Fifteen years ago, our shared world series, Children of the Vortex died because of the cost of publishing the physical issues and the reluctance of the reading public to accept e-publishing.
In 2014, not only had publishing changed to favor e-publishing, but the readers had pretty much accepted it. More and more, even preferring the e-versions to the print copies.
With this new means to publish, even get “real” books out that didn’t cost a fortune, June and I realized that COTV could survive, perhaps even thrive in this new world we found ourselves in.
However, it had also been 15 years. We looked back on all the work to keep up with the creative output of so many authors and realizef that our burn-out was as much the reason for ending COTV as anything external. We thought about having to dedicate that much time and energy to it again and just weren’t interested in doing that again. We realized that if we were going to rebirth COTV and make it work, we couldn’t have as many writers on staff.
We’d also lost touch with many–most of those writing friends over the years. So we touched base with the few we still talked to regularly and asked if they’d be interested in trying this again. One had personal commitments and couldn’t. The other two were game.
Once again, there were long conversations, long emails, long computer chats, and within six weeks of deciding to give this a go, we’d rewritten the introductory two novellas and a short story. Out came Flamechild and the free short story, Stonechild (which is included in the “real” book version, separate in the e-version).
We had hoped to have the second issue within another 2-3 months.
Then we hoped to have the second issue within 6 months.
Then a year.
Now it’s been almost two years since Flamechild came out.
It’s not that the enthusiasm has died. No, if anything, that’s as high, if not higher than it was when we started.
No, what’s happened is that we realized, first June and I, and now the other writers–this isn’t the same Children of the Vortex anymore. It can’t be.
Fifteen years is quite a bit of time. We’ve changed as people. We’ve changed as writers. The stories that excited us then, well, they’re just so–then. Yes, we’re nostalgic about what we didn’t do, but when we thought about actually writing it, we weren’t as enthused as we expected to be. In talking, we discovered we were interested in something a bit darker, more mature than the previous lighter hearted stories.
In addition, in not inviting back all the writers, there were characters missing from the storylines that had to be considered. While the world belonged to June and I, characters and their storylines didn’t. We didn’t feel right in claiming what wasn’t ours for the reboot. This also necessitated changes.
Our skills as writers has also improved, frankly. Our ability to tell deeper, more involved stories has improved. We’re more interested in and able to playing with darker themes and characters than we were before.
Let me give you an example. One of my main characters in COTV is Shavonet Fleureaux. She is the eldest daughter of the reigning Duc d’Florant. As a child, she had a marriage arranged for her with the heir to the Duc d’Lascelles, Guion. Just before their wedding, she is Claimed by LLucin (the flamechild of the anthology’s title), which makes her a magic user, which negates the marriage and the treaty.
This has to happen because it sets up a war between the two duchies that will drive the first several planned issues.
In the 1990’s, Shavonet was a spoiled brat. She liked her lifestyle, she wanted to be duchesse. When she was Claimed, she imprisoned LLucin and left him to die–which didn’t work. When she was sent to the Cadre because of the Claiming, she continued to be a spoiled brat. She refused to deal with LLucin. She was snippy to every one. She didn’t want to learn magic. She was a “princess”, damnitall, and that’s what she wanted to be. The story arc I wanted to follow at the time was to change her into a worthwhile person, which I did.
Now, I’m not interested in redeeming a bratty princess. Now, she’s a tomboy princess who was looking forward to her marriage. When Claimed, she keeps her father from executing LLucin and negotiates with her groom to keep the marriage and the treaty intact. When her father screws that up and sends her to the Cadre, she deals. She gets to know the people, gets involved in the working of the Cadre, and discovers she’s a natural with magic.
Even more, Shavonet realizes how important it is that she finds a way to stop the war so all these people she’s come to know. People she realizes she’d never thought about as people before. And in her attempts to stop, she’ll discover that more things are not as she thought. Her attempts will also affect other characters and shifts their paths to darker locations.
Same, but very different. This is more a character for the writer I am today.
This is not to say that Flamechild is going to be pulled or rewritten or redacted or any of that. It isn’t. There’s enough changed there from before that we can move forward from that start. It’s a good new beginning.
And from a new beginning must come a new path, with new stories.
Which is what we’re now very excited about. And now we’re writing again, getting our feet back under us and starting down this new path through Deau.
It feels good. I can’t wait to see where we go with it.