Thank you for reading The Prince’s Boy. The whole fun of doing an online serial is sharing it with readers every week. I hope I inspired at least as much squeeing as groaning. These author’s notes are actually a series of confessions. “Now it can be told…”
It’s not a mystery that my two biggest influences for this serial were Alexandre Dumas and Anne Rice “writing as A.N. Roquelaure,” in particular Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask and Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. However, the first confession is that I never finished reading either of those two books.
I was actually bored by Sleeping Beauty, because I found it repetitive and I didn’t find Beauty to be a compelling character. Maybe she eventually develops one, but she seems like a dishrag. A sensual dishrag, to be sure, but I found the chapters tiresome to try to get through.
Then someone clued me in and told me the Beauty books were originally written as a serial. Aha! It suddenly made sense why the chapters felt so repetitive and why the plot doesn’t move forward very much in each. (It didn’t explain, however, why Beauty was such a shallow character. But whatever.) I tucked this little seed of knowledge into the back of my head about 16 years ago.
As for Dumas, my introduction to The Three Musketeers was no doubt a movie adaptation in the 1970s. I never had a chance to read any of his books straight through while in school, though I read bits and pieces of a dog-eared copy that was kept in one of my English classrooms. I wonder now if I never felt the need to read the whole thing precisely because of the serial nature? Dumas has a way of luxuriating over the dialogue and the language (well, I was reading in translation but one hopes it was true to the original) and simply not hurrying. Because Dumas was writing in the serial form, he played to the hilt with foreshadowing, mystery, leaving his readers hanging, twists of fate, etc. And yet he never hurried. You read a chapter for the enjoyment of the chapter and surrender to his slow pace. (Steven Brust captures Dumas’s leisurely ethos of storytelling in his Khaavren books.)
When the idea came to start posting a serial on circlet.com, these thoughts about serials coalesced in my mind with one other strand of creative influence, which is my hobby of writing slash fanfic–explicit, homoerotic fan stories pairing-up male characters from fantasy books/movies/TV. In the world of fan fiction, it’s not unusual to find writers working on “WIPs” (works in progress), where they post chapter by chapter what they write. The danger in reading a WIP is that the writer may lose interest in writing it, or write themselves into a corner, or quit the fandom, leaving the readership stranded wondering what was going to happen.
Well, I thought, I’m a professional. I won’t abandon my readers. I know what I’m doing.
Here’s the next confession: I didn’t actually know what I was doing.
What I knew was that I wanted to write a piece of original fiction that explored the territory of dubious consent, male-on-male eroticism, and the concepts of erotic magic that I had played with in my fanfic. And I knew I wanted to write it as a serial where every chapter would have a sex scene. I started making notes. I wrote out a cast of characters and played with linguistics and drew a map. I played with language some more and wrote out a list of words and names without knowing what they referred to.
And then I just let Kenet start talking. I wrote the first five chapters over the course of a week or so, just establishing and playing with his voice. I knew our story would involve an evil wizard, a cold and distant king, a prickly tutor, a virgin prince, and his whipping boy. And that was it. I started posting with only that much to go on.
I had a sort of sketch of a plot. But I knew I was not writing a novel with a traditional three-act structure. I was writing a serial, which was more like a string of pearls, one after the other after the other… and I just knew I would have to keep stringing them until it came time to close the circle. I had some ideas of what might happen. I knew there were certain conflicts that would have to be resolved and brought to a close. And I knew at some point the boys would have to be separated, and then later reunited. But I let the sex guide me. I let the eroticism determine what would happen in the plot. This was the whole reason for making sexual magic the basis of the plot, and sexual coming of age the basis for the character arcs.
It pretty much wrote itself. There were times when I wrote four or five chapters in the course of one weekend. I know many plot elements look like they were planned in advance and woven in so well. But another confession: there were many weeks when I was so busy with other work that I did not even start writing that week’s chapter until midnight the morning it was supposed to post. I would often finish it around 3am and set it up to post six or seven hours later.
And yet I never had writer’s block. I never was stuck wondering what was going to happen in the next chapter. Any time I had a spare hour, anywhere in my travels, on planes or trains, in New York, Wyoming, South Carolina, Georgia, no matter where I was or what I was doing, if I had a spare hour, I could bang out a thousand word chapter. I always knew what was going to happen next.
If I had to say why it was so easy to write, especially compared to other works of mine, I’d say it was because I trusted my subconscious. I knew there was a lot in there at the start, and instead of trying to force it out into a synopsis or write out a plot plan, I just let it happen. A string of pearls. It feels like a gift from above, or from my muse, because it isn’t always that easy.
Next confession: There are mistakes in it. One of the problems with writing something over a long period of time is that I forgot certain details. When I started writing, the name of the country was Maldevar and the capital city was Trest. At some point I swapped the names, though, and then decided I liked it that way better. So I had to go back and retrofit the correction.
Some other mistakes. At one point I got east and west mixed up. Yes, even though I drew a map. I have left/right dyslexia, which extended to the words east and west being synonymous for me. The result is that anyone trying to draw a map based on what the characters say, may end up confused. I’ve tried to go in and fix all the geography, but I may have still got it wrong.
Also, I forgot some of the linguistic conventions I meant to use, and so the spelling of the words in the old tongue kept changing. I think I spelled ladra’an at least six different ways while I was writing. I *think* I’ve gone back and fixed them all…
These are all things that a decent copyeditor working on a finished novel would have fixed. But posting it week by week, even my own beta-readers didn’t always catch them. There are probably other glitches that need fixing, too.
Final confession: I do feel a little guilty over the fact that there are no female characters at all. But I decided it was better to have an all-male cast for thematic purposes than to throw in “token” female characters just for inclusiveness’s sake, only to have them brushed aside or minimized anyway. I am bisexual myself and a big advocate for equal rights, but artistically speaking this story needed to be all cocks, no hens.
In the end, it came out twice the length I thought it would. I was planning for about 50 chapters initially. But telling the story from two narrators’ point of view means essentially that the plot doubled in size. My subconscious knew what it was doing–but I didn’t! Looking back on it now I see that makes perfect sense. We’ll see if I remember this lesson when I go to write the sequel.
Yes, I’m planning to write a sequel, though I think it will be a while before I begin it. I have some other projects that need tending just now, but I’m starting to gather ideas. If you have questions you want answered in a future book, there’s a discussion going on over here.
Thanks again for reading. Print editions and ebooks are on sale but my plan is to keep the free chapters online! Please tell your friends about The Prince’s Boy and share Jorin and Kenet with as many people as possible! Thank you for being along for the ride!
- The other Prince’s Boy wrapup posts…
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