Let me start this off with a disclaimer. This will not be your typical book launch post. One, because I haven’t the foggiest idea what that looks like, and two, because that’s just the way I roll.
I am over the moon excited to announce that my story, The Good King or, alternatively The Last Wish, has seen the light of day. Or rather, the colour of ink. Beautifully and classically illustrated by my talented cousin Meg Simmons, arranged by my sister-in-law Alicia McLean, and organized, finalized, and polished by James Dewar and Sue Reynolds at Stone’s Throw Publications, it has been sent to the printer. In little over a week, I will have a limited run of 300 copies in my hands. Just in time for Christmas.
So what is The Good King? And why did you print this before your novel? Well it’s a long story. Yes I am doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do, what people say that a lot of author’s do, they put their first book away and concentrate on a marketable book to get their names out there. This would open the door for their “baby”, the book that doesn’t fit the mold, so to speak.
Well, that isn’t entirely the case, but close enough, I suppose. Truth is, this story came to me as my wife and I were driving to a funeral and then on to a book launch for a friend. It was in the murk where day meets night. Snow was falling in big, fluffy, blinding flakes. A misheard lyric of a favourite Christmas carol bounced around in my head while Christmas music played on the radio.
“Good King Wenceles last looked out.”
“Where are you, Dale?” My wife broke the spell. She is used to me writing in my head while I drive, my body on auto pilot while my mind is a million miles away. Not something I recommend, by the way. I was looking through the eyes of the Good King as he looked out on the feast of Stephen.
The traditional Christmas ghost story like A Christmas Carol and such, has fallen by the wayside. In its place, Spongebob and My Little Pony ring in a cotton candy pink and lemon yellow Holiday.
I wanted to bring back the classics. I wanted to tell a story that felt comfortable along side T’Was The Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi.
A story started to unfold on that snowy night. The voice of the Good King’s page drew me onwards. The next bunch of months I fell into the true history of King Wenceslaus. The glaring differences between the carol and the history stood out, but my brain found a common thread and stitched the two together.
I could go into great detail on this, but I will get to the matter at hand.
I am not one that likes to “toot his own horn”, to quote the cliche. I won’t tell you it is a good book because, quite frankly, what I deem good may not be the same as you, the reader’s, idea of good. I don’t want my words about my own writing to steer you away from something I may write in the future. But, I will say, I am happy with this story. I was happy with the original version, but with the proper amount of feedback and time for it to steep, the story got better.
It is, to me, a traditional Christmas ghost story with a good message. One that I will read to my kids on Christmas eve, and one that I hope you like well enough to do the same. That, was my only goal.
Of course, I can’t say enough, how happy I am with Meg’s drawings. She captured the old feel of the story. To quote my good friend Jeremy, “It looks like they were drawn in the 1800’s.”
Copies will be available at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario after December 14, 2013. (Thank-you Shelley!)
What’s that? You want a sample? Well, OK, if you insist.
“Sire Boleslas was not happy. He vowed to return. He said the tariffs would now be his to collect.” I paused before continuing, “He said you were not fit to rule.”
“He was always ambitious to a fault.” He shook his head and sighed, his breath further fogging the glass.
“I don’t trust him sire.” I moved to his side. “I fear his jealousy knows no bounds; that the food he delivers is tainted.”
“It may be, lad.” He sighed again, his sadness and disappointment evident in its tone.
“And yet you eat it?” In my shock I took a faltering step backwards.
“I must, good page, I must. He has always been thus, jealous of my grandmother’s attentions; of my inheriting her rule. Alas would that he knew all that I have is his as well. I value not silver nor gold. I hold friendship and peace above all. But his follower’s words bend and poison his ear and he is blind to it. He is my brother. I must have faith that blood is indeed thicker than water. Besides, what would we have if we did not have faith?” He offered me a sad smile.
I answered him simply, “You, my liege, we would still have you.”