Introducing Duality – Book 4 in the Celestial Serenade!

Introducing Duality – Book 4 in the Celestial Serenade!

Every time I’ve tried to write a standalone novel, it grows a sequel mid-way through the first draft. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy and sci-fi series – my bookshelves can attest to that. I just never anticipated I would write anything longer than one book or, maybe, three.

Of course I have since learned that one book in my head tends to be three books on paper. But that’s another matter entirely.

While writing Symphony of the Stars (the first book of the Celestial Serenade), I wasn’t surprised to discover there were pieces of the story missing. Pieces I just couldn’t fit into the narrative without interrupting the story’s flow. When I realized there was far more story than I initially anticipated – that the threads were all building naturally toward a second major story arc – I embraced the opportunity to add a bunch of details I initially thought I’d have to drop.

A writer never loves anything more than getting to include extra lore in their story! Suddenly all the notes I had filed away under ‘back story’ were able to shake free their dust and become part of the main plot.

I really wanted a chance to focus on the culture I created when I made the Caltaran Empire. A second trilogy meant tons of extra chances to sprinkle those pertinent little details throughout the manuscript. And there were several characters that just didn’t get enough attention during the first story arc because there simply wasn’t time to delve into their depths.

Last, but certainly not least, a second story arc gave me a chance to dig my fingers deeper into my story’s theme so I could really make it shine.

A Glimpse of the Past

There were two characters I really wanted to pay more attention to after the first draft of Symphony of the Stars. It probably comes as no surprise that those two characters were Alrayia and Kantis.

It felt especially important to present more of Alrayia’s story after seeing the comments from my beta readers. Lots of people wanted to know why Alrayia and Salis were so oddly close. And everyone seemed to have this image of Alrayia as sweet and innocent, incapable of doing any wrong.

I attempted to sew some of these details into the first trilogy. It was important, given the way things played out between Alrayia and Gaia, to establish certain key details. I wanted it to be clear that there were extra tidbits lurking in the story’s background, even if I couldn’t fully shed light on them during the first story arc.

A second trilogy meant a second chance to bring those details into the foreground. And since Alrayia was such a big catalyst for the events of the first series, it was only natural to show people what was really going on in the shadows.

I felt the same way about Kantis. Everyone wanted to know how he and Salis – his polar opposite – could be so strongly drawn together. But more than that, I wanted to delve into the reasons why Kantis became such a legendary figure. He wasn’t just a skilled warrior, after all. He was groomed for his position from a young age. And the empire whispered rumors about him long before he wore the name Kantis.

The trickiest thing was the delivery method. But it turned out the plot had already provided me with the perfect method for infusing these details into the story. (I love it when that happens!)

A Sprinkle of Detail

I make no secret of the fact that I have entire documents full of notes about my made up worlds. (I’ve shared some of those notes on my blog before!) The Caltaran Empire was the first artificial society I built to any depth. I spent a lot of time thinking about their social strata, their ethics and even how the economics of their empire shifted when it moved from a singular planet to a sprawling empire.

(But Megan, I hear you say, what about the fantastic fantasy kingdoms in Life Is But a Dream? Well, dear reader, the truth is, I built those after I built the Caltaran Empire, even though I released those books sooner.)

Sadly, only a small fraction of these notes ever make it into a book. You have to know a lot more about a culture or landscape to paint a realistic picture than you ever actually need to enumerate on the page.

But more chances to delve into the politics surrounding human and Caltaran interactions means more chances to expand on Caltaran society on camera. For example, I really wanted to highlight the fact that Caltarans’ long life spans tend to result in slower social changes. Since the ‘old guard’ stick around longer and become more entrenched in their positions, the changing of minds and the filtering of new ideas takes far longer. Given how long the Caltarans have been developing their space-faring empire, it seemed pertinent to show how the upbringing of those raised among the stars has affected the overall modus operandi.

I also took this opportunity to expand on the Oracles and the role they play in Caltaran society. This, too, has changed since the Caltarans moved into space. Which fits nicely with Alrayia’s tale.

Making the Second Trilogy Shine

The most exciting thing about writing a second trilogy was getting to expand upon the series’ theme. I don’t usually sit down with a grander theme in mind. (Though some writers recommend starting with a theme.) I find that my big picture theme, the main core of my message, grows out of whatever story I’m trying to tell.

Once I catch wind of it, I try to go back and expand it so that it really shines in the final draft.

The first part of the Celestial Serenade focused a lot on the way war affects society in both the long and short terms. I tried to make it clear that even when a civilization that considers itself ‘enlightened’ or ‘modern’ acts in its own best interest, there are consequences to every choice. Even good people trying to make good decisions can cause a negative impact.

One of the realities of war is that it’s easier to think of the enemy as monstrous. It’s far easier to hate nameless, faceless entities with non-human characteristics. And this was how I originally presented the Ruvalli.

In fact, the Ruvalli appeared so little in the initial installments of the series, I had to add several descriptions to clear up confusion among my beta readers. But as time goes on and the conflict between these three civilizations deepens, I took care to show the Ruvalli more often. Like the Caltarans, I wanted to expand upon their civilization and the effects the war has had on them.

I wanted to remove that veil, that mask of other, and show just what the other side of this war looks like.

It has been a truly spectacular experience delving deeper into this world. I hope you’ll enjoy the next installment as much as I enjoyed crafting it.

Duality is Available Now!

Two secrets harbor the seeds of ruin.
Only one can be averted.

The human-Caltaran alliance has achieved their first victory – but at the cost of their military leader.

As the two civilizations struggle to work as one, they must choose a leader both can agree to follow. But their primary candidate rejects the position, thrusting Gaia back into the center of the alliance’s attention. They hope her growing relationship with Anten will serve as a symbol of the union between the two civilizations – an unshakeable and unbreakable bond.

Until Gaia falls ill and her condition reveals an insidious secret the human delegation hoped to hide – a secret that threatens to kill Earths’ most powerful delegate and rob humans of their place among the stars.

While doctors race to save the symbol of their alliance, the new Kantis struggles to reconcile his position with the legend that surrounds his name.

He cannot ignore the destructive nature of his past, nor the bloodshed on which his new career will be built. Yet his name can turn the tide of battle, and a single failure could destroy the morale of the alliance’s remaining forces.

Before he can prove himself, the fleet uncovers evidence of a new weapon with the same destructive force of the dragon – which means either the dragon’s pilot has betrayed them, or the Ruvalli have constructed a second world killer.

Grab your copy now!

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