For about 17 years now, I've been writing under the pen names Alan Draven for all my Bitternest stories, novellas, and novels, and as Neal Vandar for one novel, Oblique, and one short story, "Scapegoat." I've written mainly in the horror/supernatural thriller genres, dabbling into action, adventure, and sci-fi occasionally. I called it a career last October with the publication of my final novel, Once Upon a Time in Bitternest, but you know what they say about retiring from anything, right? It usually never lasts for very long. Anyhow, I’m done writing novels, that’s for sure. I’ve climbed Mount Everest enough times already and have no desire to do it again. I’m also done writing horror and dark fiction; I’ve outgrown those genres over the years. But it turns out that I'm not done writing fiction, not anywhere close.
I’ve just finished what is the first in a series of Sword & Sorcery short stories featuring the ongoing saga of a Conan-type character. This series of short tales will eventually be collected into a single volume available in print, digital, and audiobook formats. These tales will be episodic in nature, chronicling the adventures of Amok, an adventurer, mercenary for hire, and thief who lived in a distant land long ago. His adventures will be fraught with peril; he will embark on a deeply personal quest, encounter many evil men, battle scary monsters, deal with dark magic, and rescue a few damsels in distress along the way. Amok won’t be alone on his journey; he’ll come across some reliable friends on his path and will ride on the back of his trusty white stallion Melrik.
The plan is to write about ten tales, ranging between 5,000 and 10,000 words each, and to publish them individually at first on Amazon’s Kindle. In April or May, I will also start recording readings of those tales (as well as a selection of my old Bitternest horror/thriller stories). Those audio files will be available on Bandcamp and on YouTube for your listening pleasure. Once I’m done the first phase of Amok’s adventures, an audiobook comprising the complete saga will be available on Audible as well. I’m also aiming to have an audiobook done for what I consider my best Bitternest short stories written between 2006 and 2018 to release individually on Bandcamp and as a collection on Audible as well by the end of 2023. Ideally, I’d love to have a book’s worth—about ten Amok stories—by the end of 2024. I feel reinvigorated writing in the Sword & Sorcery genre, something I’ve never tackled before. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to get the inspiration flowing again and reignite a fading passion for writing fiction.
The first Amok story is titled “Evil Soul, Evil Deed.” It is an introductory tale that sets up Amok’s world and sees a mysterious one-eyed man hiring our hero to seek and retrieve a rare katana from the clutches of a masterless samurai and his ninja acolytes. Deception and bloodshed ensue. Stay tuned to the blog for a release date and more details in the weeks to come.