There it is. An official stake in the ground.
A Light Shining.
Yesterday, I finished what I’ve called “my editing” of the manuscript that is the sequel to Dancing Priest. I’ve been driving the publisher crazy, although he’s been very polite about it. “How’s the editing coming?” he asks. A lot. And I say, “It’s coming.”
Well, I can now say it came. What’s left is the formatting, and I’m deep into that. By Wednesday, A Light Shining will be in the hands of the editor and the publisher.
The title has been a problem. Because of the way these books have developed, and how the equivalent of at least two, possibly three, books were born at the same time, some 150,000 words poured out of my head on to the typed pages of my computer screen. This happened from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2006. And it was too much – the story actually went even beyond what’s now in the second manuscript.
So I divided the words, and then began an extended process of ruthless editing with what became Dancing Priest. All the while I was writing and rewriting, slashing and cutting and rewriting again. I shopped it with agents and publishers. They were smarter than I was and said no. But I kept writing, and the story grew. And it grew again. And then a publisher came along.
And the story is still growing, to the point where I have to almost fight it off. There are six manuscripts behind A Light Shining, and I know what the seventh will be, and possibly the eighth.
I should say here that the only thing I can say with (some degree of) certainty is that A Light Shining will go forward. That’s the extent of the commitment – the publisher’s and mine. I don’t know what will happen after that. The story of Michael Kent and Sarah Hughes can stop with the second book, or it may go on.
A lot is riding on what happens with the second book.
A Light Shining is a very different book from Dancing Priest. The characters are largely the same, with the exception that one minor character in the first one becomes a much more prominent character in the second. And it is still the story of Michael and Sarah. But their story, their love story, becomes a much bigger story.
It originally had a different title, but I had to change it – it gave the story away and actually would fit the third manuscript better. I toyed with keeping “dancing” in the title somehow; I actually worked at it for an extended period. But I gave it up. It would have been a forced fit, and the idea of dancing does not really fit this manuscript at all.
The story takes a turn. It is still a love story – the story of Michael and Sarah will always be a love story – but the world and outside events invade their love story, and threaten to destroy it. Both Michael and Sarah will be forced to confront darkness.
What prompted me in 2005 to let the story out of my head and on to the computer screen was Hurricane Katrina. Dancing Priest has nothing to do with hurricanes, but it was a hurricane that led me to begin the writing of it.
For A Light Shining, part of it was born in that general writing experience, and part of it was born with the events of July 7, 2005 in London. While the story was still in my head, what happened on July 7 had a profound effect on where I was going with it.
So there I am, and there it (the manuscript) is. If everything goes forward as planned, A Light Shining will be published in September.
Photograph: Daybreak, by Bobby Mikul via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.