Without spoiling anything for Silent Oath, the book you will read is not the same as the book I originally wrote.
Anyone who follows me online, or has read my bio, knows that my wife and I lost our first child, Conor, when he was three days old. It was a painful time, and the months leading up to it were stressful because in the back of our minds we knew there was a possibility that he wouldn't survive. Everyone, from our friends to our relatives, coped in their own way. I coped by writing. Losing myself in writing, to be exact.
I worked on two novels around this time. One was a young adult story about a boy cursed to turn into a monster every night. I haven't finished that one yet, and will likely come back to it down the road. The other was the sequel to Locked Within, which went through a number of title changes. Unlike Locked Within, and whether due to never having written a sequel before, or the emotional state I was in, I was never fully clear on what this book was supposed to be about.
Like me, Nathan ended up in a muddled state. He tried to shoulder his burdens alone, pushing away attempts to help, and generally being a bit of a self-righteous jerk :-) This was a story about a man who needed help, but wouldn't take it, even when he was in serious trouble. At face value, not a terrible basis for a novel. That is, if it hadn't been for me validating his decision at every turn by turning Nathan Shepherd from a strong, but vulnerable, man, still human and fallible despite his strengths, into a grim vigilante who was always right and always able to come out on top. The story lacked focus and heart. I set aside the characters who helped bring out Nathan's humanity and decency, replacing them with people for him to beat up.
It was, perhaps, a cathartic exercise. It helped me expunge all these negative feelings. And besides, I figured, it was just the second book out of a 6-book series. I could allow it to be weak and less character-driven, surely?
No, of course I couldn't. A bad second novel could have been the end of my career. Certainly the end of Nathan's story. No reader is going to keep reading a series if they just feel "meh" about the story and the characters.
It was Allie, the submissions editor at WiDo, who was finally able to make me see what needed to be done. Her simple suggestion, to combine this second book with my ideas for the third, got me really thinking, analysing what I'd written for the first time. Faced with this re-write, I realised that what I'd written was far from my best work. It wouldn't cut it. So I sat down and went to work. Again, I dived right in. I worked every spare moment to complete the revised manuscript, all while in the middle of preparing for the release of Locked Within. But this time I made sure to keep my head above water and really think about how the story fit into the grand scheme.
The 6-book series became a trilogy, one where Nathan's arch nemesis and his love interest would both be introduced in the second book, the perfect time to shift focus. I didn't just have a new book, I had a plan. Locked Within introduced the setting, the city in need of a saviour, and Nathan himself as the hero. Silent Oath evolves from that, introducing more allies, more reasons for Nathan to fight, and reveals the true enemy, the one who will test the limits of Nathan's every strength.
To find out more, and see what trials are to come, you'll have to wait a little longer.