Things have been a little quiet on my end of things, sorry! Figured I’d best give you all some sort of progress update on what’s been going on here on my end of things.

So: Big question first: How far away is my next book, that epidemiological standalone I keep talking about?

Well… unfortunately, it’s a ways off. That’s partially due to me adjusting to a whole new lifestyle ⏤ traveling as a digital nomad is challenging in a lot of new ways for me. I’ve gotten sick a few times as my immune system adjusts, I’ve lost my debit card and had to have one mailed out to me, I threw out my back (it’s basically healed now, at least)…it’s been a crazy few months. Plus, all the adjustments to new cultures and locations ⏤ I’m traveling pretty slow, but it’s still pretty intense. It’s been really good, too, of course ⏤ more on that in another post soon.

The other big thing delaying The Wrack (pretty sure I’ve announced the title already, but if not, it’s called The Wrack! Definitely my favorite title for any of my books so far!) is the epidemiology. I’m very, very far from being any sort of stranger to epidemiology ⏤ it’s been a fascination of mine for years, and I’m a firm subscriber to the disease theory of history. (Essentially, the idea that disease has affected human history far more strongly than war or any other human activity.)

This is my first time trying to write a book centered around a plague, though. I had a pretty firmly laid out lifecycle and symptomology for my contagion, and had a good idea how it would interact with the civilizations in The Wrack, and how the plot would wrap around those pillars.

Turns out, not so much. I made some fundamental errors in planning out the disease that broke the story. They weren’t especially big problems on their own, but in the world of epidemiology, truly tiny changes in how an infectious disease spreads, how long its incubation period is, how lethal it is, etc, will produce massive differences when it reaches epidemic or even pandemic scale. Without spoiling anything, well…I either had to completely rework the plot of the Wrack, or redesign the disease.

I chose to do both, because of course I did.

I’m also doing a massive amount of epidemiological reading as well ⏤ partially for research and tone setting, partially, well, because I really like reading that sort of thing.

So when is The Wrack going to be out? Well, instead of in December like I’d been hoping, it’ll most likely be out in January at the earliest, but probably February.

And, not to worry, there shouldn’t be (knock on wood) any comparable major issues for Mage Errant Book 4. It’s by far the book in the series I’ve had most heavily plotted out in my head since close to the beginning. It’s going to go fast, and it’s going to be a blast. (Ironically, it’s the only remaining book I haven’t settled on a title for.)

John Bierce


  1. Bryek Ward November 30, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    A while ago you wrote about having a cat. How does your travelling work with Notfish?

    • johnbierce November 30, 2019 at 11:14 pm

      He’s staying with my brother! My little brother and I adopted the cat together, since we were roommates. It had been an ambition of mine to go traveling as a digital nomad for a few years now, so it’s something we discussed when we first adopted Notfish! I definitely miss that fluffy little jerk a lot, and by all accounts he misses me too ⏤ spent a lot of time confusedly looking for me in my old room and my usual haunts, and being very perplexed when my brother fed him instead of me doing it. The new roommate gets along with him great, though, so that’s good!

  2. Eliot! November 19, 2019 at 8:08 am

    The phrase “…the only remaining book…” implies that you have a mental target for the number of Mage Errant books in the series — is that true?
    Also, your writing is superb, I’m incredibly impressed with your style and unusual plot choices! I found you after reading Andrew Rowe, who I found after reading Will Wight.

    • johnbierce November 19, 2019 at 9:47 am

      I have the series planned at six books plus a short story collection! It’s possible the plan could change, but it’s unlikely.

      I’m really glad you enjoyed my books! Out of curiosity ⏤ unusual how? (I definitely take unusual as a compliment, I’m just curious what you mean in specific!)

      • Eliot! November 19, 2019 at 9:57 am

        Hrm. That’s a fair question. Some stuff I don’t want to mention because spoils? Having read a significant amount of fantasy, much of which is coming-of-age type heroes journey stories (which the ME series definitely qualifies as thus far), I guess the primary driving force I pick up is plot-because-world, rather than plot-because-plot. Your plot arcs feel driven by character interaction and interaction of forces upon those characters, I never feel any sort of authorial directive.
        That’s also the brilliance of the third book, you throw a ton of bigger picture topics and forces into the narrative and it never feels like “where’d that come from”, more of “oh, our main character is learning so much and so are we and everyone is three-dimensional”.

        • johnbierce November 19, 2019 at 9:25 pm

          Oh, glad to hear that, that’s definitely something I’m aiming for! I’m highly concerned with questions regarding how the world affects characters, and how they respond organically in return. I think my writing style also helps with that ⏤ I know the beginning and ending, but I figure out the path along the way, save for a few setpieces. Because of that, I have to rely on my characters to route their way through pretty organically.

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