In 1999 I was studying at college when I began drawing maps for the world of Elenchera. I would eventually come to have more than 500 of these as the world history took shape. I still have them thank goodness! I attempted two novels set in Elenchera – Endeavour (2000-4) and The Voice of Elenchera (2006) – but neither came to fruition. I was more committed to building the history and making sure I knew each land and its people intimately before I attempted another novel. I spent more than a decade on Elenchera before another novel appeared.
In late 2008 I met my wife, Donna, who proved to be the main catalyst in my self-publishing the first Elenchera novel – Fezariu’s Epiphany (2011). The second – A World Apart (2012) – soon followed. I enjoyed writing both novels, especially A World Apart, but that had the negative impact of putting pressure on a third book. I wasn’t content to maintain and consolidate what I’d done before, I wanted to improve and write a better novel each time. Trying to get Ansel’s Remorse right has not been easy and were it not for Donna’s support I’m not sure it would be here today.
Though my latest novel, Ansel’s Remorse actually began life way back in 2004. I’d had a go at writing short stories as well as novels and the best one I wrote was entitled The Sparkling Dew on the Lakeside. It told the story of Lorenzo, a vampire taking part in raids along distant coastlines to acquire prisoners to bolster an army back home. As soon as Lorenzo stepped foot on land he began to suffer flashbacks to the man he was once, the life he once had and he went in search of the past. The vampires in that story were claiming prisoners on behalf of their ruler – Palatine – who never appeared in the story but there was an air of mystique about him.
As I built the history of Elenchera, Palatine entered the timelines and I chronicled the significant events of his life. Having read of his exploits, Donna convinced me to write a novel about him but I didn’t know how to begin. I wanted to include Lorenzo’s tale but I wasn’t certain how or why he and Palatine would come to interact. One day a new character popped into my head. His name was Ansel and he was intended to be the bridge between Lorenzo’s story and that of Palatine’s significant impact on history. What I didn’t expect was for the novel to become Ansel’s story. Palatine remains a crucial element in the story – Ansel’s Master and close friend – but Lorenzo’s story comes in the second half of the story and though that may seem quite late in the day to have any impact, it is integral to the events that follow.
Being honest, I wrote three drafts of Ansel’s Remorse and just couldn’t get it right. I did feel added pressure given how well writing A World Apart had gone but I was also focused on trying to make Palatine live up to the expectations of Donna. She felt he would be a compelling character but I wasn’t convinced I’d nailed him completely until Donna read the book herself. My wife is my harshest critic and has never been afraid to question weaknesses in my work. I didn’t find the criticism easy to take at first but we both feel that I’ve come a long way in taking on board feedback and using it to improve as a writer.
Working through the manuscript for the final time, having taken on board all feedback, I do feel more confident about the book. It’s a different story to Fezariu’s Epiphany and A World Apart and for that I am grateful. I want to explore different themes with each new Elenchera book and visit different lands in this world that is such a big part of me. Work has already begun on a fourth Elenchera novel – The Stars Beneath the Parapets – which will be nothing like the opening three books in the series.
A lot has happened since Elenchera began in 1999. More than 15 years on I feel we have been through so much together, it hasn’t always been easy, but we have three novels to show for it. Do I wish there had been more? Certainly, but despite the gap between A World Apart and Ansel’s Remorse, I am glad I didn’t try to force this latest book to completion too early. It needed more time to bloom than the others, longer than I hoped or expected, but I think the wait has been more than worth it.
If you decide to join Ansel on his journey or to follow Fezariu or Demetrius in their respective tales then I hope you enjoy your stay in Elenchera. If you’ve already visited, myself and my characters would be delighted to see you again.
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