It will be a trilogy.
The first Dark Arts novel will be set entirely in 1976.
It will be released on October 31, 2015.
It will fit under the Supernatural category.
Test readers have already seen the first half.
Now, let's take a closer look at those facts. The story of Dark Arts fits into a trilogy that will move from one time period to the next. There will be at least ten years between each book as the plan stands right now. This will be the last book that takes place in the 70's, and this part of the story is the least "horror like" portion because this book is all about how the main character, Maxwell, comes to the Occult and begins his long journey towards the events of the original Dark Arts short, which happens in 1996. This is still not a prequel, because the seven chapter short was just an experiment, and was never meant to be remade into a novel. When the story set in 1996 is told, it will be vastly different, and it has not been told yet. This is a new series starting at book one, Dark Arts 1976.
The 1970's are important to this book because the whole work spawns from a simpler idea. When I sat down to outline the Dark Arts that takes place in 1996-1997, I decided that having three flashback chapters highlighting Maxwell's early life would really help the book. Maxwell, who is in his early forties in the original Dark Arts short, has a long backstory of his own that explains a lot about the world, about what goes on in 1996, and about the characters in that year.
When I started trying to decide which parts of Maxwell's origin and journey to feature in those flashbacks I ran into big problems, because his story was too large, and there was an opportunity to tell a tale about a rock n' roll band who was being pushed off the road thanks to the surge in disco clubs in Canada. In 1976, stages were being torn down so dance floors could be expanded, and over 200 bands in the Toronto area alone suddenly found themselves out of work. Most rock bands who lived on the road, trying to promote themselves and get discovered or take advantage of small record deals, were forced into the ditch - so to speak. Maxwell's band, Road Craft, is just such a creature, a road band who is coming home for the last time. This is a major turning point in Maxwell, Bernie and Zachary's lives, and there was no room to explore it in the three chapter flashbacks I had planned, none at all.
So, the idea of starting a brand new new short series - a trilogy - with the first book taking place in the 1970's was born, the first Act in a three act play, if you will. The first part would be in the 1970's, featuring Maxwell and his people. The second part would bring it into the late 1990's and would feature an older Maxwell with a complete reinvention of the young characters we met in the original seven chapter Dark Arts: Rising short. The third part isn't something I'm willing to disclose, but it is set in a later time.
I wrote an outline that was meant to take care of Maxwell's 1970's story in seven chapters, and realised that was too small. I tried an outline with fourteen chapters, and it still didn't allow for the whole story to be told. I outlined the first third of the novel and started writing. The chapters all grew, each one twice the size of a normal one, thanks to the addition of a romantic storyline that infuses the story with a sense of warmth and yearning that I didn't expect. It was getting better, but I needed to make sure I could still tell the story I had to, to get to the ending I had planned.
So, heading back to the drawing board after finishing six massive chapters, I tried outlining fourteen big, fat, double sized chapters and voila, a roughly fifty thousand word novel plan that could work. Sadly, that was three times the size I had planned and I would only have about 35 days to write it. So, this year, on October 31, I'll be releasing Dark Arts 1976, the first of three short books that will cover the whole story I have planned at the moment. If this book is successful, I'll make sure I release another Dark Arts novel every October until the trilogy is finished. If it isn't very successful, I'll finish the books when I have time, between other projects. If it is sensationally successful, I have ideas for a second trilogy.
Now, for the last points. The original seven chapter Dark Arts: Rising short was unmistakably horror. Dark Arts 1976 is a Supernatural Drama. The story takes more time to tell, there is more culture, more character development, and the occult is more involved. The rules of the world are explored more, and more attention is paid to the development of Maxwell's situation, and his journey into the Occult. The early chapters that are more drama than action are there to build our relationship with the world, the characters, and to find our way into the emotional story so the second half of the book is more engaging, and we feel for our characters when they eventually find themselves in danger. This puts Dark Arts 1976 firmly in the Supernatural genre instead of straight up horror.
This book is massively different from anything you've read from me before. You will find that the book does not resemble Spinward Fringe, Brightwill or any of my out of print works, it's even vastly different from the original seven chapter Dark Arts: Rising short, which will not be included with this release. The two are too different from each other to share the same cover. I find that this is an enjoyable novel to write, and a great learning experience for me. It's a return to a style I started exploring in my 20's, and abandoned because I felt it was too difficult.
I hope you enjoy it in a little over a month's time when it becomes available, so far the test readers have seen the first half, and the feedback is that they have enjoyed it a great deal.
[Thank you for reading!]
*** Synopsis ***
Maxwell, a guitarist whose band is coming off the road under discouraging circumstances, has come to a crossroad. The minimal success his band, Road Craft, has had is being smothered by an era where bars are becoming discos, and live entertainment is being replaced by larger dance floors. They scored a small record deal years before, but the excitement has cooled, and they never got much radio play.
The only hope he has of putting his band back on the road for a few more gigs rests in a book he hunted down using contacts and skills he learned from his father, who was an expert at acquiring rare occult objects. Max is not a believer in mysticism, but he knows what he has was hard to get, and should be worth thousands. When he's told it's too hot to sell, his dreams are crushed, and his wallet is left empty. He'll have to tell his band mates that his plan has fallen through, and their next gig may be their last. The members of Road Craft are set to return home during a Pagan summer festival called The Gathering, where hundreds of people gather to celebrate music, nature, and each other. The Gathering also brings Miranda, a woman Maxwell knew when they were children, and the future looks a little more inviting thanks to an undeniable spark.
He doesn't know it yet, but this is the event that will make him a believer, and he will have some choices to make. All the while, there are people who know he has the book, and they are determined to twist the knowledge it contains to a terrible purpose, to break the circle of life, making resurrections possible, to open the door between the living and the dead just enough to embrace forbidden power. Their selfish intent would disrupt the natural order enough to change the world, and not for the better.
Maxwell's music career is about to be the least of his worries.