Okay. So I’ll admit. I’ve been a little unfocused lately. Seriously. I’ve been all over the freakin’ place when it comes to writing, my story ideas, and the direction I want my writing career to take. Of course, it’s all about trying to find your niche in the ever-increasing deluge of books, genres, and sub-genres that has flooded the market since the digital publishing revolution began a few years ago. Seriously. It’s rather hard to find that one place where you truly belong. Am I a paranormal thriller author? Am I a paranormal mystery author? Fantasy author? Author of Christian fiction? Of course, with over twenty years experience in forensic death investigations, should I be focusing on writing crime fiction and leave the monsters, witches, and ghoulies to the others? These are all questions I’ve been asking myself pretty much since writing Primal Thirst way back in 2009.
Things haven’t gotten any easier either. My brain doesn’t seem to know how to turn off the Idea Machine. Every time I go for a drive, another story idea pops in my head. Worse, the story idea never seems to work in any of the established series I’ve already developed and I end up conceiving of an entirely new series with a whole new set of characters I need to bring to life. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful problem, as a writer, to have. The scary thing would be if no ideas came to me. Ever.
Still, as I continue to try to develop my writing career and discover that special niche that is just perfect for me, I’m not making things any easier with the pinball approach I’ve been taking for the last couple of years.
A little background. In 2009, I released my debut novel, Primal Thirst, which has been my second highest selling book since I began this whole writing thing. I quickly released the second book, Sirens’ Song, in that (The ENIGMA Directive) series. But then, I wanted a break from Dr. Obadiah Jackson. I wanted to do something a little different. Something that explored my TRUE love…folklore. Especially the folklore of my kinfolk…the Appalachian people. And thus, Ezekiel Crane and the Dark Hollows was born. I wrote a couple more books in both series after that.
But then, it was time to move onto the book I had wanted to write since I first decided to become a writer. It was the very reason I got into writing in the first place. I’m talking, of course, about The Legend of the Winterking. It was a historical fantasy series I had conceived way back around 2004. And it was my baby. I loved the idea of re-imagining the Kringle myth like it had never been seen before. I put my heart and soul into the project. But last year, when I released the first book in the trilogy, it was met with a very lukewarm reception indeed. As a matter of fact, I can honestly say sales were abysmal. This, of course, was fine. it was to be expected. It was a completely different genre than I’d ever tried before. The fans of my previous books wouldn’t necessarily transition into the fantasy realm, which meant I would need to develop a whole new set of fans and readers. Problem was, I discovered a few months into the first book (The Crown of Nandur), that there were some major technical issues with the book. So I decided to pull it from the market and now, the series is indefinitely on hold until I can figure out a better way to re-release it.
But I digress. Anyway, as time went by, I was asked by Jeremy Robinson to co-write his first Jack Sigler Continuum novella. How could I possibly say no to that? Jeremy is one of my all time favorite authors! I’d be crazy not to jump at the chance. And thus, GUARDIAN was born.
After I finished with that, my all time author hero, Warren Murphy, the co-creator of The Destroyer series (Remo Williams) and I were talking. He had read The Curse of One-Eyed Jack and although he had enjoyed it, he found it somewhat convoluted and overly complex. Some people like that, but he thought I might should try something a little simpler. He asked me why, with all my ‘day job’ experience as a medical examiner investigator, had I not written a crime thriller “like Quincy” or something similar. I explained to him that because I do it for a living, I have no interest in those kind of stories. There would have to be something very different about it. But Warren challenged me. He wanted me to try my hand at something crime or forensics related. No monsters. No folklore. Just the stuff I knew first hand from my job.
I thought about it for a while, and one day, I had the story of Ajax Clean, a forensic cleaner for the mob. A hero with a questionable moral compass, but with a heart of gold when it came to the people he loved. The book became CLEAN EXIT, and unfortunately, I didn’t finish it before Warren passed away. He never got to read it, and this saddens me. It’s also the first book I’ve ever written that I’ve sent out to agents and publishers for possible ‘traditional’ publication. The wait is kind of maddening, but it’s the nature of the business, so I’ll strive to be patient until I hear back from those considering it.
But you can see where I’m going with this right? From these series of events, you can see how my writing career has been all over the place. Paranormal adventure. Paranormal mystery. Fantasy. Historical paranormal fantasy (The DJINN). And now, a straight up forensic crime thriller.
Somewhere, I think I must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque.
So it’s time to get focused. Time to make a plan. Time to decide the direction in which my future lies. And I’m going to share these thoughts with you, dear friends and readers. After pondering these questions almost non-stop for the past week or so, I believe I know how I’m going to proceed with this next phase of my career.
First of all, a few years back, my friend, author David Wood, told me he thought I was stretching myself a bit too thin with too many series. I think he’s right. I need to whittle things back a bit. Find the watershed, so to speak, on which all my writing will fall.
I believe that watershed falls solidly on Ezekiel Crane and the folklore of the Dark Hollows. First of all, The Curse of One-Eyed Jack is easily my best selling title (it’s actually an international bestselling book). So from a business stand point, this is a no-brainer. But when it’s all said and done, the mysteries of the Dark Hollows is where my heart and soul reside. Ezekiel Crane is, hands down, my favorite character I’ve created. He’s the richest and deepest character I’ve created, anyway. Additionally, Crane lives perfectly within two worlds: the world of forensics and crime and the world of folklore and the paranormal. With Crane, I can explore a wide range of stories. Stories focusing on the sensational and fantastical. And stories dealing with the more mundane types of dangers that lurk in the recesses of the shadows of men’s hearts. All of it, of course, will have the more unusual and fortean aspects to these stories of course. It’s just that some will be more human-related while others will rest solidly in the realm of folklore, the occult, and paranormal.
So, yes. My main focus will be in continuing these mysteries of the enigmatic and cursed Ezekiel Crane. I intend to make it my ‘flagship’ series. I’ll begin by completing the Dark Hollows trilogy with THE NIGHT OF THE WILLOW HAG. After that, Ezekiel Crane turns to an all new single story mystery entitled THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CHAINED DEATH (and trust me, it promises to be one creepy story!). Then, it’s up in the air for the next Crane story.
However, this new plan doesn’t mean I won’t be delving into other worlds and other stories from time to time.
I do plan to write several more books in the Ajax Clean series. I have also started work on the third Jack Sigler Continuum story for Jeremy Robinson. And Kane Gilmour and I still have to tackle the mystery of Interstate 0. There will be a few ENIGMA Directive books scattered here and there, as well (starting with the next book, entitled GREMLIN’S RUN). I plan to intersperse these stories in between the Ezekiel Crane mysteries though.
So there you have it. I hope you like Crane as much as I do, because I’m now betting the farm on him. I’m planning on holding him responsible for what happens next in my writing career. But, truth be told, I think it’s a pretty darn good bet. Crane, after all, has a way of beating the odds.
If you’re curious about what my writing schedule looks like, here it is (with tentative release dates) from now until 2019. Of course, these dates may change, but I pretty much think this is at least the schedule in which I’ll tackle all these projects:
2015-2019 WRITING SCHEDULE
- Autop-Z (A Short Story) – Should be out before Christmas 2015.
- Centurion (A Jack Sigler Continuum Novella) – 2016.
- The Night of the Willow Hag (A Dark Hollows Mystery, Book 3) – Late 2016.
- Interstate 0 w/ Kane Gilmour – Date TBA, but hopefully late 2016/early 2017.
- The Curious Case of the Chained Death (An Ezekiel Crane Mystery) – mid-2017.
- Clean Slate (An Ajax Clean Thriller) – Date TBA
- An Ezekiel Crane Mystery (Title TBA) – 2018.
- Gremlins’ Run (An ENIGMA Directive Novel) – Late 2018.
- An Ezekiel Crane Mystery (Title TBA) – 2019.
- Clean House (An Ajax Clean Thriller) – Date TBA