I didn’t even post about THIS. Blog updating is a habit I dropped out of, for which I apologize. So! A few things have happened, obviously. The convention trips ended last month with a guest spot at Grand Rapids Comic Con, which was a lot of fun (I’ve never been to Michigan). This year was a good convention year; although I only went to a few I was able to see friends I hadn’t seen since 2019. Also, conventions get me out of my cave and remind me there are actually real people who read what I write. Your comments on the WtC Facebook page help, but face-to-face contact is what we’re evolved for; it’ll be a few hundred millennia before we’ve adapted to getting dopamine-delivering social contact off of remote interfaces.
Some words on Joyeuse Guard.
First, once again, I apologize for how long it took. This one really beat me up. Unlike all but Book I, it was a process-book rather than a problem-book. There was no overarching conflict driving the plot(s). Rather, Book 9, which takes place over the course of nearly a year, became one huge Epilogue to Book 8, which told the story of a crisis that lasted less than a week and left Astra and company with a New Situation to navigate. The main reason for the format it took was Oz.
Ozma and Oz is a classic example of a character and their story getting away from you. Back in Book III, Young Sentinels, I had decided to use the common superhero-comics trope of the Obligatory Magical Hero. Just about every superhero team seems to have one. The Justice League? Zatanna. The Avengers? Wanda. The Teen Titans? Raven. Etc. So, a magic-user with a mysterious past and questionable (at least mysterious) ethics or goals? My first sketched character had been an annoying witch whose magic would drive Wiccans and Harry Potter fans up the wall; a magical system no deeper than what you see in Saturday morning cartoons, no understanding of her own power beyond “It’s magic!” It was horrible. Be glad you never met her. She rode a broom, had a black cat, etc.
Then came Ozma. I was also looking to fill another comic-book trope; the import-character from another fiction. They’re rare since they typically have to be in the Public Domain, but they’re fun when they happen, and I wanted to bring one in as a way of starting to build my superhero world’s “multiverse”–again a huge comic-book trope. Looking back, I think the choice was inspired, but I had no idea what a headache she would become.
The problem I had created for myself was I’d established a strong secondary character whose Big Goal was at best tangentially related to everything else going on with Hope. And since I’d committed to having each book move things along so my characters grew (close to four years have now passed since a freeway overpass got dropped on Hope), I needed to advance Ozma’s campaign to retake the Emerald Throne while telling the story of Astra and the Young Sentinels/Joyeuse Guard. I did manage to shoehorn in two big advances for Ozma, with The Oz Job in Team-Ups and Crossovers and the use of Oz’s special properties to solve one of the crisis in Repercussions, but I realized that constantly arranging things so that recurring use of Oz to advance plot arcs in the main story lines would feel contrived at best. And there was no way I could have made one of the WtC books purely about the Oz Campaign. The Troll Champion and the Stone Man of Oz and The Trickster and the Nome King of Oz were my desperate escape from my dilemma.
And they were a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed them.
For the rest of the stories . . .
From the moment I decided on doing another “anthology” book, I’d intended A Christmas Carol to be the second or third story in. A few readers have had a problem with that, for which I apologize, but I didn’t want a recurrence of the Omega Night problem. Characters and events in a book series should never refer back to events that happened in a side-story that series readers may not be aware of; seriously, since writing Repercussions I’ve gotten occasional more than one comment indicating the reader hadn’t read that little piece of flash-fiction. I’m going to work on a new “edition” of Villains Inc. that includes it as a bonus story at the back, but that won’t fix the existing problem. So A Christmas Carol went in.
Repossessed was pure fun, a challenge to myself. I hope everyone enjoyed Mal and Shell thwarting a villain without anyone else even knowing about it.
She Wears the Cape was written to give the readers a look at the new Joyeuse Guard a few months after the Chicago Attack, but in the spirit of never doing just one thing I took the opportunity to introduce a new character (Azma), have fun, showcase a few more capes sprung from the fertile imaginations of others (Sam/Childe, Gulliver, Imperator, etc.). And I found myself getting geopolitical. Didn’t start out that way, just happened. And of course I’m going to use what I built there later.
Deadly Dubrovnik Days. What can I say? 1) Getting to use Daydream was a treat and I hope I portrayed his use of his power as his creator intended. 2) At last I got to tie up the dangling loose end of Ibrahim Darvish and Atifa/Mistress Jenia.
And a Wedding, Take Two. Rule 1 of writing weddings into superhero stories. Make sure the villains can’t show up. But they will anyway. Or Something Else will go wrong. This is not an inviolable trope, but I lampshaded it hard anyway. Hope everyone enjoyed it.
SO! What does the future hold?
“Always changing, is the future.” (Yoda said it, but I stole it for the TA.)
I’m committed to writing two WtC books next year. Book 10 in the mainline series, but also a new non-series book, Capes. Quick teaser; a young man named Kingston James Parks gets his breakthrough and it’s . . . underwhelming? He’s a teleporter, max range thirty yards, and he must be able to see or picture his arrival spot well enough to picture himself in it. He’s limited to whatever he can physically carry. Also he’s never been in a fight in his life. A D Class breakthrough with a power not exactly geared to flamboyant heroics, what kind of cape-career can he even have? A sticky question, because he desperately needs to get one.
Capes is intended to shine a light on the world of street-level capes.
I have other projects of course, but Capes and Book 10 are the top priorities. So closing out, I hope you all enjoy/enjoyed Joyeuse Guard (comments/feedback always welcome and I’d love to hear what your favorite stories were). And have a merry Christmas!