For over eight years now, I've been toiling and carving my way through a beast of a manuscript titled Dark Horizons - originally titled Crystal City. At least, Dark Horizons is the title of this project for the moment. I'm sure it'll change at some point before publication, only because everything else about this manuscript has changed in the last eight years.
Dark Horizons is the third installment in my Expired Reality series. The series itself has gone through drastic changes of its own over the years - the most noticeably with the shift in genre from young adult to edgy Christian speculative fiction. But Dark Horizons has seen the majority of the changes because drafts of this book were written up before my genre change and after, and I have yet another draft rewrite to do before I am satisfied with where this series is going.
I think the third book in any series can be a difficult challenge, especially if the series itself is planned to run a dozen or so installments. The first book of any series sets up characters and plot. The second book goes into the plot a bit more and even digs a little deeper into the characters. By the third book, you're pretty much building a rudder by which the rest of the series is going to move with. Dark Horizons is a crucial volume in my Expired Reality series, and because of that I am taking many pains to make sure it's a phenomenal piece of fiction that lines up with the tone and storylines I am trying to establish for the ER series as a whole.
And that tone is a dark one. Whereas my Black Earth series is somewhat dark and gloomy, there was an overall feeling of redemption by the time the series came to its end with the fourth book, Exodus. But seeing how Dark Horizons is set to be the third novel in a 12 + book series, I have to have the redemptive moments and the moments of victory come fewer and farther between.
With the second book in the series - Lost Birth - ending on a low point, Dark Horizons opens up with the main character, David Corbin, wallowing in sorrow. His character is one I have worked years and years to refine, and I think I'm finally catching my stride with him, especially with the opportunities Dark Horizons will give me to add some more dimension to him. Whereas he started out the series in Endangered Memories as a washed up, unemployed hero, Lost Birth, the second novel in the series, saw him as a man on fire who was ready to risk everything to save the love of his life. After the death of someone very close to him at the end of Lost Birth, Dark Horizons will open up with David in the darkest place (metaphorically) he has ever known. This darkness will be used to flesh out much of his character and show him as not just a hero, but also an anti-hero of sorts.
Some of the anti-hero came out in Lost Birth when David attempted to take an innocent girl hostage to escape the police, and he ended up getting her shot. The incident opened up the doors for where Dark Horizons is going to take David - on the run from police, on a course to save the world.
I am really excited to reach the day when this manuscript - in it's polished form - can finally see the light of day. Before that can happen though, I have to continue my epic struggle with this beast and get it under control.