Been a rough opener to the year for us here on the homefront. Snow shutting down the city, sick kiddo, and all the drama that comes with those. BUT, Edits for The Spirit War, Eli book 4, are done! Even I like the book (this is a rarity, I usually HATE my books by the time I'm done). It had some REALLY fun scenes to write, though it continues the darker trend my books have been going down, which is actually what I wanted to talk about today.
If you've read my first three books, you'll notice a shift in tone from the almost goofy light heartedness of The Spirit Thief to the much darker Spirit Eater. The Spirit War continues this trend. Now, this shift towards the dark wasn't an accident, but it wasn't really planned either. This post isn't an excuse for the slide, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about how the novels ended up the way they did.
I approach writing from the bottom-up. I lay a firm foundation for my characters, give them histories, problems, priorities, and what not, and then let them sort things out. So we've got Eli, who's sly and cheerful as they come, but he's got some dark stuff in his past, and when we begin to dig in to Eli's character, all that starts coming up. Same with Josef, Nico, and, to a lesser extent, Miranda. The Eli novels have always been character driven, so it's only natural that, as the characters are forced to deal with more difficult choices and things they've been trying to run away from, you end up with darker books.
Generally speaking I've had a good response to this change, but I've also gotten some complaints. To these readers, I can only apologize. I would like to say that this is my first series and I'm still learning the ropes, but honestly I think this particular story would still have gone dark no matter what. With more experience I probably could have made the shift gentler, but in the end, Eli is who he is. He's a man who runs from his problems, and you can't do that forever. You can't be both irresponsible and moral without eventually having to pick one and take your stand. Also, there's the subject matter. The Spirit War is about a continent size war. You can't have something like that and not have it go dark in places. People die in war, it's not fun or pretty. That said, I think The Spirit War is the best book I've ever written. And it's not all doom and gloom. For all the war and hard decisions, it's still Eli. Just try to get him not to be a smart ass, I dare you.
The bottom line here is that if you've liked the books up to this point, then you're probably going to like The Spirit War too. Big secrets are revealed, questions are answered, the past is dredged up, and the stage is set for the final book. There's also some squee scenes for anyone who likes Nico/Josef :D. I had a really good time writing this book, and I think you're going to really enjoy it. The Spirit War will be out this fall. I should have some advanced copies before that, and I'll be running contests so you'll all get a chance to win the book early. Meanwhile, thanks so much for reading. Fans are the absolute best part of being a writer!