The world called Dirt has a history, like any other world, and when I started writing my fantasy saga, it was set during one particular time period.
But Dirt is very different from our world and due to many factors, it has never had the technological drive our own world has seen; it is almost stuck in a permanent pre-medieval culture and has been for thousands of years.
As part of my back story on the A World Called Dirt website, I have mentioned the ancient civilization called The Haftens; their descendants feature heavily in series one as well. Reading back my little history and some of the notes I have made and not published, I have realised that there is a story in there that is ripe for the telling.
Now, don't get too excited; I have yet to publish series two in the current story cycle and have only just started planning series three, but in my sleeping mind, a story is beginning to take shape.
A long distant past
Seven thousand years is a long time in anyone's estimation, even for dragons that can live eight or nine hundred years; with an average generation calculated at 300 years, it is still twenty-three generations or so and dragon memories are not always wonderfully reliable, especially among the elder of their kind!
It is long enough that though the world will be technically similar it will have a lot of differences and plenty of forgotten history. For instance, in Dirt, there are references to ancient keeps and buildings that were constructed by the Haften Empire. But this story will be set before then, so there are no great buildings. Or are there?
This is also set far enough back in time to possibly include empires that have been forgotten, who's legacy has been erased from the Dirt by the winds of change.
Callistons, the great beasts of the plain, are almost extinct in Dirt; 7000 years ago, they were much more common.
Dragons had a very different relationship to humans than they do in Dirt book one - but this was also a time when they began to see a decline.
This is a fascinating period of history, a time when we saw the rise of the Haften Empire from its simple, tribal roots to the great, bloody dynasty it was to become. And so, not only do I have a time period, but I also have a name for the cycle:
Dirt: The Rise of the Haftens
Like the first cycle that I am still currently writing, I will probably write two or three series, each set several hundred years apart. This allows me to go back to very primitive beginnings, and yet build the story into a true saga of warring families and great battles.
The setting will be Bind, for the most part (there is another story to tell on The Prelates.) During this period, most of Bind was very different to now. It was less arid and the Eastern Plains were grasslands, savanna, rather than the deserts we know today. Here lived a great people who worked closely with both Dragons and Callistons. They lived in two or perhaps three great cities, far larger than we know on Dirt today. (In one of the current books in series two, I mention the vague remnants of those cities.) It is a peaceful world and when we visit it, I want to paint a picture that is almost utopian, even though it is a very basic style of life.
At the same time, in the north of Bind, two warring tribes, small, unnoticed, decide to make peace. These are the origins of the Haftens and they will be greedy for land as they grow over the centuries.
It has the potential to be a very interesting story because it lays the foundation for the changes that lead to the existing books.
A Different Approach
With the current books, I made a very deliberate decision to stay with the goodies and follow their journey as they run into the baddies. The baddies are definitely a bad lot, but we don't live their lives or know their plans before the goodies do. The reason I did this is that I wanted lots of surprises. It is the same strategy played out in books by Conan Doyle - we only ever know of our villain through the eyes of Holmes and Watson.
With this next cycle, I will do something slightly different. Part of this is because both sides of the war have good and bad bits whereas with Dirt, the line between the two is much more clearly defined.
There will still be obvious good and bad, I have to have that because dragons never ally with bad, but there will be problems with the setup and the dragons will not like it.
So, as this is more confused, I will tell the story from both sides and we will meet the baddies properly.
I also see this as, perhaps, a little adult in places. I will still keep the humour that is Dirt because I think people are naturally funny, but maybe we see them a little more warts and all.
Romance will also play a different role. In Dirt, the romances between various characters are important to them, but not vital to the story. So, although we see the odd kiss and some hand holding, I have let the love affairs grow at their own pace and I have not asked too many embarrassing questions.
With this new cycle, with its Dynastic backdrop, the romances and affairs become very much more important and will need to be examined in more detail. The language will get more fruity too, with some characters, but not all.
At this stage, I have no idea. I am still writing series two in the first cycle, have series three to write, plus a couple of stand-alone books and short stories to work on. Series two is going well and I hope to release that in the next month or two. It is a very good story and focuses much more heavily on the dragons than the first series did. It also includes some hints at a few dramatic surprises that will be addressed in the sequel to the series, a standalone book like Hope is for series one.
So, much to do, and too little time. What I need now is for loads of you to buy the current books. The more people who do that, the more likely I will be able to write this next, exciting tale.
Dragons don't grow on trees you know!