Updated: Apr 19, 2019
My writing is in an interesting place right now. I am almost done writing the fifth book in the Greatest Thief series. The fifth of a possibly six book series. Which causes some odd problems, given that I have only published Book 1. This means there are events, characters, and places I (and a few friends) know about, but most people don’t. So it can be a little weird to talk about the series, but also the characters. The Finn and Tannix I know are very different from the Finn and Tannix most people know. Tannix's group of personal guards, characters who are very important to the series, aren't even introduced in Without a King!
I’ve been thinking about this recently because I just finished writing another novel, called Wanderlust. To fully understand why this is causing me some problems, I have to explain where Wanderlust came from. When I was writing the fourth Greatest Thief book, I introduced two characters who I quickly fell in love with. Most characters take a bit of planning and thinking, but with these two, part of their background just fell into place. I knew exactly how they had met, so I hinted at it in Book 4. But after telling one of my friends about the idea, I decided it was worth writing out as a short story.
Then more ideas came to me. I wrote them as little snippets, usually just a page or two, sometimes simply some dialogue or a bit of scenery. I talked about them with my beta-reader friends. As more and more came to me, I realized that their story was more than just a handful of short stories and scenes, it was an entire book.
So last year, November 2017, I started to write Wanderlust as my novel for NaNoWriMo – and I did really well! The goal was 50,000 words, and I wrote 60,703! But the book wasn’t done yet. Just over year later (December 4th, to be specific), I finished the first draft of the book. It is now 97,994 words. It’s still a rough draft, of course, and needs work, but I am pretty proud of it.
But this is when things get kind of confusing in term of talking about the book. I’m excited that I finished a first draft, but there are some decisions I have to make when it comes to talking about it. Because what’s kind of odd about it is that it involves characters introduced in Book 4, which most people realistically won’t read for years, but it takes place almost 10 years before the Greatest Thief series starts. So it does include the tiniest spoiler for Book 4, but most of it is unrelated to anything from the series. It is a standalone story, for sure. There are little connections and recurring characters from the series but someone wouldn’t have to know that to understand the story.
In some ways I think it’s a good thing that I’ve written so far ahead of what is published, because it means I have a chance to fix things. As I said, Wanderlust takes place earlier than the Greatest Thief series. To give a specific example, Tannix appears as a kid in Wanderlust, and he is given a tapestry as a gift. I can now go into Book 2, when Finn first sees Tannix’s room, and add the tapestry as a little background detail. Having the opportunity to connect the books like that is definitely a bonus!
When I started writing Without a King, I never really planned on writing other books in the same world. Wanderlust is the first offshoot I really worked on, but it’s by no means my only idea. After spending so much time developing the world, it’s hard to not think of other stories that could take place in it. I’ve already written plenty of short stories about the Greatest Thief series and characters. A couple years ago I wrote a novella called “Red” as a Christmas gift for a friend, about the backstory of a character who appears in Book 5. I have other ideas for a series about one of Tannix’s ancestors, a girl named Lady Troya. I have ideas for more stories involving side characters from Without a King. Over the past year another idea has been rattling around in my head which would take place after the Greatest Thief series.
It makes sense that I would think like this, because as a reader I love stories that link together. Rick Riordan, for example, with his five connected series, is one of my favourite authors. More recently I discovered Leigh Bardugo’s “Grishaverse”, and although I’ve only read one of the duologies involved the rest are on my list. J.K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World” is another great example, with the original Harry Potter books, Fantastic Beasts movies, and all the information on Pottermore (and a note to myself, I need to come up some kind of name like “Grishaverse” or “Wizarding World” to link all of my ideas). I love these types of stories and worlds, so it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m trying to create one.
So now I need to think about what I want to do with Wanderlust. In the grand scheme of things, I can’t control the order people read these books (especially if I was trying to get people to do something weird like read Wanderlust in the middle of the Greatest Thief series). But right now I kind of do have that power, because people will read things as they’re published. So I need to decide if I want to pursue publishing Wanderlust separately, and making a slight sacrifice for the twist in Book 4. After all, not everybody is going to read Wanderlust, or might read it after the series, and for those people the twist will still work.
My other option is to just sit and wait, and add Wanderlust to the folder of novel rough drafts that I can’t talk about yet. But honestly, I’m having a hard enough time not talking about the rest of them. I guess we'll all just have to wait and see what I decide!