On the left is the brand new cover image of 'Larussi's Heartsong". This is what will appear on the ebook editions of the book (of course, some of them will be black and white because certain e-readers have no colour facility). The paperback edition will feature this image on the front cover, but the spine and rear cover will be black
The manuscript is currently undergoing evaluation by my proofreader, 'Cuzzie', who will report back - warts and all - by the end of next week. Hopefully, she won't find too many warts, so publication should follow very soon after that.
'Larussi's Heartsong' is listed as 'The Appendix to A Queen's Heart', but it is really a self-contained story. It draws its roots from the trilogy, but it is not necessary to have read that before reading this book. All the information you will really need is included in an author's note at the beginning.
All the same, I recommend that you do read the preceding six 'Avalind' novels (this is the seventh). Only that will give you a full flavour of the world in which the books are set. The previous six books are the 'King's Head' trilogy ('Usurper', 'A Sovereign's Honour' and 'A New Queen Rises') plus the 'Queen's Heart' trilogy ('The Ancient Realm', 'The Shattered Realms' and 'The Power of Four Queens').
'Larussi's Heartsong' is something of a departure from the tone of its predecessors. Don't worry, Fantasy and Action fans, there is still plenty of excitement, but the focus has shifted slightly.
When we last saw Larussi, she was a heartbroken thirteen year-old girl, who had lost everything, and everyone she ever loved. At the conclusion of 'The Power of Four Queens', she is taken in by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious order in Dragotar, who care for her. There, she unrolls as a postulant and rediscovers her childhood talent for singing. Five years pass and Larussi grows into a young woman of astonishing beauty. The new head of the order, Mother Sulsa, knows that the postulant Larussi can never be a true sister of mercy, so she must go forth into the world once more.
The big edit is finished. Several weeks of mind-numbing slog with highlighters and weeding through hundreds of pages of text, searching for those last few lingering typos (which is a minor aspect of editing) and polishing the text until it is as good as I can possibly make it (that is the major one). All is done now, though, and Cuzzie gets her freshly-printed version of the revised manuscript tonight. It is down from its original length of 507 double-spaced pages to 468, having lost something like 10,000 words in the process. Those words will not be missed, I assure you.
I first envisaged 'Larussi's Heartsong' when writing the 'Queen's Heart' trilogy. Larussi's story is left hanging at the end of the three books and I knew that I would have to complete it for her. Originally, I expected it to be of novella length - perhaps 100 pages. As it turned out, it is exactly the same length as Part Three, 'The Power of Four Queens', which makes it the joint longest book of the series, and one of the longest that I have ever written. Only 'Rutter's Reunion' is longer (and that not by much). Even so, it tips the scales at a typical novel length of 100,000 words, which should work out in the region of 350 pages by the time that the paperback version is ready for publication.
Cuzzie will run her unrelenting eye over it and give me her opinion (both barrels from the hip, if she rings true to form). That may result in a few further changes, or it may not. It depends what she says. In the meantime, I will get on with the cover and post it here as soon as it is ready.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.