For the record – how the Black Dawn became a series

I need to set this up first, otherwise shooting myself in the foot, which I plan to do in a minute, isn’t going to work.

When a writer needs to explain something about their work, whether before or after publication, it’s as though they’re intimating that the work is incomplete. In groups I’ve run and classes I’ve taught in the past, whenever writers read their material aloud, rather than giving everyone an introduction or preamble, I always encouraged them to dive in and let the writing speak for itself.

That’s the pure way, the artistic way – takes some courage but it was always worth it for the feedback from listeners hearing it ‘cold’ rather than prepped.

Ahem. Now then…

*aims Glock at tarsals*

Seeing as it’s been almost four years since the Black Dawn series was published, there’s something I want to tell you.

*squeezes trigger*

Between them, Black Feathers and The Book of the Crowman have close to a thousand ratings on Goodreads, which is lovely.

Keeping an eye on Goodreads reviews is a great way for authors to gauge how their work is received by a wide selection of booklovers.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Goodreads, I’d never have discovered that hardly any readers understand why these two books became a series.

Here’s the truth:

The fact is they’re not a series and I never intended them to be. They’re actually one novel cut down the middle.

The trouble was, from Angry Robot‘s point of view, that one book was going to be too long – and therefore too expensive – to publish in a single volume. This meant that I had to literally slice the story in half, using a beat near the midpoint as an ending when there wasn’t any ending there.


But my choice was stark: turn my novel into two books or see it moulder in manuscript form indefinitely.

Sometimes, (by which I mean most of the time) writers have to compromise in order to attain their goals. My desire was to see this story reach as many people as possible and I knew Angry Robot could fulfil that for me.

The downside was that some readers reached the end of Black Feathers and went, “Huh? W’happen?” And I know a lot of them felt cheated that the first book didn’t stand alone – if they wanted to find out the ending, they were obliged to read book two.

Judging by some of the reviews, there were a few fantasy fans who believed this was a cheap ploy to force them into buying The Book of the Crowman.

I hope that in writing this, more readers will understand why the books were serialised; that it wasn’t a cynical marketing decision but a way of keeping publications costs down.

Because I believe a story ought to speak for itself, I didn’t mention any of this in an author’s note at the end of Black Feathers. Perhaps I should have because, with hindsight, I feel this was one instance in which a few words of textsplanation might have clarified things for readers.

I suppose even my own rules need an occasional exception.

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