I'm referring specifically to Ayers, Book 3 in the Mind Malignancy series.
This book has been a pain in the ass from the beginning. It’s a prequel that popped up in the middle of three sequels, a story that begged for my attention while I was busy telling another story and just refused to go away no matter how often I told it to shut the f**k up. The more I ignored it, the louder it became until I had to promise to turn it into a short story.
But that wasn’t enough for Ayers. It just refused to be a “short” story so I had no choice but to turn it into a novella. But then it claimed it wasn’t a novella, it was a novel, and it threatened to haunt me until I gave it its proper novel length.
Even as a novel, Ayers just refused to conform. The pace is different from Mindguard and The Vintages and so is the worldbuilding. The narrative isn’t linear, it contains two stories, one of which frames the other.
It wasn’t even satisfied with the cast of Mindguard, so it demanded new characters, which is how I ended up with Celia Wallace, Landau Madison and Stephanie Carr among others. The characters -– old and new -– are presented differently and the overall tone is different. It’s an unorthodox book in an unorthodox series. All in all, a stubborn little brat.
It's so stubborn, in fact, that I was stuck at a particular plot point for weeks and just couldn’t get past it. Ayers gave me my first ever case of writer’s block. That’s because, even though it promised it would keep its plot simple, the story kept growing and growing like freaking Rose Red until it couldn’t be contained into just one book. Now, it wants to be a series.
In all seriousness: while working on this book I’ve come up with some things I wanted to explore, things that have grave consequences on the Interstellar Federation of Common Origin. There is a new “villain” whose existence has implications that stretch beyond the scope of a single book. There was no way to wrap everything up in just one novel (no way that would be satisfactory to the reader, at least) so I decided to continue the story in a spin-off trilogy called The Mind Discrepancy.
This way, Ayers will serve not only as a prequel to The Mind Malignancy series but also to The Mind Discrepancy series, which I will either write in parallel or after I wrap up The Mind Malignancy (I haven’t decided yet). It will deal with the newly introduced Department for Oversight of Telepathy and Thoughtenhancers and a particularly difficult undercover operation. How do you go undercover among mind readers, you ask? Well, that's where the story gets complicated enough to warrant its own spin-off.
This means I can comfortably finish the plot of Ayers without having to cram every single thing I want to say about this new threat to the IFCO in a single book. I’m really excited to be able to expand this universe in new ways and I can’t wait to explore these new possibilities.
Unfortunately, this also means I have to push back the release date for Ayers for mid-summer, since I will have to re-think certain scenes in the book and how I want to tell the story now that it stretches into a spin-off. I promise it will be worth the wait!
In closing, though Ayers has been stubborn, difficult and, at times, downright confrontational... these are all qualities I recognize in myself, so I can’t be too upset. Yes, it’s been the biggest pain in the ass but it has also provided the greatest challenge and I loved every minute of it.
I hope you will too.