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Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Question of Order

Besides questions about the title, the most common inquiry I get about the new book is this one. Since it’s a sequel, is it absolutely necessary to read the first book, The Curse of Septimus Bridge, first?

Allow me go into analytical-personality mode and say, no, there are no laws on the books or anything else that would prevent you from reading the second book without first having read the first one. It’s not as though you have to swear an affidavit or pass some kind of knowledge test about Septimus in order to be issued a copy of Last of the Tuath Dé. Of course, people aren’t really asking if it’s possible to read one without having read the other. They want to know if it’s a good idea.

At least half the answer to that question depends on you, but I can do my best to fill in the other half, which may help you do your half.

People like me, who have a compulsive element to their personality, prefer to read things in order. If there is a series of books, movies or television episodes, I want to read or view them in the order they were created. Or maybe in whatever order keeps the overarching narrative chronological. Or maybe not. I actually dealt with this conundrum 13 years ago on my movie blog when I pondered the question of whether a new viewer should watch the Star Wars movies beginning with A New Hope or The Phantom Menace. I came down on the side of experiencing the movies in the order they were created and in which the world originally experienced them, as opposed to following the saga chronologically.

So, if you’re that type of person, then the answer is clear. You should read Septimus Bridge first and Tuath Dé second.

But not everyone is that type of person. I’m not even that type of person all the time. Maybe the descriptions of the second book sound more interesting to you, and those of the first one not so much. Maybe you’re just not as interested in reading books that have been around awhile and you like your reading material to be new and fresh.

Still not sure? Here’s what else I can tell you. I wrote Last of the Tuath Dé, as I do all my books, with the intention that it stand on its own and be a complete and satisfying reading experience all by itself. Though many of the characters were introduced in the earlier book and events in that book have a bearing on occurrences in the new book, I did my best to bring new readers up to date without boring established ones. It’s a new story with its own beginning, middle and end. Though there are characters and events referred to—sometimes quite significantly—from the previous volume, that was also sort of true of the first book. People were referred to in that book whom we had not met, and prior events were mentioned that we had not experienced. That’s how I approach my storytelling. The characters are not born full-grown (like Athena emerging from Zeus’s forehead) the minute you start reading about them, and their lives don’t stop when you get to the last page. Yeah, if you read Tuath Dé first, you’ll be playing some catch-up, but there’s always catch-up to play with three-dimensional characters.

I made a deliberate choice not to organize any of my books as part of a series—even though that’s a particularly trendy thing to do these days, particularly when it comes to YA lit. I discussed this topic here in some detail five years ago when I declared that the Dallas Green books—and now, separately, the Septimus/Sapphire/Izanami books—are part of a novel sequence rather than a series. That kind of gives readers permission to read the books in whatever order they want.

So, here’s the bottom line. If it were I, I would read Septimus first, but if for whatever reason, you really want to just read Tuath Dé, I think you’ll be okay.

For what it’s worth, my beta readers didn’t find the question any easier to answer than I have—and for the same reason. It’s hard, if not impossible, to put yourself in the place of someone who hasn’t read something that you’ve read. Even people who had read the first book didn’t necessarily remember all the detail of it anyway.

And here’s something else. A couple of those early readers said they thought that Tuath Dé was a better book than the first one. On the other hand, at least one other preferred the first one. In case we needed reminding, choosing what to read and when—and whether we’re happy with those choices—is very individual and pretty darn subjective.

Of course, my wish is that you will read both books and in fact all my books—in whatever order you prefer—and that you will enjoy them.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Two a Day

What else can I tell you about the new book?

One source of additional information might be the interview I did with myself on my movie blog. I won’t repeat that experience here because I’ve learned that self-interviews can quickly turn weirdly passive-aggressive. Also, I addressed the question of whether there is political satire in the book in my expat blog if you’re interested in that. As for this blog, let’s spend some time dealing with other questions that potential readers might have. For example, what is the meaning of the book’s title?

To give them their full name, the Tuatha Dé Danann were a supernatural race of beings in Irish mythology. The name translates as the people or folk of the goddess Danu. She was a primordial mother goddess. Tuath Dé is an older name for them, and it translates as tribe of the gods.

These beings dwelled in the Otherworld, but they did interact with mortal people. Their enemies were the Fomorians, or the Fomóire in old Irish or the Fomhóraigh in modern Irish. Disclaimer: Despite a couple of decades in this country, I make no claim to be an expert on the Irish language (or on anything Irish for that matter), as my wife and daughter are all too eager to remind me. If you want more authoritative information, do your own research.

To be clear, my book is not actually about the Tuath Dé of genuine Irish tradition. My book’s mythology is my own invention, though I obviously used themes common in most mythologies. As for the names of my supernatural beings, I borrowed (okay, appropriated) them. This is explained in Chapter 9 when an old Master tells Izanami and friends about the Old Ones:
  “Is that what’s happening now?” asked Izanami. “Are the Old Ones coming back?”
  “Perhaps,” said the old woman gravely.
  “All of them?” asked Peter. “Or just the ones who wanted to get rid of us. You know, the bad ones. Are they coming back? Sorry, do the two circles have names?”
  “Whatever names they have for themselves are beyond our ability to conceive and enunciate, so we have had to invent our own names for them. The most useful names to have survived down through the ages are in the Irish language. It is in that tongue that the old stories have come closest to surviving intact. That’s not to say that the Irish legends weren’t embellished or combined with other historical events, but it’s their names that have been adopted by Masters who research the lore. …”
I suppose the novel’s title could be misleading, especially for people who have some familiarity with Irish legends and might be hoping for a treatment of that subject. On the other hand, people with a particular interest in the Mexican emperors Maximilian and Carlotta, the Chilean freedom fighter Lautaro or Voltaire’s literary heroine Cunégonde could well have been similarly disappointed by the titles of my other books.

The main thing to know about the Tuath Dé, at least when it comes to the mythology in my book, is that among the Old Ones the Tuath Dé are the good guys—and we are apparently down to the last of them. Who or what is the last of the Tuath Dé? Well, finding that out is pretty much the point of reading the book.

Never mind the meaning of Tuath Dé, though. The first question I usually get when someone sees the title is… how do you pronounce it?

This too is dealt with (sort of) in Chapter 9:
  “So to answer your question, lad, the circle of Old Ones that wanted to purge the universe of humans is called the Fomóire. The entity which guides them—their leader if you will—is called Balor. Many are the legends that have survived of Balor of the Evil Eye. We call the other circle—the ones who argued for our survival—the Tuath Dé.”
  “The ‘two a day’?” asked Peter.
  “Not too bad an attempt at the pronunciation.”
Young Peter is not given any further instruction on the pronunciation, and I suspect most readers may be happy enough with the “two a day” approximation. (It’s also not a bad target frequency for mixing evening martinis for oneself.)

If you really want to know the correct pronunciation, don’t expect me to embed an audio clip with me pronouncing it on this page. As mentioned above, the women in my house have done their best to forbid me any attempt at pronunciation of Irish words or names. My efforts only seem to hurt their ears. (This is quite a blow to the ego of someone who has gotten many compliments on his pronunciation of Spanish and even French over the years.)

The best I can do for you is to transcribe the pronunciation of Tuath Dé in the International Phonetic Alphabet. In Old Irish, it’s [t̪uaθa d̪ʲe]. In Modern Irish, it’s [t̪ˠuə(hi) dʲe] in Connacht and Ulster, and [t̪ˠuəhə dʲe] in Munster.

If you don’t want to get that technical about it, the New York-based website, which styles itself the news hub for the Irish diaspora, in an article titled “The Tuatha De Danann: Were they Irish gods or aliens?” offers a simpler pronunciation: “Thoo-a day.” Personally, to my ear, though, names beginning with “tu” (at least in my part of the country) sound like they begin with a “t” followed by a lightly aspirated “h” or even no “h” at all.

Yeah, probably easier for us Yanks to just stick with “two a day.”

Monday, August 15, 2022

Answering the Musical Question

Now that Last of the Tuath Dé has been released, I can’t wait to write and talk about it, you know, to give you some background and insights into the creation process.

First, though, it’s become sort of a tradition for me to share a Spotify music playlist to go along with the new book. My playlists for Lautaro’s Spear and The Curse of Septimus Bridge were basically collections of selected tracks that I listened to while I was writing those books, you know, to put me in the frame of mind for the time and place and mood. Then with my playlist for Searching Cunégonde I tried to do something clever (so often a mistake in my case) and strive to make the list of track titles match (as closely as possible anyway) the book’s table of contents. That definitely made for some interesting choices. Who knew it would be so easy to find songs called “Toque de queda,” “Querétaro,” “Paperasse” and “Algeciras” but impossible to find one called “Reports of a Murder”?

The following-the-table-of-contents thing was definitely not going to work for Last of the Tuath Dé—at least not for every chapter—so I opted instead for a track list that followed the book’s plot sequentially by including character names, chapter titles and themes—as well as the one song actually mentioned in the book itself. Needless to say, this provided ample opportunity to include a few of the surprising number of tunes out there that deal with the topic of the world ending. R.E.M. and Elvis Costello are just a couple of the myriad artists who have employed Armageddon as subject matter for songwriting. It also allowed me to sneak in a favorite Doctor Who track by Murray Gold.

So without further ado, I give you the official Spotify playlist for streaming while reading your copy of Last the Tuath Dé

Oh yeah, and if you want to try making your own musical playlist based on the book’s chapter titles, here they are…

Friday, August 12, 2022

Today’s the (Tuath) Dé!

It’s finally here. It seems like I’ve been talking about (and more to the point, working on) this book forever. And now it’s suddenly crossed the finish line.

Last of the Tuath Dé, sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge, is at long last released and available for your perusal.

You may well have questions, like… Can I read this without having already read The Curse of Septimus Bridge? How the heck do you pronounce the title? Will we find out what happened to Lola Blumquist’s parents? Did Sapphire ever master teleportation?

Some of the answers will be found in the book. Others I will address in coming blog posts. Right now, the main thing to know is that I think this is pretty darn good adventure (if I do say so myself) that will entertain you and maybe even get you involved emotionally with characters. The cast, the scope of the action, and the stakes for our heroes, the world, the universe and existence itself are bigger than ever. Several characters are back—including perhaps ones you may not have expected to see again. There are also some intriguing new characters. At the heart of it all, though, are the last two remaining Demon Hunters, Sapphire and Izanami, and the fate awaiting them.

So, where can you get the book? All the usual places, of course.

Most of you will read it on a Kindle device or app. The digital version is now available in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and everywhere else Amazon sells Kindle books. If you don’t find a direct link on this page for your country, just search for the book on your usual Amazon page.

Other online sellers have it too, including Barnes & Noble and Rakuten Kobo. Or if you don’t mind just downloading an epub file yourself for your preferred gadget or app, you can click on the portal at the top of this page and purchase the book from my very own Afranor Books store.

As of this writing, it still hasn’t shown up in the Google Play or Apple Books online stores, but it should only be a matter of time until they appear there as well.

But what if you’re one of those people who prefers to have a real book made of paper in your hand? No problem. Generally, online sellers of books should have it if you search by title, author or the ISBN number, which is 978-1-7331947-6-1. Theoretically, you should be able to get your local neighborhood bookshop to order it as well, although from what I hear, they (the big chain ones anyway) are likely to tell you to just order it yourself from their website.

Online sellers that definitely offer the paperback version right now include Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. And of course, Amazon has it worldwide, including at their sites in the US, Canada and the UK.

So what are you doing still reading this blog? Go get the book already, read it, and then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

At Last… the Tuath Dé!

Hey, everyone! I am happy/thrilled/relieved/excited to announce the impending release of my sixth novel. It’s called Last of the Tuath Dé, and it’s a sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge.

Here is the official description (as submitted to the various sellers):

The world has changed. Septimus Bridge, greatest of all Demon Hunters, is gone forever. Only two of his former disciples remain to confront hellion invaders from the Netherworld. A far greater threat, however, looms, and the portents are impossible to ignore. Izanami, who has not dreamed in decades, is plagued by nightmares. Her partner Sapphire has gone missing. As hysteria takes over the airwaves and social media, law and order breaks down around the world. In the most worrying sign, the dead have returned to walk the earth. What is the secret of the mysterious crystal that has fallen into Izanami’s possession? Who are the Zen’ei, and what explains their relentless control of so many minds all around the world? Why are ruthless Mercenaries hunting a young boy, who has no memory of who is or where he came from? Can Izanami, alone and on the run, keep him alive long enough to solve the mystery? As the truth is revealed, all hope appears lost. The Old Ones, who held sway long before recorded history, are stirring again—and they want this world back.

And here’s the cover, featuring another wonderful illustration by Tamlyn Zawalich:

The official release date for the paperback and e‑book versions is just a couple of days away. Specifically, it’s Friday the 12th of August, although digital versions sometimes show up slightly earlier than advertised in some places. Epub versions will be available for purchase from Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Rakuten Kobo, Apple Books, and of course, my own Afranor Books site. If history is any guide, though, most of you will be getting the Kindle version from one of the various Amazon sites around the world. The paperback version will be available to order from major online sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million among others.

More information/teasing/coaxing to follow.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Septimus Successor

This is the month!

After weeks/months of promising/teasing, my next book is now scheduled for release. I am just waiting to get a proof copy of the paperback in my hands before announcing the title and release date. If the UK’s Royal Mail, Ireland’s An Post and the Brexit gods are all willing, it shouldn’t be much longer.

In the meantime, here is a teaser detail from the cover.

Nearly time to crack open a new bottle of Writer’s Tears.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Sextus Opus

It’s getting close now.

In fact, it’s so close that it might even be time to announce the title. But I won’t just yet. Once again I’ve settled on a moniker that comes up easily in web searches if people are actually searching for the title, but it has the problem that most people aren’t going to be sure how to pronounce it. As with Searching for Cunégonde up until that book’s publication, I still haven’t abandoned the idea of a better, more marketable, more searchable title. But I have a feeling this is its title. For one thing, I’m kind of attached to it. If the late J.R.R. Tolkien was able to sell a whole bunch of copies of something called The Silmarillion, then maybe I can sell a few copies of my book with Gaelic words in the title.

At this point I’m just waiting for a wee bit more feedback and, mainly, a block of time to do one final pass to find any remaining typos or problems staring at me right there in plain sight. Then begins the pre-press gauntlet where I try to remember all the things I did the previous time I went through it—now coming up on two years ago now—plus deal with all the things that will be different because things change over time. I love that part. If the truth be told, that’s the sort of stuff I’m built for.

Editing, copy-editing, formatting, pre-press prep and publishing are all basically about problem solving. At least in the way I personally view and approach those tasks. You’re taking something that’s been written and removing (ideally all) the flaws and delivering it to the audience. Generally, those are things that can be done right—or not. That’s my comfort zone.

I suppose you can view the writing task the same way: you’ve either done it right—or not. But the rightness of any piece of writing is ultimately subjective, isn’t it? When it comes to the creative process, rightness is in the eye of the beholder. And that’s kind of scary for someone like me whose mostly worked (for pay anyway) in areas where things are done right—or not.

Okay, now I’ve made it sound like I am, in my work life at least, one of those robotic personalities with no imagination. That’s not true. Hopefully, my five books to date demonstrate some level of imagination and penchant for story spinning. But, as I’ve previously confessed on my movie blog, I am not by nature a particularly visual person. My skill gifts were always more in abstract concepts. Having a brain that is attuned to images is useful for, say, filmmakers—and novelists.

The good news is that few if any of us is completely one kind of person or another. Our weaknesses can strengthened. We can learn and can train ourselves to do what we need or want to do.

Okay, that was a pretty major digression. Mainly, my message was going to be that the sixth book and sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge is getting very close now. The idea was to get you all excited about it, but now I’ve probably succeeded in putting you off. Did I mention that one of my other skill blind spots was marketing and self-promotion?

Anyway, keep watching this space for more teasers and, ultimately, announcements. I’m very excited about this new book and can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Fantasy Come True

Yes, I finally got back to work on the new (and sixth) book. I had an extra break from writing because, for Christmas and my birthday, my daughter and wife surprised me with a full pass to the Dublin International Film Festival, which was held in March. So, for a few weeks my film blog got a more attention than my novel. I’m not complaining. Just explaining.

Once I finished writing about the 15 feature films and 49 short films I saw—and recovered from pulling an all-nighter to watch the Oscars and write about those—I threw myself back into the book. This week was something of a milestone in that I now have the manuscript in a form where I am largely happy with the story and am not completely embarrassed to have other people look at it. Much work still remains—the copy editing, fixing, polishing, improving—but this juncture gives me a chance to take another pause from novel-writing and do what I really like to be doing: blogging about novel-writing.

While it may look like I’m just bad at time management, it was actually deliberate this time to take a longer break between finishing the initial rough draft (way back in late September) and beginning the second pass a couple of months ago. The truth is that I kind of envy people who read my books. That confession isn’t intended to be as self-congratulatory as it may sound. What I mean is that my main motivation in writing is to create books that I myself would enjoy reading. The irony is that I am the one person in the world who is not surprised by anything I read in my own books. It seems that it would be helpful in the editing and rewriting to be able to peruse the manuscript with the eyes of a virgin reader. Leaving more time than usual between one pass and another was my attempt to roughly approximate that experience.

Did it work? Kind of. A little. Obviously, when I’ve put so much thought and time into the conception and initial writing of the story, it’s not realistic to think that I’ll easily forget much of what my brain was at. To be real, no plot twist or surprise reveal is going to catch me off guard. This is especially true in the case of the very first chapter and the very last chapter. Those invariably get the most attention because it’s only natural that I want the book to make a good first impression and to leave a good final impression.

Surprisingly, though, there were portions in between those two chapters that did manage to surprise me. In its current manuscript form, the book consists of 31 chapters and runs on for 364 pages. (It will inevitably be shorter in print form.) That’s a lot of narrative and description and text to keep track of. So, yes, in the reading sometimes I was caught by surprise when a certain thing happened at a certain point. A few times I found myself laughing at the comic relief. And something else kind of wonderful happened a couple of times. At two different points I unexpectedly got a bit emotional. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back. After all, as I’ve said, I’m my own target audience. But it was nice to find myself reacting the way I hope other readers might.

The sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge has turned out to be a rather complicated story. This novel has more significant characters than I have ever crammed into a book before, as well as more plot developments. Actually, I don’t know if that’s really true since I haven’t bothered to try to formally quantify characters and plot events in this book to compare to say, Searching for Cunégonde, but it sure feels like this one has more of both things.

If you read and enjoyed the first book, then I think you’ll like this one too. On one hand, you could say it’s more of the same, and on the other hand, it’s a lot more than more of the same. I’ve indulged most of my favorite tropes of fantasy literature, comic books and twisty, complicated TV shows. At heart, though, like its predecessor, it’s first and foremost a love story.

The obvious question posed by the book—and one I myself cannot answer reliably, no matter how much amnesia I try to artificially induce in myself—is this one: does the book stand on its own or is it absolutely necessary to have read Septimus Bridge first? Personally, I tend to think Septimus was confusing enough and didn’t have a previous installment to help explain things, so maybe new readers will get through the confusion the way readers of the previous tome did.

Of course, the win-win solution to this conundrum is just to read The Curse of Septimus Bridge and then to read its sequel. In fact, according to a couple of comments I’ve already heard, you might want to read the two books with little or not interruption in between.

Friday, December 31, 2021

The Year of Izanami

Happy New Year! May the things we all wished for 2021 actually happen in 2022.

If you landed on this page deliberately, it may because you’re wondering how progress is coming on the new book. Hard as it is to believe now, there was actually a time when I thought it might be possible to have the sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge out by the end of 2021. This was because the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and enforced isolation in 2020 ended up making me so productive that my last book, Searching for Cunégonde, was done sooner than I could ever have expected.

As the pandemic refused to go away, I thought perhaps that level of productivity would continue. It didn’t. Despite new variants and subsequent waves of virus, life has insisted—in fits and starts—on returning to some kind of normal. I have simply been distracted and occupied with other things that I had previously gotten away with ignoring or postponing. I suppose that’s a good thing, though not necessarily for the book-writing assembly line.

Actually, I’ve just crunched the numbers and have spotted an interesting coincidence. On New Year’s Day (i.e. tomorrow, as I write this), exactly the same number of days (459) will have passed since Searching for Cunégonde was published as passed between the publication of that book and the publication of the previous one, The Curse of Septimus Bridge. That is indeed a record for the briefest interval between any two of my books—66 weeks.

For the sake of comparison, 105 weeks passed between the appearance of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and that of The Three Towers of Afranor. There was an interval of 68 weeks between Three Towers and Lautaro’s Spear. A full 91 weeks passed between Lautaro and Septimus Bridge. That means my average gap between books is 83 weeks or, more precisely, 577 days. So I guess I’m not doing too badly with this latest book—at least so far.

As I told you in September, I took my customary break after reaching the end of the first draft. As it turned out, that break has gone on a bit longer than anticipated. A couple of weeks after that last blog post, during a routine eye exam I was informed by a very competent and concerned optician that the retina in my left eye was detaching. Immediate surgery was advised, and there was a bit of a challenge finding a surgeon and hospital to take me on short notice during the pandemic, but fortunately everything turned out fine. It did mean, however, that I have not returned to my manuscript since. Once we got into the extended holiday season, I knew there was no point trying to carve out time.

I will get back to it sometime after the official end of the Christmas period. In Ireland that’s January 6, which is the Feast of the Epiphany on the Catholic calendar, also known as “Little Christmas” or Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas). When I lived in the States, by that date Christmas was but a distant memory. Not so here.

This extended break from novel writing actually has me rather excited. My goal—or hope—is always to come back to the second round with fresh eyes, and this time my eyes will be fresher (in so many ways) than they’ve ever been for a second pass. Will it actually be like reading the words for the first time? No, not exactly. I’m not exactly an amnesiac—at least not yet—but it will be the closest I can come to that experience without locking away the files for several years. Will I read them and surprise myself at how good it is? Or, probably more likely, will I be gobsmacked at how I thought any of it was any good the first time around?

Not least of the strangeness of the experience will be the concurrent passage of time out there in the real world. Every so often during the past several weeks, I have been jolted by a geographical name in the news. The adventures of Izanami and her comrades take them to several far-flung places around the globe, some of them quite obscure. And yet a couple of those places have found their way into news reports for completely unforeseeable reasons. Readers will surely suspect that I slipped them in as part of an effort to seem timely when the truth is that I chose them in large part for their exoticness and relative obscurity. Similarly, given the apocalyptic nature of the storyline, I suspect that some will think they discern some sort of allegory about current world events.

I assure you that is absolutely not the case. Or is it? It’s not. At least I don’t think so.

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.