In 2006, we interviewed unboxed epic fantasy author Tricia Bray on the debut of her newest fantasy series, The Chronicles of Josan. At the time, Bray had just completed her wildly successful Sword of Change series, and she was leaping into a new world rife with new characters and new dangers.
Now with the completion of the Josan trilogy, which generated a tremendous amount of buzz among fantasy aficionados, we asked Bray if she’d share her feelings on ending yet another successful trilogy and the prospect of beginning a new project–which may or may not be another epic fantasy. Enjoy!
For the past three years, whenever someone asked me what I was working on, I had an easy answer—a three volume epic fantasy series for Bantam Spectra, entitled The Chronicles of Josan. Then last month I turned in the manuscript for THE FINAL SACRIFICE, the concluding installment in the series, and now it’s a much more difficult question.
The simplest answer, of course, is that I’m putting together my next proposal. But first I have to decide what kind of story I want to write. Free from my contractual obligations I can choose to write whatever I want. I could play it safe and write another epic fantasy, or decide that I wanted to branch out and write a vampire romance, true crime thriller, or even a space opera. The only restrictions are my interests and my imagination. Anything is possible—
But what is possible may not be practical. And this is where creative impulses run into the realities of the publishing world. Having written two epic fantasy series, I’ve built a following of fans who would like to see me continue to write fantasy—many of them would like me to write additional volumes in one of the worlds I’ve created. Should I choose to switch genres to something completely different—say, writing a western—it’s doubtful that these fans would follow me. I’d be an entry level author all over again, presuming that I could find a publisher who was willing to buy that book.
Which, of course, raises my next dilemma. I enjoy working with Bantam and would love to stay with them, but that means tailoring my proposal to make sure it fits in the Spectra line. If I decided to write a classic western, my editor might personally enjoy the story, but would be forced to reject it because it doesn’t fit with their line. Publishing isn’t solely about acquiring great books—it’s also about being able to sell those books once you’ve acquired them.
At the moment I’m working on a story that’s new and different enough to satisfy my creative impulses, but hopefully will contain enough similarities to my prior work that my fans will enjoy it. My plan is to package a proposal for this story and send it off to my agent for her input.
If it turns out that the current story idea isn’t marketable, I’ll then have to decide whether to rework it, or put together a proposal for something else—there are a number of other ideas in my possibilities folder, including a spin-off from my current series.
It’s an exciting time, but also a scary one. There’s the very real possibility that the project I’m currently in love with will be rejected—something that I experienced several years ago when a proposal for a sea-faring romance was rejected by my romance editor, and then by a half-dozen other publishers before my agent and I agreed that it was too far off the beaten path to find a home. Fortunately I bounced back and came up with an even more ambitious project—DEVLIN’S LUCK—which launched my career as a fantasy author.
I’d love to sell my current project, but if it’s rejected I know that won’t be the end of my writing career. I’ll just have to regroup, and try again. In the meantime, I’m having fun, and that’s what it’s all about.
So what am I working on now? Stay tuned, and ask me again later this fall.
Patricia Bray’s newest release is THE SEA CHANGE, which was published in August 2007, which will be followed by THE FINAL SACRIFICE in 2008. To find out more, visit her website at http://www.patriciabray.com/.