16 May

What was it like to write Merlin's Blade? by Robert Treskillard


Like all good stories, MERLIN’S BLADE began with a small seed. It wasn’t an image, a word, or an emotion … it was a question.

Why would someone drive a sword into a stone? I knew why Arthur pulls the sword out. That means he’s the new king. But why would someone drive a good blade into a stone? Authors have answered that question differently throughout history, but the answer that came to me back in 2006 startled me.

What if the stone was the enemy?

What if you were trying to kill it? That answer became the foundation for everything that followed: plot, character, weaknesses, and most of all, for the entire story arc that now spans nine novels if one were to traverse the clouds in my overactive imagination.

But how did I actually begin writing? Well, I started out writing a scene from the middle of the plot just to see how this “writing thing” worked, and I was very pleased with the result. (This scene has now become part of chapter six in the published novel!)

After that I stopped writing and did a year’s worth of research before picking up my proverbial pen once more. I needed to understand the era, the people, the land, the politics, the science, the religion … everything.

Then I began to write, and write I did until the novel was finished after two years and 153,000 words. Sadly, this was too large for an unknown, first time novelist, and thus began a six year odyssey of editing and cutting.

Fourteen drafts later, you can now hold a trimmed down, fast-paced, emotionally charged MERLIN’S BLADE in your hands, thanks to BLINK and their incredible editing, sales, and marketing team.

Did I struggle with my writing? Yes.
Did I weep when characters died? Yes.
Did I ever embarrass myself in front of industry professionals? Yes.
Did I spend time learning from those wiser than me? Yes (including paying them money to critique my work and tell me what needed fixing).
Did I learn patience with the slowness of the publishing industry? Yes.
Did I ever feel like giving up? Well, not really, but there were definitely discouraging moments.
Did I feel that thrill as I signed my first contract? YES.

What is writing? Writing is giving. It is giving of yourself sacrificially so that others might enjoy stories that yearn to be told. It is family and friends gathered around the campfire while a tale is imparted, just like a Celtic bard would have done in days of yore.

One of my characters, Muscarvel, says it best on page 129. Here, he is speaking to Merlin:

Muscarvel’s words fell away from him in the grief of tears. As he spoke again, a calmness, if not a saneness, returned to his voice. “Great lord, besides a few final tasks, I am now free. But you… you shall bear these words as a dark burden until your death. I merely carried them. You must live them.”

And while I don’t think MERLIN’S BLADE will be a burden to you—I, like Muscarvel, have carried these words for you for many years. Now it is your turn to live them.