Giving progress updates on City of Ghosts is difficult because the book has already been drafted multiple times (the most recent draft having been completed during my senior year of college, 2014) so most of the work involves rewriting and restructuring. As far as that process goes, I’d estimate that I’m about 25% done. It’s slow-going because there are brand-new character arcs that I need to work into a pre-existing plot, which can get messy if not handled carefully.
Most of the restructuring has to do with the fact that, in previous drafts, Joan was the sole POV character, in the tradition of Harry Potter. In this draft, I’ve split POVs to give more coherent arcs to Fiki, Kente, Izumo and our new antihero. Daniel’s arc is functional, as was the case in Orbit, without POV chapters because so much of the action revolves around him and he really wears his heart on his sleeve, leaving little mystery about the inside of his head – but guess what? He’s getting POV chapters anyway! Because I have no self-control.
More standalone spin-offs!
To keep my creative muscles loose while I wrangle City of Ghosts, I’ve also started work on three more standalone spin-off novels, listed here in the order they will (probably) be finished.
The first, working title: The Order of Tuya, is an f/f romance between a blind swordswoman and a fina priestess who has to reconcile her feelings with her traditional Yammanka religious values and, in the process, discovers her role as the prophet of a new religious order? Maybe? This one is in the experimental stages, so it’s still very weird. For fans of The Sword of Kaigen, The Order of Tuya will pick up a lot its themes and story threads, with Matsuda Nagasa as a key supporting character. I’m personally looking forward to the opportunity to delve into Duna’s different religious denominations through our inquisitive fina protagonist, since we don’t have one of those in the main series.
The second, Jamuttaana, follows Maadi Biraye (who first appears in Theonite: Orbit) on her apprenticeship in the global peacekeeping force, the Jamu Kurankite. This story deals mainly with Maadi’s savior complex as her work takes her deep into the impoverished country of Hades. She also fights a crocodile, which is neat.
Both Jamuttaana and The Order of Tuya take place between Theonite books 3 and 5 and will make contributions to the mystery of the Gray Cloaks and Killer 31 (for those of you invested in figuring it out before Daniel does 🙂
The third spin-off, working title: Handless, takes place waaaay back 200 years before the main series, during Duna’s colonial era, and is inspired by the origin of the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira. As of right now, it follows a soldier from Ranga (at this time, still part of the Kaigenese Empire) who is captured in battle and sold onto a railroad crew in Sizwe, where he and his fellow indentured/enslaved workers from around the world invent Isandlabali (the acrobatic martial arts style favored by Daniel Thundyil and several other characters in the modern Theonite universe).
I will proceed with the outlining process as soon as I figure out a way to not rip off Kaladin’s storyline from Way of Kings. Really, I just wanted an excuse to write more insidious imperialism and martial arts. Also, it would be cool to have a window into how Yammanka and Sizwean colonialism operated back in the day – and by cool, I mean horrifying. It is the worst.