Nearing the Crossroads

I can see it from here. That meeting of three creative roads, each leading into the soft blue velvet of an unknown future. Before long, I’m going to need to decide which road to take. Do I stay on the path I’m on? Or do I veer off and follow a path I’ve walked once before? Or, do I take a new and untrodden (by me) path?

The path I’m on is writing another fantasy or sword-and-sorcery novel. The old familiar path is a return to historical fiction. The new path is something completely different, a thriller or the like. Unlike short stories, writing a novel is a commitment of time and effort. For me, at least, it’s not possible to work on two simultaneously. So I need to be certain of the path I choose because that’s a couple years of my life — at an age when there’s more behind me than there is ahead of me.

What do the market mavens say? Thrillers are perennial; fantasy is growing, and ancient historical fiction is largely stagnant. But, you all will ask, what does your heart tell you? What does your gut tell you? Where does your passion seek to lead you? My answer is always thus: my heart, gut, and passion could handle any of the three. I want to write each of them. Here’s the thing, though: ancient historical fiction, as I mentioned, is moribund at the moment, and my track record in fantasy is critical acclaim but not a sustainable readership (I’m not insulting the very rabid and enthusiastic readers I do have, it’s just to make a career of it I need more of you guys). Thrillers, though, are notoriously hard to break in to. Readers tend to gravitate to names they know.

From here, a couple miles away, it looks like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t . . .

The Doom of Odin and Shevatas: Spawn of N’kai are my wild cards. The former is the most balls-out, hyper-violent, fantastical thing I’ve ever written; it’s three books worth of action shoe-horned into one. The latter is shaping up to be an epic series of heists, horrific and bloody, with the glories of the Hyborian Age seen through civilized eyes for the first time. The reception these two books get will likely help me decide which path to take.

Until then, I’ll be weeding through my novel proposals and selecting the most promising candidates in each genre. Possibilities include a novel-length expansion of “The White Lion” novella, covering the fall of Acre; a military fantasy best described as “Fauda in Shadizar”; a reboot of Serpent of Hellas; my mouse fantasy, or a thriller best described as “Seal Team Six versus Castle Greyhawk”, but with a large dollop of horror.

Which way to go?


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