As a reader, I’ve been a fan of self-publishing for some time now. While many self-pubbed works really would have been better strangled at birth, some of my best reads have been by authors who side-stepped the traditional route. As I inch towards self-pubbing my own work, I wondered just what it would take for me to sign a contract with a traditional publisher. What would the benefits really be? Now I should, perhaps, point out the obvious here. I’m never likely to receive an offer from a publisher. I’ve no intention of submitting, I have no agent, I’m unlikely ever to sell enough myself to attract any attention. So this is purely hypothetical. But let’s suppose, very hypothetically, that it’s happened, and I have indeed received an offer from a publisher to put ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ out to the masses. Let’s assume that it’s a most likely scenario, […]
It’s always a scary moment, handing over a finished book to the first person to read it in its entirety. Will it work? Does the plot even make sense? Will they get the emotional parts, the jokes, the world, the characters? I’d expected the first reader to be a stranger, a random internet volunteer to beta read, but I got talking to my daughter about ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ and she wanted to try it. I wasn’t expecting much. She’s not really into fantasy, apart from Terry Pratchett. She’s tried ‘Game of Thrones’ and found it too heavy. So although Kallanash isn’t grimdark or anywhere close, I thought it might be too long and tedious for her. I thought she might get bogged down in the weirdness of a full-on secondary world fantasy. I thought she might simply find it boring.
Hurst is one of the two main characters in ‘The Plains of Kallanash’. At the time the story opens, he is thirty six years old. Like Mia, Hurst’s father was lead husband at a Karning. When Hurst was born, his father Tanist was already on the fourth line, despite being only twenty five. His mother was the fourth wife, and she and Hurst’s father became a settled couple the moment she joined the marriage. Hurst was their first child. The family moved steadily from Karning to Karning, and by the time Hurst was eleven, had reached the border, the eighth line on the western side. Hurst’s mother died when he was twelve, and Hurst grew closer to his father as a result.
Mia is one of the two main characters in ‘The Plains of Kallanash’. At the time the story opens, she is twenty five, and has been married for ten years. Mia was born into a Karninghold family. Her mother was the second wife in the marriage, and, like all the wives’ children, her official father was the lead husband. In this case, he was also her blood father, for her parents had been a settled couple for many years. Her father was well into middle age when she was born and her mother over forty, a rather unexpected late child for both of them.
For backgound information on the book, click here. Chapter 1: A Death (Mia) The hour bells sounded, reverberating through the tower, then faded to silence. Mia and both her husbands were on time. Tella, her co-wife and sister, was late. Hands folded in her lap, Mia sat perfectly still. Across the table, Hurst tapped his fingers on the polished wood. Jonnor rose, paced twice round the room, pausing to look through the tower window at the everyday life of the Karning below, then took his seat again. Although they were cousins, the two men were not alike. Hurst’s rough features and plain brown jacket made him look like an ordinary Skirmisher, rather than a Karningholder. Beside him, Jonnor looked like a prince from the old stories, his blue woollen coat enhancing his figure. Mia forced herself to take her eyes off him. She smoothed away a crease in her […]
Writing a book isn’t easy. ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ took me almost a year to write, and there will be several months’ work to revise and get it into a fit state for possible publication. There will be expenses, too – cover art, and professional editing, for example. And it’s a big book, epic in size as well as scope. So why post the entire book, so that anyone who wants to can read it for free? Why give it away?
Adulthood is achieved at the age of fifteen. At that point, any adult can have sex and have children, married or not (Slaves excepted). Contraceptive herbs are freely available. There is a lot of local variation, though. In the villages, children are a haphazard occurrence, and people rarely marry at all. In and around the Karningholds, matters are rather more orderly, and people tend to marry or form other regular relationships before having children. There are economic considerations, too, so amongst craftsfolk and those setting up businesses, marriage will be considered only when they can afford to raise the children (since men and women both work, supporting a wife isn’t a consideration). There is a certain amount of experimentation, sometimes even before the proper age, and some of it is same-gender (which isn’t an issue).
Religion is uniform over the whole Karningplain (the area of the plains covered by Karnings, and ruled from the Ring). The Word of the Gods was first brought by people from the northern coast, some four hundred years ago. There were numerous Petty Kingdoms in existence then, and one by one the kings were converted to the new religion (before that there were numerous different faiths). When all the Petty Kingdoms had converted, and the Word of the Gods had been brought even into the Ring, a new calendar was declared. The story opens in calendar year 205 of the Word of the Gods.
The Brightmoon world is quite complicated, and ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ has an intricate social structure that’s unlike anything in the modern or historical world (as far as I know). It features multiple marriages, with from four to twelve members, which means that many conventional assumptions about the relationships involved simply don’t work. For instance, it can’t be assumed that sex is an automatic part of the relationship, as it would be between a couple. With two couples, one couple can be sexually active and the other not, one husband may have both wives, or both husbands may share one wife. Even if they are all sexually active, the actual pairings may vary, and can be anything those involved want, from straightforward couples to a complete free-for-all. With more than two couples in the marriage, the combinations can get much more complicated. Anything goes, so long as they all agree […]
I’ve received quite a few critiques now for the opening chapters of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, and they’ve generally been positive. At the low level (line editing), there isn’t much comment; a few word changes, the odd punctuation error, and a few places where a whole or part of a sentence is seen as extraneous. At a slightly higher level, there are some scenes or even sentences which are seen as having no purpose beyond world-building (and for some that’s true, but others are necessary foreshadowing). The main issue is in knowing what exactly is going on. Some people like everything spelled out for them, and some can go with the flow. Knowing just how much to explain is a complicated business, which I will discuss in detail in another post.