Arcane Depository: Novel Update #1

Background art by Garik Barseghyan from Pixabay 
Sophia knows magic is a lie, pretending to offer an easy way, but bringing only death and disaster. Everett, newly conferred Phd, never believed in magic, but when he witnesses a strange power threatening his new boss, Sophia, he's thrown into her world of magic and her team of women.

Together, they must stop a dangerous magic from making the Boer War into a worldwide conflagration. But doing so will stretch the team to its breaking point.

Sophia must face the terrible bargain she made, which binds her future to her past through a tragic mistake.

And Everett must confront powers that will change all their lives, or end them.

A Dangerous Magic, the first book in the Arcane Depository Series. A historical fantasy / alternate history / gaslamp / steam punk -ish adventure.


I’m finding myself spending less and less time on social media, partly so I can get more writing done, but also because the water-cooler effect I used to get communicating with fellow writers is simply not something that happens as often anymore. I post updates about my writing in my newsletter, but I don’t go into much depth there, so I’ve decided there’s no place better for those inclined to get a sense of the sausage making behind my books and stories. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the graphic pictures.

I’m devoting a thread to each project so that if anyone wants to view the process from start to finish, it should be easy to do so. Since this is the first and I’m already revising the novel, I should do a little catching up.

I finished what I call draft zero in mid-October 2021, then set it aside as I do before revising it into a first draft. Within a week, I had new ideas for the climax and threads building through to that moment. It always happens that way.

The challenge with setting stories in historical settings, even ones where I’m altering history, is getting the fiddly bits of real history right. To make it more challenging, the more ordinary and common a detail is, the more difficult it is to find examples in the historical record.

For instance, how did one purchase tickets on the Orient Express in 1899? You can find diaries of travelers but they rarely mention the actual buying of tickets. Why should they? Everyone knew how. This was one of those details I needed because it affected the timeline of the story, and was also one I only learned by reading around the diaries and records. The answer turned out to be what I suspected, but I wanted to be certain. They used travel agents. Specifically in London, they often used the biggest travel agency in the world at the time: Thomas Cook & Son.

That was just one element. I also needed to understand what Constantinople (now Istanbul) was like in that era. Not to mention the clothes. I also have to ensure the magic makes sense.

I completed the revision of the opening chapters at the end of last week. That was where I wanted to make certain I established the characters’ voices and tone of the novel. I’m not there yet. It will need another few passes, but it was enough to let me start on the general story revision of the rest of the book. I’m right about the mid-point now. The publishing calendar says this revision is due by the 15th of the month.

Next time, a character epiphany that changed nearly everything.

Until then, take care. Read widely & deeply.