Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Posted on December 31, 2017 (Subscribe to Blog)

As 2017 wraps up and I work my way through my latest book, Warp Giants (Sleep Writer 4), I'm already thinking ahead to my next project in 2018. And what a project it is! I'm happy to announce I'll be working on Island of Fog Legacies #5 at the same time as a brand new installment in the original Island of Fog series. Yes, Book 10 is on its way.

Here's a potted history, so you understand where I'm coming from. Back in 2002, a year after I moved from the UK to the USA, I started my first ever novel, Island of Mist. The first half went through many rewrites before I got as far as the second half, and I wrote it on and off while building a website business. What with a new baby girl and my wife going back to school, it wasn't until April 2009 that I finally published my first book, by then called Island of Fog.

Each book after that took eight months to write, and then six months, and then four, finally three if I pushed hard enough. Books 8 and 9 in the series, written as a two-parter, came along in July and August 2014. At that point, I felt I'd written all I needed to write about Hal and his friends, and I was keen to move on to other things.

Three and a half years later, after various Island of Fog Chronicles (short stories and novellas) and a new spinoff Legacies series featuring a new set of shapeshifter heroes, I find myself ready to step back into Hal's shoes.

The original shifters (Hal and friends) will deal with a deadly menace, and that menace returns in some form twenty years later to be dealt with by the new generation of shifters in the Legacies books. With that in mind, I want to write both books together – Island of Fog Book 10 and Island of Fog Legacies Book 5 – with a view to publishing simultaneously. Each can be read independently without the other, but for those who want to read both, they can be read in any order.

I have plenty of fiendish ideas to link the two books across time for those who plan to read both. I suspect readers will enjoy the cross-references scattered throughout. But it won't be a simple repeat story; they will be vastly different. I'll be straddling a fine line between two independent stories versus one two-parter.

I have a decision to make, though. Should I again tell the story from Hal's perspective? There's something to be said for continuing with the exact same format, style, layout, etc. as before, so that anyone who's read the series (or is about to) will know exactly what to expect from Book 10 and beyond. It's like trying on an old sweater; it's comfortable, and it works.

Or should I mix it up a bit? Should I tell the story from other points of view as well as Hal's? It would give me more storytelling freedom, but it would feel different to the other books, and a lot of readers hate it when writers change things up. It's one thing having a three-and-a-half-year break, but to highlight that break with a new look, new writing style, new everything... That could spoil things.

So I'm leaning toward keeping everything the same. Even the cover and title will look like it belongs. The story would pick up a few months on from the last book, so the kids would be thirteen rather than twelve, but otherwise it'll feel like we never left. I imagine new readers in the future won't notice the three-year publishing gap.

Anyway, what do YOU think?

Who should lead the charge in Island of Fog Book 10?
Write the story only from Hal's point of view like the previous 9 books. (Keeps it tight but familiar.)
Write the story from varying points of view as the story requires. (More freedom but a little different.)
Please Specify:

Some of you might not even want a Book 10. That's okay, too; you don't have to read it. But I get the impression most Fog readers would be happy to keep diving into Hal's world again and again as long as I have something worthwhile to say. That's the thing about the Fog world – it seems I have endless stories to tell.

Meanwhile, I'm pressing on with Warp Giants. I enjoy the Sleep Writer series, and will continue to produce those even though they don't sell anywhere near as many as the Fog and Legacies books. Hey, maybe one day they will. I suspect there might be a positive tipping point with the number of books in a series; it seems to me that four or five is the magic number, where a series truly becomes established as an ongoing thing and thus picks up momentum as readers browse their favorite online bookstores looking for something to keep them going for a while. Of course, some readers see it the other way, that a long-running series is just too much to take on. It depends on the reader.

So as much as I'm enjoying Warp Giants right now, I'm also thinking ahead to the mammoth task of writing two books at once ready for a mid-2018 publication.

In the meantime... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Comment by BRIAN B. on Sunday, December 31, 2017...

The kid wants it the same. Me too. So... she's been on the last one for ages. In fact, she's not really reading it. I just told her about 10 and she said she could now finish 9. Pushed for more information on her procrastination, she admitted not wanting to read it, "because then it'd be over!"

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, December 31, 2017...

And if that's not a good reason to write another book, then I don't know what is! Thanks for sharing, Brian. :-)

Comment by ARANTZA on Sunday, December 31, 2017...

Very interesting dilemma. I think it would be more appealing to have different points of view if you're planning on several more books to continue the series. It wouldn't be worth changing the style just for one or two more, but it might be more enjoyable to introduce different points of view in the long run for you as a writer as well.
Happy New Year!!!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, January 1, 2018...

Yes, tough choice. I'm still leaning toward Hal's POV just to keep it the same as the others. Funny enough, this was one of the reasons I ended the series in the first place; I wanted to get away from being a shapeshifter dragon. But I've explored that freedom in the Legacies books now, so I don't mind going back to being a dragon.

I do expect to write more than just one or two extras, though, so maybe if I introduced more POVs bit by bit... I'm still not sure.

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