Background to”G1: The Guardians” #6

Sub-Continental Nations Defence Union (SCNDU)

The negotiations which ultimately led to the establishment of SCNDU were extremely protracted, with the plenipotentiaries* involved being changed several times, especially by India and Pakistan, whose long history of enmity almost proved too great a stumbling block.  However, the invasion of Tajikistan two years into the process focussed minds on reaching a Treaty with minimal further delay.  In fact, the announcement that the Treaty of Lalitpur had been signed and ratified by all concerned nations shocked the world, who had been convinced that no agreement could ever be reached.

SCNDU comprises India and Pakistan (the ‘superpowers’), together with Bangladesh, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and several other small countries.  Each contributes a single Delegate to the Great Council, a  top ranking military officer to the Defence Committee, and a top ranking police officer to the Internal Security Committee.  In the event of an external threat, the Great Council consults with the Defence Committee until such time as military operations become unavoidable.  If such military action becomes necessary, the Internal Security Committee becomes an active adjunct to the Defence Committee.  Since creation, no such emergencies have occurred, which is seen as validation of SCNDU.

* Plenipotentiaries were used due to lack of genuinely secure communications.  The Delegates to the Great Council also hold plenipotentiary status.

Global Council of Nations (GCN)

The successor to the United Nations, which proved ever more ineffective in a rapidly changing world, particularly with the bias towards countries no longer of great significance politically or militarily.  The power of veto enjoyed by such powers led to a mass resignation of members, who established the GCN instead.  With no other option open to them, the veto holders terminated the United Nations and eventually applied for membership of the GCN.

The structure of the GCN is less convoluted and relies far less on administration than on action.  While the GCN will act as arbitrators in international disputes, they refuse to maintain military or paramilitary policing rights or duties.  They do, however, have extensive powers in dealing with criminal activities, including the power to either work with or supersede national police forces when dealing with international crimes and criminals.  The concept of extradition treaties between nations has been largely eliminated as the GCN has immediate global jurisdiction when a crime or criminal crosses national borders.  This role was a fortunate inclusion when Interpol was wrecked in the collapse of Europe some six years later.  The GCN Criminal Division consists of the Investigations Bureau and the Global Courts.  The Investigations Bureau maintains a network of offices worldwide, overt agents and covert operatives.  The Guardians maintain a close relationship with the Criminal Division, in a policy designed to minimise the risk of international difficulties, thanks to aides attached to the Ministry and the reputation of the Director.  Terrorism, drugs, and other major criminal endeavours have been severely damaged thanks to the Criminal Division.

Several international disputes which could have led to war have been successfully arbitrated by the GCN.  This success is thanks to the fact that the Arbitration Bureau is trusted by all nations.  The fact that no nation has more than a single voice in the General Council, and the GCN enjoys full financial and political autonomy has made it far more honest, with the historic excessive influence exercised by the superpowers eliminated.  Its headquartering in Switzerland has also eliminated distrust of American influence.  Committees are formed by a strictly secret ballot for membership, held within just two hours of the ballot announcement, which diminishes the risk of secret deals being made prior to voting.  Members found to be in contravention of any anti-corruption regulations are subject to exclusion from all but the obligations to the Criminal Division and to emergency relief operations.  They may reapply for membership after five years.

Global Sports Protection Federation (GSPF)

Replacing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and numerous other international sports governing bodies, in the face of ever increasing allegations of corruption, and an increase in politically (and even partisan) motivated terror attacks on sports teams and individuals, the GSPF has proven a far more effective body.  Coordinating with the GCN’s Criminal Division has seen most terror attacks eliminated and corruption, especially involving global gambling consortia, has been almost completely crushed.  Athletes in all sports are now free to participate in their sports without fear.  That said, athletes found to be in violation of regulations governing drug use and other forms of cheating can expect to be treated extremely harshly.  The growth of enhancement technology (mostly implants created to help persons suffering disabilities) saw a brief flurry of ‘tech cheats’ but these were quickly identified and banned for life from all sports.  In addition to governing sports (including rules oversight), promotion of sports individually and collectively (such as the continuation of the Olympic Games),  and protecting athletes and sports, the GSPF also guarantees a fair income for all athletes, by subsidy where necessary.

“Evil Under The Circle (Being Part 2 of G1: The Guardians)”: New Release!

Yes, folks!  The 2nd Edition of Evil Under The Circle has been released, in ebook formats, with a great new cover by Chris Graham.  This Edition corrects some errors and introduces some minor changes, as well as the new cover.  The new cover brings the look into line with that of the other books, with the sole exception of The Sigil of Ahriman, which  won’t be altered as I honestly believe that the existing cover of that book simply can’t be improved on.  I’d like to give my public thanks to Chris for his excellent work with the cover.  The paperback will be updated as soon as possible, though there will be a delay as my wife and I are going away for a few days.

The revised edition of the ebook should be available through Smashwords and Amazon, and other online stores when they catch up.

You may also be interested to know that there is a new novel in the process of being written, taking Team G1 on another extraordinary adventure!  This new tale will hold some surprises and deepen a mystery that began at the end of A Darkness in Amazonia.  But, as you all know by now, I’m not in the habit of revealing things, so I’m going to tell you nothing more…

An Interview With Jack Pellari, Member of G1 (Dept G)

This has to be regarded as the greatest privilege barring actually obtaining an interview with the Director of the Guardians himself.  Jack Pellari alone almost equals the phenomenal powers of that great man, but the likelihood of ever obtaining an interview with Siribahta Dhal equates with becoming genuinely immortal!

I tried to persuade Jack to meet me in the same hotel setting as when I interviewed Matt Carter but he refused, being acutely shy of public places.  Instead, by special permission, we’re in a small but comfortable sitting room of a cottage.  Due to the security methods employed, I have no idea where the cottage is located.  I’m not even sure of how long it took to arrive here!

Jack is nervous, wary.  I suspect that this will prove to be a difficult interview, despite all my special training…


*[EDITED FOR GENERAL DISSEMINATION – ALL CLASSIFIED MATERIAL REMOVED BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY]*


Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mr Pellari.

No thanks are needed.  I’m under orders.

I see.  I apologise if that makes you uncomfortable…  Can I begin by asking when and where you were born?

‘When’, I’ll keep to myself, but it was a long time ago.  ‘Where’?  In London, in a small cluster of homes surrounded by the expanding Docklands.  It was an ugly place to live, especially if you showed any hint of difference, or strangeness.  I only had to suffer it for two years, though, as we moved away as soon as my parents could manage it.

So your talents were revealed when you were very young?

Yes.  I’m what’s referred to as a ‘Brumby’, after the wild horses of Australia, meaning a wild talent.  Most Psychs learn to hide their powers but Brumbies can’t, with their powers best described as ‘volcanic’ – erupting unbidden and often at highly inappropriate times.  I have three brothers and two sisters who  are all Psychs, but I’m the only Brumby.  I ruined all their lives.

That’s a large family.  Where do you come in the order?

I was the youngest.  Things were really hard and my mother was badly malnourished while she was pregnant with me.  In fact, I spent two weeks being cared for by a nurse and my mother was in bedridden for nearly as long, after I was born.  They thought I was unlikely to survive.

If you were a ‘Brumby’, I suppose you had to move often?

Yes, almost every year.  The last time was to a house in the middle of nowhere, up in County Durham, Healdy House.  We had hopes of being able to finally settle down there.  My siblings would go to the local school but I was registered as being what’s called ‘special needs’ now, requiring home care and unable to learn.  I was about ten.  We were there for six years when there was another incident.  I’d wandered too close to the village, about seven miles from home.  A bunch of local youths knew me from rare glimpses.  They started throwing insults, and when they didn’t work, they got physical.  I left them rolling on the ground, blubbing and clutching their heads, and ran for home.

So another move was likely?

No.  My family decided to tough it out this time.  Four of my siblings had married and gotten homes of their own, and good jobs.  My father had been hurt in an accident and couldn’t get work, so finding the money for a move would be almost impossible.  The rest of us unmarried kids were supporting the family as best we could, and my mother had established a good seamstress business locally.  When this incident happened, though, there was real fear of what would happen, especially after the village policeman visited and warned of dark consequences – especially for me.

What happened?

Well, it seems that, even way back then, Siribahta had Psychs who were constantly scanning for psychic events.  They detected the spike when I lost control.  Two days later, Siribahta himself arrived at the house!  He offered to help.  He had an academy, far away in St Osyth, down in Essex.  He said that he could sort out things with the local policeman, mollify the families of the youths, and help me learn to control my powers.  Of course, it meant I’d have to go away with him and live in St Osyth Academy.  My parents, especially my mother, were arguing against it, my siblings were less defensive.  In the end, though,I begged to be allowed to go.  I couldn’t stand the harm I was causing them all!  After half a day of it, my parents finally gave in and consented.  Siribahta  went to the village and returned the next morning.  He’d sorted it all out, but we had to be away before noon.  It was a terrible wrench, and I saw my father cry for the first time in my life.  The excitement of the adventure, though, was growing inside me.  We left a few minutes before noon.

What was the Academy like?

St Osyth Priory It was a rambling old building, full of peculiar nooks and crannies.  If I’d been younger, I would have had a wonderful time exploring it!  It wasn’t far from the ancient Priory that St Osyth is apparently famous for.  And St Osyth is close to the coast, with the option of going to the seaside (at Seawick, Jaywick or Clacton-on-Sea) or to the broad reach of the River Colne, or even down to Flag Creek or Brightlingsea Creek.  There were regular unauthorised jaunts but I only went on supervised trips to populous places, fearing an incident.  St Osyth itself was a beautiful place back then, but I’ve heard that even there has suffered over the last sixty odd years, with blockhouses being built and even some of the historic buildings being bulldozed to make way for those vile places.  I understand that there’s a District Internment Facility at Jaywick, too.  And is it true that the pier at Clacton has collapsed into the sea?  [I nod and he looks very sad.]  I hate to think what has been done to St Osyth…

Anyway, the Academy had Psych ‘Coaches’, who trained us in handling our powers, from helping to bring out borderline latencies to teaching control to us Brumbies.  It was damned hard work, too!  I remember four of the students losing it and rebelling.  They caused total havoc and three of them ran off.  That is, two ran off and one just vanished- teleported away right in front of us!  The fourth was still hurling stuff with telekinesis and was about to do some serious damage to the Coach when Siribahta appeared, though none of us noticed his arrival until he was stood right in front of the kid.  In seconds, he’d calmed her down and she was sat sobbing on the floor, with Siribahta crouched beside her, soothing her gently.  She stayed to complete not only the General Course but  graduated with honours from the Advanced Course.  She was younger than me by at least two years, but she was well ahead of me in the Academy teachings.

What happened to the ones that ran away?

One just disappeared, never to be heard of again.  Another was shot down by police about twenty years later, when he was involved in a bank robbery.  The other one had to be dealt with by G5, some twelve years ago, when he *[TEXT REMOVED FOR SECURITY REASONS]*

How long were you at the Academy?

Oh, about nine years as a student, for both General and Advanced Courses.  I then remained there as an Assistant Coach, until I was appointed as one of Siribahta’s Aides.  With more contact with the Master, I learnt much, much more.  I had been fond of him, for his rescue of me and for his unshakeable gentility and calm.  Now, I came to think of him more as my grandfather.  I confessed as much to him and it’s become a kind of standing joke for me to call him ‘Grandfather’.

When did the Academy close?

Who says it has?  During the decades of internal strife in Britain, we had to go into hiding.  The old Academy was attacked and ransacked but we had already gone.  The Academy is still active today, but I’m not about to reveal where.  Just accept that we found a safe sanctuary.

So how did you come to be a member of the Guardians?  I would have thought that you would have made an excellent teacher.

I did, too. [A flash of deep grief crosses his visage.]  I was very close to accepting a position on the Academy faculty.  Word reached me that my eldest sister, Hannah, had been killed.  I assumed it was in a riot or something.  I was very wrong.  I had my bags packed and everything when I was summoned by Siribahta.  It was then that I discovered why he was in the habit of being absent for odd periods, without explanation.  By some fluke of circumstance, Hannah and her family had moved to a small hamlet in Scotland just as a local coven of Dark Witches raised an ancient entity.  The moment the thing appeared, it detected Hannah and commanded the coven to destroy her and her children!  Hannah fought, and even tried to call for help, but she had been isolated and she wasn’t strong enough alone.  Her husband, Douglas, also fought, with mundane weapons, and even killed three of the coven, but it wasn’t enough.  The police found what was left of the family in a burnt out ruin.  I lost it then.  I started hunting for any hint of evil.  Twice, I was nearly killed.  The fact that Siribahta and his people had reacted as quickly as possible to the rise of the thing that had ordered Hannah killed, and had sent it, and the dark coven, into oblivion meant nothing.  But the rage couldn’t last forever.  I suffered a complete breakdown.  Later, I heard that Siribahta and the finest Psych healers worked on me then, healing me of the grief, the rage, everything.

Well, anyway, when Siribahta was made Director of the Guardians, it was just natural that I go with him.  The madness was gone, but some debts can never be repaid.  Besides, I opted to be a soldier rather than a teacher.

Have you ever regretted that choice?

Regretted it?  Of course, but I wouldn’t change anything.

I understand that you underwent some very special training with an unusual teacher.  Can you tell us more?

 *[ALL DETAILS ON MISSIONS FOR OR OTHER ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE GUARDIANS ARE CLASSIFIED.  TEXT TERMINATED.]*

Background to “G1: The Guardians” #5

The Life of Siribahta Dhal, Director, Dept G

Director of Department ‘G’, aka “The Guardians”

Born: Nepal, 1736

Parents: Pradhan Dhal (father) and Sirima Dhal nee Thom (mother)

Fifth son and ninth child of twelve.

In early adulthood (1752), Siribahta Dhal began training as an archer. He became a warrior for the local warlord in 1761, remaining with him until his death in 1798. Refusing the role for himself, Siribahta left Nepal and made his way south, entering Calcutta in 1803. He became a sepoy (native soldier) in the British Army almost immediately. He married Nasira Jairana in June 1815 (on the very day that the Battle of Waterloo was fought). They were to have seven children. Tragically, he lost his wife and all his children during a cholera outbreak, while he was away with an army column, suppressing unrest in northern Punjab. Grief stricken, he didn’t renew his enlistment. Also, it had become necessary for him to leave Calcutta, as his extreme longevity would soon be noticed. Continue reading

New Book Launch – Cover Reveal – Video Trailer

Yes, this is IT!  Today, I am very proud to launch my first self-published novel, A Darkness in Amazonia.  This is Part 4 of G1: The Guardians.  I owe a massive debt of gratitude to Chris Graham for his excellent artworks, Janice Spina for helping with the editing phase and to my son, Damien Smy, for his narration on the video trailer for the book.  I would also like to express my public thanks to Keith Plunkett at skoobebooks.co.uk for his unstinting helping the bringing to print this novel, in both paperback and hardback.  I should have included a proper acknowledgements page in the novel, of course, but I hope that this goes some way towards rectifying that oversight.  Please note that I haven’t included contact information for either Chris or Damien, at their behest!

Post divider

Released on 10th September, 2013, through various online sources. Available as ebook, paperback and hardback.

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A Darkness in Amazonia

by

Steve K Smy

Being Part 4 of G1: The Guardians

In the depths of the Amazonian jungle, lost for millennia, its location hidden by the local peoples from every explorer, lies a city – a city that shouldn’t exist.

Discovered by an archaeologist, Professor Hiram Leibowitz, despite every attempt to conceal its existence, the first revelations prove that this is a perilous site that the archaeologist and his dig crew are not equipped to handle. Fortunately, Leibowitz knows who is the right person to investigate this great mystery. At a safe distance from the city, Leibowitz contacts his old friend – Siribahta Dhal, Director of the Guardians.

A sequence of events is set in motion as Siribahta sends in his elite team: G1. It takes very little time to discover that the city is one of the most dangerous relics of a lost Age ever found. Protected by the slaves of an unknown power, hiding truths that prove that not all Evil is alien in origin, the nameless city will test G1 to the utmost. This will not be a battle – it will be a war…

The first novel and fourth tale in the series.

Follow G1’s adventures in the three previous volumes: the novelettes Shade of Evil and Evil Under The Circle, and the novella The Sigil of Ahriman, all available as ebooks and paperbacks.

Purchase details:

ebook from:
Smashwords
Amazon stores worldwide
The ebook will become available from other online bookstores over time!

Paperback from:
skoobebooks.co.uk  (n.b. you may order the paperback edition but please be aware that the normal delivery time may be slightly extended during the first week or two from the launch date).

Hardback from:
skoobebooks.co.uk (n.b. you may order the hardback edition but please be aware that the normal delivery time may be slightly extended during the first week or two from the launch date).

More information:

Author’s website/blog

Video Trailer:

More Information about the background of the G1: The Guardians series can be found here.

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Are You A Lucky Buyer?

If anybody chooses to purchase a copy of the hardback edition of this book, and they are the first to do so, then I will provide them with the whole set of four ebooks, in whatever format (ePub or Kindle) they desire, free of charge!  Any such order must, however, be made before the end of September 2013!

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Comments:

If you have any comments, observations or questions about this book or the series, which you prefer to keep private, please contact me on the special, temporary email address!

Moving Onwards Monday

Relaunch of Skylord Approaching

The relaunch of Skylord is getting closer!  Naturally, it is going to be necessary to withdraw the current free edition of the ebook.  It will be replaced with the new edition when it is available.  The new edition will be fully illustrated throughout with black and white images, to reflect the fact that the book is most suited to the junior market.  I will also be looking into a print edition, though that may be subject to the size of the revised book, especially in terms of the page count.

If any of you have experience in self-publishing print versions of children’s books, I’d be very grateful for any advice or guidance.

Shade of Evil Now Fully Available

The paperback edition of Shade of Evil is now available from both CreateSpace and Amazon stores (Amazon.com and Amazon Europe only).  The links are available on the book page.  It also remains available through skoobebooks.co.uk.  At the time of writing this, the existing Amazon reviews for the book aren’t currently included under the paperback edition, unfortunately.  If you wish to read them, they can be found under the Kindle version.

Have You Joined the Event?

If you haven’t already done so, please do consider joining the new book launch event on my Facebook!  It’s a great place to discuss what’s going to happen, and to let me know what you think about the new book.  If you need a Facebook invitation, please let me know!  While you’re over there, perhaps you’d be kind enough to answer the post about sharing the good news.  The more feedback I get, the better the planning in future – I hope!  Also, any suggestions you may have would be gratefully received.  A blog is wonderful, but, by its very nature, discussions can be difficult to keep going.  Facebook event pages are much better for that.

Obviously, if you’d like to ask me any questions or make any observations on the event page, please feel free to do so!

~ Steve

Wednesday Briefing

An Appeal to Authors on Behalf of Reviewers

Recently, in a LinkedIn Group, I was answering a thread.  It raised something that I felt needed addressing.  I did what I could in a few words, but I’d like to spell it out more fully here.

We all need feedback, and it’s a subject that I’ve already covered, to some degree.  However, there’s an aspect of it that I missed entirely!  We authors have certain duties to those we ask to provide us with feedback.  The obvious one is to offer a product worth their time, of course.  Or, at least, to genuinely believe that we are doing so!  But how many of us take the trouble to offer review copies in more than one format?  As far as this is concerned, authors using Kindle direct, and especially Kindle Select, are perhaps the guiltiest, I’m afraid.  We must not fall into the trap of believing that we need only concern ourselves with one ebook format!  I have experienced the problem myself – where I’ve been asked to review books but been offered ‘Kindle or nothing’.  That’s really not good!  Of course, it’s possible to convert ebooks to other formats, but if you have elected to employ DRM, then conversion is impossible!  So, I appeal to all authors: produce your books in as many formats as possible!  I’m not saying you have to offer them all for sale.  If you want to stick with, for example, Kindle – then by all means do so!  Just make it easier for potential reviewers!

News On Shade of Evil

I am currently working towards making the paperback version of my novelette, Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians), available through CreateSpace and, therefore, Amazon.  I only submitted it yesterday, but I was amazed to find that it is now available from CreateSpace and will be available from Amazon.com and Amazon’s European stores within about a week!   The links will be added to the book’s page on the blog.  it should, I hope, be easier for some to buy a copy.  If things go well enough, then I’ll be inclined to make my other books available through the same channels.

This does not signal an abandonment of skoobebooks!  Far from it!  I couldn’t be happier with the help and service that I’ve had from them, and I suspect that it is far superior to what I could expect from CreateSpace!  It is simply a reluctant acceptance of an unavoidable fact – more people shop through Amazon, especially internationally!  It is also a reflection of the fact that, sadly, I can’t afford the extra fee for wider distribution (including through Amazon), imposed by skoobebooks.

One last word on skoobebooks!  If you live in the United Kingdom, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend your use of skoobebooks.  Having used both them and UK-based FeedARead, I am very happy to say that skoobebooks  win hands down on service!  From the very first book that I submitted to them, I have been constantly impressed by the help provided, and the fact that they work so hard to get your precious creation printed in the way you want!  Working with Keith at skoobebooks has taught me a great deal, and I can only publicly express my gratitude to him, and his colleagues.  Without them, I doubt that there would have been a printed option for any of my books!

~ Steve

New Book Launch: Announcement!

Well, I promised an announcement today, and so here it is!

I have decided that the first person to purchase the Hardback edition of the new book will receive all the books in ebook format – free!  skoobebooks have agreed to provide me with the name and email address of this person, on this one occasion only.  The offer ends at midnight GMT on 30th September, 2013.  The hardback is marginally larger than the paperback and is professionally printed and bound, with a plain cover but wrapped in a dustjacket bearing the illustrated cover design like the paperback.

If you don’t wish to take up this offer, please let skoobebooks know when you place your order!

Please note that this is not a draw or any other kind of competition!  It is purely based on a “first come, first served” basis.  Equally, no obligation is placed on the recipient of the ebooks.  Obviously, if you are the lucky person, and you feel moved to read and review any or all of the books, I would be delighted!  If you do review any of my books, I would be very grateful if you could post such reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as any other site permitting it, as you see fit.

Just as a matter of interest, I’d love to know how many (if any) of you are interested in this offer!  It will help in planning future launch events.  To that end, there’s a poll below.

~ Steve

AWOL Sunday & Falling Behind

Lazy Sunday…

Well, kind of, I guess.  Started with dosing up as much as I dared to make a journey I really wasn’t fit for, but in a very good cause.  Why?  It was the baptism of our granddaughter Kimberly!  Sadly, the best I could manage in participation terms was arriving before everybody headed out, as the “facilities” at the church and the club afterwards were not suitable for me.  So I basically house-sat.  Still, I spent an extremely pleasant day in the back garden, enjoying the warmth and, eventually, the sun.  I dozed off for a while and then used my son’s tablet to start writing a new story (probably a short story).  It was wonderful, actually.  Being somewhere so very quiet, doing nothing of great importance.

If you’re interested in such things, I have a photo gallery of the baptism on my Facebook.  The majority of the photos were taken by my wife, Jenny, and using a Samsung Ace Smartphone (with only one exception), after the batteries died in my digital camera,  I have to say that the Samsung’s camera function provided phenomenal quality results, especially considering that no flash was used!

Not Keeping Up Well…

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been keeping up with things very well, lately.  That’s mainly because of the work involved in preparing for the book launch!  Part of it is the to-and-fro’ of getting the book into print, which will be both paperback and hardback.  I complicated matters by wanting the hardback to be the kind with a dustjacket with a plain book cover, rather than a full colour book cover.  This is probably a holdover from growing up with such things.  I used to love peeking under the dustjackets to see the smart, minimalistic titles on the covers and spine beneath.  Somehow, when I first encountered hardbacks without dustjackets but with glossy, full colour covers (often just on the front), well… to be absolutely honest, they looked cheap and tacky to me.  And yes, I know that’s silly and unfair, but it’s something I can’t get past.  Even those where the dustjacket illustration is still printed on the book cover beneath just doesn’t have the same feel to it.  A further complication because of this wish for a dustjacket is that the book sizes available are different!  Thus, I can’t have the 8 x 5 inch size.  I have to move up to 8.5 x 5.5 inches, which means that there will be a reduction in the number of pages!  The paper will also be crème instead of white.  Finally, the desire for a dustjacket means I need to come up with something for the inner flaps, without repeating anything from elsewhere, preferably.  Keith at skoobebooks.co.uk has been a huge help throughout!

On top of the print issues for the book, I have fallen foul of something I did for the release of The Sigil of Ahriman – producing a video book trailer!  There are many, many difficulties involved in the process, and I spent a considerable amount of time beating my head against very high, hard brick walls!  Without the enormous amount of help I had from Chris Graham (creator of the book’s cover illustration) with the images used in the video, and my son Damien in the narration, I would probably have conceded defeat long ago.  The task would have been, I  now know, far beyond me!  I will admit that this process was complicated when Damien pointed out that the video lost quality rather badly when watched full screen in HD!  I don’t have direct, personal access to HD.  Further, my computer seems to be suffering from serious memory problems (I know that feeling!) so many of the tricks used to persuade Windows Movie Maker to record in HD, or even pseudo-HD, simply won’t work for me.  I found a video conversion program which may have overcome the problem, but I won’t know until Damien confirms one way or another.  Finally, I haven’t yet decided on whether to superimpose the narrative on the video or to incorporate subtitles.  Both present significant technical challenges for a video creation newbie!

So I hope that you all understand why I have been struggling to keep up with other things!  If you’ve emailed me, for any reason, and I haven’t replied as yet, please accept my very sincere apologies.

~ Steve

“Not Another Series!”

I’ve seen some writers, and critics and readers, complaining about the number of authors writing series of books.  Now, I’m certainly guilty of doing just that, as you probably know.  But why do I write in series?  The simple answer is that some stories encourage  me to do so.  In fact, there’s a very real possibility that some of my shorter books could have been held back and put together as single works.  That said, there’s no guarantee that the prospect of a series wouldn’t have raised its head.  In truth, like readers everywhere, we writers get attached to some of our characters, and/or the worlds/universes we create for them!  And that phenomenon isn’t predictable.

Of course, some authors set out quite deliberately to write a series.  They have it all planned far ahead.  They have every reason to do so, too.  The emotional, creative and temporal investment in their invention is such that they would, in fact, be underselling themselves and their efforts.  They know this, from the very inception of the project.  I know that these circumstances exist, both from the biographies of such writers and from the fact that, many years ago, I actually planned such a series.  It was, most definitely, far more than simply a series of books!  I had to create detailed maps, not just of small areas but of a whole world.  I had to invent new languages, and even new scripts.  And then there were the numerous species, races and histories.  To contemplate going to such extremes of creativity for a single tome would, to put it bluntly, just utterly foolish!

But there are accidental series, too.  These can happen in two ways.  First, the author recognises a potential behind the original creation – and runs with it.  Second, readers can plead for, even demand, more!  Of course, the author has to be able to see what it is that has so strongly hooked those readers.  If they can’t, then no more can be successfully written.  I would, if it was in my character, envy those authors who enjoy such demands and pleas from their readers!  For myself, I’m limited to the first accidental event.  I can only hope that readers share my interest in a series which is taking an ever larger life of its own.

Let me take a personal example!  My novelette, Shade of Evil, was originally intended to be a single work, part of my experiment in genres I wouldn’t normally write in.  Even after I had finished writing it, there was no obvious course forward.  But then, during the final stages of preparation for publication, the final scenes of the book suddenly threw out grappling hooks!  They took a very firm hold.  The characters, and the organisation they worked for, piqued my interest.  It wasn’t long, therefore, before they appeared in a new story.  It was begun, and there was no turning back.  Why?  Well, apart from those sneaky grappling hooks, there was a question of a ‘tidy’ conclusion.  Sure, Harry’s story was definitely done, but I could feel the suspended story of that intrepid bunch, the Guardians, and especially G1!  So it continued, and still does.

I like standalone stories as much as anybody.  As an author, they’re a lot less troublesome to write!  That doesn’t, however, stop the need for some stories to go far beyond a single volume.

I probably haven’t persuaded those who bemoan the plethora of series that there are often good reasons for them, but I thought it worth trying!

~ Steve