I've been finding myself very stuck with ALDEN RIDGE lately, and this past week I've hit a point where I realized I just needed to set ALDEN RIDGE aside for a bit. A number of life events, some of which I mentioned recently and others of which I don't care to mention right now, have certainly helped me fall into a non-writing rut, but even back in early May when things were easier I was having trouble with this particular story. It's told from the perspective of multiple protagonists, and though it is "dark fantasy" it is still more than a little off the beaten path for my normal writing genres -- that's both good and bad. Variety is good, but being in unfamiliar territory has been slowing me up and giving me a lot of issues to consider that just wouldn't come up in a genre/writing style I am more used to writing in.
A new idea for a story set in the world of THE GUARDIAN has recently come to mind, and in light of these troubles with ALDEN RIDGE I've decided to pursue that for a bit. It's actually something of a prequel to THE GUARDIAN, and adds a number of exciting new elements to the mythology of that world. Right now I don't have a true title for the book, as it is still in pretty early form, so I'm just referring to it as LUCIEN'S STORY. Lucien is the protagonist, who lives about in Ivoria about 10,000 years before Sean Sunderland (the protagonist of THE GUARDIAN) is born.
Now, this isn't to say that I'm giving up on ALDEN RIDGE. It will take a whole lot more planning before I can even start writing LUCIEN'S STORY. I'll be working on both books at once, dividing my attention however my attention wants to be divided at the time. Right now I'm a bit burned out on ALDEN RIDGE, and LUCIEN'S STORY is still new and exciting, so I'm solely focused on the latter. I have a feeling that will change over the next few weeks, as I rekindle my enthusiasm for writing through this new work. Once I've got a little bit of distance from ALDEN RIDGE, I'm not as likely to feel like all my eggs are in that one basket, or that I'm in some sort of rut or that it's bad that I'm off doing something outside my usual specialty.
I've been warring with myself about making ALDEN RIDGE more traditional-fantasy-like, or adding more elements of Science Fantasy, but that's counter to my original vision for the story and I keep having to make myself not do that. I want this story to been broken-earth fantasy, with some elements of magic but not in a reassuring way. This is a world of fear and supernatural darkness, and frankly it can be hard for me to exclusively inhabit that world for months on end. If you were to pick up the book, it would only take you a few days at most to finish it, and there wouldn't be any problem. In most respects, writers like Stephen King are far darker than I am, anyway, and it's not like that has hurt their readership. But as a writer, while I truly want to produce a work like ALDEN RIDGE, it's not my "bread and butter" and so I find my thoughts turning to my world of Ivoria again. Indulging my hunger for visiting Ivoria should actually make it a lot easier for me to finish ALDEN RIDGE in a timely manner, with all its original darkness and spareness intact.
Hopefully the two stories will feed off each other -- when I hit a block with one, I can just divert attention to the other. I've read of various professional authors who do this, Orson Scott Card chiefly among them. I've long thought that this is how I would like to handle things if I were writing full time; writing something off-beat (for me) while at the same time continuing to service my core worlds. I hadn't thought I would do this unless I was able to make writing my full-time job, but seeing as I'm not writing much at all these days, I feel like this tactic will get me out of the rut I've fallen into with ALDEN RIDGE.
Of course, now I'm tempted to tell you more about LUCIEN'S STORY, but there's quite a lot I can't say. I will say that this story tells of the beginnings of Ashmedai, the lord of the demons that Sean Sunderland struggles against in THE GUARDIAN, and also Arc, the vampire who aids Sean. LUCIEN'S STORY is actually set back when Ashmedai and Arc were both human, before demonkind had even appeared. I also get to explore how the links between Ivoria and our world (the real world) first came about, back when Ivoria was free and still fairly advanced, and yet people in our world were barely learning agriculture. The story will be told in third person, but will follow Lucien about as closely as THE GUARIDAN follows Sean Sunderland. The other two most notable characters in this book will be Morgan Reed and Vincent Valerian, Lucien's two closest friends and companions.