Matthew Munson: A fertile imagination

A single story or a series?

Writing a book – or, rather, writing a story that deserves to be turned into a book – is a tough business. Anyone with the germ of an idea needs to translate that into something serious. I don’t mean that humour can’t exist inside a novel, but the concept of writing something must be treated with respect.

I’ve been fortunate to be blessed and cursed with a fertile imagination. It’s something that I’ve cultivated over the course of my lifetime and I find myself conjuring up stories from some odd recess of my mind where I hadn’t realised anything actually lurked except recipes and a desire to see people who spit on pavements locked away in a darkened room and never heard from again.

A quandary

But come forth they do and occasionally they form into ideas that I struggle to fit into a single storyline. As a result, I find myself in a quandary. do I expand the solo story and turn it into something with subplots, or do I expand it out into a series? I’d like to say, in case my publisher reads this, that I always choose the most commercially-viable option. But it boils down to whether or not I can actually sustain a plot throughout an interesting weave of events.

When I started writing Elysium’s Shadow, the book which Inspired Quill published in October 2017, I always knew that it wouldn’t be a stand-alone book, as there was a bigger universe that I hinted at in the story and wanted to explore in more depth.

What I didn’t know, however, was how many books were going to appear in the series. Some writers know what the entire series is going to look like from the very earliest moments. Look at J K Rowling and the copious notes and plotting she created in her early days. She always knew that seven books were going to cover Harry Potter’s life and experiences at Hogwarts. I’m merely fumbling through by comparison.

The universe that formed around my first story was actually quite expansive. I’d written quite a lot of back story and this influenced the book dramatically because it told me how characters would react in certain situations.

It didn’t work

I then blame Sara, the Seer-in-Charge (Managing Director in Old Speak) at Inspired Quill Publishers, for what happened next. She had kindly taken on responsibility for editing Elysium’s Shadow personally so, when I began working on her edits with gusto, I was intrigued to note that she had some particular comments to make about the sub-plot I’d included. Long story short, we agreed, finally, that it didn’t work and it needed to be removed.

It hurt to start with, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit it in anywhere else in the series. But then Sara and I came up with a brainwave, using it to create a short novella which could come out before the second official book in the series was released. I certainly wasn’t going to argue with that and it gave me the opportunity to release something else within the universe that I’d crafted.


An author’s ego has to be a healthy one, and I’m certainly no exception, but when you have an editor as committed as you are to the process of developing the series, it becomes an incredibly exciting process for any writer still passionate about the craft of writing.

So if know any such writers, just ignore them if you see a particular glint in their eye. They’re probably lost – literally – in their own world.