After a hiatus of over a year, I've finally published another piece of fiction, the newly released The Scars of Ambition, the first book in a new series called The Cumerian Unraveling.
Why did I stop? Why did I come back? Why does this book look so different than my previous books? The answers to all of those questions are tied up together in the basement, and it's time to let them out.
When I was writing full-time for a living, the market pressure of publishing in order to earn became too large a factor in what I was writing. Some of my previous novels failed to connect with readers, probably because I wasn't really being true to myself and what I really wanted to write. In truth, I wasn't connecting with my characters in some of those books or their stories. I told them because that's what I thought YA readers wanted to read, but in truth I'd stopped being a YA author long ago.
Suspense barely deserves the YA label. It's dark, mortality is a constantly at the forefront of the narrative, and the characters generally have a rough ride. Maybe too rough and too dark, because some readers found parts of it jarring. It took a long while for me to put some of those old stories behind me so that I could feel like I could start fresh and align myself with a story I felt passionate about.
Other circumstances changed as well. If this book doesn't sell a single copy, I'll be just fine. And because of that, I'll be able to go ahead and write the sequel too knowing full well that the only thing I have to accomplish is writing a kick-ass story, one that means something to me. Now all I have to do is hope there are some other people out there who are something like me. I bet there are.
That brings me to The Scars of Ambition, which at 95,000 words is the longest book I've ever published. It's got more characters, more time for development, and more attention to the various aspects of Cumeria's troubled society. At the heart of it, the Bracken family knows they can only rely on each other, but even that comes into question as Lowell and his children (early thirties to late teens) take on their own challenges. I won't give away too much more, but what I like about this novel is that the characters often struggle with trying to be good in a world that seems to compel them to be bad.
Want to find out more? Here's the description, and the map.
“The ancient family sword’s immaculate steel blade reminded him that there were still parts of the world where this was the only weapon people had, the old ways were still alive and well, and there were creatures out there and powerful things beyond what he could ever imagine.”
Lowell Bracken had complete control. His empire, his ruthless executives, his family’s legacy, his wife, his children, they all had a part to play in the near omnipotent control he exerted in Cumeria. But a freak attack exposed how tenuous that control really is, and Lowell scrambles to preserve it, discovering he is only playing a small part in larger, darker schemes for control.
From the shadows, mysterious and disturbing threats disrupt the already-turbulent business landscape in Cumeria. When blood is spilled, the fight for survival becomes more than just a euphemism for going out of business, and the Brackens’ struggles to retain order might be the only thing keeping all of Cumeria from plunging into chaos.