Please note that I usually have several projects I’m bouncing through at any given time: I seldom work on the one thing from beginning to end. This means that readers can wait longer for any given piece than is right, but it makes it more likely I am able to produce something. Trying to wed myself to one project at a time makes it harder for me to work at all.
Kit March is currently on hold: I’ve written a complete first draft of the first book (approximately 200 000 words) and as I’m not a fan of the “write as you go” experiment for something this long, I want to redraft it before reposting the earlier chapters and posting the later ones.
Like the Other Prince (the fourth Eagle Court story) – This is half a fluffy, non-romantic relationship story between two aro-spec characters and half the origin story of the man who’ll become one of the leaders of Ihrne’s trans underground. I wanted to write a story more akin to my own experiences as a trans person, in the sense that I don’t live in a world where people unquestioningly accept my lack of gender and pronouns, and how much this impacts one’s ability to trust others and feel safe in society. At the same time, I wanted to explore what real acceptance in this world feels like–so Harper finds that his gay best friend has always known, hence the fluffiness.
Truth of the Eyrie (the fifth Eagle Court story) – This story is meant to be an abrupt about-turn to the hopeful note of Like the Other Prince. Nevo, Harper’s partner, calls on another member of the underground, Switch, to help with the kind of plan that people only invent when they’re desperate. This story is something of a cat-and-mouse game as Switch needs to navigate several run-ins with the militia, travel across Ihrne and hope that they’ll be able to reach Thereva Asigne at the Eyrie. Harper’s story deals with in part what it is to live in Ihrne as a working-class trans person where Traditionalists protest and the militia have a special talent in ignoring priestly proclamations, but Switch is all about this and the determination to hold these royal arseholes accountable.
A Quest of Spheres and Phalanges (Love is the Reckoning sequel, prequel to The Crew of Esher Hill) – This is the story of the deal Esher makes with the Grey Mages at Sirenne, concerning a quest into the Gast to find a magical relic. It was easier for me to write out the story to find out what happens than to plan it out, so … I did. In addition to Esher’s first meeting both Faiza and Indigo, we see Reggie stepping into Mara’s shoes for a good part of the story, Esher’s priest-psychiatrist Moll navigating the competing consent requests of two siblings and angering both, the hazards of a wolfhound galloping down the hallway, Esher’s stockhorse, and a fairly hefty sense of overwhelm.
Fire-Proof Armour (Esher Hill chapter) – Kit throws buttons at the door of his former employer, asks Esher far too many questions relating to the names people call the freakishly tall, and grips Faiza’s arm during a street conversation with a collection of toughs. Faiza, meanwhile, has to deal with keeping a secret of Esher’s and the weight of their own secret, one they should tell him given that they’re riding into the Gast. It hurts me, a little, to write characters who keep on underestimating the abilities possessed by a stockman, a stockhorse and two working dogs, but I think the payoff will be worth it.
Freaks (Esher Hill chapter) – I love writing Indigo, an autistic desperate to appear allistic and judging everybody else (given that the company’s possession of neurodivergence) for not doing so. Ze is a thousand kinds of internalised ableism and self-hatred, and writing Indigo hurts me, but it’s also beyond incredible to express this tangle of hate, since a good deal of it is the running background noise of my life and the years I spent resisting the label “autism” until the universe stopped hinting and instead slapped me across the face with it. Writing happily-married autistic parents like Esher and Mara’s fathers makes my heart happy, but writing Indigo gives me catharsis.
Drafting – Short Stories, Novelettes and Novels
From a Dog’s Nose (Esher Hill chapter) – Esher and his dogs take Faiza and Kit on the tourist route of the Crackenbush to escape pursuit from Raugue, but Kit is far from the best choice of companion for a trek into the mountains. Esher, meanwhile, muses on the problem in no longer noticing pain and the annoyance of a magician who will not shut up while doing everything he can to make sure he isn’t leading hell back to Indigo. Kit … well, young Kit is something of an acquired taste for a man who doesn’t like conversing…
Birds of a Feather (the sixth Eagle Court story) – I’m in the middle of a second draft that’s changed the direction of this novella/short novel, and I’m so glad it has. There’s still an incident with Ein’s magic in the stableyard, but just as Paide’s trying to cope with that, Thereva comes in with Switch wanting to field a crew to fetch Harper and his family. Oh, and Ihrne’s burning, but nobody bothered to tell Paide this. There’s two unconscious people, the need to free someone from the police, a conversation that makes clear the chancellor’s designs on the throne, the use of Ein’s magic for something that isn’t necromancy, several schemes, and Zaishne, and this is all before lunch. Then Paide realises that he’s doing almost exactly what his mother did in using his title to avoid legal consequence, but it’s different when his uncle is threatening to get rid of Ein’s dog … right?
I really can’t call this book anything else: it’s about the characters in all previous Eagle Court books meeting, coming together and realising just how desperately they need the others to survive.
All the Stars in the Sky (stand-alone story) – A short SF story about an autistic space adventurer, Jaim, meeting an android at a tree-focused theme park–discovering their shared frustration with the incomprehensibility of allistics, revelling in mutual feelings of otherness in an allistic-dominated world, pondering why it is humans made androids that express autistic humanity and launching a plan to take over the galaxy together. I’m only just over a thousand words in, but so far I’ve got a semi-verbal, agender, aro-ace, autistic protagonist who uses a computer program to speak and is a ship pilot travelling the known galaxy when off duty to see all the trees accessible to someone not allowed to venture planetside (for setting-based reasons). My thinking here is that ze spends hir life staring at the stars, so ze is entranced by something ze so seldom sees in hir life–trees and forests.
Love in the House of the Ravens (Kit March novelette, sequel to Certain Eldritch Artefacts and prequel to The Adventurer King) – This is about Darius’s first finding the word “aromantic” after an alloromantic asexual mercenary expressed interest; he can’t understand why she had to ruin a good friendship. Thankfully, his friends Akash and Ila can talk him through it. I’ve written a fair bit about aromanticism, now, but this story most looks at the struggles of being both aromantic and autistic while navigating relationships and sexual interludes, particularly in terms of identifying and communicating feelings. One Strange Man, where Darius works his way to accepting that he is aromantic, and The Adventurer King, where he can come out to the belt and Efe for the first time, finish this accidental trilogy of steps on the road of aromantic self-realisation.
The Performance Magician (Kit March novella, sequel to The Adventurer King) – Currently a mess, but heading towards being a novella or novel. However it turns out, it’s the story of Efe and Darius in Ashad, taking out a tyrant-to-be and dealing with a host of complications: the way Darius is treated as an autistic trans man, a host of access needs, the difficulty of communication, Darius’s aromanticism versus Efe’s unthinking flirtation and growing attraction, the growing problem of Hamide Golzar and the Phoenix Guard, a few mistakes made by two men who are lacking some in experience, Darius’s inability to trust Efe in any meaningful capacity, and the problem of being a blood witch in a world that – sometimes rightly – is wary of the trade. It needs a lot of work to be a coherent first draft though; right now it is more a loose collection of chapters and scenes.
Fletcher Ace and the Draconis Stratagem (the first Legend of Shadowdale story) – I didn’t need another work in progress, on account of having more than enough to go on with, but once I had both inspiration and encouragement, I couldn’t not go there. I’m seeing this as separated into three sections, comprising the town meeting where Fletch is handed hir new destiny and hir resulting grappling with this, hir travels over the Straits and then hir adventure in Tierre with a princess who just wants to serve a dragon in peace, damn it. This will have to be a novelette at the very least, as I’m several thousand words in and only just finished with Fletch’s running from the council meeting, but I am adoring the writing of a town where everybody is aro-ace and shaking their heads in bafflement at the world out there.
Drafting – Side Stories
(In other words: stories I’ll post at random to this blog as opposed to properly publishing.)
What Is and What Might Be (Kit March/Eagle Court short story, sequel to Conception and The King of Gears and Bone) – I started this as a very short side story. It’s no longer very short, but it’s far too much a crossover to be anything but a side story, so I’ll still just post it here. Amelia narrates again, looking at A Prince of the Dead and the magic involved from her perspective while also ruminating on Kit, Erondil, the Greensward and the challenges of the College. At the same time, we get to know Thereva a lot better, in terms of her anxiety in throwing in her lot with Ihrne. This is fun because Amelia and Kit see magic so very differently from Ein and Thereva, but mostly because Amelia. I love writing her. She’s almost as much fun as Indigo.
Inclination and Indiscrimination (an Eagle Court short story, prequel to Their Courts of Crows) – In which Thereva, commander of an Arsha contingent despising any behaviours that break the Declarations, and Paide, rebel prince of Ihrne who doesn’t bother to hide his interest in men, struggle to navigate a hell made by two conflicting needs–Paide’s right to be openly pansexual versus Thereva’s safety as a trans woman where her acceptance rests on complete obedience to the Declarations. This is the story that explains why Thereva decided to jump ship for Ihrne, even though Birds of a Feather shows how Thereva is not safe within the Eyrie. Paide voices his frustration over other queer people trying to shove him into the “gay” box, which I’ll admit is a raging case of author dropping anvils.
Only One Answer (an Eagle Court short story, sequel to Like the Other Prince) – In which Harper has a conversation with his mother, Seili, about, after joining the underground, her newfound tendency to enjoy fun times with casual partners. I wanted to write about an older allo-aro character and how true acceptance of someone’s identity only has one answer. Also, I just really enjoy writing cute things where a trans person is unquestionably supported by their parent/s.
The Semantics of Punching and Pot-Throwing (a Darius and Efe short story, sequel to The Adventurer King and The Performance Magician) – I spoke more about this here, but this is more of a character study about love, ableism and why I see no reason for a disabled character to allow ableist abuse of another disabled character, even if the second character once bullied the first. I’ve tried to make it more of a character development moment between Efe and Darius–Efe says “love” for the first time and Darius has to admit his struggles in allowing people to see him vulnerable–but it’s an author on board side-story. On the positive side, it does involve Efe and Darius in a sincere debate on the difference involved in whether Darius threw the pot at or beside Efe’s head…