Noble Blog Series #5: What’s Taking So Long?

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I first began work on New World Order in September of 2012. Since that time, I have seen several self-imposed deadlines come and go. There have been periods of significant creative boost, and other periods where I wanted to throw it all in the trash and walk away. So, what exactly is going on and why is this book taking so long?

Truth be told, New World Order wasn’t my first choice when selecting my next project. The plan was to take a break after Bloodlines and channel my creativity into a new story. Believe it or not, I started writing two other books, but I didn’t get very far with either of them. I thought they were fun ideas—both of which I still intend to explore later—but in the back of my mind, ideas for the end of the Noble trilogy kept creeping toward the front of the line.

By September of 2012, Bloodlines was already five months old. Unlike the original Noble, it ended in traditional cliffhanger fashion, which I had hoped would entice readers to hang around for the finale. Little did I know that it was my own brain that couldn’t wait to see how the story would play out. This turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

With the social media shit storm I’d endured following the release of Mass Effect 3, I felt a lot of trepidation. My fan base is not even within a stone’s throw through a mass relay of Mass Effect’s, but the experience taught me a lot about passion and expectation.

Although I was pretty happy with the majority of new ideas I’d come up with for New World Order, I found myself overthinking it and even second-guessing a lot of them. Some ideas, once high on my list, didn’t even make it into the book.

I went through my outline and put each plot point under the microscope. I had to ask myself if these kernels had potential, if they were compelling, and if they were airtight enough to not poke holes in. I tested them personally, looking for deus ex machina, damsel in distress tropes, and missing logic. When I’d reach a point where I felt content, I’d write a little bit and then start the whole process over again.

As of this writing, I am down to the final chapter. On one hand I am very excited to complete the book and get it into the hands of readers, but on the other, I’m sad to see the trilogy come to an end. These characters have meant an awful lot to over the past four years and hopefully to the reader as well.

After the dust settles, I really only have one wish: That readers will feel satisfied, and that the series received the send-off that it deserved. Even though I am saying goodbye to a series that contains more blood, sweat and tears than I ever imagined, I am excited about what the future may bring. You never know, some of these characters might even live on…

Noble Blog Series #4: A New Challenger Has Entered the Ring!

SPOILER WARNING: This blog contains references to previous events from the Noble series.

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Within the opening lines of Noble, we’re introduced to Jane Emmett: A troubled teenager from Ashley Falls. However, her story, like many others in the series, is connected to Alyssa Noble. The main story arc has centered on Alyssa because her existence in the world has driven the motivations of many other forces, both natural and supernatural. Miller, Puckett, the Rayburn family, Icarus, the Seda, the Civil Parrish—Alyssa played a hand in all of their fates.

As far as antagonists go, Alyssa Noble is a bit of an enigma to me, even though I created her. Sure, she’s diabolical, and has left a trail of carnage throughout the series, but at the end of the day, she’s fighting for the survival of her kind by any means necessary. Although she is incapable of expressing it through words, I imagine she is quite lonely. I don’t loathe her. In fact, I have empathy for her.

As crucial as Alyssa is to the plot, we find out in Bloodlines that there are other sinister players lurking in the shadows—watching… waiting. During the raid on a chemist’s lab in Savannah, the team uncovers first traces of a man named Gibbard through a series of old letters. This new lead, while intriguing, is separate from the case they’re investigating, so, Puckett decides to do some digging on his own. By the closing moments of Bloodlines, we have a connection: Rayburn and Gibbard.

As dangerous as Alyssa has been, her perilous ways take a backseat in New World Order, allowing an even deadlier foe to emerge: Father Gibbard. Operating under the radar of the FBI, Gibbard quietly served as architect to a master plan, devoting ninety years of his life to orchestrating the end of the world. The grand finale is set for September 30, 2014… all he needs now is the last piece of the puzzle.

What’s the deal with the name Gibbard?

Some readers may have noticed that this is not the first time Gibbard’s name has shown up in my books. It’s not laziness, I swear. 🙂 In truth, I’ve added a character named Gibbard to each of my books as an homage to Death Cab For Cutie’s front man, Ben Gibbard, who is something of an inspiration for me.

The first appearance of Gibbard’s name popped up in the original Noble. He was the harmless Smith family chauffeur that drove Miller to his meeting with Phillip’s father. And that was my plan, really: Find some innocuous character in the story and sneak the name in as an Easter egg, the same way as Final Fantasy had done with “Cid.” However, that plan backfired when I got to Bloodlines.

If I’m being honest, I had no idea where the story would go next after Bloodlines. It wasn’t until I neared the end that I came up with the idea for New World Order. I realized that with Alyssa dealt with, I needed a new enemy to replace her. Of course, Scythe fit that role handsomely, but I didn’t think that was enough for an entire book. That’s when I reviewed previous events in the story and started brainstorming.

The chemist in Savannah’s story made the most sense. He didn’t make a very compelling antagonist on his own, so I fleshed out a backstory for him. What was his motivation? Was he just following orders? If so, who was giving those orders, and what was their end game? Before I knew it, my imagination had been sparked, and I had enough to expand upon.

The only problem was that the chemist took his orders from Gibbard. I couldn’t go back, though. I was already too in love with the idea. By complete accident, I’d just given a starring role to my innocuous character used to sneak in my signature Easter egg. Whoops.

So, there you have it: The story behind the repeated presence of Gibbard, and his unplanned rise to power in New World Order. A valuable lesson has been learned, and we have likely seen the last of the Gibbard name in my books going forward. I’m sure Ben would prefer it that way as well. 🙂

Noble Blog Series #3: The Return to Ashley Falls

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SPOILER WARNING: The following blog post contains minor spoilers from the first two books in the Noble series.

 

Noble introduced readers to the life and experiences of a private investigator named Miller Brinkman. Through Miller’s POV, I hoped to paint a clear picture of small town life in Ashley Falls. Miller was born and raised there. He knew every name. Every face. Every nook and cranny. And of course, every dirty little secret. While Miller knew everything about his home town, it did present me with one interesting challenge: Ashley Falls isn’t a real place. 🙂

I didn’t create Ashley Falls from scratch, necessarily. I viewed countless photos of mid-century small towns, read several pieces of literature and talked to local historians at length. I began building the town of Ashley Falls with a solid foundation. I wanted something that felt to readers like a cross between Mayberry and Little House on the Prairie. From there it was really just a matter of giving it life and sprinkling in some lore to make it feel real.

We learn a lot about Ashley Falls in Noble, but we never actually discover where it is geographically. There are many clues woven into the story to help give the reader an idea along the way. In the scene where Miller leaves Ashley Falls for the first time and arrives at the train station, he mentions how long the ride to his destination of Washington, D.C. will be. If someone had been determined enough to find out and did some digging through Amtrak’s train schedule, the answer was out there.

At the end of Noble, Miller packs up his things and leaves Ashley Falls behind for a new life in Boston, which is the setting for Noble: Bloodlines.  Even though Miller has left Ashley Falls, we discover through a twist at the end of Bloodlines that the reader stayed behind for a glimpse into Ashley Falls’ future, circa 1989.

But who were those new characters, and how had Ashley Falls become home to an apparent religious cult? These are among the questions that will be answered in Noble: New World Order, as well as confirmation on the exact location of Ashley Falls!

Although the world of Noble has changed over the five decades that have passed, Ashley Falls still plays a role in the shape of things to come. The area has become an abandoned ghost town, hidden deep within overgrown vegetation and dilapidated old structures. The only remaining ties to the Ashley Falls from Miller’s time are a few walls left standing, and the preserved property of the historic Carroll house.

As desolate a place as Ashley Falls has become, it is not without a few final secrets left to be uncovered. While most of the town’s shady history has been contained within restricted files, Demond’s journey eventually leads him to Ashley Falls and brings him closer to the truth. Desmond doesn’t yet realize that his role in the invisible war has already been determined, and his path set in motion…

Thanks for reading!

~ David

Noble: New World Order – Blog Series Kick-Off

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Hello, and thanks for joining me as I kick-off a new blog series centered on the creation of my upcoming book, Noble: New World Order. NWO will mark the third and final installment of the Noble series. I know, I know. I can feel your collective groans all the way here on the other side of your screen.

 

I am caught up in the middle of a whirlwind of emotion: Happy to be able to finish the trilogy, but also bummed to have reached the end. Cue sad trombone. These characters and stories within the Noble universe have meant a great deal to me, and I will miss them dearly, but there is still a long way to go before NWO is completed. This blog series will be a means of helping me cope, while at the same time, hopefully delivering some interesting insight into the process of its creation. 🙂

 

I thought I’d start off this blog series by talking a little bit about where I’m at in the writing process. The entire book has been outlined for quite some time, but as with any writer, new ideas keep coming up as I go.

 

In the video game world, you have a set date near the end of the development cycle called “content lock.” In the world of a novelist, you can (and usually will) continue to tinker with your story up until the day you hit the “publish” button. It’s both useful and frustrating to have that kind of control at your fingertips, especially if you’re a perfectionist. Sometimes you just need to accept the story that you’ve written and feel confident sending it out into the ether.

 

As of this morning, I have seven completed chapters under my belt. Now, when I say “completed,” I mean to say that I have a first draft. A first draft is usually stable, but not something you want to share outside of your circle until it has undergone a proper edit.

 

It is within the first draft that you still find all of the embarrassing little mistakes like missing words or incorrect homonyms. A first draft is also the reason that a writer must always remember to give their editor a hug… or lots and lots of alcohol.

 

As it currently stands, NWO is on track for a late 2013 release. I don’t have an exact time table in mind, but I feel that the work that’s left to do can be completed within the next five to six months. I am not going to rush it, however, so if I’m not feeling confident that this book is going to live up to expectations, then it won’t see the light of day until I am.

 

There is a lot of pressure when completing a trilogy, and I am well aware of the consequences should I fail to deliver a solid conclusion. I feel really good about the direction of the series, and yes, I know how it all is going to end and I am quite satisfied with it. But, more on that later.

 

Thanks for tuning in to the inaugural NWO blog series kick-off! I have a long list of topics that I’ll be looking to cover over the weeks ahead, but please do let me know if there’s a particular area of interest that you’d like me to cover.

 

Still in need of a kick ass sign-off,

 

~ David K. Hulegaard