The title of this post is the dictionary definition of the word equivoque, but it is also closely linked with equivocation: a conjuror’s technique where one outcome appears at first to be certain, when in actuality, the outcome could be any one of several alternatives.
When I began writing the very first Cornelius Quaint adventure (around 2006 or so) I always intended for it to become a long running series, one that would lay down some ground rules in the first book and then continue and build upon them in the sequels, increasing the stakes (and the danger) for Cornelius and his clairvoyant confidante, Madame Destine, whilst heading towards its destination and what those revelations might mean for them both.
I envisaged the series as a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the Victorian penny dreadful, with multiple cliff-hangers and lots of derring do, as well as a fair few twists and turns. In addition, there would be lots of elements that made it different to the usual Victorian-era set fiction that was so prevalent back in the day. There are some Sherlock Holmes-type elements, mostly due to its setting, but there are also some Indiana Jones/ mythological/ James Bond/ even Doctor Who-type elements also thrown into the mix. Each book was to feature a particular villainous rogue, and contain a particularly nefarious plot for Cornelius to counter, whilst linked by an arc of discovery that spanned across the entire four book series.
There were a few threads left dangling at the end of The Equivoque Principle that I knew I wanted to pick up on in later books. Some of which were resolved in the sequel, The Eleventh Plague, and some resolved in the 3rd book, The Lazarus Curse, whilst some were deliberately left for the 4th book, The Romulus Equation, to be released in May 2013. Some may not be resolved until the 5th, 6th or even 7th…
With each subsequent book, Cornelius had to contend with new threats emerging from the villainous Hades Consortium, which is when fate and coincidence began to collide. And that is the true basis for the whole series; there is no such thing as coincidence.
Whilst Cornelius is not a believer in coincidence, neither is he a believer in fate – unlike Destine who, as a clairvoyant, has always been aware that something deadly is heading in Quaint’s direction, a pain that he must endure, and one that may very well destroy him. Destine knows that fate cannot be bargained with, just as she knows that it is within Cornelius’s nature to run into the jaws of death, rather than cower and run. Their relationship is just as key to the series as fate and coincidence.
Quaint and Destine are in some ways mother and son, in some ways mentor and pupil, in some ways sharing a love for eternity, and in some ways petrol and water, always skirting closer to the flame.
With the advent of the 4th (yet not necessarily final) book in the series due out next month, I have been taking stock of what I have achieved thus far. There were a few stumbles, as is only natural for a first-time writer, but on the whole each book tells the story as I intended, and I think that loyal followers of the series (Thank you!!!) will be surprised at how events unfold – unless a particularly unhelpful Amazon reviewer decides to give away the entire plot and ruin things for others such as what occurred recently on one of my other non-Quaint books (I’m looking at you “DocE”).
In some ways Romulus is an ending, but in other ways it is a brand new beginning. With the shackles of the origin arc out of the way, after the 4th book, Cornelius Quaint will begin a brand new series of adventures, with plenty of villainous rogues, friends and allies old and new, but always with Madame Destine by his side.
The reason for this post is a reflection of sorts, building towards the release of the 4th book, and also for a bit of shameless plugging…
My publishers HarperCollins have made The Equivoque Principle ebook completely FREE to download from today for a limited two week period in the run up to the release of The Romulus Equation. I know that lots of people have read it to date, and for the most part enjoyed it, understanding the premise behind what I was trying to do, where the series is nothing other than what it was meant to be.
I have been told that I am like Marmite.
Some people will enjoy my books, some will not.
Fiction can be very subjective, especially genre and historical fiction, and you cannot please everyone all of the time, but I am still grateful that those that do enjoy the books and frequently respond to me positively via email/ tweet/ post.
My hope is that off the back of this freebie, more people will enjoy what I was trying to do with the series, and perhaps join the ranks of those loyal followers.