Often someone will write a story, finish it and consider it done. That’s that. Feel the sense of accomplishment. On to something else. Ho-hum.
I did that, too.
Once again, I finished a novel.
Once again I decided that was that.
Whoops…wait a minute!
Once again, I was wrong.
I had written a novel, Three Moon Station. It was a bit unusual in that it was a cross-genre—a Western set in the far future on another planet. A Sci-Fi/western, if you will. The hero rides a horse and flies his drone only in emergencies. He carries a pistol strapped to his thigh, but it’s a laser. Justice is sometimes swift, without calling in the Federation marshal. In this story Sar Trant, a Tritomitian station owner, saves the heroine, Katy, from the villain—a rustler by the way—and rescues her from the clutches of her dastardly uncle. The couple attain their Happily Ever After. The book was published and I went on to other stories, other couples, and other adventures.
Hold on there, podnuh!
Did I say the story was finished? Not by a long shot. A couple of readers wanted more, so I, lapping up the praise and flattery, got to thinking…what happened to Sar and Katy after Hatch did his “happy dance” in the farmyard while his father and stepmother went into a clinch and the words “The End” were typed at the bottom of the page?
I went back over what I’d written about Sar. Let’s see…Sarkin Trant…orphan at a young age…raised by his father’s best friend…had a son at the age of 15…married Katy at age 35, and…the most important fact…descended from the illegitimate son of an Arcanian giarl.
That fact led to the story The Finer Gentleman, taken from a quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:
“He would be the finer gentleman that should leave the world without having tasted of lying or pretence of any sort, or of wantonness or conceit...”
wherein one Sarkin Trant learns he’s now the 28th giarl of Craigsmere and 13th in line to the Arcanian throne. He goes to Arcanis and sets the nobility on its collective ear. He also meets the margrave, Darien-Marcus, his distant cousin.
The Finer Gentleman was also cross-genre, being part futuristic tale and part Regency romance. Take away the space travel, lasers, and outer-worldly trappings, close your eyes and listen to the dialogue, and see if you don’t agree.
After its publication, Darien-Marcus kept popping into my mind, reminding me of the little hints given about him in The Finer Gentleman. He demanded I tell everyone what was happening to him while Cousin Sar was growing up on Tritomis-2 and elaborating on those little hints…how he was orphaned at age 9 and raised by his father’s best friends. From there, his story takes a much different course from Sar’s…he was given a mistress at age 12, a wife at age 13, and at 19, developed a tremendous desire to rebel all on his own...in his own way, he, too, had set the nobility on its ear.
I bowed to popular demand…and In this Kingdom by the Sea was the result. The title comes from Edgar A. Poe’s poem Annabel Lee:
“I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea…”
In this kingdom by the sea…”
It’s the story of a child king, a husband and a ruler by the age of 13, a young man who, when he meets his cousin, will delight in sitting on a balcony and “lighting up” with said cousin while both get so snockered on royal wine they can barely stand in the receiving line given in Sar’s honor.
Darien-Marcus may be royal but rebellion is in his genes and his behavior proves it.
It was a fun story and I enjoyed writing it. Though it seems to start off like a Young Adult novel, it very quickly grows, just as Darien-Marcus does, into a full-fledged adult one.
I think readers will see that and enjoy it, too.
Galloping down the three flights of stairs, Darien found Orion, arms filled with mallowick gear, waiting at the bottom of those on the first story. Behind him, Daneel loitered, tagging along, as usual. He was too young to play but, as the captain’s brother, he’d been made official mascot for the team, and ran up and down before the spectators waving a banner on which the team’s symbol, a flying hawk, was painted.
“What took you so long?” Rion was already dressed in gaming wear, helmet, padded chest plate and knee boots, and fairly dancing with impatience. “The game’s about to start.”
“I had some official business to take care of.” Darien said it offhandedly as he took his helmet and put it on.
“Since when do you have official business?”
“Since I’m about to have my thirteenth birthday.” He fastened the head strap and adjusted the padded section so it rested directly against his chin.
“That’s right. I forgot.” Orion looked thoughtful. “That means you’ll become margrave pretty soon, and then you’ll really be our ruler.”
“I certainly will.” It was said with satisfaction. They were at the exit from the castle now, going through the door. The sentries there bowed and Darien acknowledged them with a wave as he pulled the chest plate from Orion’s hands and thrust his arms through the shoulder straps. Behind them, Daneel double-timed it, his fat little legs pumping to keep up.
“Darien, your becoming margrave isn’t going to make a difference is it? In our being friends, I mean.”
“Not a bit,” Darien declared. “There’s something else that might, though.”
“What?” Orion looked anxious.
“Uncle Tyron has decided I should marry.”
“It isn’t going to be today is it?” Orion’s anxiety changed to anger. “Damn it, that’ll ruin our game schedule.”
“He said it’d be later.”
“How much later?” Orion sounded suspicious.
“Years from now, I hope. Ariadne’s pretty young.”
“Ariadne lo Reza?” Daneel piped up. “She’s kind of pretty.”
“I agree,” Darien answered. “But silly. She laughed because my hair fell in my face when I bowed to her.”
“Girls are like that,” Orion agreed while Daneel snorted scornfully. “They laugh at the oddest things.”
“I hope she stops doing it. I’d hate to have a wife who sounds so addlepated.”
“Stop thinking about her.” Orion slapped his shoulder and handed him his mallowick bat. “We’ve a game to win.”
The prince, his best friend, and his brother hurried across the palace courtyard, aiming themselves for the playing field where the two teams consisting of giarls’ sons and Orion’s two younger brothers waited before a gathering of spectators to begin their game.
In this Kingdom by the Sea was released by Class Act Books on July 15, 2013.