Now that Spark of Truth is out and being devoured by anxious readers everywhere, I’ve had time to focus on some other things that I wanted to look at. The first being a revision of Pool of Knowledge.
It’s the first book in the series, and looking back there are some elements to how the story was told that were off-putting to some readers. The conventional wisdom amongst authors is generally ‘leave the book alone and move on’. And I do see the reasoning behind it, but in this case I thought it was worth making the effort. I wanted to incorporate what I’ve learned writing the subsequent books, and also improve the reader experience for those yet to be introduced to the series.
The good news is that the update is done. The new version is live on Amazon. Next I’ll reformat and republish the paperback, and start investigating an audio version. I’m committed to doing the first book in audio, and if it is well received I’ll do the rest of the series too.
One addition in particular, was a new scene. I added this near the start of the book to give a little hint at what was to come. For those that have already read Pool of Knowledge, here’s the new scene without having to go download the new version:
Saul drank deeply, like he was dying of thirst. He didn’t even taste the ale. He slammed the tankard down, drops of ale flying out and spilling onto the tiny, grimy table.
Never again! he thought. Images of the hideous creatures came unbidden to his mind, their screams and ferocity. He needed to distract himself. Thrusting his trembling hand into his satchel, he found and removed the sack of coins. He only dared peek inside. The glint of gold was enough of a reminder, and he hastily stashed the sack. The inn wasn’t particularly safe, and even worse if you invited trouble.
Dingiest place in Altarbright, just how I like it. But he pushed the thought away. It was time to start a new chapter. He had enough gold now to start afresh. Live out his life somewhere else in peace. No more smuggling. And as far away from the Blight as possible. The memories started flooding back again.
I never should have taken that job, he thought. But maybe the gold was enough. He heard footsteps and looked up. A hooded man sat down gracefully, occupying the chair opposite. He rested his arms on the table, like he had been invited.
“Saul, I knew I could find you here. How are you?” the man said. Saul didn’t recognise the voice. In the low light he couldn’t see the man’s face under the hood.
“I don’t think we’ve met. Who are you?” Saul tried to hide his fear, but his voice was thin and weedy. He gulped down more ale.
“You can call me Dale. I was your most recent employer.” Dale pointed to the satchel, and Saul reflexively covered it with his hand.
“I see. What can I do for you, Dale?”
“I’m in need of your services again.”
“Why?” Saul swallowed hard, his throat sticking.
“The last job was just a test. I needed to make sure that everything went according to plan. This time, it will be a lot bigger. It’s the real deal.”
“I’m not sure,” Saul stammered.
Why is this man so intimidating? Just stand up to him. The job was done, now you are done.
“I’m done with that. Sorry.” Saul managed to sound more confident. Dale shook his head.
“Saul, Saul. Why would you say that?”
“I never signed up for that.” Saul forced the images away.
“Oh, but I took care of everything. Everyone played their part, correct? Nobody challenged you on the way through?” Dale had a dangerous tinge to his voice. Saul swigged more ale.
“No, of course not. But, those creatures …”
“You mean the Blighters?” Dale said. Saul shrunk away, and looked around.
“Don’t worry, nobody will overhear us. You had a problem with the Blighters?” Dale talked even louder.
“Sshh. Yes, alright the Blighters. Horrible creatures. And I saw what they did to a man. I want no part of it.” Saul looked around, nobody seemed to have noticed their conversation.
“I thought you were the best.” Dale sounded disappointed.
“I am. Or I was. That wasn’t part of the deal.”
“We were upfront about the cargo. You saw it yourself before you left.”
“Well it was too late then, wasn’t it? Look, I won’t say nothing. I’m done. Find someone else.” Saul tried to lift his satchel, but Dale’s hand came down quickly and held his arm.
“I’m afraid that’s the wrong answer. Such a pity, you would have been more useful had you the stomach for it.” Dale reached out with his other hand. As it passed through the light Saul saw a long black nail, dripping with a thick black substance.
“Welcome to the fold,” Dale said and jabbed Saul’s chest.