This book is long. Real long. Like “why has God forsaken me?” long.
Sorry. Believe me, it’d be easier on my mind, soul, and wallet if I wrote shorter novels. But I go where the story takes me. In the end, I felt The Song of the Orphans needed 750 pages to cover all the beats I wanted to cover.
If it’s any consolation, the first draft of the book was much longer. Nina Shield, my brilliant editor at Penguin, help me trim roughly 35,000 words of extraneous plot and dialogue without sacrificing a damn thing. She’s a ninja with the red pen.
I like action scenes and all, but I felt like there was too much action in The Song of the Orphans. The Silvers barely had a chance to take a breath before the next forced conflict came along.
I’m already sensing that this will be the number one complaint about the novel. All I can do is apologize and swear that the next and last book will have a different pace. There’ll be more questing than fighting, although the whole thing culminates in the mother of all battles. It isn’t called The War of the Givens for nothing.
Still, in my defense, I made damn sure that the action scenes weren’t just about fighting. The characters continued to grow and develop during those fights. Some of the story’s biggest revelations occurred in the heat of battle.
Okay, maybe, but that middle-of-the-book fight in the aerport/aerstraunt seemed to take forever. Why did you spend so many chapters on it?
On hindsight, I could have made it shorter. But I had to split everyone up into their own little crises, which complicated matters.
Why did you split everyone up?
Because I needed to formally introduce Semerjean to the Silvers, and I couldn’t just have David change in front of them. From a reader’s point of view, I had to make sure that certain red-herring suspects, like Peter and Jonathan, were absent and unaccounted for when Semerjean appeared. It was a very tricky section to write.
You introduced too many new characters in this book. I could barely keep track of them.
Yeah, well, you’re going on have an even harder time in The War of the Givens, with all the new breachers, Gothams, and Integrity agents I’ll be introducing, plus a brand new group of allies and enemies.
That said, this is still the Silvers’ story. I won’t let any of the new characters drown out the old ones.
It feels like Amanda was overlooked in The Song of the Orphans. She barely got any focus.
I’ve heard that from two readers now and it absolutely baffles me. I put that poor woman through her paces in Orphans, from her tempis problems to her Pelletier problems to her relationship issues, and more. She was practically the star of the Atropos section.
In any case, Amanda fans have nothing to worry about. There’s a reason Book 3’s called The War of the Givens.
Moving onto Semerjean, you really teased out that plotline out. I was starting to getting annoyed with all the dead ends and fake revelations.
Yes, well, it was hard enough to work a Kaiser Soze twist into one book. I was working it into two. That meant I had to be extra careful in covering my tracks, which meant a few additional false leads. Apologies to anyone who found it irksome.
Okay, so now we know the Pelletiers’ big plan: to have the Silvers make babies with the Gothams. That’s all well and good, but the way they’re going about it is ridiculously convoluted. Why can’t they just force them all to breed?
Keep in mind that the Pelletiers don’t perceive time the way we do. They see all the strings of the future at once, and the strings are telling them that manipulation is the strategy most likely to succeed. So they take the longer road. They play the harder game. They do whatever it takes to get exactly what they want.
Just admit that their complex scheme serves your writerly purpose.
Yes. I freely admit it. Complex villain schemes make for better stories. Look at Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Voldemort rigs a big wizard tournament so that Harry can win it and thereby touch the trophy, which is actually a portkey will teleport him to a place where Voldemort can kill him. That’s just nuts.
But then look at the alternative. If Voldemort hatched a more direct plan, then Goblet of Fire would be only twenty pages long, and not very satisfying. Similarly, The Flight of the Silvers wouldn’t be much fun if our heroes spent the entire book in a Pelletier breeding farm. It’s just the way these stories go. Our job, as authors, is to make these crazy schemes make sense in the context of the story. If I failed to do with you, then I truly apologize.
Schemes aside, I get tired of the Pelletiers showing up in the nick of time to save the Silvers. It robs the story of all its tension.
I understand that complaint, though the Silvers still do plenty of self-saving over the course of the first two books. And as you can see from the end of The Song of the Orphans, the Pelletiers are doing a lot more hand-slapping than handholding these days.
In any case, you have nothing to fear. The Pelletiers will become flat-out enemies of the Silvers in Book 3. It’ll take the teamwork of the orphans, Gothams, and U.S. government just to stay alive.
It’s kinda annoying, in a cliché/tropey way, that the two African-American characters introduced in this book (Heath and Mother) are both living in squalor when we first meet them.
I hear you on that and I sincerely apologize. Though their poverty had nothing to do with race and everything to do with their status as fugitive aliens from another Earth, it still reflected a very tired stereotype in fiction, which I regret. If I could do it all over again, I’d probably have Mother and the Coppers in a much nicer environment than the dockside slums of Seattle. With their combined powers, they could have stolen or illegitimately earned enough money to live somewhere better. In any case, I should have been more attuned to the trope.
The worst part about reading this series is the long gap between installments. Are we going to have to wait another three and a half years to read The War of the Givens?
I’m really sorry about the delay. My health and financial circumstances weren’t as good as they could have been while writing The Song of the Orphans, which slowed me down considerably. It was also a big-ass book.
While I can’t guarantee that The War of the Givens will be any thinner than its predecessor, I can happily say that I’m in much better place now with the health and money. That means I can devote more of my day to writing, which means a faster completion time. I’ll make some noise when I get closer to having a full first draft.
Have a question that isn’t answered here? Send me an e-mail.