One of the things that intrigues me as a writer is the question: “And then what happened?”
That’s one reason why I’m so excited to be writing The Fallen Kings Cycle for Orbit, carrying my characters and world from The Chronicles of the Necromancer into all-new adventures. It gives me the chance to ask, and answer, my favorite question and to share that answer with readers.
For me, the “And then what happened?” question—or the Tomorrow Principle—makes the whole debate over how books should end a moot discussion. Books, to be believable, should have elements in common with real life. And in real life, you have good days and bad days, but until you stop breathing, the story isn’t over. That’s the Tomorrow Principle. Today might be the absolute best day of your life—a happy ending to one story arc. Tomorrow, your house might burn down and your car could get hit by a bus—a not-so-happy ending. Both are “real” and both are “true.” It all depends on where you begin and end the narrative.
What’s fun for me in writing a saga is that I can apply the Tomorrow Principle and keep getting fresh answers. The characters overcome one hurdle, and I may choose to end that narrative on a good day. That’s no assurance that tomorrow won’t become the mother-of-all-bad-days. And a new narrative begins. As a Zen-minded friend of mine points out, we are always either leaving a storm or just about to enter one. Meaning—that the calm points in our lives are illusory and transitory. Or, to put it another way, neither happy endings nor rotten endings last forever. Something else is always just around the corner.
In The Chronicles of the Necromancer, my characters battle to win back a throne and save a kingdom. And then what happens? Well, tomorrow happens. And, as in the real world, there are all kinds of messy consequences and unintended ramifications, even from things that seemed to turn out well. A whole new narrative begins, which is where we start The Fallen Kings Cycle.
The Tomorrow Principle is also fun because it gives new readers a good alternative starting point. Readers who discover my characters with The Fallen Kings Cycle can start from there and move forward without feeling like they’ve come in on the middle of a movie. Readers who have read my first four books (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen), will already know a little more about the characters and the setting. New readers have the choice of whether or not the way to go back and read the first adventures, (of course, I hope they do!) but they don’t have to do so in order to enjoy the new ones.
Book Four in the Chronicles Series, Dark Lady’s Chosen, comes out December 29. But I’m already hard at work on Book One: The Sworn in The Fallen Kings Cycle, and enjoying asking my favorite question: And then what?”