Done, finished, ready. Well, almost. This story is set to be released May 31. Just over 24 hours from now, give or take. It will be out of my hands.
...And I still have to finalize the Afterword. All my books have Afterwords. With historical fiction (which I claim to write) you absolutely have to explain where you have strayed from the conjectural into the invented. (For example, one person in a main character's life, mourned by that character as dead, historically outlived him...) I have some words...where the story came from, why it had to be written.
It would be interesting to say what I have found to be true: that once you have written something in a universe that you have created, it is set in stone. The presence of a specific character in the last book, chronologically, of this series - 'The Memphis Cycle' - mandates the occurrence that is at the center of this story. ...And then there are my thoughts about what, who, how, why.
Should I write it? I think perhaps.
I'll miss this one. It's a 'bright' story. There is no mystery in it, nothing dire underlies it. One of mine is a romp - the characters make it so - but the fact behind the story is a tale of treachery, rapaciousness and self-embraced evil. This one has a love story, and - a blessing that I had not expected - it has a character whose ultimately bittersweet fate, followed through the entire course of my writing this, suddenly turned, rather like the Mississippi changing its course. I was left standing there, ankle deep in the tide, filled with delight at the way matters fell together, threads were joined, and the flow of the Cycle went on. I can only say that while I wrote the story, this character's fate followed its true path.
There are some truly amusing sections for me, and some quotes my characters came up with that I found touching:
"Our children sometimes leave us too soon," he said, looking down and away from the sparkle of tears in her eyes. "You can give them birth, or cause them to quicken in a womb... You give them the best childhood you can, try to be the father that you should be. But, ultimately, they will leave you. A month, a year... Through marriage, through distance-you do lose them, or part of them you loved. All that you can do is hold to what you did have, and remember the care you gave them. And the love. And also remember, for we sometimes do forget, that what we gave was the best we could at that moment. And it was sufficient, no matter how we may dream of what we might have done, if only we had known."
Or this, with (perhaps) a bow to Shakespeare:
Seti looked up at him. "'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow'," he said. "You say that too often. Let me tell you, Djedi, you need to hoard your tomorrows, use them wisely, for tomorrows will run out and you will be left with only yesterdays, wondering where the tomorrows went and desperately wishing to have them back, just long enough to say a word, make a gesture, bind a wound, give one last kiss..."
There is this final worry. (You may laugh at me - go ahead, guffaw, snicker, tee-hee, snort, chortle...) The thing is too darned short compared to my usual output. It is (ahem) only 84,700 words compared to my stripped-down 125K.
Hah! I'm going to bed! 24 hours! Afterword or not afterword... Yikes!