Luckbane, the first book in the Impworld/Øtherworld series, was the second published book I ever wrote. As fate would have it, Luckbane was published on Friday the 13th of ’13.
The germ of what became Øtherworld was sparked back in the mid-90s when my then-future wife and I got bored with the dice-driven role-playing games on the market and began imagining something that was more like storytelling. We eventually scrapped the game and, sadly, the material was lost, but many of the places and elements of world of “Epic,” as we called it, gave inspiration to Øtherworld.
I began seriously developing the world and story of the Impworld/Øtherworld (I/Ø) saga about 8 years prior to Luckbane‘s publication. I literally have tomes and binders of notes, timelines, character sheets, illustrations and early drafts. One massive 4-inch binder serves as the master tome for my worldbuilding. I’ve outlined every book in the series. And I know how it ends.
But such a massive worldbuilding undertaking burned me out. I got bogged down in details and, long story short, I ended up taking time out to write and publish Johnny Came Home before I was able to take a deep breath and finish Luckbane.
Five years later, I finally have a sequel, Soulbright.
Granted, I was writing other things over most of those five years, including a prequel to the I/Ø saga (Dreadknights) and a prequel to Soulbright itself (Garden of Stone).
And yet Soulbright isn’t quite a sequel. The second book in the I/Ø series is one part sidequel and one part sequel. You see, Soulbright follows the path of Copernicus Gallows and his player to Øtherworld and then takes us a step past Luckbane‘s end into the Accursed City of Mot Hadrall. Luckbane was, well, Luckbane’s story, which will pick up in Otherworld #3: Blindsight. Soulbright is Copper’s tale, as it was intended from the beginning.
Copernicus Gallows holds a special place in my heart. Long before Epic, he was a character I had written into the sequel to Bantamwood Tales, another unpublished early novel lost to the sands of time. His bloodthirsty render came from a different stand-alone novel set in the Bantamlands of Bantamwood Tales. The novel was called Kane and it featured the cat lord Calabus (who appears in Dreadknights and is mentioned in this book). My brother still has the original drawing that was to serve as its cover art. The render belonged to Calabus first and was the weapon he used to stop the were-creature nation of Lycanth from taking over the Bantamlands.
Later, Copper was the protagonist of an unfinished novel set in Impworld, “where the only impossibilities are imp possibilities.” It was a stupid tagline, but the novel was the first to be based in the world I’d created for my “Epic” players. I forget the exact title, but I seem to recall it was styled after Indiana Jones; in other words, Copernicus Gallows and the [Mighty MacGuffin]. The novel featured Copper, his render, happy water, an erml with its monster sack, and some of the other elements you will read in this series, but was set on the continent of Damocles in the World-That-Was rather than Wanjur.
Luckbane was criticized for being nominally Christian; however, Luckbane told a story that didn’t easily lend itself to such things. I do think that Christian speculative fiction should offer an exploratory apologetic for issues that might come up later. Not that I suppose we need to stamp little crosses into our products.
Yet Soulbright naturally lends itself as a vehicle for exploratory apologetic. Soulbright deals with what it means to be human in a world where mankind is having an obvious identity crisis. Even though Soulbright is filled with mutants, vampyres and monsters (human and otherwise), I think it speaks to today’s issues. Not in the sense of an overt allegory. Allegory and parables require a level of simplicity that my tales do not have. But rather it speaks under the auspices of the truth that there truly is nothing new under the sun… even under the sun halfway across the galaxy! I hope it serves as a cautionary tale that if we do not consider such questions now, we may cause others to stumble while we’re trying to figure it all out on the fly!
Not that I’ve left the action behind. Please. My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard. I ease into this one a bit at first (a break intended for those who read Garden of Stone beforehand as intended), but please remember to hold onto something when it starts to ramp up! The Gamelords favor the bold.
Soulbright is currently available on Amazon Kindle. Look for the print release in the very near future!