May Updates and Demon King Commentary

Hey all,

First off, updates.

AA3 has come a long way, but it’s also still a long way from being done. My current best guess is that I’ll have a first draft around August to September and a final version ready to launch around November. This would still meet my original goal of releasing the book in 2020, if only barely.

This one has been a real challenge, both due to the burden of expectations from readers and the fact that it’s a weird style of book from a narrative standpoint. AA1 and 2 are both largely magical academy novels – this one is basically a “winter break” novel. I’m trying very hard to make sure that it’s still engaging – I don’t want this to be a filler or side story book, especially given the two year wait between releases – but structurally, it can’t be the same as the previous two. It’s in a different locale, doesn’t have all the usual cast members, and takes place in a much shorter time period than the previous two.

I don’t want this to feel like a book that only serves to set up for the next book(s) in the series, so a *lot* is going on in this novel in a very short period of time. Overall, I think that currently makes it feel somewhat different than the previous two AA books, which I have some mixed feelings about. I anticipate there being a strong possibility that beta readers will not like the direction of some of the stylistic differences, and I’ll have to evaluate that and see if I want to make changes.

It also means that I’ll probably move on to AA4 more quickly after this one than I did with AA3. I’m not going to commit to that, but I think it may be necessary, since I suspect fans will be eager to get back into a more “conventional” AA book after this one ends.

Either way, W&W3 will be next after AA3. I’m still working on that when I’m in the mood for it, and I think finishing it up will be easy once AA3 is done. I expect it to be done and released sometime early next year. I’d love to get it out in December to do a back-to-back release with AA3, but I think that’s currently unlikely.

I have several other projects in the works, but most of them are much further off, and I’m going to de-prioritize them to focus exclusively on AA and W&W for a while. That mean people who are waiting for Wrynn’s story will have to wait a little longer, sorry. It also means no sequels to How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps any time soon.

Speaking of How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps, it’s doing very well, but there’s also been some confusion in the reviews and discussion.

Originally, I’d planned to record myself reading the Acknowledgements section at the back of the book, since those usually don’t get recorded by the narrator. With everything happening with COVID-19, I didn’t get a chance to go into Audible’s recording studio to do that as planned. The original acknowledgements section will still be in the Kindle version, but that’ll be around November, and I’d like to talk a bit about the origins of this story.

Most of the people reading this blog know that I’m a huge fan of JRPGs. It reflects in all my works, and it was pretty in-your-face already in Six Sacred Swords.

How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps is even more on-the-nose; it’s a deliberate parody and deconstruction of games like Dragon Quest, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Ys. Mostly the NES-era ones, but with some other references here and there, like some Job Class System stuff, d20-system derived leveling with more Elder Scrollsish skill grinding, Ocarina of Time jokes, etc.

I think some people went into this story expecting me to play those tropes a little straighter, more like with my other books, and got disappointed at the number of things that feel tropey or unoriginal. I want to make it clear that the tropey and referential nature is a deliberate part of the parody process. My main inspirations, aside from the games themselves, were series like Yuusha Yoshihiko, Endro!, Superior, and Maoyuu, all of which play with JRPG tropes in various ways.

The characters being archetypical and largely one-dimensional is 100% intentional. For those of you who aren’t aware, “Yui Shaw” is a joke name – it’s based on “Yuusha”, which is a character archetype popularized by Dragon Quest. It’s usually the main character’s character class. (It translates to something like “brave one”, and it’s basically what we’d call a “chosen one” archetype in western works.) Similarly, Ken Sei (or “kensei”) literally means “Sword Saint”. This style was borrowed directly from three of the works above – Endro!, Superior, and Maoyuu all primarily refer to their main characters by archetype names. This is both for comedy value and for the audience to give the audience an instant, easily recognizable name that helps them know where the character fits in with the story.

…Except that last one relies on a knowledge of Japanese tropes that didn’t work quite as well for a wider, English-speaking audience. Oops.

(I, for one, regret that I didn’t have a chance to include one of my favorite characters built in this fashion – “Lance Rival”. Maybe in the sequel or another similar book.)

Anyway, I think the story still largely worked as intended – most of the fans of my other works probably found it funny, and I know I’ve got some new readers who recognized how I was parodying the tropes and enjoyed it. I learned some good lessons here in terms of advertising, though, since I really should have pushed Audible to advertise it up-front as being a parody, just to set expectations. A lot of the jokes in the story don’t land if readers think I’m just being unimaginative, rather than deliberately making fun of specific tropes and characters. I’ll have to be a little clearer about the genre when it gets to be time for the Kindle release.

And if you did like this style of humor, I strongly recommend going to check out Yuusha Yoshihiko and the Demon King’s Castle, which was one of my bigger inspirations for the parody style of this work. You can see an example of the style of humor here. (I also recommend Maoyu, but that one is more serious.)

Hope everyone is staying safe in this difficult time. Take care, and I’ll plan to post another update next month.

25 thoughts on “May Updates and Demon King Commentary

  1. Hey Andrew! Love the updates! I think I’ve been looking pretty much every day for them so it’s good to hear you are still working hard on AA3; just don’t work to hard mind you 😀 anyway, if you can just do your best on it, I’m sure your fans will love it. Best wishes, stay safe!
    P.S I just re read AA2 for the millionth time and really loved that you incorporated the hug between Corren and Mara showing the growing friendship between them it’s prolly my favourite part. 🙂

  2. I’ll admit, I struggle to see how you could listen to it and not get that it’s a parody. I could see how you might not like it, it’s a love letter to JRPG, and so without that context it’s going to fall flat. But it’s nature as a parody was on full display from the vary beginning.

    1. I’m glad you picked up on it right away! I think some readers just assumed it was meant to be taken seriously by default. Humor is super subjective, too, so it’s not always easy for people to pick up on if they prefer a different comedic style.

  3. Wow, big update. Thank you for setting clear expectations for your fans, I appreciate you being straightforward about the schedule of AA3.

    I, for one, LOVED Demon King in Ten Steps! It was a hilarious parody of the games I played as a kid, I was really surprised to see that some people weren’t recognizing the parody tropes.

    I hope you’re doing good during this COVID19 season.

  4. Neat to see an author willing to take the time to give us updates! Looking forward to AA3. Congrats on Demon King, was a fun audio book. Greatly look to any of your new releases!

  5. Thank you for the update! I’ve loved all your works so far, so I doubt AA3 will be any different. Even if it’s different from the first two books in a few ways, it’s still always a pleasure to read your style of writing. Keep up the good work! Thank you!

  6. The one problem that I see is that there are things going on on W&W 3 that we need to see before AA3. Particularly regarding Annabelle Farren. Keras already told Corin and friends in W&W 2, that there were things that they needed to know about Annabelle before they got to Caelford.

  7. Well I have thought of many possible things that might happen in Caelford, so it is nice think that a lot of them might occur. Although, I am sure, not in the ways that I was expecting them to happen.

  8. First of all, can I just say how much I love your books? A friend of mine out me on them a couple years back and I’m certain I’ve listened to the audiobooks 3 times each whild going to and from work. and the fact that you keep your readers posted with this blog is just icing on the cake, I love hearing about your progress and methodologies as you work your way through the stories. Really appreciate everything you do and am looking forward to Demon King and AA3!

    Second, I wasn’t really sure where else to pose this question, but do/will you have hardcover versions of your books?

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the books! Thank you.

      No hardcovers any time soon. I self-publish and my publishing platform does not currently support hardcovers. Maybe if I change publishers someday, but not any time in the near future, sorry!

  9. New fan here – I recently listened to Demon King and enjoyed it very much. The Japanese references went over my head, but I loved the RPG/Zelda stuff, and I got a strong Sanderson vibe from the creative use of Bag Mage powers. I’m definitely going to check out your other work.

    I was wondering, would you mind sharing who your literary agent is? I’m working on on a humorous fantasy with some similarities to Demon King, and I’d love to show it to them when I’m done. Thanks!

  10. Hey there Andrew, I was wondering if Corin could create stamp like things to help create items really fast. It could use fire mana to burn it into the wood and maybe would be a changing thing so their is many options.

  11. Hi there! I just finished listening to Demon King, and it was my first introduction to your work- I loved it! I figured out pretty quickly that it was a parody of some of my fave genres and games, and I was surprised and delighted. Such a fun story! I don’t think you need to worry too much that people won’t understand it’s a parody; it was hilarious and awesome, almost Terry Pratchett-esque. Looking forward to checking out your other writing!

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