How many times had he pictured in her mind its winding paths and gentle glades?

When Drew and I were thinking about the cover for the novel, we already had a picture in mind. However, as with most novels, the responsibility of the cover sits with the publisher. Very few authors have much say on what the final cover will look like, it is after all, generally a marketing decision.

In this case, things changed. Due to events outside the scope of this post, and generally not of real importance, Drew and I found ourselves having to think about the cover. What it would look like, and who would create it. The who was a no brainer – Jure my long time collaborator on all things Midnight was the perfect fit, and we had an image of his that both Drew and I loved and had used already in promoting the book. 

Original Inspiration – Jurij Rogelj

There were just two issues with the picture though. One, we had used it already, and two its focus is the wrong way around. If you fold the above image in half the Lord would be on the back and the Citadel on the front. It’s not a huge problem, but it doesn’t feel right.

I also had an image that I used in the game for the main menu. The image shows a group of Lords marching out from the Citadel, albeit this one juxtaposes new and old art work. And that was the idea I liked.

Main Menu

So I created a mockup by flipping the image and sticking on a cutout of the citadel and the lords. This I sent to Jure and asked for something like that.

Cover Mockup

Within a day or so, Jure sent me his draft sketch. Which Drew and I discussed. Needless to say we loved it. There was only one thing that we wanted to change and that was to incorporate ‘dawn’ a little more. We both liked the way that the sun pops up from behind the mountains and sprays across the lake on the original image.  So I asked Jure if he could adapt the sketch to take that into account.

First sketch without text
First sketch with text

Jure sent a new image, but he felt that the switch of the sun made the right side of the image, and therefore the front cover, too dark. We agreed with him and so asked him to create the final artwork based on his sketch. To be honest, I could have just gone with the sketch! 🙂

Second sketch with text

A couple of days later, I received the final artwork from Jure, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone involved with the production of the book were overwhelmed with how great it looked. It’s another one of Jure’s perfect Midnight inspired images.

Final Image
Final Image with text but no publisher logo or barcode

I now look forward to what Doomdark’s Revenge cover might look like. This time however, we might give Jure more time!

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Above, the towering clouds simply melted away and the bright stars gleamed in the sky once more.

After having a conversation with Drew a couple of weeks back about the future of the novels, I came to a stark realisation that I was now unable to build the special version of Doomdark’s Revenge that he would need to allow him to freely wander the Icemark as part of his research. This was something that I did for him with The Lords of Midnight and it helped greatly.

However, the problems that I have had with the building of the games because of the loss of the Marmalade SDK are still plaguing me. I was slowly coming to the acceptance that I would soon be removing the games from the Apple app store as each new release of iOS and new devices makes the game unobtainable. This will likely follow through to Android and Windows.

All this has been compounded that my general motivation has been through the floor for a number of years now.

The upshot of this post is that this week I had a self imposed break from work and I’ve been working on the game and have made great progress already. The main menu and surrounding screens are all working. The main view is mostly done bar a few niceties and features that I don’t yet need to give Drew the functionality he needs. Today I’m working on the Think screen, but the main missing screens are the Select and Map screen.

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There were many tales to be told

Drew has posted a blog about him and his future novels, but the TLDR; from a Midnight point of view is that we have agreed on more Midnight novels… If all goes to plan then he should be starting on Doomdark’s Revenge in the first half of 2019.

Doomdark’s Revenge will be an interesting story as it should be less confined than working on Lords of Midnight. At heart it has a female protagonist on a quest with a female antagonist, but after that, what is it really about…? At this stage we already have a few ideas that link all the stories together, we had to discuss them right at the start of this process, but for the actual main narrative, I for one look forward to finding out…

One side effect of this is that I now absolutely need to get the games up and running again. I’ve been finding it really hard to find the motivation to revisit them, but Drew needs a version of Revenge that he can walk around unhindered, and hopefully this can be the push I need to jolt me back into it.

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Why is the Solstice so important?

As much as my life has become entwined with The Lords of Midnight, it has also for similar reasons become linked to the solstices.

When I first started my journey through the Midnight landscape, I lived about 250 miles away from Stonehenge, the pilgrimage location for all those who follow the solstices, and the concept of spending a night there couldn’t have been further away. Now I live about 25 miles and have made both the summer and winter pilgrimage many times. Lords of Midnight uses two concepts that align with Stonehenge, the winter solstice and standing stones – the henges.

 

So it seems apt that today at the Summer Solstice I have hit another Lords of Midnight milestone – the release of the novel.

I must make it clear that I am not the author of the novel, that role was taken on by Drew Wagar. I still have some way to go before I manage to tick off my author goal. But, I think it’s fair to say that the novel would not exists without my involvement, and I am extremely proud to have helped to finally make this happen. The original game publishers promised a novel that never happened, and 34 years later, Drew, Fantastic Books, and I have delivered.

Firstly the novel came about because of a chance twitter conversation. The result of that conversation and after some discussions with Mike’s family, was that I was able to greenlight the novel. Let that sink in a little, I have to. 34 years ago when I originally started playing the game, I could never have imagined that my life would become so linked that I would affectively have a casting yes/no vote on anything to do with it, let alone a novel. Unfortunately that sword is double edged as this is only possible because Mike is no longer around.

Secondly I worked closely with Drew to keep the novel accurate not only with regard the original game, but also when considered as part of the complete Midnight saga. The Lords of Midnight can no longer be considered in isolation. The original game and novella were written without any consideration for the future, and after its release more games and stories became available. Therefore, when setting out to tell this tale, it was imperative that the necessary adjustments and corrections were made. Drew and I spent a good amount of time looking forward and backward over the saga’s timeline. Somethings we just needed to link up. Somethings we’ve had to fill the gaps.

Thirdly I’ve been there as a sounding board for the story, Drew had a story to tell. In part that reflects the original game story and for all of us to have played the game to death, we all know how it ends, so there are no surprises there. Drew’s job was to navigate the journey and to tell a compelling story that fits within the constraints already defined. My job was to assist Drew with that in any way I could. Part of that was reading the story and commenting on it. This just involved me often saying, yes, no, or how about. The other area would be me making suggestions based on my knowledge of the saga lore either up front of in reaction to something Drew was working through.

And lastly, the cover. Drew and I commissioned the cover from my long term Midnight collaborator Jure. We took some ideas based on work he had already produced and created a mock-up concept of something we would like. Jure then created a quick concept sketch that we discussed and then went on to produce the lovely final piece.

So today has come. Summer Solstice 2018 – The Lords of Midnight – Book One in the Chronicles of Midnight is released, I hope those who read it enjoy it. I hope that Mike would be as proud of it as I am.

The book is currently available in eBook format from Amazon or in multiple DRM free formats from Fantastic Books Publishing. Physical copies to follow at the official launch in September.

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Many tales were told that day…

Drew has delivered the first draft of The Lords of Midnight Novel. Obviously, I have read it during the writing phase, made comment where necessary, and am overall very happy with the story. However, a novel is not generally written in one pass. The story made be told, but it still needs to be crafted and refined. Things that were written at the start of the tale may need to be revised, information that we want to impart as an aside, or for future continuity and foreshadowing, may need to find a home at the correct place of the story.

So, as Drew gets out his polishing pen, I shall be printing out a copy, and sitting down to read it from start to end for the first time. Something I’m really looking forward to.

In Drew’s words…

First draft in the Chronicles of Midnight

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There were many tales to be told

Drew has given an update on the current progress of the novel. Unfortunately it involves a delay, but we all think it’s for the better…

He thinks again…

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Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Moral rights.

A personal post from by Blog, has relevance here…

On The Lords of Midnight: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Moral rights.

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He had heard the tales men told…

For many hours they rode in silence, Luxor lost in his thoughts, the boy watching the forest in a mixture of fear and fascination. He had heard the tales men told and couldn’t quite believe they were only tales. “Why does the Solstice trouble you, my Lord?” asked the boy. 

Luxor turned his head slowly towards Morkin. For a few moments he said nothing and then, as though he had suddenly remembered, he began to speak. “Our world wasn’t always white, Morkin. You’ve heard the legends of Summer when the land was green and teeming with life. Ten thousand moons ago it was, so long that men barely believe such a time ever existed. Yet the Wise remember. They have scrolls that tell of the first snows falling and the first carpets of ice covering the land. Suddenly, all the lands of Midnight were plunged into this winter of ours. Then came famine, a great famine that ravaged our people, and with famine came war.” 

mock_up_novel_cover

When Mike Singleton originally developed The Lords of Midnight, he did so with his love of telling tales. After creating the initial Landscaping technique which made the game so revolutionary, he immediately switched to creating a map, one that he thought would be fun to explore, and then used that to help drive the narrative of the Novella, the back story included with the game. He populated the map with people, creatures, and places, assigning them names and purpose. Mike’s son Jules told me about sitting on his father’s knee watching and suggesting, while he played the god of Midnight and created new locations and terrain for his people to live in. The story and the world of Midnight is so important to the game and one cannot be without the other. In just five small chapters, Mike filled our minds in a way that we were able to fill in the blanks while playing a game on what by todays standards, was nothing more than dishwasher controller.

Mike once told me that he had hoped to to write a full novel, but game development and life just got in the way. He kept driving forward with new games and new stories, Doomdark’s Revenge, Midwinter, Ashes of Empire, to name but a few. All born out of his storytelling instinct.

As players, we all remember the competition that launched with the game. A novel prize – print out the screens as you make your way through Midnight, and the first person to complete the game would have these screens turned into a novel by a fantasy author. Alas, the game was complete too quickly, and beyond was never able to fulfil it’s promise of the prize.

Over the years and have read a few fan-fiction starts to novels, none of them every got past a few chapters, and none of them really had the potential to go all the way. I’ve also discussed the idea of a novel with one or two authors, who all showed interest, but never got off the drawing board.

It is with all that in mind, that I am happy to announce that, the novelisation of The Lords of Midnight is finally underway. 

It happened like this…

On the 8th April, Drew Wagar (@drewwagar) made a tweet comment to Tom Fahy (@fifthfayh) with reference to his Doomguard Twitter avatar.
drew_tom_conversation

And that was it. We had an email conversation over the next few hours, and by the end of the weekend Drew’s publisher was on board, and I had an initial thumbs up from Mike’s family. I put a few ground rules in place and a few small hoops for Drew to jump through. Over the next few weeks we batted a few things back and forth to get a feel of the type of story Drew wanted to tell, and by the end of the month we met up to talk about the project, did some contract type stuff, and agreed, that this was something worth doing.

I’m not going to talk much more about the novel here, I will leave you with an interview with the author Drew Wagar. You will also be able to follow updates on this blog and on Drew’s blog over the next few months.

I leave it there, other than to fill in the details.

The Lords of Midnight
Written by Drew Wagar
Published by Fantastic Books Publishing
Released Date: Winter Solstice 2017

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Why is the Solstice so important?

The War of the SolsticeFirstly, this is not an announcement, but I do want to update you on some very interesting developments that have occurred over the last few days.
I have had a number of conversations with an established author about the possibility of a Lords of Midnight novel covering the War of the Solstice. We have a tentative understanding in place, and his publisher is also keen, and in principal signed up to the idea. We’ve discussed an overview of what the story might cover, and the timescales under which this would take place. He is currently putting together a general synopsis and outline, as well as some samples chapters. I shall have further conversations with Mike’s family to rubber stamp the approval, with a view to having a fully fledged agreement and a cast iron announcement in the coming couple of months when the full issues have been dealt with. Stay tuned!

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