Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where Are Darger & Surplus Now?


I received a question from a reader today:

You stated in 2015 that you had a couple of new Darger and Surplus stories that needed to be completed. Where do you stand on those? Having just devoured Tawny Petticoats, Dancing with Bears and Chasing the Phx, I am eager to read more.

And the answer is...

Ahem. Actually, I don't know. The reason I haven't returned to Darger and Surplus recently is that I've been working feverishly on The Iron Dragon's Mother which will combine with standalone novels The Iron Dragon's Daughter, published in 1994 and The Dragons of Babel, published in 2008, to retroactively create a fantasy trilogy. And when I'm this deep into a novel, I have to put aside all short fiction until it's done.

I expect the novel to be done this spring and when it is, I'll pick up what is now tentatively titled "Darger and the Dragon Lady," though that may well change.  Here's how it will begin:

Had he been a superstitious man, Darger would not have wound up being swallowed by a dragon.  However, as the product of an enlightened age and being possessed of a skeptical frame of mind to boot, he dismissed as mere peasant credulity all warnings that the mountain pass was haunted by the legendary creature and thus not to be hazarded.  Surplus was less certain, for “Such beliefs often have a nugget of truth to them, as when a sea-ogre turns out to be a whirlpool or a basilisk a volcanic vent spewing poisonous gases,” as he put it.  But rather than show the white feather before his friend, he went along with Darger’s itinerary.

So it was that they found themselves leaving Germania one perfect spring afternoon on an ancient, grass-covered road that curved gently up the W├╝rmenthal.  They had paused at noon to eat a lunch of apples, farm bread, and boiled eggs by the edge of an ice-fed mountain stream, and had good hopes of putting several more miles behind them before twilight.  As they strode along, Darger pointed out a distant mountain which, in stark contrast to its brethren, was wreathed in a smoky pall.

“Speaking of volcanoes,” he said, “is that not a strange phenomenon?  This area was once a coal-producing region, which one would think inharmonious with volcanic activity.”

"Many are the wonders of the world," Surplus replied amiably. "Perhaps the coal bed has caught fire. In the People's Theocracy of Pennsylvania, which lies to the southwest of my own native land, there is place called Centralia which . . . What in heaven's name is that?!"

And when that's done, some of the holes in the two scoundrels' biography have to be filled in. It is known that they unleashed a plague of golems upon Prague, and suspected that they were somehow involved with pirates in the Pacific Northwest. And of course they are on an unwitting pilgrimage to the Demesne of Western Vermont, there to confront certain secrets of Surplus's youth. It will be quite some time, I fear, before their adventures reach their ordained conclusion in the city of London, where their association began.

But if I cannot say when their adventures resume, I can all but guarantee you they will. I have the characters' voices in my head and a tentative map of their adventures as well. In my experience, that means the stories will be written.

But I do apologize for not being able to offer any specific dates.



Peter D. Tillman said...

Love love love the artwork. Would have made a good cover for the last D&S book...

Look forward the the new Iron Dragon book. And, Happy New Year! Hi to Marianne.

Cheers -- Pete Tillman

Arkapravo Bhaumik said...

Can you consider adding maps to later editions and newer exploits of Darger and Surplus. I vividly recall the map of Inland (England) in Riddley Walker (by Russell Hoban), and it made me connect with the story that much more. In Darger and Surplus stories, if there were maps; of central Europe (4 scenes), Kazakhstan/Russia (book 1) and China/Mongolia (book 2) charting to the story, I am sure it would have added to the readership of the series.

Eagerly look forward to "Darger and the Dragon Lady,"