It is, with a strange mixture of sadness and joy, that I release the final book in the Darkeningstone Trilogy, and announce that the Stone's journey is at last complete.
I set out, some years ago, to write a trilogy about a boy who happens upon a stone that can act as a portal through time. He would discover this, I decided, when the stone released a burst of energy that affected his mobile phone. And the stone would be found in an abandoned quarry that was used as an illegal dumping ground by the locals.
Those simple ideas were all that I started with, and now, three novels and a novella later, the story has been told.
People who read these books tend to enjoy them, and I'm very proud of that fact. It would be great if there were a few more of those noble readers, but hey – what can a chap do? I just keep writing and I feel sure that one day, the trilogy will find a wide audience.
You see, I wrote those books with every ounce of love and care that I could muster. There is not a single sentence nor a solitary comma that I didn't pour my heart and soul into.
Are the books perfect? I doubt it very much! But I know that I did my best to deliver a great reading experience in my own unique way. I've always followed my own path, and as far as I'm concerned, rules are just there to fill in the gaps between the loopholes, but that doesn't mean that I'm conceited about what it takes to put a good story together – quite the reverse. The whole experience has been an incredible learning journey, and a very humbling one. My mistakes have been many and various, and at times, I've been incredulous of my own stupidity.
In the beginning, I thought of the lead character as ‘the boy' and we never learned his name. He spent a lot of time mooching about and reminiscing. All very literary but it wasn't exactly gripping. The book attracted some interest from big UK publishers and some agents, but they could see it wouldn't sell. Eventually, after sitting on the manuscript for a year, a very kind soul at one publisher took the time to email me with a list of things that were wrong with the book. It hurt to read that email, but I knew she was 100% correct.
Many people give up at that point and shove their books in old shoe boxes. But I squared my shoulders and rewrote the whole thing from the ground up. And here, before I tell you how I changed the book, I must issue a spoiler alert. The following passage refers to some details from Trespass and may spoil your enjoyment if you haven't already read that book. Also, why haven't you read it yet? Go on. Buy it now. I'll wait.
So how did I ‘fix' the book?
First, ‘the boy' became Jake. He stopped moping quite so much, and even though he was a bit scared, he went off to explore. Cally arrived to stir Jake into action, and Jake's best friend, Matt, arrived to jolly things up a little. At the same time, Cleofan, Waeccan's domineering dead father, started speaking to his son from the Shadow World. Was Cleofan just imagining it? That's up to you to decide and I leave it to your imagination. Similarly, the untimely birth of Burlic and Scymrian's son could have been caused by Waeccan's mischief with the Shades, or it could've been pure chance. At any rate, Tellan appeared and decided to try and stop Burlic from taking out his misplaced anger on poor old Waeccan. At this point, the book was getting very complex, so I stripped out the events of 1919 and put them to one side. It was a hard decision, and in some ways it was a shame, but I needed to slim the book down a bit and I wanted to give the readers a fighting chance at following the storylines.
And so it went on. I kept typing away whenever I could, and eventually, with help from folks like the editors Jason Whited and Michael Israel-Jarvis, and with proof readers like Sophie B. Thomas, and with the support of fellow writers like D.M. Cain and S.J. Bryant (and many more) we have arrived at this sad and happy day.
Will there ever be another Darkeningstone book?
I have planned to create an omnibus edition of all the existing books, but otherwise, my feeling is that I've done what I set out to do. The story could be taken further though, and I'm missing the characters already, so who knows? Maybe, on one of the long winter nights, I'll wake up in the early hours to a soft chorus of distant whispers. And then I'll know for certain that somewhere, sometime, The Stone is calling to me once again.
Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. You've made it all worthwhile.
I hope that soon, we'll walk alongside one another as we stroll down the leafy, literary lanes of a good story once again. And next time, I'll bring sandwiches. Just so long as both agree to leave our maps at home.
Scaderstone Pit (The Darkeningstone Book III) is available to pre-order at a reduced price until September 9, 2016.
Click on the image below to buy it in your local store, or select a flag for other countries.
At the time of writing, Scaderstone Pit is exclusive to Kindle, and after launch, it will be available as a free download to members of Kindle Unlimited.
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With my readers' group, The Awkward Squad