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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

GUEST POST: The Drifting Isle Chronicles - A new way to tell new stories by Joseph R. Lewis

This will be the first of the four guest posts in regards to the Drifting Isle Chronicles. First up is an introductory post about the series inception and the bizarre world within  by Joseph Robert Lewis followed tomorrow by Meilin Miranda talking about one of the main mystery and then by Charlotte English and rounded up again by Joseph as he talks specifically about his book. There'll be a joint interview with all of them upcoming as well as reviews of all the three books of this intriguing series. Melissa will be reviewing The Kaiser Affair over at My World In Words And Pages, while Qwill will be turning her critical eye towards Black Mercury over at The Qwillery and lastly I'll be focussing on The Machine God. All three reviews will be posted in the next week and so now onto Joe's guest Post.


INTRODUCTION: In 2012, I was looking over my wish list of projects that I wanted to do, and I decided to try one of them right then and there. A collaborative project. A shared world. I asked the Internet if there were any other writers who wanted to join me in writing a new series of novels, and many answered Yes.

So I began this project. I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, but that was okay. I rarely do.

THE IDEA

The idea was simple. We would design an original fantasy world together and then each write one novel, exploring the same place and the same events from different perspectives. And hopefully, we'd be able to publish a whole new series all at once, and everyone would benefit from everyone else's support.

By setting our stories at the same time, no one would have the benefit of publishing Book #1 and no one would be saddled with Book #5. And by allowing everyone to retain full rights to their own work, everyone stood to benefit equally from the success of the project. Even if the team failed somehow, each individual would still have their own book to publish as a standalone, so it wouldn't be a total loss. Everyone was excited about the possibilities, so we got started.

For several weeks, my new friends and I worked long hours, first on email and then on a private wiki site, to invent an original fantasy world. We brainstormed, we made lists, we argued, and we voted, and we voted again. As the team manager, I tried very hard to make sure that everyone had a say, that every idea had a fair shake, and that everyone's fingerprints ended up on the final product.

Personally, I was hoping we'd have some elves and dragons because I've never written that sort of high fantasy before. But alas, it was not to be. The two emerging genres were arcane magic and steampunk, and the critical event that would set our stories in motion would be the discovery of a foreign land high above the clouds.

In less than two months we had a very complex world in which to play. We had magical forces, strange creatures, bizarre devices, secret societies, and a surprising number of government officials (which are needed in a large city, apparently). Not everyone was thrilled with the outcomes of every vote (and there were a lot of votes), but we all chose to see those decisions as personal writing challenges to step outside our comfort zones and push our craft in new directions.


THE WORK

So then we all started writing our own books in this new world, in this steampunk city with a magic island flying above it, full of talking birds and invisible assassins. I personally wrote a crime thriller, something I was very comfortable doing, and I sent my detectives running through every nook and cranny of this world to give my readers a glimpse of everything that my fellow writers were working on. I wanted my book to be fun, and also to tease the other books, to be the extra glue that bound them all together.

It wasn't an entirely smooth process. Months passed. People got sick. Babies were born. Day jobs changed. Other books were published (I wrote and published the entire Zelda Pryce trilogy during this project). Artists were replaced. Deadlines slipped. A writer regretfully bowed out. But we all stayed in touch like clockwork. We kept asking questions and dreaming up ideas, and working hard.

I found the project to be very easy on some days and very difficult on others. To some extent, it was just like writing any other book. I referred to our notes, I made things up, and I had fun. But at one point I had to pause for whole months to wait for others to invent content for me to play with, and there were countless emails to discuss tiny details, the sorts of things a single writer could easily resolve in just a few seconds but with a team, these things take more time.

Originally, we had hoped to publish the series before Christmas of 2012. We missed that mark by a hair. Or four months, however you prefer to count it. But we stuck it out and we reached the finish line.


THE RESULT

Over a year after we started, we find ourselves here. We began with five writers and a goal of five novels. We now have four writers and three novels, with the fourth novel still in progress. But we are proud of our work and excited about the future. Not only did we achieve our goal of being the first independent team of authors to write and publish an original series of novels simultaneously, but we have also pioneered a new model for collaborative writing and publishing that others can use and explore as well.

So today I am very pleased to present fantasy readers with the inaugural trilogy of books in the Drifting Isle Chronicles: Black Mercury by Charlotte E. English, The Kaiser Affair by Joseph Robert Lewis, and The Machine God by MeiLin Miranda. Later this year, we will also release Starcaster by Kat Parrish, and in 2014 there will be several more novels (including a detective sequel from me!). These books were all written by different people, and they tell very different stories about different characters, but they are all woven together in the same place, around the same events and ideas. It's new. It's different. And we think it's pretty cool. But that's all just for our readers. What about our fellow writers?


THE FUTURE

The Drifting Isle Chronicles began as a shared world, one that was shared between just five writers in private. But no longer. Now, the Drifting Isle world is open to the public. We, the Founding Chroniclers, are now accepting submissions from authors who would like to be a part of this ground-breaking experiment in fantasy writing, global collaboration, and independent publishing.

We are inviting writers to submit proposals for new Drifting Isle novels, and by following a simple collaborative process with us, it is now possible for anyone to become an official Chronicler, to publish their own book as a part of the Drifting Isle canon. We want this series to grow. We want it to become a chorus of diverse voices, telling new stories in new ways, and all woven together in one fantastical tapestry.

We hope that other writers will help us to explore the past and future of our steampunk city and flying island, and go beyond the borders to distant lands where other stranger mysteries await our readers. And of course we hope our readers will find this world and this project as fascinating, and as fun, as we do.

LINKS

Readers! Visit the series homepage: The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Writers! Download the submission guidelines: The Chronicler's Guide [PDF]


Official Author Website
Official Drifting Isle Chronicles Website
Order Black Mercury HERE
Order The Kaiser Affair HERE
Order The Machine God HERE
Read FBC's Review of Omar The Immortal
Read FBC’s Review of Zelda Pryce: The Razor’s Edge
Read FBC’s Review of Zelda Pryce: The Clockwork Girl
Read FBC’s Interview with Joseph Robert Lewis

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Joseph Robert Lewis was curious about world mythology since a tender age and  so he then decided to write stories in which history, mythology, and fantasy would collide in unpredictable ways. He also likes writing about heroines that his daughters can respect and admire. Joe was born in Annapolis and went to the University of Maryland to study ancient novels, morality plays, and Viking poetry. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Maryland with his family, a needy cat, and a zombie fish.

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