Hello to all readers, fellow writers and sci-fi junkies alike!
As it’s been a while since I’ve made any concrete, detailed updates regarding the Architects of the Illusion series, I decided I would start making more regular updates, now that there’s really a lot to discuss – all of it good news, I think!
The reason for the radio silence (sans the usual stuff like personal appearances) in 2015 was simply because not as much was getting done with Architects as I would have liked to think. I was at that point in the writing process that I like to refer to as the steepest vertical ascent: in creating a story this massive, and with this many moving parts, I came to the point where I needed to figure out [thing A] before I could figure out [thing B], but needed to figure out [thing C] before I could make headway with A or B and…yeah, constructing a story like this is as much an ongoing exercise in lateral thinking and problem-solving as it is about crafting a hooky, compelling narrative.
And there’s no catch-all fix other than simply thinking on it and taking as long as you need to in order to gradually make it work. Ultimately, I fell back on an adage: “take care of the worldbuilding and the narrative will take care of itself.” And with that in mind, elements revealed themselves piece by piece, and ultimately I reached the top of the mountain, that magical point where I had solved and established enough of the necessary universe building and plot beats that everything else just started flowing.
So yes, I’m crazy-excited for you to see Elysium Protocol, for a number of reasons.
First, I really feel like I’ve developed as an author in the couple years it’s been since The Great Scourge. That isn’t to down-sell the first two Architects novels; I still stand by them as an exciting introduction to the universe, fast-paced as a plasma gunshot and hopefully taut as they come. Rather, I’m happy to say that I’m simply undergoing the same evolution as a writer that we all are, and I hope that this will become self-evident once I put out the first preview-scene.
(Incidentally, my sincerest apologies for delaying the preview-scene after I tweeted out forever ago that it was coming soon; I like to get my ducks in a row before I post stuff, and a combination of work schedules and sickness made meeting with my beta-reader unfeasible for a while. It’s a-coming, I promise!)
A part of this comes from the fact that I spent much of 2015 splitting my attention between three different universes: there was EP; there was Falling Fire, a gritty supernatural horror novel set in modern Toronto and Tokyo; there was Earthfall, a dark, intense high fantasy novel with aspirations of being part one of a trilogy. All that is still on the table; while Falling Fire is currently having its narrative re-evaluated, I have particularly high hopes for Earthfall, as the narrative and worldbuilding are coming along famously, but that’s a subject for a different update. Bottom line, I returned to Architects a hopefully more mature and diversified author, and I really hope it shows.
And secondly, speaking more from an in-universe perspective, here’s where I get to cash-in the chips I’ve accumulated throughout the first half of the series. For those who don’t know, Architects is to be divided down the middle into two trilogies, the second one set five years after the first, and Elysium Protocol is the big finish to the first wider arc, both sowing seeds of the future and bringing to a head that which came before.
So, concretely, what’s the status at the front? Well, I would guess that in the actual novel-sized pages, I have about 400 pages ready for beta-reading. (I don’t do the core writing in that format, it gets reformatted later) In other words, this thing is already halfway between Seed of Treachery and The Great Scourge lengthwise, and there’s still a ton to go. Trust me, it’ll earn its ‘runtime’.
As for some minute details?
-I suspect some of the major large-scale action pieces will be among the final elements to be written. I can pretty handily pop out a big, complex action sequence anchored around a single protagonist for the narrative-eye to anchor itself around, such as chapter 16 of TGS, but by EP’s nature as a climactic story with so many character and plot arcs intersecting, I need to have not only the plot structure, but also every major character’s position in the story, their progress in their respective character arcs, and even their emotional states nailed down before I can start in earnest on committing to huge scenes with this many moving parts. Geek reference calling back to one of my favourite movies: if assembling a novel is like putting together a machine, I feel like I’m assembling Unicron over here.
-Some of the early scenes are undergoing a retrofit, and others a ground-up rewrite, so as to make EP a solid jumping-on point for readers new to the Convergence. I mentioned in the special thanks section of TGS that it and EP were originally going to be a single tome before my beta reader encouraged me to split them in two and let it all breathe. Over the past year of writing, and the more layered and fleshed-out plot and character arcs that have evolved, EP has become less of a “feature length climax” (not that there’s anything wrong with those; Deathly Hallows part 2 is an excellent movie) and more of a full-fledged story, just one that happens to take place in the second half of the Scourge war arc.
-We met the multiversal alien Alis in TGS, but this time around, she has her very own plot/character arc. I’m happy to report that the major scenes in her arc are pretty much completely done, with just some transitory scenes left to do. I absolutely love how it turned out and I’m super excited for you guys to read it.
-Things seem to be expanding exponentially in terms of where this is taking place. The first book in the series took place mostly in one star system save for a couple scenes, the second had four or so, and in EP, I’m counting at least five or six systems, two galaxies and a pocket dimension. It seems space is a rather large canvas. Part of this is due to the advancing travel-tech in the universe, although now I’ve already said enough that sci-fi-savvy readers have already guessed where I’m going with this.
As for my timeline in getting this done?
After my current employment contract expires, I intend to take the last couple months of the year to really hunker down and hammer this thing out, make it my life and give it a real close eye. By Christmas, I want to have made exponential leaps and bounds, and if it needs longer to be fed, I’ll give it longer. I’ll probably hammer some more at Earthfall while I’m at it, but Architects is to be the main focus here. I’m extremely happy to have a family who supports my writing; at Thanksgiving (if you didn’t know, we Canadians have our Thanksgiving in October), I mentioned that I’d be taking time off to write, and a close relative caught me in the faux pas, saying, “You’re not taking time off, you’re writing!” That’s the way I like to look at it.
I set my deadline for a complete beta copy at June 2017, which is admittedly far off. I want to have it ready well before that, but I didn’t want to commit to an overly optimistic deadline and end up rushing or cutting corners.
I will probably be sending it to traditional publishers, but I’m not going to get totally hung up on it. I want 2017 to be the year for Elysium Protocol, and I have a fantastic cover art idea I might not be allowed to use under a traditional publisher anyway.
I will be posting the first preview-scene sometime in November; it will be posted probably on Deviantart, tweeted and updated on both my site and Goodreads as I transition into open-season on Elysium Protocol promo. I don’t intend for it to be the last scene I preview for you!
That was a pretty huge update, but if you’re still here, I appreciate your time. This is being cross-posted on Goodreads, Deviantart and my own site, so whichever you’re reading on, thank you!