A few weeks ago, I finished writing the third Volume of the Sons of Mercia, “Edric the Wild,” which I look forward to sharing with everyone over the next couple of years. The sensation of finishing a series to which I have devoted so much of my time, energy, and passion was both exhilarating and saddening. I will miss that world and its characters to a painful degree. I am glad that I will keep returning to it by sharing it with the rest of the world so that I can continue to relive it for a time. But inevitably, I must “move on.” And I have chosen to move on quickly, for I itch to keep writing as strongly as ever. But I have had to think long and hard about what my next project will be, and that has led me towards a great deal of reflection.
I say all this to announce that I have chosen to keep writing historical fiction, and that in historical fiction, I think I have found my true calling.
It may seem strange for me to say that this late in the game. But in the past, I wrote primarily science fiction and fantasy. Even while writing the Sons of Mercia series, I imagined returning to fantasy or science fiction after I concluded the sweeping tales of Eadric, Godric, and Wild Edric. But it has taken me this long to realize that I get a thrill out of writing historical fiction I can’t imagine feeling elsewhere. Now that I have the option to leave historical fiction for something else, I find that I cannot.
Writing and reading are often forms of “escape” in some fashion or another. I have often wondered what it says about my own character that I love to “escape” so very often, when the real world has so much to offer me. Sometimes, the real world is just too overwhelming for me, as I imagine it is for all of us. It is hard to appreciate the complexities and simplicities of life while we’re experiencing it. But in an unexpected way, writing historical fiction has allowed me to find a happy medium between “escaping” from the troubles of daily life while still embracing the wonders of reality.
Historical fiction is full of characters who were once real, breathing people, as real as you and me. It is intimidating sometimes to fear that I am misrepresenting them, and that somewhere out there my “real” characters are turning in their graves. But on the other hand, even if I get them wrong here and there, I don’t feel bad about what I am doing. I am breathing life back into the nearly-forgotten memories of their existence. When they lived their lives, they probably felt as if their own reality was just as chaotic and meaningless as I sometimes believe my own to be. But I am finding order within that chaos; I am adding meaning where there was none before. And I am helping them live on by telling their story.
I am sure that I will return to science fiction and fantasy every once in awhile; I still love it. But for now I am addicted to flipping through history books, collecting scattered details of an ancient person’s life, and putting them back together to create something new.
So I will keep writing, and meanwhile, I am proud to announce that the release date for “Godric the Kingslayer” is set for September 27, 2011.
Also, keep an eye on my blog in March, for then I will travel to England and visit the sites like Tamworth, Shrewsbury, and beyond that feature so prominently in the Sons of Mercia series. I will share my experience with you and hopefully post plenty of lovely pictures of the lands in which Eadric Streona once ruled!