Today, roughly 1,882 days after I sent my angel-wife the initial opening to See These Bones, saying: ‘I don’t know… what do you think?’, the trilogy is finally complete. It’s still hard to wrap my brain around that fact, but I am so excited. Excited that I’m done, excited that I like the final product, but most of all, excited that all of you will soon be reading One Tin Soldier for yourselves and telling me how I did.
Because of the magic of timezones, some of you are already reading the book. I hope you’re enjoying it! For the rest of you, if you just want to get straight to Damian’s story, I’d suggest skipping down to the content warnings at the end of the post, and then coming back to read the rest of this when you’re done with the book. I didn’t include any spoilers in this post, but Damian’s story is a lot more entertaining than mine!
I did not send One Tin Soldier to NetGalley this year, partly because of expense and partly because I was so late in finishing the book, so there are only a handful of advance readers out there. In lieu of sharing advance reviews, I want to just spend a few words on the book itself.
This whole series has been an experience and a half. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity and for the readers I have been able to meet along the way. As the final book in the trilogy, One Tin Soldier has a lot riding on it, and I wanted to stay true to the vision I’ve had for the series all along. I think/hope I managed to deliver a conclusion that is satisfying and pays off the promise of previous books, but you will ultimately be the final judges on that front.
It’s still all about the voice
Damian is a difficult character for me to write. Not just because he started out broken, but also because he has had to show real change over the course of the series. Maintaining his voice as he changed and grew has been a challenge1. To get back into his head for One Tin Soldier, I focused again on the core of who he is as a character. Damian is damaged, overly proud, and often willfully blind, but he’s also generous, would do anything for his friends or for what he thinks is right2, and is obsessively goal driven. Whatever happens to him, he keeps pressing forward, not unlike the walkers he can raise. Eventually, I realized that as long as I kept that much consistent, I would be okay.
The Damian of One Tin Soldier is not the Damian of See These Bones, physically, mentally, or emotionally. He is two years older and has gone through way more than any teenager should have to. Those experiences change a person and they change that person’s voice. But his central drive remains the same.
Tightening the focus
The second challenge with One TIn Soldier was, ironically, the complete opposite of what I faced with its predecessor. Red Right Hand had a ton of plot threads to juggle. Romance. Team challenges. Mentorship. The mystery of Damian’s past. There were times I worried the book was too over-stuffed… that I’d lost some of the focus that I loved so much from See These Bones.
This book doesn’t have that problem. In fact, it might have veered to the opposite extreme.
After building up a support structure around Damian–his girlfriend, his therapist, his friends, even the former first-years he mentored–I wanted to strip it all away. Pull him out of the Academy that had become more of a home for him than Bakersfield ever was and throw him to the wolves. Not just literal wolves, although the Badlands has those, but figurative wolves as well. Doing so means that there are other stories happening back in Los Angeles that we don’t get to see. To me, the post-Break setting has always been a world and because we see it through Damian’s eyes, there are thousands of things happening off page, waiting for other novelettes or books to explore. I like that aspect of the series, and even as I miss some of the layered plot threads from Red Right Hand, I also like how the focus narrows in One Tin Soldier.
My final challenge was the ending. And that it had to serve not just as an ending for the book3 but for the series as a whole. This is the first book of mine to include the words “The End,” and I felt that responsibility. In fact, the ending was a source of dread and fear before I even started writing the book. How would I make it satisfying and yet true to itself? How would I fulfill earlier promises without losing the reader? Why hadn’t I made this series seven books long instead of three?
And yet, I ended up knocking out those final few chapters in just a few days. All that time I’d spent worrying about it seemed kind of silly in retrospect. It’s strange how that happens sometimes… fear can be a bigger hurdle than whatever originally triggered that fear4. This is the conclusion I envisioned when I wrote the very first page of See These Bones5 and it feels incredible to have it finally out there.
Anyway, to make a long post slightly less long, I love the dynamic between these three very different books, I love how the series as a whole turned out6, and I love that I’ve been able to stick with my original vision while continuing to grow as a writer.
Now, I just hope you all love it too.
I try to release content warnings with all of my books. I want readers to judge for themselves whether or not they want to read them. Many of these are repeats from the previous books, but please give them a look anyway. As always, I try to avoid spoiling anything outright.
CW: death, violence, gore, bodily harm, sex, profanity, spiders, slavery, mental illness, trauma, self-harm, brief mentions of alcoholism, cannibalism, occultism, etc.
If any of the above throws up a red flag for you, please think twice about reading One Tin Soldier. Check out the sample chapters I’ve already shared to decide if the book is right for you7.
My goal with this and every book is to entertain… I’d genuinely much rather you not read something8 that I write than be upset or have some past trauma triggered by it.
And now, as usual, I’m going to go unplug and wait for the release day dust to settle. I hope you all enjoy the book! If you like it, please leave a review!
And if you haven’t yet read See These Bones, and would like to see what the fuss is all about, I have good news! I’m running a one-week $0.99 price promotion on the ebook version right now!
Happy November, everyone!
One Tin Soldier is available now in digital and print formats!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person that would make an awesome subscriber to my newsletter. Come join the fun!
And by fun, I mean “be alerted when new books are available.” If this site’s blog posts are my monthly, in-depth, fact-heavy shareholders’ reports, the newsletters are my far-less-frequent, carefully crafted pseudo-tweets, skipping all the nitty gritty to tell you what you actually want to know: what’s new and how you can get it.
I promise that I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.
- And to be honest, his voice does change to reflect where he is in his life in each book.
- Irrespective of societal norms.
- I actually love writing book endings, in general.
- And yes, I loved Dune, thanks for asking.
- Although the details did change quite a bit along the way.
- Despite lessons I learned in the process that I will hopefully apply to future series.
- If the free chapters I’ve shared aren’t sufficient for you to make that call, the book is also available via Kindle Unlimited, so you can read for yourself and drop it if it’s not to your taste without actually buying the book.
- Let alone buy something!