I now have a complete draft of BLACKENED SKIES, a full length sequel to my first novel, BLOODY WATERS.
I’m well aware that it’s been a long time since that book came out, but you have to understand, when I was working on Bloody Waters it was never my intention to write a sequel. When I finished the first novel I knew what happened next, and I thought I might come back and write some new short stories about Clarice and Johnny, but I didn’t intend to write another book.
I already had two of those shorts mostly done before Bloody Waters was published, and Possible Press released them direct to Kindle not long after the novel dropped: “Hellhound on My Trail”, featuring the bluesman Bad Jack Saunders, and “The Martyr and the Qarin”, which shows the first time that Clarice has to deal with a supernatural menace without assistance from her warlock boyfriend. When we decided to do these shorts we acquired three pieces of artwork to serve as covers, so I thought I would do a third short to round it all out. But I was busy with other stuff, and a few years passed, and Possible fell apart in the meantime.
I don’t remember exactly why I decided to write that third piece, “The Depths of Humanity”, when I did. It’s another solo Clarice story, in which she runs afoul of some cultists while under cover on a Heavy Metal cruise. This one grew to novelette length and by the time I was done with it I wanted nothing more than to spend more time with the characters. This is more or less the way the first book took shape: I thought I would do some connected short stories about them and by the time I had 3 I knew I wanted to write a book. This time I knew it had to be different, though. Bloody Waters is about the rise the band, and the price they pay for success. In Blackened Skies they are starting at the top, and that means the trajectory of the story goes the other way. And because it’s a rock’n’roll book, it goes all the way.
Blackened Skies goes all the way to the apocalypse.
My friend Gillian Polack pointed out to me that this something I’ve already done. My second novel has the word Apocalypse in the title, and my next novel (X-Dimensional Assassin Zai Through the Unfolded Earth, due out next year) features something of the sort as well. But in Blackened Skies I wanted it to go bigger. A biblical apocalypse, from which there is no return. A rock’n’roll apocalypse.
There’s more I want to talk about–some other ideas that Gillian catalyzed which helped to shape the book–but I’m still organizing my thoughts, so that will be another post. (Two posts in a quarter? Believe it when you see it, folks.)
In addition to the end of the world, Blackened Skies contains more of all the stuff you enjoyed in Bloody Waters, and more: music industry hijinks and demons and flying kicks and TV talent shows and black magic and celebrity feuds, but the tone shifts as it goes and I think it will surprise you a couple of times. It’s a first draft still, so there’s a fair bit of work yet to do, but I expect it will be out early in 2023. Stay tuned for some more definite announcements on that front.
Neither “Hellhound” nor “Martyr” are currently available. At this stage I haven’t decided if “Martyr” will be a chapter in Blackened Skies, but it’s looking unlikely. Eventually I’d like to do a collection of occult rock’n’roll short stories set in this universe, which would also include “Butcher’s Hook” and some new work. But first things first. The end of the world is nigh.
Bonus: Here’s the last piece of artwork: a stock image by Sergey Nivens which was intended to be the basis of the cover for “Depths of Humanity”.
Keep on rocking ion the free world,