Here’s the fourth and final in a brief series of articles about the creation of the Hiram Grange novellas, released by Shroud Publishing, and now concluded with my own ‘Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow’. You can find part one here, in which Tim from Shroud Publishing lures five writers to him. Part two is here, in which babies are mercilessly (and metaphorically) slaughtered. Part three is here, in which some actual writing happened.
So, the first draft was written. Hiram had officially fought beasts of the air, travelled to Krakow, hunted and been hunted by Kedra, and been brutally punished by nymphs and little gods alike. I’d ended the series, turning everything that had gone before on its head, as per the grand plan. At the inception stage, we discussed at length whether the Hiram series should be static, replaying the central conceit over and again in a whacked out monster-of-the week way, or whether we wanted an evolving story. All decided that as long as each separate book could still be read and enjoyed ‘out of sequence’ then the latter was a far more interesting way to go. Jake, Scott, Rob, and Kevin all worked hard to plant the seeds of the climax in their own books, slowly shaping and reshaping Hiram’s world towards it, always paying it forward to the next book, and I basically snatched up all the good stuff they put in there to develop the climax.
So, mission accomplished then.
Erm. Not really, actually.
Stories don’t stop at first drafts. Not mine, and not those previous Hiram books. As we all tweaked and edited our stories, little details changed, small things that wouldn’t make a difference to anything except a series character. I’m talking, of course, about continuity. If Jake changed a detail in Village of the Damned, which Scott spotted and expanded on, then by the time Rob got to it he could potentially be forced to rewrite whole chunks of his book to iron out contradictions that had never previously existed. If halfway through Nymphs I realised that the novella only worked if the personality and motivation of a supporting character changed entirely, all four of the previous authors had to rethink and rewrite their own use of that character. It had the potential to be like the British trying to haggle in an Delhi market – a confusing, frustrating, sweaty, aggravating chore for all involved.
It didn’t turn out that way, because Shroud Publishing has on board the services of Danny Evarts, a man so skilled at spotting typos, quirks of style and grammar, and continuity errors that, should I ever meet him, I’m going to be very disappointed if he isn’t cybernetically enhanced, a sort of six million dollar editor. He’s also adept at pointing out that problems aren’t necessarily problems at all. When I suddenly realised, after it had been published, that Rob’s book had developed a two year gap smack in the middle of it, meaning things I thought had happened a couple of months before Krakow actually took place much longer ago, it was Danny who caught my towel before I threw it in, and sensibly pointed out that it made no difference at all to anything I’d written. I looked again, and sure enough, he was right. The man has read and re-read my book so many times, he knows it better than me. He’s also brought an extra design flair to the books, with his brilliant black and white woodblock illustrations. You’ll find scattered throughout each one, at chapter and section breaks, adding real spice to to the main course of Malcolm McClinton’s full page illustrations.
After two years then, the book was finished. Brian Keene read an advance copy, and called it “Twisted, shocking and full of pitch-black humor and darkly original twists. One of the best books I’ve read this year.” Actually, his email started This is fucking EXCELLENT! (Of course, we can’t use F-bombs in a blurb), and he was of course quite right. Steven Savile also took some time out to say “Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow is a good old fashioned rollicking tale of mysticism and mayhem. The pages turn themselves, it’s that good.” I’m very grateful to both of them, as they’re really much too busy to take time out for this sort of thing, but did anyway.
The first reviews came in. Rebecca at Dirty Sexy Books said “It was a wicked good ride through some dark, twisted avenues with a demented savior… a gritty and sexy balls-to-the-walls adventure. If you’re a fan of dark urban fantasy like me, then you’ll rejoice upon finding this treasure trove.” Anton over at Pustule Oozings said “In a realm of already murky morality, Wright has dumped Hiram into a fog shrouded mire where once-pure intentions are taking on a sinister tinge. He has done a marvelous job of ramping up the consequences here and it makes for a riveting read.” There are more, over on the book page of my website.
Finally, just the other day, Shroud’s owner, the marvelous Tim Deal, posted this picture, the proof copy of the book, back from the printer.
It’s taken five writers, two editors, a possibly slightly demented publisher to get to this stage, but the first volume of the Scandalous Misadventures of Hiram Grange, made up of five crazed tomes of pulp insanity, is complete. It exists, where it didn’t used to, and that’s one of the most satisfying things about being a writer. You can actually buy it. I really hope you do so. Putting it together has been a blast for me, a thrilling and surprising ride, but that’s only half the point. I want you to take that ride too. Pull out your credit card, and head over to either the publisher, or Amazon, and jump aboard.
We’re all there, rubbing our hands and looking forward to seeing the look on your face when you climb back off at the end…