Last year I hit ten years since I published Amgalant One and Two in 2012.
A lot has happened, to me and to the world, in ten years. A lot of bad stuff, frankly. I am not the same person, and Amgalant – can’t be the same book.
I dread turning out one of those delayed series finishers or sequels that either don’t fit, or prove to be unreadable. It’s common and a distinct possiblity. Too, I am afraid that I have deteriorated and do not own the brain space (cognitive issues, though perhaps now solved, have interfered in those ten years). Sales remain low to nonexistent for weeks at a time, and I have been tempted away into writing short fiction that people actually read.
Ten years is time to draw a line. I’m drawing a line under Amgalant – which, true to its title, now stands as the story of the unification of the steppe. This is how I have framed the series description:
‘Amgalant’ means unity.
This story is about the unification of the steppe under Tchingis Khan (Chinggis, Genghis). From the shattered condition of the Mongol tribes before him, up to 1206 when Tchingis is acknowledged khan over the different peoples of the steppe.
Amgalant likewise follows Temujin, the boy who becomes Tchingis Khan,
from an outcast life of poverty to the achievement of his dreams.
The forty years from 1166 to 1206 saw great drama on the steppe, although settled societies off the steppe scarcely noticed. That remains true to this day.
Temujin’s rise to instatement as Tchingis Khan is the heart and guts of the Secret History of the Mongols, more important to its Mongol creators and audience than
the off-steppe conquests afterwards.
The Secret History of the Mongols is a gorgeous source for a novelist,
rich in human interest and incident. Amgalant follows this source
with humble fidelity to the history and faith in the art of the original.
The series does not end abruptly. I never believed in publishing unfinished story, and on principle, each book finishes its business. Yes, Tchingis is still alive at the end. His eyes are on the horizon. It ends upbeat (oh, I notice both the books do — hell, so do those of the four-set), and I like that.
Whatever comes next won’t be Amgalant. It’ll be post-Amgalant. That half-million words of raw material and draft I have for the projected third (see last January’s report)? Presently I am extracting strands and gobbets to shape into a novella or short novel. Another novella has suggested itself beyond that. I’ll tell the story. But in different ways. Not locked into a trilogy, I am free to reconfigure that material, even in radical ways, that suddenly seem doable to me. Whatever else, it’ll be short works. My thinking has become short-term.
I want to go on writing other short fiction too, whereas Amgalant (2003-2012) was a drown-out-everything-else commitment (moreover, when I deliberately didn’t have a life and didn’t do social media). Those days are gone, whether or not my writing self can turn out work to the standards of Amgalant. I’m not even pessimistic on that point, as I am excited and enthusiastic about the novella I have in hand.
(Its working title is ‘The Khan’s Orchestra’, and I tend to let off steam about it on my Twitter).
You can buy the Amgalant series direct from me here at my Payhip storefront.