This is a mirror page for a series of posts I put up on my Patreon earlier this year. All the content here is also on the Patreon as posts locked for subscribers.
On Draft Histories I’ve been releasing never published chapters and scenes for a story that, at the time, I called Crossroads 4 (hereafter C4). It was intended to become a novel that dealt with the lives of Mai and her children and household in the years after the end of Traitors’ Gate (book 3 of The Crossroads Trilogy). Ultimately I decided the story was “too domestic” and “too small” and shifted my focus to the story that ultimately became Black Wolves.
In retrospect I very much wonder about the part sexism played in my worry that an epic fantasy focusing on family relationships in a more domestic landscape (even one that included adventure, fights, clever machinations, and derring do) would be rejected by an epic fantasy readership, much less by the review establishment of the sff field at that time during the rise of what we now call grimdark. Too girly. Too angsty. Too many kisses. Ugh. And that’s even with two male points of view to start off the narrative.
I don’t have an answer to those questions, and by now it is a moot point.
In no way do I regret writing BW in the manner I did, as a story that in part reflects on how the story we tell ourselves about the past influences the choices we make in the present. I’m proud of BW, glad I wrote it, and heartbroken that, at the moment, the trilogy is in limbo.
Note: C4 is not the same as Dead Empire, the unfinished second book in the canceled Black Wolves Trilogy. They are entirely different stories and have no chronological overlap (Dead Empire takes place much later) although they do have some characters in common. Eventually I hope to share chapters from Dead Empire as well.
When I have finished posting all the C4 draft history chapters I’ll make a final post discussing the basic outlines of the plot I had intended to write in C4 and talk a little more about why I chose to write Black Wolves instead and the alterations I made in order to do so.
As a helpful organizer, I will list chapters in chronological order of the version being written in this 2010 dated partial manuscript. Some of these chapters and scenes were revised and/or altered in order to appear in Black Wolves, while others reside only on my computer, so I am pleased to share them with those of you who are interested in the weird and inexplicable process of books that almost happen but don’t and books that do happen via multiple complex revisions.
Crossroads 4: A Partial (2010)
Chapter 0.1: Link to the Patreon post. (Kellas POV)
Chapter 0.2: Link to the Patreon post (Kellas POV)
Chapter 1: Link to the Patreon post (Kellas POV)
In the earliest draft of Black Wolves this chapter was the opening chapter, later replaced by the current opening of BW which appears in this sequence in an earlier revision as Chapter 3.
Those of you who have read “On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New” will recognize this as an earlier version of that novelette (it is available in Lightspeed Magazine April 2015 and in The Very Best of Kate Elliott (Tachyon 2015) with an audio version available from Serial Box).
The major change in the published novelette version is the re-appearance of Kellas at the end of the story, not just as a cameo early on (as happens in this version because I didn’t need him appear again in this version of the chapter since it was a scene within an ongoing story). Of course the published novelette is more thoroughly line edited, with additional details, images, and dialogue.
Now we have a time jump: SEVEN YEARS have passed since the end of chapter 2. That rest of the story has no further time skips; I can’t remember the exact time frame but it takes place over about a year, maybe?
This chapter, revised and streamlined, eventually became chapter 1 of Black Wolves. In the C4 version, Kellas’s status as part of the “secret auxiliary” within the elite Wolves is as one of the “silent hounds” rather than “silent wolves” as per BW. This chapter deals differently with the immediate aftermath of his encounter with the Guardian because he is part of a larger ongoing intelligence operation. Furthermore (as subsequent chapters will reveal) Kellas’s status is significantly lower in this earlier version than in the published version in BW, in which I needed Kellas to already have a strongly established set of relationships to Anjihosh and his children as opposed to C4 in which the story is about the development of those relationships.
The chapter 2 and chapter 3 links, above, are the extra text for this month in Draft Histories.
I’ll continue monthly on the following schedule:
Chapter 4: Link to a Patreon post (Atani POV)
Chapter 5: Link to a Patreon post (Atani POV)
Chapter 6: Link to a Patreon post (Kellas POV)
Chapter 7: Link to a Patreon post (Kellas POV)
Chapter 8: Link to Patreon post (Atani POV)
Final Commentary on C4 & the Crossroads history: Link to a Patreon post.