I’m a big fan of David Green’s writing, so when I heard he had a new novella, In Solitude’s Shadow, out (and with one of my favourite indie publishers, Eerie River), I jumped on the chance to feature it. What fascinates me about David is that he’s new to writing yet is prolific with his work and it’s all high quality reading. On top of that, he finds time for the writing community, a publishing venture and looking after an active toddler..! I asked him to write something about his new novella, its successor, and about his writing and I hope you enjoy the insight as much as I do…
Five Facts About In Solitude’s Shadow
- The first draft came in at just under 35,000 words. The final book, a fantasy novella, is around 60,000.
- Its working title was ‘The Banished Trilogy’ with book one called Solitude’s Shadow. The “In” was added later.
- Calene and Zanna Alpenwood were the first characters created. Zanna required the most work, Kade Besem the least, as he’s the one who’s most like the author.
- The book contains some subtle easter eggs to my Nick Holleran series, despite them being wildly different in tone and setting. Are they linked? Read on and find out.
- The last section written is the first part you’ll read… the prologue.
Putting the Solitude in Solitude’s Shadow
You might have visited this site by noticing the graphic for In Solitude’s Shadow—an epic, character-driven dark fantasy, they say—and seen there’s a guest blog spot by some bloke called David Green. Well, you’re reading in now, so let’s say you have.
Who’s David Green? That’s me, and In Solitude’s Shadow is my first foray into long-form fantasy writing, after thirty-odd years of reading it (thirty-one since I read The Hobbit for the first time at the age of seven, to be precise. How do I know? I still have the same copy, with my name, age, and address scrawled in it. I must have had wild dreams for the future, as my address included which planet, solar system, and galaxy I lived in… but that’s another story.)
So a little about me; I’m a ‘dark fiction’ writer, which means while I love me some fantasy, I dabble in other genres. Horror and sci-fi, mostly. Though I do enjoy noir. In fact, my first series is an urban-fantasy paranormal noir, in my crazy attempt to throw as many genres into one book that I could. I get notions like that from time to time. I’m Irish, but grew up in Manchester in the not-so sunny UK, before moving back to the not-so sunny Galway at the tail-end of the 00s. Three years ago, I became a stay-at-home dad to a wonderful little boy who’s my partner-in-crime in all things, but I needed something else to do.
Writing became that thing.
I’d always harboured ambitions to write, but my old familiar friend—the Doubt Monster, I call him Doug—would convince me not to bother.
“No one will care,” Doug would whisper, prodding me to play more Xbox, or read something good. “You won’t be able to do it.”
I’d nod my head and park my dreams for a little longer. But then my son came along, and you know what? I wanted to have something to make him proud. One printed story in an anthology. That would do me. Just one thing he could see, aged seven, maybe like when I read The Hobbit, and he could say, “My dad did something? Who knew?”
So I practiced. I went to creative writing lessons, and was invited to read a little story I wrote about the time I had to spend almost forty hours of my life dressed in a female bunny suit to a room full of people. Her name was Dot. Probably still is, for all I know. But mainly, I kept all my scribblings to myself.
Then came the pandemic.
Now, what I didn’t realise about writing was that it’s quite a lonely business. Shock horror, I know, I know. I’m quite famed for missing the obvious. But the pandemic took that to new levels. Gone were the creative writing classes. A weekly book group I joined was no more. Housebound in lockdown, I considered what to do. I could stop; go back to the Xbox, become great at increasing my waist size.
Or I could take it more seriously, get that one printed story. Just one.
A few months later, after immersing myself in a wonderful online writing community, getting that interaction and advice, I got my story. Then came another, and another. I had the writing bug. And each time, I moved closer and closer to writing fantasy, after avoiding it at first; how could I, Mr New Writer, hope to create anything as fine as the stories I loved?
Well, you try.
I had the idea for In Solitude’s Shadow for years. Not fully refined and formed, but the spark lived inside me. But I hadn’t written it. Then I saw an upcoming call from Eerie River Publishing, a wonderful imprint of dark and delightful things, announcing that they would be open for dark fantasy standalone novels and series from June 1st to June 30th 2020.
This was my chance.
But… I hadn’t written it. And we were in May.
I spent a day thinking about whether I could do it. I’d need to give some things up (Xbox, movie night, a few TV shows on the back burner) but if I set myself daily goals, got my trusted beta reader onboard, I could do it, couldn’t I?
I thought of my son, two years old then, and realised yes. All I could do was try.
I wrote every night into the small hours. Alone in my kitchen, on my couch, in my bed. Anywhere I could type. I’d thought writing a lonely business before, but throwing yourself into writing a novel in a month… that’s something else.
Lonely… but rewarding.
I’d created it. The idea in my head. The working title, The Banished, changed to Solitude’s Shadow (no In, at that point). An apt title; not only for the themes in the book, but a novel written during a pandemic lockdown, mostly in the middle of the night. And what’s more, my beta reader loved it. As did the next set of eyes, who gave me some valuable advice before it was ready for submission.
One evening, a few weeks later, I got a message from Michelle at Eerie River Publishing, telling me she was reading it. Another few nervous hours later, another message. “I’m still reading this, I’m over halfway through.”
Soon after, a third message. “Can we talk?”
I ignored my first instinct of saying “NO!” and heading for the hills.
We talked. We made plans. We discussed the positives and the parts that needed more work, then Michelle stopped and asked: “Wait, you do want to publish with me, don’t you?”
I didn’t give it a millisecond of thought.
“I really think you should call it ‘In Solitude’s Shadow,’ though, don’t you?”
Almost a year later, and the book is ready for people to read. It’s nerve-wracking, but exhilarating. I’m hard at work at the sequel, but not forcing myself into as much Solitude this time.
So what’s the point of this blog? If there’s one thing I’ve learned since beginning my writing journey, it’s this: try. You have an idea you think no one will ever read, ever care about looking at? They won’t if it’s still in your head, or on your hard drive. If you have an ambition to write, or to create, or to try something new, go for it. Don’t let you stop you.
You never know what might happen.
I hope if you pick up In Solitude’s Shadow, you enjoy it, and find something of worth. While it pays respect to many things I love in fantasy, I believe it offers unique spins and perspectives and if nothing else, is a fast-paced ripping yarn.
For now, happy reading.
Excerpt from Empire of Ruin Book Two: Path of War
He laughed. Well, almost a laugh; the sound lived somewhere between mirth and despair as the rancid stench of gore drove him on, made his head swim. The screams of battle—sobs of the dying begging for the mercy of a quick end, or wishing to see their loved one’s once more—faded into the background; his breathing filled Nexes’ hearing. Sweat dripped from his golden-hair into his eyes—God’s Rotten Teeth, the heat of battle!—but he ignored it.
A face appeared before him; Nexes jammed his blade into it, sliding it through the nose until it punched out the other side, his fist clutching the hilt disappearing into the ruined cranium. He pulled it out, gloves and forearm caked in gore, cartilage and grey matter, and snarling sought his next target. Anything would do.
More featureless faces appeared from the press of flesh, the heat of battle. They died before him, a whirlwind of violence as he spun and hacked, graceful yet wrathful, muscled arms vibrating when his blades hit home and sunk into flesh. Nexes moved, always flowing to the next target, using shoulder, fist, foot and steel to his advantage. Someone got too close inside his defence. He snapped his head back and thrust his forehead into the soldier’s face—human, elf; he didn’t give a drok—and felt cartilage crunch from his assault. His swords followed, cutting the leg at the knee. The other sank through the neck as the body toppled into the filth.
In the corner of his eye, Nexes saw an arrow slicing through the air towards him. He raised his blade to cut it out of the air—the mad arrogance of the battle frenzy gripped him—but it pinged off an invisible barrier before it struck home and ricochet into an elf who fought a Haltveldtian soldier, slamming into the scum’s ear and sending him sprawling amongst the corpses.
Nexes glanced around, eyes furious, and discovered a Sparker in bright blue robes smiling at him. The mage had thrown a shield around the Master of War, protecting him from lucky, errant shots from panicked archers.
The rage surged. That day in Tallan Square bloomed in his mind. A Sparker surrounded by death. A parasite feeding on life, squashing the normal folk under their heel like a droking bug.
Glowering, blood-smeared, frenzied, Nexes levelled his blades and charged. Drok them all! The Sparker’s eyes flew wide, had no time to react when Nexes buried the swords in his chest. He let the weight of his charge carry them into the muck, pulling his weapons free and plunging again.
More. Droking more and more and more, Raas and Janna damn them both. Damn their droking rotten teeth!
Blood covered Nexes, slid down his throat as he screamed his fury dry, his blades quivering as he hacked at the ruined Sparker. Around him, bodies pressed and swayed, the haze of battle and bloodshed driving men and women into unspeakable acts of violence and frenzy. Humans slayed elves; they massacred their oppressors. Sparkers, unleashed at last, battled their elven counterparts, bright robed mages giggling, drunk on mad power. And still, Nexes hacked away. His blades sank into the gore-fed mud. The Sparker’s chest disintegrated by his fury. His lust. Flesh, tendon, muscle and blood covered his gloves, his arms, his throat and face. Nexes’ weapons had turned into crimson metal.
Book DetailsPublication Title: In Solitude's Shadow
Series: Empire of Ruin
Author: David Green
Publisher: Eerie River Publishing
Publication Date: 4th June 2021
The Banished have returned, and they will have their revenge.
Zanna Alpenwood, a powerful mage, stands atop Solitude’s walls staring down at an army bent on invasion. Two hundred aged and forgotten Sparkers are all that stand between the Banished and the nation of Haltveldt.
With time running out, Zanna is forced to reach out to her estranged daughter, Calene, and set her on an impossible quest. In doing so Calene must decide between her masters and her own conscience, as she teams up with unlikely allies to forge their way over land and sea. Will they arrive in time to save the fortress of Solitude from destruction?
Only one thing is certain. Ruin is assured if Solitude falls.