Tomorrow, September 22, 2020, would be my father’s 96th birthday. In honor of the man whose library of speculative fiction and classics inspired me to write, I chose that day for my new novel, Julian Lackland, to leave the nest.
Lackland began life in November of 2010, as my NaNoWriMo novel. Since then, he has been through many changes.
This is the original novel from which both Huw the Bard and Billy Ninefingers grew, and it was both my greatest joy and my worst mistake.
In 2010 I made my word count and became a firm believer in the principals behind NaNoWriMo—that if you sit down and write at least 1667 words every day, you will complete your novel.
What I didn’t know was that while that novel might be complete, it isn’t finished. The year that followed was filled with mistakes and struggles. There were some low points, a devastating falling out with my first publisher, and the grim realization that the book should be left in a drawer to rot.
When we formed Myrddin Publishing Group, our lead editor, Alison DeLuca, gave me great advice. Rather than abandon it, I should completely dismantle it and start over. It was a low point and seemed like a mountain. Alison’s courage in the face of disaster gave me the strength to put the publishing nightmare behind me and rebuild the novel from the ground up, writing it the way it should have been done in the first place.
I’ve been fortunate to have a village of brilliant editors along the way. My dear friend, sci-fi author Dave Cantrell, gave so much of himself to this project. Dave was the structural editor for Billy Ninefingers and The Wayward Son, and his eye for flow and logic influenced the first two drafts of this new manuscript.
Unfortunately, Dave was ill for most of 2019 and died this last summer. But a part of him lives on in the shape of this novel.
Once the new manuscript was in the final stages, Johanna Flynn was a kind but firm beta reader. I was fortunate to have Irene Roth Luvaul’s eye on the final draft, as the Texas Tornado is a brilliant line editor.
The support and advice from my writing posse has been and always will be invaluable. The international group of authors and editors at Myrddin Publishing are a well of knowledge, support, and advice.
Here in my local community, I am a member of a professional writer’s group, The Tuesday Morning Rebel Writers. The group is comprised of about nine novelists. Several are successful and award-winning authors, like Lee French, Ellen King Rice, and Johanna Flynn. The rest of us are in various stages of our writing careers.
I can’t thank these authors enough. Between them, Myrddin Publishing and the Rebel Writers dragged me gently to the finish line.
Julian’s story was born on November 1st, 2010. Two days before the start of the month, I had accepted a challenge to “do” something called “NaNoWriMo,” a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month. I’d never heard of it, but a challenge is a challenge.
I had written the storyline for an RPG and many short stories. A proto novel was rambling along at 250,000 words, so I thought, “How hard can it be to write 1667 words a day?”
I had the vague notion of writing a story about a rollicking band of mercenaries, so I began with no outline and no plot. In the way that NaNoWriMo novels often go, I got caught up in the character of Julian “Lackland” De Portiers, but also in several others.
I soon discovered that writing 1667 words a day is easy.
I also discovered that writing a coherent novel with no plot, no outline, and no maps is not my strong suit.
But there was a good story there, buried beneath the crap. I began by dividing out the stories that didn’t pertain to Julian, and that was how Billy Ninefingers came into existence.
Then I focused on the core of the story, and gradually I came to realize that the true adversary in this tale is Lackland’s naïve belief that good will always triumph.
Julian is the landless second son of a minor baron and relegated to the sidelines at court because he has no land. His own brother, jealous of his knightly skill and charisma, named him “Lackland” as a way to keep him in his place.
Lackland embraced the name, realizing that it meant he had the freedom to do as he wished and owed nothing to anyone but the king. King Henri just happens to be his second cousin on his mother’s side.
Julian leaves the court and joins the mercenary crew known as the Rowdies. He intends to do a little good in the world, and Billy Ninefingers wants more knights like him in his Rowdies. They have an arrangement where Julian will be available whenever his royal cousin needs him.
Highly skilled at arms and cursed with the ability to plan a war better than anyone, the king pulls Julian Lackland out of his toolkit whenever the job is impossible or too dirty for an ordinary knight to accomplish.
Lackland has a remarkable knack for finding trouble, but he meets good people along the way. Love is always a problem, but Julian Lackland just lives as well as he can.
Julian is and always will be my favorite character because he is so complicated, so conflicted, and so ethical. His story is that of perseverance in the face of catastrophe, but it is also the story of human frailty and resilience.
Originally, I wanted to write a epic fantasy novel that my father would read, one that I might have stolen from his nightstand.
I believe I have succeeded.
Julian “Lackland” De Portiers is the last good knight in Waldeyn. Everyone knows he’s brilliant…
…Everyone knows he’s mad.
How does a Hero gracefully retire from the business of saving the world?
Once upon a time, Julian “Lackland” De Portiers had the strength to save what mattered most. Once he had companions and twice, he fell passionately in love.
One terrible night in the forest, everything changed.
Who will rescue the rescuer when darkness falls, and the voices begin?
Julian Lackland is an enduring tale of confusion, sorrow, and triumph set in an alternate medieval world.
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