Back at the laptop writing feels good! Jumping into a work in progress was a helpful way to get a feel for writing again, but it’s also been a testing experience. It’s been over a year since I last worked on ‘The Disaster Man’ for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and what I want to do with this tale has changed since. It’s actually the second ever Darkwood mystery I wrote after ‘The Thief of Faces’, and was a complete and finished tale. I wrote it as a submission for the Horror Addicts podcast’s anthology book ‘Horrible Disasters’, which was rejected over my other story submission, ‘London Peculiar: The Secret of the Fog’, so it was very short and streamlined. I always felt it to be a little rushed, and having it for myself gives me the luxury of letting the events within it breathe and to expand on the story.
Being a tale about a man cursed with disaster which puts London–his latest destination–at risk, the scale of the danger is pretty epic for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, and deserves to be a longer story than it once was. It also lends itself nicely to being a finale for the next run of stories. I’ve planted some seeds in the next set of tales which will develop the characters of Darkwood and Hobbs and their world. I’m conscious that while I love having a couple of heroes to play with, I want a sense of realism thrown in there too.
Darkwood is clever, and Hobbs both tend to sweep in and solve the mystery and move on, with similar beats throughout–Darkwood is clever and usually one step ahead, Hobbs is loyal and a little submissive, Darkwood studying to be a doctor, having support and backup in her investigations through Scotland Yard, Darkwood is rich and has her station which gives her some sway, always with Darkwood leading and Hobbs following. I didn’t want this series to become predictable and stale, so while the tales will always be about fighting supernatural and criminal evils, and generally being victorious, I really wanted there to be consequences to this life. I introduced an element of that with ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (8): The Spindly-Snatcher’, with some details of the future of Darkwood and Hobbs very much a short cut to that end, but with my new stories I wanted a few tales where they get a wake-up call around what they are doing.
May saw me return to writing after a very long break. I have started writing a series of blog posts to support my self-help book ‘Get Over It’, which I’m enjoying. On the fiction front, I decided to return to ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ as it’s a comfortable place to be.
I have been reading ‘City of Sin’ by Catherine Arnold–a nice bit of history around London’s relationship with sex over the centuries, and ‘Sins of the City of the Plain’ by ‘Jack Saul’ (probably not actually by him), which is a contemporaneous account of the notorious rent boy, Jack Saul’s experiences. Essentially Victorian gay smut. So, some titillating reading.
No, Darkwood and Hobbs are not suddenly going to have a series of sexcapades (disappointingly for them), but sex is a big part of all our lives, and it’s often when we’re at our most honest, and reading about what the Victorians got up to behind closed doors is sometimes much more informative than the dry accounts reported in newspapers and diaries, especially socially and use of language. While some of the sexy talk seems a little juvenile by today’s sexy talk, a time-travelling sexplorer would be able to have just as much fun in 1800s London. A fun return to research! But, on the actual writing side of it all I decided against a blank page…
February has all been about photoshop. So, after some drawings, downloads, and lots and lots of mouse clicks and drags, I have tweaked and changed all the covers for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and created a new logo. Being the perfectionist I am, I’m not a 100% happy with them, but I think they are an improvement on the previous covers. I like the boldness and the simplicity of the new look. I think they read better, but I’m not sure the silver leaf effect works well on the images at the centre of each cover if there’s too much detail in them. Especially so as a thumbnail–although I guess there aren’t too many covers which do actually work at thumbnail size.
Jeez. Is it over already? No January lull here, it seems to have flown by.
OK, so no full on writing for me. AAT studies have the priorities at the moment. Very sensible of me. However, I’m never not doing anything writing related…
The next project is ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Hunt for Spring-Heeled Jack’. Check out that picture. You know what I see when I see that? A retro superhero villain. And superhero is the genre this tale is pushing at. I’ve been planning this tale out. The next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ will hopefully build the world and the characters around Darkwood and Hobbs and this story will be pretty pivotal in that.
As I mentioned before, publishing through Kindle is great, but I can’t provide the free reads I once did without enrolling them in Kindle Direct Publishing. However, this would mean each of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ would have to be £2.99 (the lowest price a KDP book can be). That price isn’t a good fit for short stories and it would only be free for set periods of time.
However, I’ve had a rejig of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ site and ‘The Thief of Faces’ is now available on the site as an on-line read. Bit of a compromise, but it is what it is. On a positive though, ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ site has also had a bit of a make-over. I hadn’t been happy with the covers of the books, but now I think I’m onto an improved look. What do you think?
Over previous posts I’ve revealed titles and plot teases for the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’. This time I’m going to give you a few more details on the characters and the themes of the second series.
The first series has hopefully established the format of the tales–two friends, Darkwood and Hobbs, investigating the criminal and supernatural in pursuit of the truth around what happened to Emily Darkwood’s parents and understanding of the stone that she inherited with its curious draw on mystery.
I want this series to be accessible to anyone, regardless of the story someone starts with, but I also want to deepen the experience for those that have read a few tales (or all!). I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories a couple of years ago, and while I loved the accessible format and premise I wanted more from Holmes and Watson as characters. The drama rarely revolved around them as people and their world never felt threatened. It felt too comfy. Call me mean, but I don’t want ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ to become comfy. So, there will be some drama for Darkwood and Hobbs…