Thursday, 10 August 2017

An Update on the Knight Agency and the Magpie

Four months have passed since the last update, so here’s a new one. I’m currently proofreading “Changing Times,” the fifth Knight Agency novel. It will be out by the end of the month, as the publishing schedule says.

There have been some changes. The Black Cat has become the Magpie and the first novel of that series has changed its title from “The Dresden Collier” to “One For Sorrow.” The main characters and the story as a such haven’t changed, though.
I had a few amusing weeks writing two novellas of around 20,000 words each with a new main character, John Stanton, who lives in a Steampunk alternate reality. As soon as the third story is done, the first three will come together in “John Stanton - Agent of the Crown Vol. 1.” It will, as it currently stands, be made up of the stories “The Case of the Modern Bluebeard,” “The Case of the Dead Socialite,” and “The Case of the Extinct Fish.” For me, this has been a nice trip into outright pulp territory which I highly enjoyed.

So here’s my updated publishing schedule:

  • August 2017: Changing Times (Knight Agency 5)
  • November 2017: Death Dealer (Knight Agency 6)
  • February 2018: Going Legal (Black Knight Agency 2)
  • May 2018: One For Sorrow (The Magpie 1)
  • August 2018: John Stanton - Agent of the Crown Vol. 1

John Stanton’s adventures, not being regular fare, might actually get published somewhat in between. I’m currently also considering bundling my two finished Swenson & Carter stories and publishing them on Amazon.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

More about the Knight Agency and a black cat

With “A Plague of Rogues” published in February, it’s time for the next novel to come out in May. It will not be another Knight Agency novel, but the first one of the Black Knight Agency series (which is now, with the second novel “Going Legal” finished, officially a series), “Criminal Ventures.”

What else has happened? “From Past to Future” had a name change and will now be published as “Changing Times.” I think the shorter title is better.

I also have been getting ideas for a third series: The Black Cat. It does have a different set of characters, the main leads are Inez and Tom Crowe, a current and a former cat burglar going by the moniker of ‘The Black Cat.’ Inez is fundamentally different from Jane and Tom is certainly no Steven. I’m looking forward to writing them and having Inez do a lot of heists. Work on “The Dresden Collier” will start as soon as the publishing of “Criminal Ventures” is done.

Jane will have more to do as well, since the Syndicate still isn’t completely destroyed. Her alternate-reality self will return at some point, too. After all, the Black Knight Agency is doing well.

My current publishing schedule (unforeseeable changes not included):
  • “Criminal Ventures” (Black Knight Agency 1) May 2017
  • “Changing Times” (Knight Agency 5) August 2017
  • “Death Dealer” (Knight Agency 6) November 2017
  • “Going Legal” (Black Knight Agency 2) February 2018
  • “The Dresden Collier” (The Black Cat) May 2018

That’s it with the short update. Now back to the regular program.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Knight Agency #4 gets released

As I write this, the fourth Knight Agency novel, “A Plague of Rogues,” has been submitted to Amazon and several other platforms and will be released on all of them within, probably, a week (Amazon probably tomorrow, but some of the platforms I reach through Draft 2 Digital take their time).

“Just think about what you could do to him … that should keep you entertained.”
A little favour for Sir Abraham Mortimer, head of the Board of Associates Jane is sitting on for the Knight Agency, turns into a large-scale adventure introducing the Uncle and the Niece. For a change, Jane needs to rely on her more discreet skills such as seduction and acting to find out what is happening. Also included are: a spectral monk haunting the grounds of an old manor house, kidnappings, daring deeds, a budding love affair, and, of course, a plague of rogues.

I was going to release this novel last year in November, but real life intervened and I decided to just miss one of my planned release dates and release it on schedule in February instead. I doubt I have that many fans who were direly missing the novel, but I’m not giving up hope. Jane’s stories are good and sooner or later, people will realize that.

Writing-wise, I’m into the second novel of the Black Knight Agency series (the first one will be my next release) and have penned the basics for another story which I will write afterwards and which might become a third series. That one will not include Jane, but I’m sure Inez and Tom will be just as much fun to write. I will get to write lots of heists for that one.

Two more Knight Agency novels are done, “From Past to Future” and “Death Dealer.” They will also be released this year, real-life interventions pending.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Different Viewpoints

There is never just one point of view. Every story has as many viewpoints as there are people involved. Of course, a simple side character (an NPC in RPG lingo) can’t tell the whole story, but that is not the point. You can tell the same story from different points of view and you will tell different stories.

I’ve chosen Sherlock Holmes as an example here, because there are a lot of modern authors using the characters and the world.
There are stories which are told by Sherlock himself - several stories Doyle wrote about adventures happening after Holmes’ retirement are told from Holmes’ perspective, because Watson isn’t around. There are stories which are told by Mrs. Hudson. There are stories which are told by Sherlock Holmes’ wife (Laurie R. King has written a whole series about that). There are also stories focusing on the Napoleon of Crime. Michael Kurland has written several novels in which Professor Moriarty is the protagonist - an anti-hero much more than a hero, of course. A short story published in ‘Victorian Villainy’ explains the one-sided vendetta between Holmes and Moriarty.
One of the most interesting books centring around Moriarty, however, is “The Hound of the D’Urbervilles” by Kim Newman. Not only do the stories told in it skirt stories written by Doyle himself, the first story, “A Volume in Vermillion” sets up “A Study in Scarlet,” the first Sherlock Holmes novel, for example. Newman gives a voice not to Moriarty directly, but to his second in command, Colonel Moran. Sebastian Moran is less ‘smitten’ with his boss than Watson is with Holmes. He recognizes Moriarty for what he is: dangerous, deadly, and utterly without morals. Neither of them is hero material and Moran makes no excuses for it. Moran’s prose is rougher than Watson’s (and he’s basically obsessed with women and sex), but it’s fitting for the stories he tells. My personal favourites are “The Red Planet League” (which tells a story of Moriarty taking personal revenge on his ‘true’ nemesis - which isn’t Sherlock Holmes), “The Adventure of the Six Maledictions” (which features a lot of penny dreadful characters and trinkets), and “The Greek Invertebrate” (which gives a glimpse into Moriarty’s family by introducing his two brothers, both also named ‘James’). Sherlock Holmes features in the last story, but he’s only referred to as ‘the thin man of Baker Street’ (to tell him apart from Mycroft, ‘the fat man of Whitehall’). Moriarty hardly takes him seriously, he is after different prey when travelling to the continent.
The stories are full of action (after all, fights and assassinations are Moran’s job in the Firm) and usually also amusing to read. Moran’s voice might be less polished and sometimes plain outrageous for the time (like when he muses about his sexual adventures), but it’s an honest voice nevertheless. It’s a fitting voice for a man who spent 20 years as a soldier and is a little rough around the edges in all ways. Moran’s descriptions of Moriarty aren’t all that positive, but they feel honest. They are sharing rooms, so Moran has quite a bit of insight, but at the same time admits that he barely understands what goes on in Moriarty’s brain. That’s not his provenance, after all.

So, to go back to the topic of writing a story from another perspective, what can we learn from the many stories about Sherlock Holmes and his world not told by the ‘regular’ voice of Watson?
First of all, chose a suitable character, one who can tell a lot about the story. Holmes himself knows what is happening, of course. More often than not, he knows more than Watson, but that can also take the thrill out of the story. Mrs. Hudson should have a good idea about what happens under her roof, too. Holmes’ wife isn’t your traditional late-Victorian woman who doesn’t even pretend to be interested in her husband’s work, either. She works side by side with him and thus has a very good idea of what’s happening, too. The same is true for telling stories from the other side of the law. Whether Moriarty is an anti-hero like in Kurland’s stories or an outright villain like in Newman’s, it is interesting to see what he does, too. Someone in his vicinity, like Moran, can thus tell an interesting story as well.
The second thing is that every person has their own voice. Holmes tells a story differently from Watson. Moran has a different voice, too, as has Mrs. Hudson, as has Mrs. Holmes. The voice has to fit with the personality of the person whose viewpoint you are using. Mrs. Holmes is much younger than her husband, essentially a person from another era. She sees and understands things differently not only than Holmes, but also than Watson did. Moran is a former soldier and big game hunter. He sees things differently than Watson, even though they both share the military background. Moran also is unashamedly a bad person. He enjoys killing, stealing, and cheating at cards and he is not ashamed to admit that. He likes to brag about the women he slept with or the people or animals he killed (to him, prey is prey, not matter what it is).
As a third thing, you also need to keep in mind what a viewpoint character can see and know. It’s not a coincidence Watson and Holmes share rooms (and in Newman’s book, so do Moran and Moriarty). Watson’s narrative usually seems a little less informed once he has moved out of Baker Street again after marriage. The more time the viewpoint character spends with the main character (if both are not identical), the more they usually know. They are more likely to be there when things happen that way, too.

What use can it be, though, to try and tell a story from a different perspective? You will get a different story out of it every time. Try to tell the same story from the perspective of both the protagonist and the antagonist and you will be looking at two different stories, at different things happening, at different outcomes. Especially if it feels like your story is going nowhere, try to tell it from a different perspective and see if it works better that way.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Another look at the Knight Agency

In August, I did the last update for my writing here in this blog. I have posted a few things on Facebook, but mostly I just wrote and worked. Therefore, here is an update.

First of all, I broke my promise of four novels a year, for personal reasons. I was otherwise occupied during November and December and thus couldn’t manage to edit and proofread “A Plague of Rogues.” The novel will either be out in January or in February. Given I haven’t sold that many novels so far, I’m sure nobody will mind it too much.

“From Past to Future” followed as novel number five and with “Death Dealer,” a sixth novel has been finished on Christmas eve.
I already mentioned that “From Past to Future” deals with some happenings during Steven’s and Frederic’s active time and will change things for the female agents (minus Jane who already was doing more than just one kind of job).
The Syndicate is also present in “Death Dealer.” In this one, I have expanded Jane’s second skill set. Instead of adding heists for her, I gave her a lot of people to kill professionally. I had her do that once before in “From Past to Future” already, but I really focused on it in the sixth novel. “Death Dealer” has Jane develop another persona, after Jane Doe and the niece. Alex Stone comes to life as a male hitman at the beginning of his career, in order to get closer to some representatives of the Syndicate. There’s quite a body count in this story (which brings Jane a tad closer to Steven’s thousand enemies) and I had to figure out different things this time. I also bring in an agent from the US office (mentioned in “From Past to Future”) and give William, who also was introduced in the fifth novel, a bit more to do. You don’t live back to back with Steven and just enjoy your early retirement… “Death Dealer” also is the first novel in which I (closely) topped 100,000 words. I wrote thirty-five chapters for this one and it was exhausting in parts.

I’m currently at the beginning of the second Black Knight Agency novel and contemplating a way to get a few more pieces for my “Dirty Thirty” done. I also plan to publish “Damsel in no Distress” (my only finished erotica) soon, perhaps this month or next.