In 2016 I rebooted my author career.
While I was originally referring to this as my 2.0 phase, given that my company is Incandescent Phoenix Books, the phrase revivification (“to impart with new life”) seemed more apt.
I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. I think the first one I did write was about ten handwritten, blocky pages of a hero named Zandar slaying a dragon. Followed closely by a mashup between the Super Friends and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Yeah, so always writing and always telling stories and studying the craft.
But publishing … that I began to study with any seriousness in the latter half of my college years, trying to learn the industry. I even went to a grad program to be an editor—back then it was kind of understood most people couldn’t be full time writers and I needed another career.
Except, when I was ready to publish, other than a couple (maybe 3?) of query letters, I never really pursued trad publishing. I self-published my book (not the first book I wrote, just the first I thought was ready) in early 2012.
How I got into indie publishing after studying the trad industry for years is a whole other tangent I’ll skip over for now.
As far as being indie …
I loved it. I loved getting my story out there, and while I can see some issues with it now, it was a damn good tale I’m still quite proud of. That book was Children of Sun and Moon. And I loved that story, so I published a sequel, several tie-ins, and a final volume to complete the trilogy.
Then I went nuts.
Allow me to quote from an article I wrote on branding a while back:
The first series I published was an Asian-inspired epic fantasy with heavy romantic elements. I failed to properly incorporate the tropes of the romance genre, however, because I didn’t really know anything about it. I wanted to write a fantasy that happened to center around star-crossed lovers. Despite my mistakes, I even got a small following for it. Then I wrote a space opera. Then a paranormal short story series that kind of led into a paranormal romance/ superhero series. Followed by some grimdark Norse mythology, some wuxia, and a series on Hawaiian mythology that harbored aspirations of being a mermaid YA tale.-An article I wrote for a publishing blog
So from 2012 to 2016 I published a ton of stories. Good stories, though my skill as a writer was growing, and I can look back and say “I know how to do those better now …”
But I’m proud of everything I published.
I also had started Incandescent Phoenix Books as a publishing company, legit and all. Eventually, this led to me taking on five other authors and publishing their works, an enormously interesting and challenging task. All speculative fiction, none of them at all like my work.
In 2016 … I began the slow process of a continuous epiphany. I had spread myself all over the place. I had no brand, I had no time to focus on the things that really mattered, and I had not presented my work in the way that did justice to my original vision for the Eschaton Cycle.
See, the Eschaton Cycle of retold myths and legends was my primary focus when I started writing. And while I refined my concept of it a bit after publishing the first Eschaton Cycle stories, it really hasn’t changed much, even if my brand and style have definitely come a long way. Everything else had become a stumbling block for what mattered most to me.
So over the four years I had developed my voice as an author (which had really become a grimdark voice, BTW), and I had learned a lot more about indie publishing, but I had all these IPs all over the place, wishing I had done things differently.
Wishing … and then deciding … why couldn’t I start over?
It started with me writing an extended edition for The Apples of Idunn … And soon developed into me returning rights to all the other authors (IPB is just me now) and taking down all my books. Yeah, all 20+ titles came down.
I get people sometimes asking for Children of Sun and Moon or whatever.
They’re not currently for sale, sorry. But you’ll see them again! (After a fashion. The Seventh Princess series was adapted into Heirs of Mana.)
In 2017, I re-released a dramatically rewritten and expanded Apples the way I wished I’d written it from the beginning. The story it should have been. And I realized, that’s what I wanted to do with all my early work. Make it what it should have been and release it with a consistent brand.
My sci-fi stuff, I re-released under a pen name to separate the brands. To make sure no one could figure it out, I chose the enigmatic “M.A. Larkin” as the pseudonym, and began working with J.S. Morin on space opera (his company publishes all my sci-fi).
My other Eschaton Cycle stuff, I’ve largely sat on while I finished all the Ragnarok Era stories. Now, I’m retooling and rewriting those old ones, giving them the same loving treatment Apples and Mists got. You’ll see those books, eventually, in one form or another. They may not have the same name and are most likely completely rewritten, using only select passages and ideas. But you’ll get them.
I wanted to revivify my career and make the Matt Larkin brand mean the Eschaton Cycle. The way it always should have been. And now, I am more proud than ever of what that has become in the Gods of the Ragnarok Era and Runeblade Saga.
And in the forthcoming Eschaton Cycle titles, for which I am truly psyched.
Oh, and that non-Eschaton stuff … Well, it got kind of orphaned as my brand currently has no place for it. But that’s okay. Like everything else I’ve written, it taught me a lot. It’s practice, like the countless stories I wrote before I started publishing. Practice is good.
And my hope is to continue delivering better and better Eschaton Cycle tales for many years to come.