Monday, September 27, 2021

The Return of Izanami

My blogs have sadly languished—some more than others—during the past while. As the world emerged in fits and starts from various pandemic lockdowns, distractions multiplied and time for writing became scarcer. Unlike 2020, which provided lots of quiet, uninterrupted time for clicking on the old keyboard, the year 2021 has provided somewhat less. I ended up prioritizing novel writing over blogging.

I reached a milestone last week. Only a few days shy of the first anniversary of the release of my fifth novel (Searching for Cunégonde, in case it’s slipped anyone’s mind), I finally reached the end of my rough, first draft of the sixth book. Don’t get too excited. That only marks more or less the midpoint—effort-wise if not exactly timewise—of the work involved in producing the novel. As much effort again will be involved in rewriting, polishing, correcting, adjusting and refining.

Having said that, there’s no small amount of relief in typing those (for now) final words on Chapter 31. It means I can—actually, have to—put the story out of my mind, do my best to forget it and think about other things. The idea is that, when I go back to it, I will be seeing it with fresh eyes and will read what I actually typed rather than what I hoped or thought or imagined I did.

The first pass of the manuscript and the subsequent work are very different experiences. Up till now the work has been creative (or so I hope), i.e. plotting the thing out, conjuring up characters, trying to make it all fit together so it makes some kind of sense and yet come off seeming like all things just sort of happened. The next phase is easier in the sense that the creative decisions have mostly all been made but harder because, well, because the creative decision have mostly all been made. It takes a bit of mental stamina to go over what you’ve written over and over and over and then over again.

So what’s the book about? I think I may have already mentioned in this space that it is a direct sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge. What else can I tell you? Well, it mostly focuses on the demon hunter Izanami. We see most of the action through her eyes and point of view. We get to know her a whole lot better than we did in the previous book, including her history and how she came to be a hunter of hellions. We explore her relationship with Sapphire, the main character of the previous book, quite a bit.

Do other characters from the Septimus book return? Yes! Not all of them, obviously, but several of them. Some appear only briefly. Others feature more prominently than you might have expected. Quite a few new characters turn up, including some only mentioned or hinted at in the previous tome. There is fair bit of building on and expanding the lore and mythology of Izanami and Sapphire’s world. The action jumps around to many different far-flung points on the globe.

If The Curse of Septimus Bridge was my heartfelt homage to the TV series Dark Shadows, then its sequel is something of an attempt to indulge in my fascination for the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and I’d be lying if I tried to deny that it is also influenced by the mood and fantasy and craziness of Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese’s marvelous 2017-2020 German series Dark. Like that series—and also the original Septimus book—it is at heart a love story. Most of all, though, my aim is to entertain (myself, but hopefully readers as well) and have a bit of fun.

What else can I tell you? Probably nothing useful. After all, this book is still a long ways from being released into the wild. In the meantime I promise to try to share snippets, hints and teases from time to time of what you may expect.