Once again, a lunar eclipse had heralded a book release. My second Black Raven collection, Sea of Quills is out on Kindle today. Other formats, including Audible, will be available shortly. Needless to say, I’m very excited. I want to thank Tim Marquitz, Joe Martin, and Jason Waltz for making this happen.
In honor of the release, I have a guest Blog over at The Quillery, discussing why we love fictional thieves. I also have an interview over at Galleywampus where I discuss Black Raven as well as some info about Ibenus (Valducan #3)
My long-time friend, Clay Sanger from Blackguards, has been running a series of posts leading up to to today where he recounts the years spent waiting for this, and give some fun accounts of things like Dämoren, Hounacier, Mountain of Daggers, and just some adventures we’ve had since we first met staffing a massive paintball game. You can read about it all here.
So in honor of Sea of Quills’ big day, I want to give a little trivia about each of the stories included. Some of which I’ve said before, but most I haven’t.
1: Temptation’s Proposal – Unlike many of the other stories in this collection and most of those in Mountain of Daggers, Temptations’ Proposal was never intended to be published in a magazine or anthology as a stand-alone. It was written with the sole purpose of being the first story in the second collection. I wanted a bit of symmetry with Mountain of Daggers by having both collections begin at a party. I also wanted to show a little of everything that Ahren could do.
2: Washed Ashore – This story was originally slated for Mountain of Daggers, set between the Reluctant Assassin and Race for the Night Ruby. The idea for it came when my wife and I spent a week sailing the Caribbean and I was watching the surf pound a jagged rock. I imagined Ahren bleeding and trying to climb up the face, and rest of the story just grew from there.
3: Treasure of Bogen Helm – As with many stories, Treasure of Bogen Helm was several unrelated story ideas that came together. Among them, was on that same Caribbean trip, we stopped and explored this desert island that once held a massive wild goat population. Mixing that with a cave I saw on another island, and a really cool documentary on cephlalopods, I had a story.
4: City Beneath the Kaisers – Again, many small ideas came together to form this tale. The two most notable came from the Seattle Underground as well as this lone tower that I saw in Florence that was erected in the middle of a street.
5: The Noble Hunter – I wrote this simultaneously with City Beneath the Kaisers, so they have many of the same themes and inspirations. The biggest difference is that I wanted Ahren to steal the jeweled eyes from a statue erected in a public square. That idea came from the the bronze Triumphal Quadriga in Venice that once had ruby eyes.
6: The Blossom of Eternity – I was asked to write this for an assassins anthology. While I’d referred to Ahren as being an assassin before, I’d never actually shown him commit outright murder. Once I had come up with the story, the original version clocked in at about 12,000 words. It was way too long and dragged at parts, so we made some surgical edits. Sadly, the anthology fell through before it was printed.
7: The Second Gift – I was asked to write this story for the Time in a Bottle Anthology and it was the first time I was approached to submit for a project. As you might guess from the title, the theme was time. I’d originally envisioned it being much longer, but once it was done, it ended up being one of the shortest Black Raven adventures.
8: The Gilded Noose – The inspiration for enslaved artist came when I learned how Michelangelo was forced to work for the church. This story was originally slated for Mountain of Daggers, taking place between Darclyian Circus and Born of Darkness. When we split and reorganized the tales between two volumes instead of one huge one, I was very disappointed since I’ve always liked it. I’m very happy to see it out now.
9: The Raven’s Cage – The story came about after I toured the prison at the Doge’s Palace in Venice. In fact, it was the fifth Black Raven story to be written. Originally it was going to serve as the end for Mountain of Daggers, but with the shuffle, I decided that I’d rather end Sea of Quills with it.
I hope you all enjoy Sea of Quills, and found these little bits of trivia as much fun as I had recounting them.