Tuesday, August 8, 2017

OUTREMER update!

Today, I'm really excited to bring you the latest news on OUTREMER!

As you know if you've been following me for a while, OUTREMER is the giant project that has been taking up the lion's share of my time for the last three years, an epic saga spanning the 200-year history of the medieval crusader states. Since committing to the project at the end of 2014, I've read more than 25 books on the history and geography involved, and written well over 400,000 words' worth of first-draft material.

I haven't given you an update on this project for nearly a year. A few weeks ago I realised that it's been nearly a year since I finished the OUTREMER first draft, and the realisation freaked me out a bit. Eleven months? What have I been doing?

But of course, I've been doing plenty. I've actually spent the majority of the last six months working on this baby of mine. It's been slow, and it's been the kind of planning, plotting, and sitting-still-and-thinking work that doesn't always look like work. In January and February, I undertook an evaluation of the characters and themes in the first draft. After a short break from research in the last few months of 2016, I returned to that and have burned my way through some very important research reads, including The Templar of Tyre, a primary source on the late thirteenth century which was worth every penny of its significant cost. In April I spent a lot of time thinking about the history itself, trying to crunch it through a Christian worldview to come up with some judgement calls for how I needed to handle various ethical questions. I then spent an exhausting month in May re-reading the first draft and doing some very intense brainstorming for new ideas, which included systematising the magic and coming up with some overarching symbols to express some of the themes I was seeing in the history. I took a couple of weeks in June to study each of my eighteen major characters, firming up their character arcs and motivations. Finally, in July, I found myself sorting through thousands of words' worth of notes, both handwritten and typed, in order to compile my decisions into a master plan for each level of the plot: the overall story, each protagonists' story, and finally, each book.

Yes, you heard that right: I have abandoned my fond and naive hope to tell this story within one volume. There's no way I can fit it into one book. That was a rather easy decision, but I had no idea whether to split the thing into two, three, or more books. At the beginning of this year, however, I was able to make this decision--a rather daunting one, but one which I'm confident is the right choice.

OUTREMER will be a series of nine books.

This is the most natural way to tell the story. As it is, the first draft was always structured in nine parts, as a sort of interwoven trilogy of trilogies following three different protagonists: John, Lukas, and Marta Bishara. So, nine books is really the easiest and most powerful way to tell this story.

Oh, and I've changed the protagonists' surname, for linguistic reasons that would be too tedious to explain here. Say goodbye to the Bisharas, and hello to the Bessarions!

Anyway, all this is really small beans compared to the big news I am here to share with you. Last month, I started work on the second draft of Book 1. My goal is to have that finished and hopefully ready for first-round beta reading by the end of this year, preparatory to publication, likely late in 2018. DV.

Book 1 is currently titled A Wind from the Wilderness, and it's set during the early stages of the First Crusade. It's coming along slowly, but steadily, and I'm already much happier with it than I was with the first draft.

Once that's finished, I also hope to move quickly on to Book 2, currently titled The Lady of Kingdoms.

Obviously I can't be more excited at how this story is coming together. The second draft--or second drafts, since I'll be writing each book separately--will bear surprisingly little resemblance to the first. I've barely even been consulting the first draft as I work on A Wind from the Wilderness. But I've gained an immense benefit in getting to know my characters, their history, the setting in which they interact, and the themes that will drive their plots. With all this planning under my belt, I couldn't be more excited to dig in and burn through this story. And I can't wait to share it with you!


John Dekker said...

Great news! I am really looking forward to reading it.

Joy said...

I AM SO EXCITED, ahhhh!!!

I love your plan for your books to make it into a series of 9 books (jumps up and down in delight*)

Excited to hear more updates =)

Hayden said...

WOW. Nine books??? How long will each individual book be, do you think? I've been looking forward to Outremer for quite some time now, so I can't wait to finally read it :D

Manly Reading said...

Looking forward to this. Only so many times one can re-read RE Howard's crusader fiction and Welch's Knight Crusader.

Suzannah said...

John and Joy, I hope it lives up to expectations!

Hayden, I have no idea. I'm the Queen of excelling my wordcount goals, especially with this story. That said, I sincerely hope not to exceed 100K with this first installment.

Manly Reading, you do know that it was Welch's KNIGHT CRUSADER that provoked this project, don't you? I hope it is at least good enough to stand beside them!

Andrew of the House of Lacey said...

This IS news! 9 books! I am eagerly looking forward to the release. Or releases I suppose I should now say.
By the way, the titles sound most marvelous. I don't suppose you could share snippets in a future post?! :) Deus Vult!

Joffre The Giant said...

Looking forward to it.

Melanie said...

So excited! The new last name makes a lot more sense too :) Norman?

Suzannah said...

Andrew, maybe some snippets could be chiselled out of me anon. I don't like sharing too much before perfection is reached, though, so it's just as well you asked ;)

Joffre, I sincerely hope that it will be awesome.

Melanie, actually, Greek. I picked Bishara because it is a Christian Syrian name but soon realised that it's derived from Arabic not Aramaic, and would thus be anachronistic for these specific characters.

Sophia White said...

Oh, very exciting! Even if several times as much work as one book. Nine is good because we'll get to enjoy it for nine times as long, right?

I second the snippets suggestion!

I'd like to be a beta reader. . . we'll see what life has done with me by the time the first one's ready.


Suzannah said...

Sophia, more beta readers would be great! Feel free to remind me of your offer again when this draft is finished, if you're still feeling up to it.

Hanna-col said...

A NINE BOOK SERIES?!? THIS PLEASETH ME MUCH! I love long sagas. I am so very, very excited!

Suzannah said...

:D Well, I hope I get the opportunity to write the whole thing! So far Book 1 is developing very nicely :)

Christina Baehr said...

The new family name has a lovely ring to it.

Suzannah said...

Glad you like it :)

Can't wait to get you beta reading this story, Christina!


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