Launching an eXpedition

SIX logoIn my relatively tame and uncorrupted youth, my biggest vice was probably a fiction addiction. Thanks to the Science Fiction Book Club and their twelve-books-for-a-penny introductory offer, I mainlined a constant stream of sci-fi and fantasy prose into the wee hours of every night, ensuring no more than a few hours of sleep to get me through school the next day. Mock me if you will, but if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re more like me and less like the kids that were getting themselves into more exciting kinds of trouble at the time. And while I’ve often thought that maybe I missed out on some of the coming-of-age adventures that defined my generation’s journey into adulthood, what I didn’t know at the time was that I was preparing for a much greater adventure, or rather, an entire series of them, and I never could have expected where my love of reading fiction would take me.

Over time, my shelves packed with fantasy and sci-fi novels were replaced by a library of business books, art tutorials, and texts about the craft of writing. Opportunities to enjoy a good piece of fiction were few and far between and for the most part my fiction fix was fulfilled by whatever game product we were currently working on at Privateer Press.

I wasn’t the only one that enjoyed the stories based in the Iron Kingdoms, though, and over the last decade of world building and game publishing that we’ve done through the WARMACHINE, HORDES and the Iron Kingdoms RPG game lines, the number of requests  we’ve had for novels set in this dynamic universe is countless. With the proliferation of portable digital technology, I realized sometime last year that fulfilling this request — a goal we have held at Privateer for a very long time — was well within our grasp.

902947_594932690534967_149436601_oIt seemed a simple enough mission; find talented authors who would be interested in exploring the Iron Kingdoms setting with us, work with them to create novels, package them with stunning artwork, and distribute them digitally for all to enjoy. None of this seemed outside the realm of anything I’d tackled in the past and the adept staff at Privateer Press was more than capable of bringing it together. But the reality behind the fiction was somewhat less straightforward. We weren’t just trying to publish a novel or even a series, but rather, an entire library with multiple series that explored the world end to end. It quickly became clear that this would be a massive effort.

Once the decision was made to go forward with this new publishing venture, things began to come together very quickly as we planned out the line of books we wanted to publish. In very short order, projects began with several talented and accomplished authors, some of which were even players of Privateer Press games. Outlines flew back and forth by email, stories formed, and first drafts piled up on the desktop like an an impossible-to-summit mountain whose peak moved farther away with every step toward it.

885307_591394904222079_1164059918_oThe challenge was twofold: First, we wanted volume. The goal was to produce regular offerings with a minimum of one new novella or novel every month. This meant initiating multiple projects in parallel and managing them all through their development at the same time.

The second challenge was continuity. We’re creating stories in a world that has ten years of publications on the shelf already, a pantheon of developed and known characters, and a rigid system of rules that governs many aspects of what can happen in the setting. Complicate that with nearly fifteen-hundred years of in-setting history and an ongoing plot line involving a dozen factions, and you suddenly find yourself in a treacherous landscape that few can navigate on their own.

To their credit, the fantastic authors that signed on for this undertaking were ready for adventure and they rose to meet every challenge that comes with weaving new tales into an established setting. What we ended up with are multiple series that chronicle the origins and exploits of Immoren’s most famous warcasters, warlocks and adventurers. Stories range from intimate character studies to swashbuckling hijinx to epic warfare, and for me, each one has been a different kind of joy to read. While my first responsibility in reading an early draft of a story is to help maintain continuity and consistency of the setting, it’s difficult to avoid getting swept into these tales and reading them for pure pleasure. Finally, we get to read of Makeda’s harrowing youth and the complicated origins of Allister Caine. We get to explore the monster-infested wilds with Pendrake and we get to witness the emergence of an entirely new threat to the Iron Kingdoms with the Convergence. For anyone who has craved more out of their experience with WARMACHINE, HORDES and the Iron Kingdoms and beyond, there is a treasure trove of literature on the way.

883651_588015487893354_1330701628_oOver the many months of commissioning and creating content, I searched for an identity for this publishing label. While the initial books are all based on existing Privateer Press properties, and while the publishing label is a subsidiary of Privateer Press and depends very much on the efforts and contributions of Privateer’s staff, one of the goals for this venture is to be able to explore worlds beyond the Iron Kingdoms, including worlds in other Privateer properties as well as all new, never before seen settings. Working with established and accomplished authors as well as unpublished and emerging talent, we are building a bold new publishing label that will innovate, take chances, and hopefully create a name for itself that represents these qualities while doing honor to the Privateer Press legacy.

SIX_TWC_TheWayofCaine_Cover

The name we finally settled on was Skull Island eXpeditions. The ‘silly cap’ X is a way of tidying up our URL (www.SkullIslandX.com), and also giving a nod to our swashbuckling  lineage and that which marks the final destination of any great quest. Finding this identity crystalized what we were about, what we wanted to achieve, and gave us a compass to help guide and inform the kind of content readers can expect to experience with us in the future.

It’s been no small task getting here, but all of the work thus far has simply been the preparation. The real journey will be underway in a matter of days, when we finally get to release these books to the public and launch this expedition once and for all. It’s my hope that you’ll follow us on this great adventure and explore the Iron Kingdoms along with the amazing authors that have contributed their vision to it. Fair warning, though: Proceed with caution. Reading fantasy books can take you places you’d never expect.

9 thoughts on “Launching an eXpedition

  1. Congratulations on launching another creative endeavor Matthew. While my need to own all of the Iron Kingdoms fiction ever published will undoubtedly make my wallet hate you, I as a person am grateful.

  2. Love the Skull Island eXpeditions mantra. :). I’m a pirate kind of guy. Love the PP stuff.

    So so so so stoked for some literature. My question for you is that I’ve had ideas for books that I have written plots and outlines to and have never pursued them because I wasn’t sure if you all were going to get into that sort of thing. Is PP looking for stories/etc or perhaps screenplay scripts?

    • Currently, we’re not taking actual submissions, but we will be looking at writing samples once the imprint launches, as we search for new contributors.

      It’s possible we may look at submissions at some point down the road, but right now we have an agenda of titles and series’ that we want to launch and we’re working with authors to find the best pairing of their interests and the content that we want to build out the library with.

  3. Pingback: Information about that novella I’ve got coming out next week | Monster Hunter Nation

  4. As a fan of Larry Correia, and having no clue whatsoever to who you or your game are, I’ll be buying the book with his story (not sure if it’s an anthology, or an entire book).

    As a newcomer to this universe, I’ll read Correia’s story, and love it, while checking out the neighborhood. You’re already up by one, because Larry is willing to spend some of his unavailable time writing about your stuff, when writing another MHI book would put another of his kids through college.

    How do the different series relate to each other? Are these series going to be running concurrently? Will I need to read the first book of every series to understand the second of each, or are they going to be totally independent? As in, if the great Karkhoom dies in Correia #1, are the warmages and swashbucklers books #2′s going to assume it as known? Will Correia #2 assume knowledge of warmages #1 and swashbucklers #1 War of the Fruitbat? or the dramatis personnae of the other series?

    Are the series all going to be Year 42′s events, as seen from the different sides of the same battles?

    I used to play 40K and love Starcraft, but the fiction was dreary. It’s all a suicidally hopeless struggle in the dark now and utterly hopeless later. I dropped it after realizing CNN coverage of Ethiopian famines was less depressing. Warhammer might be better, but I’ll never know.

    I have seen ebooks, and hate them. At least on a Kindle. An ebook, paper combo would be ideal, if I ever wanted to find the “Wow, that was a terrific insult, something about a hedgehog… wish I could remember where it was…” passage.

    Thank you for your time. Good luck with your new world.

    Sincerely,
    a bibliophile with less sales resistance than a crackhead.

    • Steve, I’m going to try my best to address all your questions, but my head is spinning a little from reading that post! :-)

      I don’t know how we got lucky enough to rope Larry into working with us. I think a bribe was involved. That’s all I can say on the subject!

      As for how the series relate to each other:

      In the case of the The Warlock Sagas, and Larry’s first book with us (Instruments of War), it’s an encapsulated novella. So, Volume 2 of the Warlock Sagas will be about a different character and will not relate in any direct way to Volume 1. The series is an ever expanding collection of stories about different warlock characters. The only continuity between them is that they all exist in the same world. As such, they certain might have awareness of each other, but the stories all take place in different times and places, so there’s no connection. We just needed a big bucket to put all of the warlock stories into, so we called them The Warlock Sagas.

      The second book Larry is writing with us is a different matter entirely. It the case of the Storm Knights novel (title TBA), it could end up as a stand alone, though my HOPE (if Larry happens to be reading…) is that it turns into an ongoing series. But we’re feeling that one out as we go along.

      As for the rest of the offerings, everything currently takes place in the same world/universe, though the actual date/time of any story is particular to that story. Some are happening concurrently, some are ancient history. It depends on the character, the events involved and the story we’re trying to tell at the time. The best analog I could offer would be the Star Wars universe, and the way in which they have told stories in multiple eras and across the galaxy with characters that are both well known as well as only briefly seen in the films.

      The Iron Kingdoms setting is definitely a place that is constantly in conflict, and it can be quite gritty, but it’s not dark or hopeless. We’re really striving to make these stories adventurous, exciting, and one of our operative terms is ‘swashbuckling’, which I think conveys a great deal of the tone we’re looking for. But the stories also range far and wide, and I don’t think any one description can hope to characterize them all. The Exiles in Arms series is about a couple of hard-luck mercenaries that really can’t seem to get a break. It’s a globe-trotting style adventure that takes the characters from one crazy complication to another through an amusing series of events. Larry’s Instruments of War, though, focuses on a very grim culture in the setting, but somehow he makes us root for this character that would from any other perspective in the setting be a great villain.

      It’s a huge world with a great deal of development and material that has been created over the past ten years. Start with Larry’s book, and if you dig it, explore a little further. It’s a world that great author’s like Larry are interested in exploring with us, so hopefully that says something to our credit!

  5. Hey Matt, I just wanted to say I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all three books released to date. I was wondering if you will have a timeline on the web page that will let us know where in the chronology the various stories are taking place?

    • Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the books!
      We hadn’t planned for a timeline, but I think that’s a great idea! Once we get a few more books out there, I’m going to see if we can find a way to integrate that into the site. Thanks!

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