The Difficult Second Book

An old book with a key for locking. The words On Sale 11/23 etched into wood
Still under lock and key, but on its way - The Blood of the Bear - Volume 2

The experience of writing doesn't stop when you finish the final polished sentence on that debut novel. A whole range of tasks are added to the to-do list just at the point you think you can finally put the feet up and relax. Not least, trying to let people know that it's out for sale.

I went the self-publishing route. I think that comes from my coming-of-age in the years of punk rock. I was inspired by the creativity of the time. The notion that anyone could pick up an instrument and play. I did too, by buying my first bass guitar from Woolworths (Remember them?). I think it cost me £69 and was partially paid for by my first unemployment giro cheque - very punk rock of me.

So for releasing The Blood of the Bear, that same spirit prevailed, but boy is it a learning curve! Not to get too reality TV "It's the journey" about everything, but it is a process where you quickly learn that you can't stand still. Completing a task doesn't necessarily mean that you won't have to go back and repeat/tweak/rip-up-and-start-again.

I've only published on Amazon so far, and that can still fill up your day, with metadata, keywords, formats, and advertising. In the middle of all this, out of a wierd mist, the need arises to start the process all over again, Another book surfaces like a monster from the deep to catch you unawares.

It was actually the end of 2022 when the urge to write the words 'Chapter One' reappeared. I always knew where I wanted to take Artos next in terms of location (This time it's Wales, before he races back across to the Yorkshire Dales for the finale) but aside from some new characters, that was it. 'Chapter One' and an otherwise blank page.

Authors often ask one another "Are you a plotter or a pantser?". You usually find a writer declaring for one method or another. I'm of the latter pants-orientated variety, which is literally just saying I make it up as I go along. It means that my characters may actually tell me where the story is going. No seriously - that is a thing, not just my own form of madness. It basically means that I know the ending of the story, just a few weeks before you do.

Panoramic landscape image of Snowdonia in Wales
Artos and his fellow warriors travel to Gwynedd, in search of the red dragon.

What I have came to realise, especially on book two, is that the historical research helps to form the plot for me. More than a few major elements of book two have came from the mythology, king lists and early-medieval history of Wales. As I've said elsewhere, I am not a historian; I am just a person who loves learning and discovering about times that are confined to the distant past. I like to visit the monuments and try to conjure a sense of the time they were first built. To try to contemplate what it must have been like before a local road bypass, a housing scheme, or a fast food store was built nearby.

What I then do is twist it around with my sense of humour. In book two, I've tried to strike more of a balance between the serious development of the characters and the parts that are just played for laughs. The setting is just a few weeks after the end of book one. Artos is still only eighteen years old, and although he's a bit more aware of his destiny, I didn't want to lose the immaturity altogether.

The love interest also arrives, albeit briefly. Gwenhwyfar and Artos get to meet. The big romance will be left for book three, but his dream-girl appears and that gives him something to think about other than 'The Prophecy'.

A montage image of a round shield, the outline of Wales, and the red dragon.
The battle between the red and the white dragon is part of Merlin's legend.

...and then there are the dragons, but maybe not as you would quite expect them. The new front cover reveals a little about that, but it's under-wraps for the moment.

So just a first taste for what is coming. I'm aiming for release during November 2023 and will post the date of launch nearer the time.

Until then, there are the other activities with book one. It will start to appear on other platforms in August and beyond. So plenty to do, and I promise I'll start blogging more. I'm planning on a 'mead review' amongst other things. All work and no play - yeah right.

Until the next post, may your mead be plentiful.