One year ago, my second Black Raven collection Sea of Quills hit the shelves. So in keeping with the tradition with Eleven Facts about Mountain of Daggers, I want to celebrate with a few bits of trivia about Ahren’s second collection. And being that there are nine stories, it deserves nine fun facts.
1: Unlike most of the adventures that were written as stand-alones to be released one at a time, the first story, Temptation’s Proposal, was written specifically to be the opening for the second collection. It mirrors Birth of the Black Raven by taking place at a party, and offers a wide range of Ahren’s skills. It is my favorite story in Sea of Quills.
2: Washed Ashore, The Gilded Noose, and The Raven’s Cage were originally intended to appear in Mountain of Daggers. It was decided to split them off in order to release both collections back to back at 70,000 words each.
3: Despite Ahren’s reputation as an assassin, The Blossom of Eternity is the only story where Ahren works as a willing assassin “on screen.” It was originally requested and written for an assassin-themed anthology, but the antho never happened. The original version had Ahren make one additional attempt on the immortal Baron’s life by murdering him in his bedroom, but the story was beginning to feel too long, so we cut that scene to keep the plot moving.
4: Both Washed Ashore and Treasure of Bogen Helm were inspired by a sailing trip I did through the Caribbean some years ago. The island in Treasure of Bogen Helm was modeled after a small island we stopped at that was once covered with wild goats.
5: The Gilded Noose was inspired by the story of how Michelangelo was conscripted into service by the popes. While Michelangelo’s circumstances were vastly different, I fell in love with the idea of a master artist forced against his will.
6: The Raven’s Cage was inspired by the prison at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, most notably the graffiti and the passage window looking into Ahren’s cell. It was also my little nod to The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite books. It was the fourth Black Raven story I ever wrote, penned in 2007.
7: The Second Gift was a story requested for the Time in a Bottle anthology. It was the first time I ever had an editor contact me to request a story and was a bit of a milestone for me. The stipulation was that it had to be about time. The pun with using “second” in a story about time was completely unintentional on my part and I hadn’t even thought about it until someone pointed it out to me later.
8: The Lunnisburg Undercity was inspired by the Seattle Underground. After the Great Seattle Fire, the city was raised, leaving sections hidden below ground. The design of the streets to handle drainage, with raised blocks to allow foot traffic to pass, was taken from the streets of Pompeii.
9: One of the earliest ideas I had for a Black Raven story was the scene in The Noble Hunter where Ahren steals the jeweled eyes from a public statue, leaving feathers in the empty sockets. The entire story evolved from that specific mental image.
BONUS: Because many writers ask me about cover art, here is the evolution of Sea of Quills’ cover art from the Rogue Blades Entertainment designs until the final Ragnarok Publications design. For both, the only requests I had as the author was that Ahren’s face is not clearly visible while the Tyenee pendant is.
In the next few months I plan to announce Black Raven’s next adventure. What? You didn’t think he was done, did you?