Just a short while ago, I outlined my plan for the next stories I’d publish and write. Yeah. That didn’t last long. After releasing The Squared Circle Murders to grand acclaim (<cough> one sale <cough>), I rethought my ideas for how to continue. That was also assisted by something else: As much as I love the character of Kyle Matthews, my passion for fantasy stories has been rekindled (not least by The Witcher tv series, to be honest). Looking over the existing fantasy stories about Cornell of Cayaboré, I realized that the texts didn’t really cling together very well. Or perhaps more to the point, I wanted to improve the world-building.
And so, rather than continue his journeys, I’ve gone back to the original tales and started writing interstitial pieces that provide more information on the world, connect the stories better – and are plain fun to read. (For me, anyway.) Which has led me to pick up right after the “pilot” episode of Cornell, To Steal the Dragonrod:
After the events of the pilot, Cornell sets out to meet a good friend who’s asked for help. That journey will take him into the Effedil desert, controlled by the mighty Tonomai Empire. Before he gets there, though, he finds that the edges of said empire aren’t as secure as claimed. He is caught up in a raid by a local warlord, thrown together with a decimated Tonomai patrol and an irate (*) dwarf. The first goal is survival, the second is — hang on, what’s that? There’s a maze of tunnels below the town? Huge, ancient and spooky (**). This… doesn’t make things easier.
(*) No. There aren’t any other kinds of dwarves. Ever.
(**) Nor are there any other underground labyrinths. Look, guys, it’s the law, okay?
I’m still halfway through writing the novella, so the title isn’t set and will evolve from “Underground Assault” to something else. So far, it’s pulpy action adventure of the type I like.
After that one, there’ll be a novella-sized collection of shorter stories: First up, Shield Maiden introduces Cornell’s old friend Gayb and a new running buddy, the manling Flink. The less said about the thieving alreu, the better. (“Excuse me, please? Lord Master Writer, sir, really, that is unkind of you to – oooh, goodness gracious, that’s a nice computer mouse. Not that I understand much of these things, wonderful devices that they are, and honestly, I’ll just take it with me, and you’ll absolutely love it when I bring it back because there’s this mirror that would fit beautifully to it and —“) Ugh. Alreu. Pardon me, I’ll have to shove Flink back into his — and give me my mouse back! Yes, that — not the live one, the — thank you. Thank you, and now go!
Uh, sorry. Where was I? Right. Gayb drags Cornell onto a treasure-hunting expedition into the desert. Things go wrong. Swords are drawn. Alreu are not gobbled up by a monster. Bad, bad, bad…
A new story will deal with sandfishing in the Effedil desert, followed up by Warrior Eternal that not only features Cornell, Gayb, Flink, demon-summoning Tonomai, said demon but also another alreu. Wait… Another one? They’re multiplying…?! (Shut up, Flink. No female alreu yet. Yes. Yes! I’ll think about it! Fine?)
That should take us through the summer, with more stories adding to the journey in the fall. And they’ll bring back another familiar face from the pilot as wizard Barandas steals his way back into the storyline in The Pledge. By the end of 2020, all our heroes will have made it all the way Through the Desert.