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Broken Sky

Broken Sky (1999-2001)

Broken Sky (1999-2001)

Broken Sky is the story of two mirrored worlds, the Dominions and Kirin Taq. It’s about a pair of twins who find themselves torn from the safety of their home and thrown into the conflict, and how they become key players in the battle for both dimensions against the despotic King Macaan and his daughter.

I still have a big soft spot for Broken Sky. It seems so long ago that I wrote it, but I can still remember the feeling I had when I first put fingertip to keyboard and rattled out those opening lines. It felt like the first book I wrote that was really mine, because I was finally doing in print what I had been doing on paper since I was about three: making up worlds and telling stories about them. For me, fiction has always been about escapism, and I’d always been somewhat constrained by the real world in my earlier books. With Broken Sky I just had a blank canvas to work on, and I had as much fun painting in the background as I did telling the story.

I wanted to write a book in the style of the anime videos that I was painfully obsessed by at the time. Japanese series like Vision of Escaflowne and the manga of Nausicaa Of The Valley Of Wind – the greatest graphic novel ever – had such a different feel to most of the Tolkien-derived fantasy prevalent in the Western world. I had begun to wonder why such obviously creative writers were still using elves and dwarves and magic swords as a template when it had long been done to death, and the Japanese fantasies – uninhibited by the shadow of Tolkien and deriving from different folkloric roots – were dazzlingly original in comparison. Broken Sky, in all honesty, was written because I wanted to script an anime series but I couldn’t write in Japanese, which pretty much put me out of the running. So I wrote it in text and in English, not knowing what I was doing, just going with what felt right. I adhered to the strictures of the genre in some aspects while some I just ignored, taking what I thought made anime superior to Western cartoons: the long story arcs, properly developing characters, strong emotional scenes… oh yeah, and everyone kicking the living shit out of each other all the time. Whatever I did, it apparently worked. It was the first of my books that really broke into the international market, and sold all over the world.

Broken Sky was originally intended as a trilogy of fairly sizable books. To some extent, it was a dry run for the lengthier ‘adult’ fantasy trilogy that I wanted to do, but which did not emerge until several years later with the publication of The Weavers Of Saramyr. I’ve always been something of a tentative writer, having burned myself countless times by attempting mammoth novels only to have them collapse under their own weight. With Broken Sky I wanted to see if I could hold a trilogy together and make it work; and I like to think that structurally, it’s very sound. There are dozens of principle characters and hundreds of thousands of extras, storylines spanning three years book-time and all sorts of interlinking monsters, organisations and geographical wonders. But it doesn’t creak too much when I kick it, and it holds water, so I’m happy.

Scholastic decided to publish Broken Sky originally in twenty-seven parts as a serial; but this proved too unwieldy for bookshops to handle so it was scaled down to nine, with three parts for each book of the trilogy. After many years I managed to annoy Scholastic enough to re-release it in the originally intended format of three big books, in 2007-2008, with the three parts subtitled The Twilight War, Communion and The Citadel respectively.

Ironically – since it was born from the desire to write an animated series – Broken Sky went into development as an animated series. They’d even got to the stage of making trailers – which looked fantastic – but sadly the project has since died. Oh well…

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