As Ribbonworld passes 2,500 downloads, I can announce that the prequel, called The Lost Princess, will be published soon. It’s currently with my beta readers and I’m waiting to hear what they think of it.
I wanted to write it to set the scene and explain a lot of the background to the series so far. The first part of the story, Ribbonworld, was my second novel, after the problems that I had writing the first, I knew it had to be written in a different way. To make my life easier, once I had the basic idea for the story; I spent a lot of time developing the universe and characters before I started on the narrative. In the end, I never actually used all of my notes in the book, but they helped in my understanding of how it all fitted together.
After all that effort, it seemed a shame to waste my concept and ideas. Hence the sequel, Jungle Green, and the third part, which is currently underway. Who knows, there may even be more, there’s a whole Galaxy to write about.
As a bonus, based on my methods, I also wrote a guide to world-building, but that’s another story.
Not only that, once I started getting feedback, I found that I got a lot of questions from readers about the past of the characters, as many as I did about what might happen next. I started to realise that I could use all that material to continue the series backwards. I was intending to have a flashback sequence in part three. I decided that it might be a good idea to have a fourth story instead, a part zero if you like.
Which doesn’t mean that part three won’t have any background, there’s still a lot of material that I haven’t used. Plus, there was no way I could get everyone’s point of view into the prequel. By moving some of the content to part zero, I’ve now got more room for some new storylines, watch this space.
Anyhow, that’s enough about the background, let’s get on to the book. It’s a novella, about half the length of one of my normal stories, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve skimped on the action.
Where is Layla Balcom?
The most famous woman in the Galaxy, heiress to the Balcom empire, has vanished. Has she simply exchanged her celebrity life for peace and quiet or has the unthinkable happened?
In the midst of the search; where rumours and speculation are rife, journalist Miles Goram thinks that he’s found the answer. A girl on the run suggests that Layla could be a hostage, in a club where the rich indulge their fantasies. It’s located on Dalyster, a corrupt and secretive world. A place where his status as a reporter will do him no favours in his efforts to uncover the truth.
Miles is caught in the rivalry between politicians and businessmen, is his world about to fall apart around him?
Here’s a short extract.
“Well, that was a waste of time, thanks, Miles.”
Bryn Hopkins threw his camera bag down on the desk in front of me and slumped into a chair. The newsroom was noisy with chatter and the continual feed from our rival’s channels, nobody else could have heard his remark.
“What’s up Bryn, Layla Balcom give you the runaround, did she?” I asked, smiling to myself. Layla was a seasoned celebrity, she enjoyed playing games with hard working paparazzi like us. And Bryn, for all his genius as a cameraman, was old school. What he knew about modern celebrities and their antics in the world of flash feeds and trends was gleaned from his daughters, who were about my age.
“She wasn’t there,” Bryn said. He changed his tone, speaking in a passable version of my voice. “Just a simple job Bryn, get pictures of Layla Balcom at the Prestige Fashion awards, and make sure you get at least one good shot of her bending over!”
I threw an empty cardboard coffee cup at his head; “I never said that. I said to get a few pictures of her clothes for Gaynor.”
“What was he getting for me,” Gaynor Rice, the assistant editor of Getaway, had come over to the desk. “You’re the Balcom expert Miles, how come you weren’t with Bryn?”
“I’m doing this piece on the organised crime in the Jigsaw Islands,” I replied, “just like you told me to. I thought that Bryn could cover it on his own, it was an easy job, just a few pictures from the press pound. You know that no one ever gets close enough to Layla to get an interview.”
“Except she never showed,” Bryn said, “All day I stood there, watching the bloody models mincing up and down. Looking at the rich and famous clapping their little hearts out at the rubbish they only just had on. Fixing my gaze on Donna bloody Markes in her chair in the front row.” He paused for breath.
“Nice words,” said Gaynor, “perhaps you should be a journalist, not a photographer, perhaps you could have Miles’ job?”
I hoped she was joking, you never knew with Gaynor. We were an item, unofficially of course. The rest of the staff at Getaway would have had a field day if they had known I was involved with the boss. Somehow, we had managed to keep it secret, largely by pretending to dislike each other in public.
“What do you mean, she never showed?” I asked. “She’s always there at these awards, she presents one on behalf of her old man, she might wind us up, but she’d never upset him by forgetting.” I looked through the flash-feed. “Here we are, the day before yesterday. She said, ‘looking forward to the tag-Prestige Fashion-tag awards, who’s won this year? I know, but I’m not telling.’”
“Yeah well…,” Bryn screwed his face up, “Like I said, it was Igor’s new squeeze, that Donna Markes who did the honours. She arrived late, and she looked like she hated every minute of it. I got plenty of photos of that.”
“But we can’t use them, Bryn,” Gaynor said, “Igor would go crazy if we showed his new love interest looking anything less than perfect. If he finds out you’ve even kept the pictures, he’ll do his nut.”
She thought for a while, “Layla always shows when she says, it’s not like her. And there’s been nothing on her feed to say she was ill or double booked. When did anyone actually see her, in the flesh?”
That was easy, I had been there. “Six days ago,” I said. “She arrived back from a skiing holiday on Galthon, I was at the port, along with a whole load of other people. She made sure that we all saw her, her hair was purple, her eyes were vivid yellow, like an owl’s.”
Gaynor smiled, Layla’s hair and eye colour changes were legendary. Mind you, Gaynor’s hair was orange today. It was all done with a specially formulated shampoo and a fancy box of electronics in your pocket, a simple idea that had made someone very wealthy.
“And nobody has seen her since? I smell a story here. Miles, how much have you still got to do on that crime piece?”
“Just about done, Gaynor,” I said. “There’s definitely something going on, it’s well organised too, my sources reckon the big boss is someone off-world.”
She made a decision, “Right, well you can dump it now. Send me everything you have, I’ll take a look. I’ve got a feeling that there’s more here than just Layla missing a fashion show. Here’s a new job for you. Find Layla Balcom, find out why she wasn’t there today, go back through everything since she got back from Galthon, see what she’s been up to. But do it quietly, and make sure that you find her before anyone else does.”
I’d love to hear what you think, please leave me a comment below.
As I said, The Lost Princess will be published soon. To begin with, it will be available as an eBook, more details to follow.
I’ll be back on Thursday with another Indie Showcase, have a good week.