Six impossible things

Questions from the mailbag

Why don’t you do a collection of Enchanted Forest short stories, like Book of Enchantments only all Enchanted Forest?

Well, mainly because I’m a novelist. Short stories are really hard for me; in thirty years as a writer, I’ve written roughly fifteen publishable short stories. Ten of them are in Book of Enchantments; three more were for the Liavek anthologies and probably wouldn’t make much sense on their own. To do an all-new anthology, I’d therefore have to write at least eight more stories (more if it has to be all Enchanted Forest stories). Which would take me years.

Most of the ideas I get are things that need to be novel-length or more. I get a short-story idea maybe once every two years; my list of novels-to-write is up to 25 and still growing. Writing is a hard enough job already. Trying to make myself write stuff that I’m not good at is a recipe for disaster. Also, short stories don’t pay all that well and anthologies don’t sell as well as novels, and I have a house and two cats to support.

So…no anthology any time soon. Maybe in another fifteen years…

Is Thirteenth Child the start of a new series? How many books will there be? When will the next one be coming out? Will they all be from Eff’s viewpoint?

Yes, Thirteenth Childis the first book of a trilogy, and all three of the books will be from Eff’s viewpoint if things go as planned. The next one will be coming out when I finally get it finished; I’m working on it, but it’s going slowly because of assorted ongoing real-life responsibilities. The publisher won’t put it on the schedule until I turn it in; when I do, and when I get the schedule, I’ll put the information up on the web site.

Once I finish the trilogy…it’s anyone’s guess whether I’ll write more in this world. Right now, I can think of dozens of stories that would be interesting to tell in this world, but I get tired of writing about the same places and people fairly easily, so I may want a break when this is done. And of course, whether the publisher wants to buy more stories will depend on how the sales of the trilogy go.

  1. I’m building up my list of novels to write and I think very soon it too will reach the same as yours. I do write the occasional short story, but I also prefer novels. I have one short story in the works that’s threatening to become a novella if not a full-on novel. 😉

    • Alex – The thing most non-writers don’t quite get about ideas is that you really only need one in order to get a novel – all the rest is development. And writing a novel takes anywhere from six months to two or three years, depending on the book and the writer…and most writers don’t have much trouble coming up with more than one idea per year. So the to-write list grows and grows…

      Julie – I’m glad your daughter liked the book! I don’t plan to cover quite so much time in the later books; I think it’ll be more like one to five years, rather than fifteen. And I miss rasfc, too, but with the family stuff I’ve had going on the past couple of years, it just hasn’t been possible (and probably won’t be for some time). But give them all my regards.

      Chicory – Yup, that’s what happens…and if you happen to be a natural novelist, as I am, you can’t help asking “but what about…?”

  2. My doesn’t-read-much daughter loved _Thirteenth Child_ and is looking forward to the rest.

    I was surprised that (is this a spoiler?) you had Eff grow all the way up to “not a kid anymore” in one book. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

    Will the rest of the trilogy cover similar spans of time or life/maturity development?

    (Missing you at rasfc. Take care!)

  3. Short stories are TOUGH. As soon as you say `but what about…’ it stops being a short story.

  4. I seem to have the opposite problem; try as I might, noveling doesn’t work. I get bogged down by un-important incidental things, but with a short story, I can keep away the clutter and focus on one idea, and have a beginning-middle-end. Anything that I intend to be novel length ends up with a beginning-middlebeginning-middle-more middle-what was the point of this story again?

    • Ilse – Some writers are natural novelists; some are natural short story writers. Whichever one you start with, you can learn to do the other length eventually…it’s just a lot easier to start off writing whatever comes naturally. If that’s short stories for you, then write short stories.

  5. My short story is coming along, but when it is finished, I have no idea what to do with it. Poems are easier, I think, but my head’s so full of ideas that are only beginnings, I haen’t got time for them lately. (Note: I do not think one of these ideas have ever been even written down.)

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