“The Migrator is the second novel I’ve written. The first has not been, and will not be, published, though I may well plunder it for bits for further stories. It told of an episode in the history of Orestol that occurred when Alentir met Michael Raven – and their relationship was more fully told there.
“The character of Alentir existed before that first novel, in various scraps of prose and crude attempts at narrative verse, covering his time in Usksumer and beneath the waves. Much of this grew and thickened over the years: but that is a key aspect of how I work. Initially I concentrate on getting stuff down, whether any good or not, if it ties in with what already exists or not. And then revising and revising, on and on; refining and adding depth at each turn.
“I felt Usksumer and the City in the Sea were fine as the opening and closing passages of a full-length tale, but struggled to find a story for the middle. I attempted to have Alentir spend a long time in the Port of Testa and become embroiled in its turbulent politics, travel to the far western shore of the fastland, or cross the Inland Sea to the southern lands. But none worked.
“It is a source of mild irritation to me that I can’t remember the genesis of the Kingdom of Spring and Autumn or Satin Chimber Kalin. But once I had the inspiration, work on Book II proceeded very quickly, some of the later chapters being written almost in one go, with little revision; but then I could clearly see the story. However, the integrating of the story of Alentir on the High Plateau with what had previously been written of him and Michael Raven, the return to the City in the Sea, and Alentir’s traversing the fastland was a painful process – not least because of the amount I’d written which I eventually excised.
“But I got there, and then went through the far-from-enjoyable-but-necessary process of get the damn thing published. Changing the cover image and title at a late stage in the process – and therefore rushing the cover image painting: both may be different if I had the time again. There are other errors I’ve discovered since, some slight – some items in the list in the Author’s Note being ended with a semicolon, others with a full stop – or more major – two consecutive chapters inexplicably have the same name – ‘The Cottage in the Woods’: the second should be ‘Beneath the Oak’. Yet, overall, I am pleased with what I’ve achieved.”
Richard Bray (late winter 2010)