Thanks especially to Jason Katzman (WHO GOT MARRIED SATURDAY!!), Cory Allyn, everyone at Skyhorse who supports my books, and especially Sara Megibow, my agent, whose encouragement is one of the finest luxuries a writer can have.
When I started EXILE a decade ago, it was meant to be a trunk novel. My critters kept telling me it was the best thing I'd written. Not that it didn't rack up some rejections once I decided they were right. But I submitted to Jeremy Lassen of NSB after meeting him at World Fantasy. He asked me if I had anything and I told him I had a trunk novel about a falsely accused criminal exiled to an enemy country caught up in a brewing civil war.
Or, well, probably something more drunk and less salesy.
Less than two years later, EXILE was their lead title for the season and on bookshelves everywhere.
The rest is frustrating history that I won't delve into now, but rest assured I'm very happy with Skyhorse and I love working with them. Their passion for SFF is apparent in every book they put out. Plus EMISSARY came out of that deal, too, the most challenging, longest book I've ever written.
Writing books is kinda hard. Writing the finish to a trilogy ten years in the making... whoa. Pressure, man. I know I'm supposed to say I wanted to justice for my readers first, but really I've wanted justice for Draken, who I've traveled so far with, who suffers from depression, who I often leave in a battered state, and yet always perseveres.
ENEMY was written under the duress of a minor renovation project turned major (there are nice people working outside my office window as I write this, as they have been for nearly three months). We haven't had air conditioning for months. We got our basement back two weeks ago. At times I've been banished to the lake for up to two weeks. Jackhammers are not a writer's best friend, no matter what the jackhammer says.
And the book itself... is a tad grim. Religious revolution has invaded Akrasia in the form of a vengeful god and Draken's old countrymen. Draken has always been willing to do as much as he can to help within the confines the story has put around him, and he didn't fail me in ENEMY. He went where I shoved him, to new, darker places. Nor did he fail Akrasia, but you'll have to read it to find out how.
For now, here's the (unedited) first page:
The truth is torment.
The air never quieted on the Brînian coast, and this night it was all angry violence atop Seakeep overlooking Blood Bay. Seven stories high on a cliff thrice its height, Draken fair imagined the stone tower swaying as he emerged from the twisting stairwell into the fierce, chill wind. Flames in the deep bowl churned and danced, sparks scattering, bright dust against the night sky. The wide-eyed firegirl dropped to her knees and twitched her head down into huddled obeisance. Her back bent like Draken’s finest recurve bow. The glimpse of her face told him she was sundry: a Brînian-Akrasian mix, likely.
Frightened of him. Curious.
She’s frightened of the throne and sword, not the man.
Perhaps Bruche was right. After all, not all girls were frightened of him. His sister certainly wasn’t, nor his little daughter. Still, her trembling genuflection reminded him mistrust and fear were the costs of power.
“Go inside. Warm yourself.” Draken waved the girl-slave downstairs and she scampered off. Bloody cruel keeping a child up here, especially come moonrise. But the fire had to be watched, more so now in wartime, and he had no proper soldiers or civilians to spare for the duty. Living under malicious means had always been the fate for slaves. He’d done his share of unpleasant, dangerous duties when he’d been one.