|Map from Noel in Argentina; original artwork by Beth Norling|
Some time ago -- a long time ago now -- I let on that I was working on a new Tremaris book. It was true, and I was really excited about it, looking forward to returning to the world that had given me so much pleasure. This story was going to focus on Calwyn's daughter, and it would tie up some of the loose ends left dangling at the end of The Taste of Lightning, bringing back some of the characters from that book, as well as revisiting the cast of the original Tremaris trilogy and filling in their stories in the intervening years.
Hm. I think I can see where the problems started. That is an ambitious plan for one little book!
But that wasn't the only problem. It was hard to work out how much time to spend with the Taste of Lightning characters, and how many of them to bring back, and which ones. I knew some people really wanted to know what had happened to Calwyn and Darrow, but I wanted the focus to be on the younger characters, not the adults, as they would now be. My stage was becoming very crowded, jostling with characters who all demanded a voice and attention. I had a loose plot which I kept adjusting as I changed my mind about the balance of the story, adding and subtracting characters. I knew I wanted to set the bulk of my story in a part of Tremaris that I hadn't visited yet, the marshlands of the north. Then Julie Hunt's Song for a Scarlet Runner was published, and I despaired of writing a marsh story as good as hers!
I wrote, and started again, and replanned, and rewrote, and changed my mind, and started again. I had a beginning that I liked, but the story kept bogging down (ha!) at one particular point in the narrative, and I couldn't seem to heft the story over that roadblock and get it moving again. I quite liked some of the marsh scenes, but others fell flat. The mix of characters I'd ended up with didn't feel quite right. But the more I chopped and changed, the more my grasp of the story, my original conception, seemed to be slipping through my fingers.
But most importantly, while I was working on this book, my family suffered a major upheaval. My father had a debilitating stroke, my elderly mother came to live with us, and my family responsibilities had doubled overnight. It was a stressful and upsetting time, and I had limited energy and attention to spare for writing novels. It's hard to finish a book when you spend a long time away from it; it slips away from you. You forget what you were trying to do in the first place, and the work becomes a chore and a burden rather than a source of delight.
Finally, about three years after I'd first decided to write a Tremaris book ( a nice, easy, enjoyable book, I'd told myself!) I slogged my way to a finish line. Deep down I knew the manuscript was broken, perhaps beyond repair, and it was no surprise that my publisher agreed. At the back of my mind I'd wondered whether, if my publishers said no, I might self-publish it; but now I know that I don't want to do that either. I'm not happy with it. It doesn't work. And if you are a fan of Tremaris, you deserve better than that.
I'm not saying that there will never be another Tremaris story. But not this one. Not for now, anyway.
All I can say is, I'm so sorry.