Two things fended off the rising panic for me in that moment. First, I put myself in the shoes of my future readers (not hard because I’ve been reading fantasy since I was eight.) I thought about what sequels I really loved and why, and what expectations I thought I had versus what actually fulfilled those expectations. Second, I remembered why I started writing this series in the first place.
I’ve talked about this before in other places, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but I mentioned that despite being a heavy outliner, I’m a character driven writer. This series started with a young woman’s voice slipping into my mind one night. Let a man think you weak, let him think you helpless, and he’ll never see the blade until it’s planted twixt his ribs. With a line like that I just had to know more and that’s what led me to discovering Buc, our streetrat autodidact determined to upend her corrupt society no matter the cost.
Now Buc had the power she thought she needed to do just that. Only Buc isn’t the only character in Sin or Justice. She has her partner in crime-solving Eld for one, and a whole host of important secondary characters as well, all with their own hopes and dreams. I won’t spoil anything, but once I started thinking about their motivations—Eld’s and this mysterious figure we encounter who is pulling strings (and blades) from the shadows—I saw the path through the labyrinth and distilled that down into the pitch that’s on the cover of the book today.
It goes something like this: The Justice in Revenge takes a turn from pirates to politics as Buc and Eld find themselves facing the deadliest mystery of the career. Featuring boardroom intrigue, masquerade balls, gondola chases, street gangs, and shapeshifting mages, Buc pits herself against wrathful gods, hostile nobles, and a secret enemy bent on revenge. She and Eld will need every trick in their arsenal to survive. Luckily, extra blades aren’t the only things Buc has hidden up her sleeves…
I followed that path out of the labyrinth and along the way I discovered how I could pull you, Dear Reader, along with me through that twisting maze that led to the two most favorite words of any author: The End. I hope you’ll join me and Buc and Eld on this next adventure.