Many of you have already gotten the news, but for those that have not, 47North will not be publishing book 3 of the Scourge. I will be self-publishing the novel. This is actually a good thing in many ways. I get full creative control and I will make more money per unit sold. But it is also a challenge in some ways: I have to hire my own editors and pay for my own publicity. So, to try and raise money for those costs, I have started a Kickstarter campaign.
If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, it’s a website that lets others invest in a project you are working on. Backers pledge a certain amount of money for the project and, in return, the backers get rewards according to the amount the have pledged. It’s a win-win for both sides. Some of the rewards include signed copies of my books, a mention in the acknowledgements, a character named after you, you even have a chance to be my patron and have the book dedicated to you. And if the campaign is successful, it will lead to the publication of the third and final book in The Scourge trilogy. And what a book it will be! I’ll have a teaser for it down below. But before I get to that, here’s the link to the project (complete with the self-conscious, badly cut, deer-in-the-headlights video that I did for the Kickstarter campaign) (may I never have to make another video again).
If everyone who has read my books donates even $1, I’ll have enough to cover my costs tenfold. But if you can’t pledge (and I know very well what that’s like), feel free to spread the word about the campaign. The more people you tell, the more chance of the book getting published at the same quality as the other two in the series. Every bit helps.
I have started writing the book already and I honestly believe that it will be the best of the trilogy. The writing is flowing. Edward is leading me and I am merely documenting the journey. I’m really excited about The Scourge: Emaculum, and hopefully you will be too. I’ve included an unedited teaser of the first three pages or so (sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the entire first chapter in the next week or so). It may change in the process, hopefully you’ll enjoy this snippet of what I have written.
Men will follow anyone.
I have watched fools lead battalions, and cowards command armies. I have met lecherous bishops who guide flocks upon the paths of morality, and madmen who rule entire kingdoms. And I have learned, in my days upon this earth, that it is not the wisest or bravest or even the most sensible who lead; it is the loudest.
And Sir Gerald of Thunresleam is a loud enough to wake the dead.
His mad shouts echo through the sparse forest. “No!” he screams. “In a line! Stay in a line!”
Sir Tristan and I pause at an ivy-draped alder to recover. I unsling the leather sack that hangs from my shoulder and Tristan does the same. Each breath I take sears my lungs, echoes in my helm. I am too old to be running in armor. Hounds howl and the deep thud of hoof-beats rings out behind us. The rain creates applause on the leaves above.
“Tell . . . tell me that lovely story again, Edward,” Sir Tristan pants as he speaks, one hand on his thigh, the other holding a crossbow against his shoulder. “You had a . . . a cannon pointed at Gerald . . . a flame . . . inches from the touch-hole. I . . . I forget the next part. Tell me again what you did?”
I take great gulps of air and grunt at Tristan. He knows what I did; I lowered the cannon and let Gerald escape. I have run from Sir Gerald from the time his master, Sir John of Muckinge, died in battle. Sir John was torn apart by the mindless victims of this new plague that has rotted England. I suppose Sir John’s death is my fault – I led the plaguers to the battlefield where he died – but neither apologies nor denials will sate Sir Gerald’s lunatic thirst for revenge. The madman has tried to kill me more times than I care to recall, and when I had him in my power, I let him go.
Sir Gerald does not seem to appreciate my act of mercy.
Tristan and I left St. Benet’s Abbey two days after capturing it, and we caught sight of our pursuers after less than three miles of traveling. Ten horsemen and two dozen footmen appeared on the horizon, every one of them sworn to Sir Gerald.
Men will follow anyone.
Father Aubrey, a priest back home, once told me that men are like wolves. He said we hunt in packs so we can slaughter more lambs, and the man with the loudest howl leads us all. I smiled and asked if women were the lambs in his metaphor. A peculiar look came over him as he shook his head.
“No,” he replied. “A woman is the hunger that burns in the belly of the wolf. The hunger that makes him slaughter the lamb.”
Father Aubrey is a strange man.
My woman, Elizabeth, lies plagued in the cathedral of Saint Edmund’s Bury, and my belly rages with hunger for her. I have slaughtered an uncountable number of innocent lambs while trying to get her back, and I fear there will be more butchery before my journey is done.
Sir Gerald will be the first on that butcher’s block.
A stocky man in ring mail and a flat-topped nasal helm stumbles through shrubs and draws up only a few feet away. His eyes grow wide when he sees us. “They’re here!” He draws his sword. “Sir Gerald, I have them! They’re—” Tristan’s dagger catches the man in the throat and the shout becomes a gurgle. My sigh is a hiss inside the great helm.
Sir Gerald will have to be the second on the butcher’s block.
The man’s body relaxes and Tristan lets it fall to the sodden earth. I notice a red ribbon tied around the soldier’s arm, his lady’s favor. A sign of the hunger that burned in this man’s stomach. But this wolf will slaughter no more lambs.
The wailing of hounds grows louder from the east. Horsemen bob through the trees. The footmen crack branches with their footfalls and shuffle through dead leaves.
Tristan cleans the blade of his dagger on the red ribbon. He squints at the oncoming men and tries to smile. “I hear the west side of the forest is lovely this time of year.”
I take a last look at the dead man, sling my shoulder sack, and lurch westward through the forest. Cold water from the wet leaves sprays my cheeks through the air holes in my helm. I shove at the grasping branches with my shield. We cannot outrun our pursuers forever. I wonder how Sir Gerald will kill us. On our last meeting, he threatened to skin us like rabbits and piss on our pulp. He may be mad but he is creative in his madness.
I glance back at Tristan and think of all the times I have put his life in danger. Death’s skeletal fingers have brushed our shoulders too many times to count, but today I can feel his bony hand on my throat. Tristan sees me looking and blows a kiss, then picks up his pace so he is directly behind me.
Men will follow anyone.
If there’s any man I would follow, it’s Sir Edward Dallingridge. Thanks very much for your continued support. Let’s get Edward back to his Lady Elizabeth!