wave at the ones I knew. 🙂 We all crammed in to see the day kicked off by Ed Lewis and David Braben before a huge 4k screen (backlit too, not projected!).
After that, effectively until 5pm, I was talking to folks and signing books. Premonition was on sale on the Frontier store itself, but many folks had brought my other books with them too. It was a great pleasure to do so.
I’ve no idea how many I did sign – I quickly lost count, but it was great to put names to faces, or CMDR names in some cases. I was quite overwhelmed by the response at the Expo to both the books and the storytelling involved. There was huge warmth and affection for it all, which was so gratifying to hear. It was fascinating and humbling to hear how excited individuals and factions were at appearing in the story, even if very briefly. It seems I also got most of the details right too – something I was very much aware of, the ED playerbase is extremely complex nowadays.
It was also encouraging to hear so many folks asking for another ED book. Two is not enough it seems. I’ll keep taking notes and see where we are after I’ve got a bit of my current workload out of the way. 😉
As always it was wonderful to catch up with folks. These meetings serve such an important social function, far behind just the subject matter. The communities built around the game are huge sources of support and friendship. All the old stalwarts such as Lave Radio, Hutton Truckers and so on where there, along with relative newcomers such as the EDRPG crew.
I’d arranged to spend an hour with the Children of Raxxla faction. I think 10 or so were present in total, many from overseas. It was wonderful to meet them in person after all our trials and tribulations in game. In addition, the actors who had played characters on the Zurara and acted out Salomé and Patreus’ altercation at FantastiCon were able to join us for a photo opportunity. Thanks Amelia and Jay!
Whilst our ‘little’ event back in April had its pros and cons, it was great to hear player perspectives, and I even got a little insight from Frontier themselves on how it had gone done. That everyone is still talking about it six months down the road tells you enough about its significance to the playerbase.
Despite all the time I didn’t manage to meet everyone I hoped too, but all too soon it was closing on 5pm and everyone was headed in to the ‘big reveals’.
It’s all covered across the forum and reddit in much more detail than here. Certainly from my perspective Jurassic World Evolution looks very exciting and my youngest son Josh (who’s the Planet Coaster fan in our family) was excited by new features there. As for Elite Dangerous?
I was gratified to see a cure coming for the ‘Beige Plague’! That and promised enhancements to exploration were the main things I took away as exciting for me. The Thargoid story line will be fun to watch unfold. New ships are fun too, particularly one of the old classics – the Krait. The text to speech mechanism in GalNet looks good too (wish I’d been able to use it!). I hope that will mean a narrative resurgence of GalNet itself and that Frontier have some folks in mind to write some good content there – it will need a lot to be compelling.
The future roadmap for the next year seems to be a consolidation rather than a huge step forward, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Many of the things being addressed have been outstanding issues for quite some time.
All too soon though, it was time to leave. With my two sons (neither 18 yet) alongside I couldn’t stay to the afterparty, so we said our farewells and headed home. I hope this becomes a regular fixture for Frontier – though based on the success of this one they may have to expand on their venue. It was pretty packed throughout!
Overall a great event, and huge thanks to all involved in organizing it – particularly to all those Frontier staff looking after stands throughout – a tough job with long hours. Right on. 🙂
As most of you know I’ve been involved with Elite (in its various forms) for a quite some time.
I played the original game back on a friend’s BBC Micro shortly after it came out on the 20th of September 1984. I was given it as a Christmas present in 1985 for my trusty ZX Spectrum home computer.
I distinctly remember seeing the Kickstarter for Elite Dangerous appear out of the blue on the BBC website – and that date was the 6th of November 2012.
My direct involvement with Elite Dangerous began on the 21st of November 2012 when I launched my own infamous ‘Kickstarter to fund a Kickstarter‘ in order to write one of the first official Elite Dangerous books.
Quite a lot has happened since. 😉
Most of it has been positive. I was able, with a lot of help from the community and permission from Frontier, to write two full length novels set in the Elite Dangerous universe (so far!) and create some memorable, if controversial, characters. This has been a great springboard for my own writing ‘career’.
There have been conventions, podcasts, interviews, twitch streams, community events, official events, in-game events and hundreds of emails. These have all been special, occasionally even moving and emotional. High points included LaveCons and FantastiCons, the various charity events, the official launch event at Duxford, Amelia and Jay performing Salomé and Patreus. I’m sure the Expo will be fun too. Fans even named a section of the Elite Dangerous galaxy after me and I have a ‘Galaxy’ hanging in my hall as a result thanks to the Children of Raxxla and the Galactic Mapping Expedition.
I have met a large number of people, many of which have become friends as a result. The ‘Elite’ part of my social circle is wide and diverse. Friendships forged there will be retained.
The blunt edge of criticism (some of it fair) for the things I tried did dull my enthusiasm for a time, but a bit of vitriol and disgruntled feedback is part and parcel of being a writer, of course. With the Salomé event, I tried something that hadn’t been tried before. It was certainly something which has yet to be matched; I’ll leave time to judge whether it was a success or not.
The game is very much established now. It’s an amazing creation, which is still breath-taking in scope and execution. I’ve been able to make a contribution to its evolution that would have amazed my wide-eyed 13 year old self back in 1984. I tried very hard to put into the game a bit of the elusive ‘content’ that folks asked for. Writing for Elite Dangerous has been a fascinating experience that I will recall with great fondness. It’s been, well, a 5-year mission!
My aim all along – aside from the mechanics of writing books, mission text, GalNet articles and some of the Engineers’ dialogue (Elvira’s flirty prose was one of mine 😉 ) – has been to simply entertain. If I’ve managed that I consider my contribution a success. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped and encouraged me along the way. There truly are too many to list. The passion and the enthusiasm of the community still shines through it all. The sheer dedication and application of effort is staggering.
There is an infinite amount of space out there, both literally and figuratively. Space for more stories, space for other authors to make their mark on the lore and begin new adventures in the void.
Would I write another Elite Dangerous book? I’d certainly consider it. Trilogies are always good and I’d like it to be a 3 book set. Perhaps ‘Elite Dangerous : Retaliation’ as we fight back against the Thargoids, or even ‘Elite Dangerous : Revelation’ – something about the elusive mystery of Raxxla? It would have to end in ‘tion’ whatever happens. 😉 I’ve jotted down a few ideas. We’ll see what the future brings.
For now though, I’m continuing to develop my own SF and Fantasy stories and working on other projects. So, if you like my brand of story-telling, look out for the upcoming Lords of Midnight and the remainder of the Shadeward Saga in 2018 and 2019. I’m actually a little behind on those, in part due to the work on Elite Dangerous, so need to make up time.
Unfortunately this also means that I no longer have spare time to curate my lore pages, so I’ve caveated them with a warning that they won’t be updated post v2.4. If you want content from them please grab it in the next few weeks before they are archived or you’ll have to use the Wayback machine. Frontier are now posting lore direct on the official forum, and most folks are now aware of Obsidian Ant’s excellent videos, so their original purpose has been superceded. Of course, if you want to ask me a question please feel free, I’ll do my best to answer.
I’ll also be taking down my unofficial fan-fic series, the Oolite Saga, towards the end of the year. So if you want a copy of those ebooks (they’re free), please grab them soon.
I’m sure the game itself will continue to go from strength to strength from this point forward. Personally, I’m looking forward to landing on the shore of an unnamed lake on some undiscovered Earth-like world whilst watching the star set on a panoramic alien landscape from the bridge of my old ship…
So thanks to all of you, particularly those who ‘remember’. As you’ll doubtless recall, Elite combateers always …. always make a difference.
Right on, Commanders.
A quick update, as time is pressing – a week to go!
Frontier have confirmed that there will be 150 paperback copies of Premonition available at the Expo. I have no idea how popular they will be but the usual ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’ applies!
I’ll be at the Expo all day, but watching the events during the morning and late pm. If you would like to have a chat, get a book signed or similar, Frontier have kindly given me a spot alongside the streamers, vloggers and radio shows in the community booth area during the afternoon from 1pm-4pm, so catch me there. You can see all who is doing what here.
We seem to be almost set, so look forward to seeing you there to learn more about the future of Elite Dangerous (and some stuff about dinosaurs and roller coasters 😉 ) and of course…
Right on, Commanders!