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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GUEST POST: Beyond Percepliquis by Michael Sullivan

Beyond Percepliquis

Right now the majority of you are thinking…Per—what? But since you are reading Fantasy Book Critic, and the fine folks here have been so supportive over the years, you may have heard of me. I’m Michael J. Sullivan (the J. because there was already five authors sharing my name—and even by adding the initial, two of us still look identical) an indie-published author who rode last year’s digital tsunami and sold more books than I ever dreamed possible. Liviu Suciu was among the first to discover and pluck me from absolute obscurity, and now my books are being published by Orbit (the fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group, one of the largest publishers in the world).

So now that you know who I am, you’re probably still wondering what that ridiculous perpendicular, Pentecostal, pterodactyl word is? First it is pronounced: Purr-sep-la-kwiss, and it’s the title of the last book of The Riyria Revelations, my epic fantasy series.

For those that don’t know, I wrote all six books (crazy as that sounds…but I wanted to ensure the stories would fit together) before the first one was released. My books are not a series of sequels; instead they are individual episodes with intertwining story arcs. Each book has its own conflict and resolution, but when read together, the whole is greater than the sum of the individual pieces.

Although I had written thirteen novels before starting The Riyria Revelations it was these books that finally made it to market, which is ironic since I had no intention of publishing then when I started. People in the business say that you need to make your first book the absolute best it can be, but I rarely do things the way others suggest, and I purposefully made my first book the weakest. Doing this was a huge risk. There will be people who quit early saying, “There’s no depth here,”—or—“the characters are shallow and ill-defined” and to this I’d reply, “You are absolutely correct.” But just like Inigo Montoya in The Prince Bride I know something they do not…I’m not left handed. In other words, I could have made them stronger but chose not to. Let me tell you why.

I hate series that start off fantastic, have a mediocre middle, and stay around long past their prime. So for me my eye was always on the prize of the last book. I carefully constructed the series by slowly building mysteries and exposing character backgrounds a little at a time. My world building is the proverbial iceberg and you are exposed to it organically through the eyes of the characters and in the context of the plots. My thought process was that if you start at the top you have nowhere to go but down, so I choose to start at the bottom and work my way up. My hope is that people will have enough fun along the way that they’ll give the next one a try.

It’s an interesting time for me right now because I’m having both my nationwide debut and my concluding volume hitting the street within just a few short weeks of one another…68 days to be exact. There are already many people who are expressing both excitement and impending disappointment because the series is ending, which brings me to the real point of this post…is there the possibility for more Riyria stories past Percepliquis?

The answer is…no…yes…maybe. No, because I won’t tack on another story. The series concludes exactly the way I want it to and I think (and hope) that upon reading most will agree with my decision. To try to add anything else would only cheapen and diminish Percepliquis and I won’t be a party to that.

Yes, because I never expected anyone to care, but it seems a few folks have taken a liking to Royce and Hadrian and will be sorry to see them go. My wife is one of those. Upon finishing Percepliquis, she fell into a two week depression because she missed her friends. To her they live in some netherworld in a state of suspended animation. “You can bring them back—make them live again—whenever you want to,” she said to me one day, with eyes that added, and if you really loved me you would. I’m pretty sure your average husband doesn’t get this sort of re-animation demands from their spouses—just me and Victor Frankenstein.

I can write other books and still keep my promise of leaving Percepliquis at its own apex. The two thieves were together for twelve years, before that cold autumn day when they set out to steal a sword and got themselves into so much trouble. I could go back in time, and write up some of their previous adventures—The Riyria Chronicles: Royce and Hadrian the Early Years.

I could also do spin-offs (but hopefully better than all those terrible sitcoms of the 70’s) The story of Novron (the God of Man) could explore how mythologies are created and reveal that everything did not occur the way the people of Elan thought it did. Also because I like buddy-stories I could tell the tale of Esrahaddon and Jerish who would be very different than Royce and Hadrian. The Novron books would be a trilogy, where the Esrahaddon story might be a long single novel.

Lastly, I have to admit that even seven years ago when I was alone in my room with no hope or any intention of publishing the stories about these two thieves, I did allow myself a moment of conceited optimism. I imagined a day when the books were read and loved and people wanted more. And because of this I planted a tiny plotline into the series. It is all but invisible to the reader, but it is there, a hidden thread that if I chose to, I could pull on to create a new series that is linked to the old. But that would be a huge undertaking, and I’m not sure I am up to trying that any time soon.

So maybe is the answer we are at right now. A lot will be determined in the next few months as Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron hit the streets. If people like the books and want more I’d love to oblige. I know what my wife is hoping for, now I just need to know what everyone else thinks.

I want to thank the folks at Fantasy Book Critic for having me here today. This site has been one of the few selected to receive exclusive advanced copies of Percepliquis in December, so keep an eye out in January for first impressions of the final book.



Official Michael Sullivan Website
Order Theft of Swords HERE
Read FBC Review of Theft of Swords
Read FBC Review of The Crown Conspiracy
Read FBC Review of Avempartha
Read FBC Review of Nyphron Rising
Read FBC Review of The Emerald Storm
Read FBC Review of Wintertide
Read FBC Review of The Viscount and the Witch

In the space of two years, Michael Sullivan has moved from a small press debut author who was featured in one of our first "Indie Spotlight Reviews" to a "name" in the fantasy field whose wonderful Ryria Revelations is being published by Orbit Books in three consecutive omnibuses starting with Theft of Swords, followed by Rise of Empire and concluded in Heir of Novron.


ham1299 said...

What an excellent post, Michael. I'm with Robin - I want more Royce and Hadrian! They are some of the best characters I've "met" and I hate the idea of them being over! I have "heard" you mention that "thread" before, and I'm so curious about it. I sure hope you decide to get adventurous and take that on. Inquiring minds wanna know! ;-)

Thanks for the great post, Michael. I sure hope there's more Riyria – with or without R&H, although with would be best of all! ;-)

I so cannot wait for Percepliquis.


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