A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Writing

Secrets of Icarus: Part Five

With all the Icarus Child books now out and available, I thought I’d wrap things up with one last secret before I take a bit of a break from the Aekhverse.

Secret #5 – This Isn’t the Last You’ll be Seeing of These Characters

With the trilogy being a prequel to the Tales of the Aekhartain this might seem like an obvious secret. But I’m not talking about Shaiel or Maskai, though of course both of them do come back and make many, many appearances in the other stories. No, this is about the others.

Cover_3 Icarus ChildIt’s all Maskai’s fault, of course. The short story – Star and Shadowborn – that I’ve included at the end of The Icarus Child hints a little at this, because it’s all to do with Maskai’s power and how in the early Aekh days she was a bit careless with it. In fact, when she wasn’t paying attention, it had a habit of rubbing off on people around her and changing them – which is how the Aekhartain come about. It’s all because Maskai wasn’t paying attention and ordinary folk got caught in a power splash.

Which means that plenty of characters in Icastar’s life have the potential to become Aekhartain further down the line. It isn’t reincarnation, not quite, but some personality quirks and other aspects do keep turning up over and over again.

Cover - Dark RebelIn fact, if you read Dark Rebel closely, you might think there’s something a little familiar about one of Caligo’s companions – especially if you look up the meaning of his name and find a russet-coloured animal on the other end. There are quite a number of Aekhs to spot in DR, but since I haven’t got around to rewriting most of their stories yet, it’s not entirely fair.

I also have an unfinished Regency tale about Fox and Cana, so those two definitely come back – a little changed, but essentially themselves (because I couldn’t let them go after the original IC and a friend challenged me to write a Regency romance). Look out for Howl and Rudh again too, because I backtracked on them, bringing in characters from later Aekh tales to amuse myself.

Cover_2 Crying ChildI have also since realised that if anyone is likely to come back, Saekara is most qualified and I’ve already laid a few clues about Icaria (or rather, as I was writing it I made a few connections and had a light-bulb moment). The biggest clue is in the prologue for The Crying Child, for those who like playing Spot-the-Aekh in advance. Names are always a massive clue too, even if they are mostly in a different language.

Spot-the-Aekh is mostly just a bit of fun between me and my readers. You won’t be missing anything vital if you don’t make the connections or follow along, but those who do play often feel an extra understanding about how the story is progressing. It’s one big in-joke that helps tie the long, long bunch of interconnected stories together and hopefully make it all more enjoyable.

Some characters are a lot more obvious than others, because I like to make sure everyone can play and also pose a bit of a challenge. So when it comes to the characters in this book, look out for future appearances from interesting names, familiar hair colours and eyes and those intriguing qualities that you can’t quite put your finger on, but feel familiar nonetheless.

Because in the Aekhartain world, death is never the end.

Aekhartain, Books, Writing

The Icarus Child

The Icarus Child

~ The Icarus Child #3 ~

Once there was an island, and on that island there lived a boy…

Britain 135 BC

Cover_3 Icarus ChildOrphaned at birth and raised by his aunt on an isolated island, Icastar has led a far from normal life. His body is misshapen, his days are tormented by whispering winds and demanding ghosts, and he only has seals for friends.

But there is more to this boy than his physical hardships and lonely location. The island and his own body might try to hold him down, caging him inside a world of pain, but he is the Icarus Child.

One day he will fly – or die trying.

Freedom is at stake, and failure is no longer an option.

Available Now!
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The Icarus Child in Brief
What’s in it?: A 90,000 word novel and a bonus short story (Star and Shadowborn)
When is it set?: 135-126 BC
Where is it set?: Iron Age Britain, pre-Roman.
What kind of story is it?: A family drama about a young boy, the aunt who raises him, his extended family and the island they live on. Involves love, friendship, selkies, chores, goats, a magpie, some nightmares and some really unfriendly ghosts.
What’s the genre?: Historical Fantasy.
Any age restrictions?: None. Although the story does involve a bit of violence.

Behind the Story
If you’ve read any of the Aekhartain stories before and have been wondering how that series connects with this one, wonder no more! This is Shaiel’s book – and if you liked Demairo/Demero’s story in Unbound and Free there are a fair few similarities here, especially in the first section.
When it comes to comparing it to the original, then there have been a lot of changes. Icastar is pretty much as he ever was, but all the other characters are different (and Fox and Cana are his grandparents and still alive, so they make brief appearances) and for the most part the plot takes a wholly new route to the end. The outcome there is the same as it ever was, although the method has differed. In other words, if you read and remembered the original, you might get a few surprises here.
You also get a bit of a bonus story in Star and Shadowborn, because as always Maskai likes to make things difficult for me, and squeezing in an explanation of who and what she is always seems impossible. Hopefully this little tale will clear up any questions the rest of the book raises. If not, tell me and I’ll see what else I can do.

Read on for the opening chapter from The Icarus Child, and be aware that it may contain spoilers for Sisters of Icarus and The Crying Child.

Continue reading “The Icarus Child”

Aekhartain, Books, Writing

The Crying Child

The Crying Child

~ Icarus Child #2 ~

Once there was an island, and on that island there lived three cousins…

Britain 142 BC

Cover_2 Crying Child The Sisters of Icarus may all be gone, but the next generation remains. Bitter, half-selkie and broken, the three women are different in many ways, yet one thing connects them: the island and its quest for a new Icarus.

Ghosts and family, selkies and betrayal, love and loss, these cousins are on a journey that will change all of their lives. And when the stars fall nothing will ever be the same again.

For there will be a new Icarus – the island will accept nothing less.

No matter what the cost.

Available Now!
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The Crying Child in Brief
What’s in it?: A 78,000 word novel (around 246 pages)
When is it set?: 142-141 BC
Where is it set?: Iron Age Britain, pre-Roman.
What kind of story is it?: A family drama between three cousins, involving jealousy, love, friendship, betrayal, selkies, lots of chores, ghostly goings on and general island creepiness.
What’s the genre?: Historical Fantasy.
Any age restrictions?: Not really. Although it is more geared towards adult themes, such as childbirth, romance, jealousy, etc.

Behind the Story
This used to be the middle section of the original Icarus Child story, and was the part where not a lot happened, except for the island being creepy and characters being miserable. So this time around I wanted to do things differently – starting with Callirye and her little romantic interlude. In the original that was all dealt with in barely a paragraph, but this time around I wanted to know more about her. Especially as in this version she’s Cana and Fox’s daughter.
While I was expanding her story, the island was going behind my back and changing other things. So, if you’re one of the unfortunate people who read the original version on Elfwood around ten years ago, this version is quite a bit different. It’s also made my life very difficult for the last part of the trilogy, but that’s the island for you.

The original dedication for this book was a bit long, so I cut it down rather drastically. However, since I wrote the long version for a reason I thought I’d include the full thing here.

To Family

Whether big or small, near or far, close or distant, family is the one thing that is always there.
By blood or friendship, bound by shared memories and experiences, real family will never let you down
– or if they do then they are the ones worth forgiving.
They know your worst secrets, drive you to tears and infuriate you as nothing else can, but they also make you laugh, sing all your favourite songs and share in those awful movies that no one else will watch with you.
Family is the hearth that warms the soul.

May your family be strong and your friends be family.


Read on for the opening chapter from The Crying Child, and be aware that it may contain spoilers for Sisters of Icarus.

Continue reading “The Crying Child”

Books, Updates, Writing

Sisters is Out!

Cover_1 Sisters of Icarus
The first in the Icarus Child Trilogy is available now!

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Actually it’s been out for over a week, but in my rush to get it ready on time I overloaded my brain and have been useless for anything else since. Oops. Still, better late than never, right?

Cover_2 Crying ChildIn the meantime I’m back at work on the next one – The Crying Child – and I hope to offer both excerpts from Sisters and a few chapter previews from The Crying Child over the next few weeks until it’s ready to be released, which will probably be November now. But as this year seems determined to teach me, the even the best laid plans are prone to going astray…

I’ll try my best to keep on track. Until then – don’t let the island eat you!

Aekhartain, Books, Writing

Sisters of Icarus

Sisters of Icarus

~ Icarus Child #1 ~

Once there was an island, and on that island there lived a boy, but before that boy there was another child. And before that child there were three sisters.
Those sisters had a brother.

His name was Icarus.

Britain 163 BC
Cover_1 Sisters of Icarus

On a small island just off the south coast, three sisters are determined to survive against nature’s unmerciful odds, but their brother is mad, everyone thinks they are strange and old voices cry on the wind.

Battling against love, grief, selkies and ghosts, middle sister Raccanta will face many tests of her strength if she intends to keep her sisters safe – and her promises intact. For on the mainland there lives a man who walks the woods and shows Raccanta a world that could tempt her far away.

Except the island keeps what it takes and it has no intentions of letting any of its sisters go.

Available Now!
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Sisters of Icarus in Brief
What’s in it?: A 101,000 word novel
When is it set?: 163-158 BC
Where is it set?: Iron Age Britain, pre-Roman.
What kind of story is it?: A family drama with a bit of romance, a lot of domesticity, broken hearts, selkies, jealous spirits and general island creepiness.
What’s the genre?: Historical Fantasy.
Any age restrictions?: Not really. Although it is more geared towards adult themes, such as childbirth, allusions to an abusive relationship and general ghostly gore.

Behind the Story
The original Icarus Child was one novel split into three sections, detailing the life of Shaiel, the first Aekhartain (which is actually Demero, since Shaiel is… different. As I discovered when I wrote this book eleven years ago). The first part – Sisters of Icarus – was supposed to be a chapter or two introducing Icarus and the women who became Shaiel’s ancestors. I’ve always been drawn to the story of Icarus and there’s something about the word that I really, really like, so I couldn’t resist borrowing a bit of the legend for my book. Which fits in quite neatly with my winged Aekhartain.
Of course the original story ran away with me, mostly thanks to the middle sister, Raccanta/Cana, and the way her life twists and turns. What was supposed to be around five thousand words of backstory turned into a fifty thousand word romance and definitely took on a life of its own.
Because, as I often do, I grew rather attached to my throwaway characters (Cana and Fox this time around) I desperately wanted to find a way to bring them back into the Aekhartain story. In the past I simply made it work because *magic!*, but this time around I needed to find an honest way for how that would happen. Which also meant I needed to work out why a man would have a very Greek name in Iron Age Britain. The latter I solved by marooning a Greek traveller on the isolated island, after his exploratory trip went wrong, but the former involved changing a few things.
None of which I can go into here for spoiler reasons ;)
In the end I tweaked the plot here and there, coloured in the details and tried to make it fit into a true time period for the first time, but in essence much of the original is still here. It just grew even bigger this time around – and I actually knew what was supposed to happen. I just wish the other two were going to be as straight forward.

Read on for the opening chapter of Sisters of Icarus!

Continue reading “Sisters of Icarus”

Aekhartain, Updates, Writing

Progress Report: Blame it on Fox

This always happens; I should have expected it. The first time I wrote Icarus Child a certain pair of characters, Cana and Fox, overtook everything and expanded the story way beyond my original plans. I didn’t mind too much because I came to love the pair of them, so I was excited to write about them again in Sisters of Icarus.

As it turned out, while it was nice to write about the again, it wasn’t as much fun as I’d hoped. Part of this was because this book is pretty dark and I tried to remember only the nice bits. Another part was because I was trying to force my characters to fit the old plot and keep to a rough word count. I managed it, just about, but some of the spark had gone – and Fox’s biggest fan didn’t like it.

I kind of agreed, which was why I put the book aside and launched a rebellion with Caligo/Nawaquí instead. (Well, why wouldn’t you?)

Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to going back to this tale and trying to sort out the mess I’d left it in. I knew it would take some work and I foresaw headaches ahead.

Well, so far it’s grown by 15K, including three whole new chapters – which isn’t ideal – but I’m actually quite enjoying it. Because Fox is back, my Fox, the proper Fox, not the angry, resentful, not particularly enjoyable character who showed up for the rewrite. Oh, he’s still angry in places (he always has been and he has his reasons), but he’s also more fun. And because he’s more light-hearted and cheeky, so is Cana.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a sad book in which unhappy things happen, often to nice people, and there’s the whole evil island lurking over everything. But now, thanks to Fox and my vastly inflated word count, there are a few happier moments to lighten the atmosphere and a much more enjoyable romance to keep things ticking along.

I hope. It’s working for me, anyway.

Then again, I haven’t actually finished it yet. There are still five chapters to go and a certain plot that needs to be reworked, but overall I’m happier with this version. I just hope my betas will be happy too and I’ll be able to win Fox’s biggest fan back into his club. I’ll need something positive to keep me going for The Crying Child, which is just as happy as its title suggests…

Before I go, one last reminder:

The Rebel Returns is increasing in price from tomorrow.
Rising from $.99/£.99 to 2.99.
Get it cheap while you can!