As the last episode of Seven Stones was published last year, the release of the final collection last Friday didn’t feel like the conclusion of the project. So a week-long series of posts, extracts, and other endeavours to celebrate felt excessive. However, in line with my other books, I’m marking the end by sharing a little about how it started.
Readers who own the first Seven Stones collection will already know that the short answer is that the serial started because I was a member of Saturday Scenes, a Google+ group where authors try to share snippets of their work every Saturday. However, that answer is both boring and – in anything other than the technical sense – inaccurate.
When I was growing up, early morning television on a weekend in the United Kingdom was a choice of the highbrow end of chat shows (I suspect they weren’t all presented by Sir David Frost but my memory recalls them as him discussing politics and current affairs with serious performers, literary figures, and other worthies), Open University lectures (a UK distance-learning institution), or re-runs of pulp serials from the Fifties and Sixties.
Like many children, I often woke up earlier than my parents got up, so I could choose. Some of you will probably be unsurprised to learn that I watched a certain amount of degree-level science and maths lectures. However, there’s only so much you can learn about conic sections if your grounding in maths is that of an – admittedly bright – pre-teen. So, most of the time I watched Flash Gordon, Rocketeer, and other classic sci-fi heroes escaping certain disaster only to face it again half-an-hour later.
But I didn’t only watch early-morning television. My mother had been a librarian (and later worked as one again) so introduced me both to the joys of reading and to classics of fantasy and science-fiction. Thus, a large chunk of those mornings (and the rest of the days) was spent with novels and short stories from the Golden Age onward.
As my life experience, and my attention span, grew, my tastes expanded to include most of speculative fiction (and beyond), but I always had a soft spot for stories that raced from one cliff-hanger to the next.
When I joined Saturday Scenes, I already had a few short stories published, a novel nearing publication, and other projects ongoing, so to begin with I had plenty of extracts to share. However, as the weeks went by, I found it harder and harder to find one- to two-thousand-word extracts that had a tidy beginning and end rather than needing several paragraphs to set the scene.
Leaving me with the option of either not sharing every week or posting sequential extracts from the beginning. I didn’t feel like quitting, so decided to serialise a new story.
The thought of releasing a bit of story every week reminded me of the old serials I’d loved when I was young, so I decided – half as an exercise to hone my writing skills – to write a proper serial: each week would end with apparent disaster, a shocking reveal, or other dramatic moment; and each week would start with the heroes somehow overcoming the problem.
But, all those years of reading – and later writing – different genres and styles had filled me with a love of stories that weren’t just shiny costumes and monster of the week. So, I challenged myself to create the series with complex characters and an overarching plot.
Which is how a warrior-priest, burdened with age and secrets, ended up riding through the rain toward a grimy village on the edge of civilisation.
I predicted the plot would take a year to unfold and hoped that I could get an episode out most weeks. Two years later, with only a short break over Yule, my heroes finally defeated the abomination behind their troubles… for now.