FAQ: “Lingering Haze”

To introduce potential readers to my new book, Lingering Haze, I decided to compile as much information as I could think of into a package that I'm presenting as a series of questions and answers.


What is Lingering Haze?

Lingering Haze is the first book in a new fantasy series called The Elusive Strain. Per the back cover/book description: “For 18-year old Janelle, the transition from high school senior to practitioner of the magic arts is traumatic. Ripped from her comfortable suburban life, she is stranded in a wild land where elemental monsters roam the countryside. With her memories in tatters and her magical abilities inconsistent and limited by debilitating headaches, Janelle struggles to find her standing in this world, unsure whether it’s a “real” place or the product of a comatose or diseased mind. After proving her value to the citizens of a small community, Janelle must travel on a journey of self-discovery, seeking not only to better understand her talents but to determine how the secrets of her past might inform her present. And, even as she attempts this, genocidal forces begin massing with the goal of claiming the world as their own by annihilating its current inhabitants.” I think that explains what the book is about.


How many books will be in The Elusive Strain?

As of now, the plan is for there to be five books. That’s unlikely to change although there is some wiggle room depending on how long it takes some of the narrative elements of Books 4 and 5 to develop. There’s an outside chance that the series could stretch to six books but almost no chance it will finish in less than five. There’s too much story to tell.


Does this take place in the same world/universe as your previous series, The Last Whisper of the Gods?

No. It’s a new universe with a new magic system, new gods, etc. However, since the main character crosses over to this world from modern-day Earth, that allows me some freedom in representing her (using contemporary references and colloquialisms, for example). The Elusive Strain stands on its own with no connection to anything I have previously written. It’s a fresh start.


How is Lingering Haze similar to The Last Whisper of the Gods and its sequels?

Although the mechanics are different, magic is an integral part of this world (as I believe is important in any fantasy novel) so I have spent a fair amount of time and effort working out the nuts and bolts of it. The setting is medieval and there are monsters (“reavers” and “daemons”). Another similarity is how I treat tropes. I like to start a fantasy series in a way that will make fans of the genre feel comfortable. Provide a “lived in” world that conforms to norms. Nothing too outlandish – at least in the beginning. Then, as the story expands and deepens, I introduce less common, more offbeat elements. The Last Whisper of the Gods did that. The first book told a very familiar story. Things started getting darker and less predictable in The Curse in the Gift and Shadow of the Otherverse took some definite risks (the ending has divided readers – some love it, some hate it). The Elusive Strain will follow a similar pattern. As a result, Lingering Haze uses many commonplace fantasy elements while hopefully telling a compelling story with interesting characters. It also introduces a mystery that will gain importance as the series develops.


How is Lingering Haze different from The Last Whisper of the Gods and its sequels?

It’s written using the first-person point-of-view. After considering the possible perspectives, I decided this was the best way to present the story. As a result, certain things are kept hidden from the reader. Also, as a direct result of feedback from readers of the earlier series, I have “toned down” adult content in the book. So there’s no profanity. The violence is not described in graphic detail. And, at least in Lingering Haze, there’s no sex. In the future books, there will be opportunities for romance but, if sex happens, it will be “offscreen” and referred to only obliquely. As a direct result of these changes, Lingering Haze has fallen into the YA portion of the fantasy spectrum (although I still view its primary classification as “Epic Fantasy”). Whereas The Last Whisper of the Gods was (IMO) appropriate for ages 14+, this is more along the lines of ages 10+.


Is Lingering Haze only available in e-book form, like The Last Whisper of the Gods?

Lingering Haze will be available as both an e-book and a trade paperback – both formats exclusively through Amazon.com (sorry Amazon haters). The e-book will be available for $2.99 (or free if you’re enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program). The paperback is $14.99. (If you buy the paperback, you can get the e-book as an add-on for $0.99.) Publication date is April 17, 2017. The e-book was available for pre-order starting March 20. The paperback went on sale beginning March 20, which means you apparently can get it early if you buy it in that format. If you purchase a paperback copy and would like to have it personalized, drop me an e-mail at jamesb@reelviews.net and I’ll send you an autographed book plate you can affix to the inside cover or title page. Here’s a link to the Amazon.com page.


What about the rest of the books in the series? This isn’t going to be a George R.R. Martin situation, is it?

Definitely not. I pride myself on achieving self-imposed deadlines. I have gotten a lot of practice at doing that over the years with my reviews. So, barring any major life changing events, the plan is to release Book 2 late this year (November), Books 3 & 4 in 2018, and Book 5 before the middle of 2019. If there’s a Book 6, it would come out before the end of 2019. By 2020, I expect to have moved on to something else. In the (likely) event that circumstances force me to retire from my day job in the near future, these dates may be moved up. At the moment, I’m allotting about six months per book. If I no longer have to devote 8 hours per day to engineering project management, I should be able to speed things up to one book every 3-4 months. In that scenario, it’s possible that the entire series could be available by the end of 2018. Ambitious but feasible.


What are your hopes for this book?

That’s an existential question. First and foremost I care about readership. If enough people read and enjoy the book, financial recompense will follow. I don’t write to get rich. I don’t write to be on a bestseller list. Thus far, approximately 14,000 readers have bought or borrowed The Last Whisper of the Gods. If the audience for Lingering Haze comes close to that, I’ll be overjoyed.