ruled-by-shadows_coverWell, the first draft has been written. Around 130,000 words – so it’s a door-stopper as predicted!

I started writing the first draft around eight months ago (and published two novels in the meantime) so I’m pleased to finally have this manuscript done.

As I’ve mentioned before, this project is one very close to my heart. It’s a story I’ve wanted to write for a while. It’s a combination of an epic fantasy adventure and an epic love story, combining the elements I love best about the genres of fantasy and romance.

Am I happy with the story?

I’m currently reading through the manuscript before it heads off for a structural edit. The first ‘read-through’ as I call it is always a nerve-wracking moment. When I write a mansucript, I don’t tend to look back much until I’ve actually finished the story. I find it tends to kill my enthusiasm if I go back and try to edit chapters as I go. It kind of dilutes the magic. As I do quite a bit of planning around story arc and characters before I start writing, I have a strong idea of where I’m going. The advice ‘don’t look back until it’s done’ is good if you’re writing a big book. You’ll never get it finished otherwise!

So, I’m three-quarters of the way through the first read-through and I’m really delighted with the book!

Big sigh of relief.

There’s always that fear you’ve written 130,000 words of rubbish – although my structural editor will have the final word on that…

Why I think it works

There are a few things I think I’ve got right with this one. My previous epic fantasy novels were grand in scope and character-driven but I think they lacked depth and intimacy compared to this one. The two main characters, Lilia and Perrin, are the sort of people you feel you could know. They really bring the story to life, and I think the two secondary ones, Robana and Saul, are some of the best supporting characters I’ve ever created.

The story is a classic epic fantasy tale of a magic talisman, an epic quest and a dark lord – but my telling of it veers away from tradition. The story is told through the eyes of Lilia and Perrin as they embark not only on an adventure but on a journey of self-discovery and love.

There’s also a strong over-arching theme in the novel that has nothing to do with fantasy tropes. I explore fear and different people’s reaction to it. Does it limit our world or do we use it to grow and change? It’s a theme most of us can relate to and I really enjoyed exploring it. I also think it has added real depth to the story.

The world I’ve created – The Four Kingdoms of Serran – has come together really well. I know the Isle of Orin (where the first third of the novel takes place) so well I can close my eyes and imagine I’m there. I modelled the city of Idriss off Naples in Italy – a city that I love – and The Royal City of Rithmar on a much larger version of an Umbrian hill town. Yes, there’s a bit of Italian influence there (as I lived there for years), but the culture of this world is modelled on Dark Ages and early Medieval Ireland and Britain.

Enough about that – when’s it going to be released?

I don’t have a publication date yet but as soon it gets back from the editor and I know how much work it needs, I’ll be able to put one up on this blog. Watch this space. šŸ™‚

Would you like a chance to read RULED BY SHADOWS before anyone else?

I’m currently getting together a REVIEW CREW for the novel. You get a free e-copy of the novel pre-publication, and in return all I ask is that you write an honest review and post it on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

If you’d like receive an advance review copy (Kindle, EPub or PDF versions), then please email me at with REVIEW CREW: FANTASY in the subject line and I’ll add you to the list.

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