For one, it should’ve been with my editor by now, but the book isn’t finished.
I’m roughly 10 chapters from the end, but recently haven’t had time to write. This is one of the most frustrating things that has ever happened to me–being inspired, knowing what has to happen, but being unable to make words. So, I’ve been scheduling and prepping stuff in advance like my life depends on it, and will hopefully be able to free up a few writing days soon.
Still, I’m excited about this book. So. Excited. Today, anyway. We all know I’ll probably hate it tomorrow. Writers, am I right? Point is, if blogging about it is the closest I’ll get to my book baby for the next while, count me in.
Ready? Here we go.
I didn’t plan A Study of Ash & Smoke. A lot of the things I thought would happen ended up going in a completely different direction because of the feedback I got from editors and betas, which meant some of the characters I’d thought would be jedi ended on the dark side, like Frank. This, of course, complicated writing the second book, but I found ways to make sense of everything. At least, I tried really hard. 😛
Sure, Frank was never a good guy. Going back and rereading ASOAAS, his dubious intentions are always clear, as though I instinctively knew he’d be a great antagonist. And I ran with that. 😀 Anyway, I learned from my mistake, though, and once I knew what had to happen in A Trial of Sparks & Kindling, I planned out the basic story of each consecutive book in the series.
I had such a detailed plan for A Curse of Venom & Scales, I took off writing at a sprint. Only to realise there was a fairly bad plot hole in ASOAAS that would need to be addressed immediately in this book. The eternal curse of an unplanned book.
My plan now meant nothing, and the whole plot had to be reworked. I was pretty much devastated. All of this happened alongside the initial lockdown and my first experience with online schooling for Kayla, which was such an adjustment for all of us.
On the one hand, I think the break in writing helped me figure out this new plot and allowed the issues I now faced to simmer. On the other hand, the deadline loomed–my goal is to publish one Fall of the Mantle book each year until the series is complete. As I’m writing this post, I’m not sure I’ll meet that deadline this year. Really bummed about that.
Anyway, back to the story. I finally ironed out the new issues, and knocked out like 240k words in 2 months (only some of which actually stayed in the manuscript). I had to rethink the following books, but I’m happy with the overall direction of the plot. We’re back on track to reach the projected end of this series, and I suppose that’s all that matters.
What else can I share with you?
There’s more sex and swearing in this book. The general idea was that Cara is really innocent in book 1, and the adult themes will multiply as she gains experience.
A Curse of Venom & Scales begins moments after the end of ATOSAK. I’ve noticed that this has become a thing with me–don’t ask me why. In earlier drafts, ACOVAS started a day or more after the end of ATOSAK, but none of those beginnings sat right. My alpha team felt that readers deserve to see Cara and Sera’s reunion, and I’m so damn glad they suggested the change. After all they’ve been through, our young queens have earned a moment of togetherness.
Because, oh boy, loads of shit are headed their way.
ACOVAS introduces us to a new viewpoint character–Sanshouo Katsuro, the emperor’s son. His basic story is the only part of the initial plans that remained in the new plot, so yay for that. Writing this guy has been incredibly fun. He’s my first non-allied VP, and is quite Shrek-like in his oniony layers. Initially, he was super black-and-white, but he’s developed into someone colourful and intriguing, and I can’t wait for you to meet him.
Also, finally seeing the emperor in action is great. These are things that I’ve been planning for so long, and finally putting the plans to paper is one of the best feelings.
Some of the other characters in Katsuro’s camp bring me loads of joy, like Tendaji and Yua, but my favourites are Rin and Shika. Only Katsuro and Shika were planned for this book, so Rin might be the happiest accidental character ever. I have big plans with her.
As we’re back in Aelland, we get to revisit some of the places from A Study of Ash & Smoke. Considering the end of A Trial of Sparks & Kindling, some of these visits are really bittersweet and my chest hurt while writing them. The Cutter estate, for example. That scene broke my heart. We also get to see new ‘old’ places that help us better understand the origin of some of the cast.
Cara’s journey is epic. I’ve never loved a character the way that I love her. It was such a gamble starting her story in the height of her anxiety and only showing how she rises above it in the second book in the series, but I think it pays off. Her anxiety is still there, but watching her juggle mental illness while rising to power even inspires me, and I created her. She’s my special cinnamon roll and I’m so damn proud of her.
But the others hold their own too. Lance, people. Lance is spectacular in A Curse of Venom & Scales. Pointy is still my precious baby and I love him more than ever, and Vendla is all caps AMAZING. Seeing the inner circle interact now that they’re all in one place is great.
This book is a bit longer than the other two. I initially planned for about 20k more words, but the manuscript is currently at 175,448 words and I’m estimating I need about 30k to reach the planned conclusion. This means ACOVAS will be around 60k words longer than ATOSAK, and 80k longer than ASOAAS. Fun.
Finally, I’ve created a bunch of mood boards for various characters, as seen in specific books in the series, so watch out for that on my Instagram. I couldn’t leave you without sharing the one I made for ACOVAS, though.
Have a good one, folks.