Updates on Main Projects
Death (Without Pizza)
A major bombshell update here: we have finished a first draft of this book! I'm moving this up to major projects, as I anticipate a release of this novel in the coming two years. It is a Dresden Files-esque urban fantasy series set in London, starring a necromancer. (With a very Sanderson-style take on necromancy.)
Many of you have been following along with this project, which I've mentioned for many years in the State of the Sanderson posts. I wrote a rough draft of a big chunk of this book back some years ago now, but didn't like how it was going, so I shelved it. The idea stuck with me though—and I really wanted to give it another chance. Over the years, one part I didn't like was actually the pizza aspect. The original pitch was for a pizza delivery man who became a necromancer.
Well, over the years, I found I wanted a stronger character for the protagonist. Starting with the title Death by Pizza had pushed me to make the story more jokey than I wanted, and had led me to cut corners on the worldbuilding in ways I didn't like. So when I went back to the drawing board, I started going in different directions with the storytelling. A more intricate, interesting magic system. And a character with more heart. Where I eventually ended up going was studying metal music culture.
The subculture of heavy metal music is fascinating to me. I really like how passionate the fans are about it, and how often outsiders are wrong about those inside it. (Do a little reading on the topic, and you might find that a lot of your stereotypes of metal fans are wrong—like mine were. The more I read about and talked to metal fans, the more fascinated I became by the subculture.) It seemed to me that a metalhead who finds out he's a necromancer could be a cool hook.
Well, around the time I was really getting into this, I was chatting with Peter Orullian, a novelist who is a friend of mine. He's mostly known for his epic fantasy series The Vault of Heaven, but he also happens to be a metalhead and a musician. (He's toured internationally fronting metal bands, and recently composed an entire rock opera in the style of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He's even written a book with the band Dream Theater, in conjunction with one of their concept albums.)
Well, the match seemed perfect. He could bring the expertise on metal music, and I could provide the worldbuilding. So we jumped into a collaboration. I wrote out a lengthy world guide and outline, and Peter did a lot of experimenting to find the right voice for our character. We worked on the first volume all during the summer and fall, and the resulting book is quite promising. It's the story of an American metal singer living in London whose day goes from bad to worse as he gets kicked out of his band, then makes his way to his favorite pub to lick his wounds—only to end up getting shot in the head during an apparent robbery. And after that, things start to go really badly for him.
Peter finished the first draft in November, and I've been spending my December doing a second draft. After that, I'll kick it back to him for a third draft so that we can make sure our different voices are smoothed out. We'll see where it goes from there! In any case, though, Death Without Pizza will not be the final title for the story. We'll pick something a little less silly; I'm a little worried people will expect something over-the-top metal like Brütal Legend—which was great, but not the direction this story ended up going. Anyway, I'll post updates as we go along!
Status: Being revised. After that, we'll look for a publisher.