It has to be said, it’s taking me an age to get to the halfway point of Firedrake. I think, occasionally, ever author has a project that just won’t go down easy.
This is that project for me.
I can’t really put my finger on what the problem is. I don’t think it’s writer’s block or anything as cliched as that. It’s probably a confluence of a lot of different things that are just making this book a bit of beast to wrestle under my control.
It’s annoying because I know what I want to do and how the story will be told. All the characters are where they need to be and I’ve set up the various plot points and done the foregrounding that I need to do, but for some bloody reason I just can’t seem to get the cogs working properly.
I’m close, I’m definitely close and certain scenes are frankly a piece of piss to get down on the page and I’m really pleased with them, but I keep hitting little speedbumps that either slow me right down or force me to an undignified halt.
The fact the book has been hanging around (at least in my mind) for a while doesn’t help. I started late, under something of a sticky cloud (which, thankfully, has passed), and I’ve not yet been able to shake that completely.
Once I get going again I think it’ll be fine but right now it’s a laborious process. I totally sympathise with other authors who’ve suffered with this sort of thing.
Still, fear not Salamander fans as I will get this one nailed.
Regarding the saga, I have to say it’s very gratifying to think about the sheer volume of stories associated with the Tome of Fire trilogy, despite the fact that I’m only actually one book into it!
I was chatting with my boss, George, the other day over a brew and he’s been reading the Salamander short stories. It seems there’s a real attraction to having a main body of work (i.e. a novel trilogy) supported by various satellite stories and projects. Certainly that’s true of the Salamander stuff that I’m doing.
Honestly, it was never something I actually intended. I always knew I wanted to write a trilogy. Even when I was planning ‘Fires of War’, I knew there were three more books to write these characters’ story, but it’s funny how it’s grown in the telling.
Truth be told, ‘Fires of War’ is sort of the prologue (albeit a very large one) to the Tome of Fire trilogy. I remember chatting to Steve Parker about the story when I was writing it. He picked up straight away (quite rightly) that in writing ‘Fires of War’ I really wanted to be writing the novel. I think that’s why it’s such an integral part of the story. In fact, there’s probably only really this one that you really need to read if you’re delving into the novel trilogy.
However, the other stories really add to the saga and have allowed me to develop characters and add in backstory that I can refer to later in the books. But I never expected it to morph into the saga it is.
Not including ‘Fires of War’, there’s actually five addiitonal Salamander short stories I’ve written as part of the Tome of Fire saga. It’s interesting to think about them (from a creator’s view), how they came about and their significance. Of all of them, probably ‘Vulkan’s Shield’ is the least directly linked. It’s a story of Ko’tan Kadai after all (a character that I want to come back to in another novel series), but one that I enjoyed penning immensely. ‘Hell Night’, too, due to its place in the chronology, is fairly stand-alone. Of the others, though, ‘Prometheus Requiem’, ‘Fireborn’ (which is actually an audio book but one of short story length) and ‘The Burning’, because of the fact that they sit, chronologically speaking, between Salamander and Firedrake are pretty pertinent to the next novel installment.
It’s been a surprise, it has to be said, that the series has taken this route but a pleasant one. Despite my issues with Firedrake, I am totally loving writing about the Salamanders and I have aspirations to do more with them for both Space Marine Battles and Horus Heresy but it remains to be seen if I’ll get the opportunity to do so (I really hope I will, as I’ve got some kickass ideas for both series).
Thinking back to the start of the project, way back when I was pitching for Heroes of the Space Marines, I never expected to be writing this sort of saga and making a little niche for myself. Originally, I was going to do three books and that was it – story told, nothing more to see here. I’ve since revised that opinion and think there’s more legs in the Salamanders and the cast of characters I’ve created for the Tome of Fire trilogy.
One route, of course, is to explore the career of Ko’tan Kadai, as intimated in ‘Vulkan’s Shield’. Lots of half-formed ideas are knocking around my shelllike regarding this at the moment (because, if your writing mojo is on the fritz then you might as well get some solid thinking done and ideas down for when the creative wheels are turning again). I’d like to do more with the relationship of the Chapter with the Adeptus Mechanicus (though, you’ll see some of that in Nocturne - oh, incidentally, that’s what I want to call the third book) and also explore how the Salamanders get on with the Raven Guard. I think a duel campaign with the Raven Guard would be cool, maybe involving the Black Dragons too, as this was Ushorak’s Chapter and there might be opportunity for foreshadowing here. Could have a lot of fun with that.
Something else that’s been on my mind of late are the Marines Malevolent. I keep reading little snatches of stuff on forums about how folks seemed to have liked the way I presented them in Salamander and would like to see more.
Well, I have good news for MM fans – they will definitely make an appearance again in both Firedrake and Nocturne, and I would also entertain the idea of doing a one-off novel with them as the protagonists.
It’d be interesting to think about how to pitch them, though. I really think of the MMs as total war-mongering sociopaths – hard to imagine them as anything but villainous, really. It would certainly present an interesting challenge and could also add to the depth and texture of the saga in much the same way as Graham McNeill’s excellent Storm of Ironadds to his Ultramarines series.
Of course, another option could be to give them some air time in an Armageddon-based Space Marine Battles book. The reason I put the MMs in Salamander was because of the documented antipathy during that particular conflict between the two Chapters. I do feel that there’s more life in Vinyar, Lorkar and the rest of those bastards. They are a hoot to write, so who knows…
Something else I’d like to do in the not-too-distant future is tell the story of the Dragon Warriors i.e. how they came to be and just what did happen at Moribar to send them over the edge. Not sure what form it would take yet, possibly a novella. Much like the MMs, though, it’d be a lot of fun to write a Salamander story from the PoV of their enemies.
Lot’s to chew over there and all this talk of the series is slowly getting me fired up for the novel. Perhaps that’s the key to it? If I keep up the bloggage (which has been lax of late – sorry about that) and the lyrical waxing about the Sallies, maybe it’ll translate into some hard and fast words on the page.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that shall we folks…
Coming soon: I hope to bring you a cover image for Fireborn. I’ve got it, but not sure I can release it into the wide world yet. It’s on the chapbook ad page but only small and in black and white. I shall ask the powers that be. Watch this space.