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The Muffler's Ministry: First Steps

While I'm awaiting feedback on the latest draft of My Family and Other Ghosts, I've made the first tiny steps towards my next project. I've mentioned this in a couple of previous blog posts but thought I'd take the opportunity to expand on it further now.

The working title is The Muffler's Ministry. Although it's a self-contained story, I'm currently envisioning it as part of a series of books. Theoretically, it's opened-ended, but the initially envisioned arc of the cross-novel story is likely to take three novels to complete, and there's more that could be told beyond that. The working title for the series is Familiarity.

Right, what can I say that's not really a spoiler? Well, as I've mentioned before, the series is ostensibly my first foray into the world of fantasy. Let's start by describing the world, loosely.

It takes place in the coastal region of Portsea, flanked by Exwater to the West, Brightgate to the East and Emforth to the North. The society is primarily agricultural, with an efficient set of ministries watching over society to keep things on track and provide for its people if they fall on hard times. Life is hard, but fair, with a basic income available for all, no questions asked.

The ministries, and those who work in them, are designated by initials: XA (The Ministry of Agriculture), XB (Business), XC (Liaison), XD (Information), XE (Education), XF (Security), and XG (Welfare). Nominally, a president, known only as X, sits above them all, unseen by the man in the street,

Our hero, Rowan Webb, has the designation XD4.1.2 at the start of the story, working in the Ministry of Information. His father, Brett Webb, is no other than XD, the minister himself. Whether that proves to be a boon or a bane will soon become apparent.

Low-level, everyday magic is a fact of life. Most people can move small items with their minds, sense how others are feeling and other small-scale effects.

There are rumours of individuals with more advanced powers; of a secretive eighth ministry; of people who dabble in forbidden arts vanishing without trace.

Those who really pay attention have heard the ministry's name whispered, but know not to spread it further for fear that they will be next to disappear: The Muffler's Ministry.

That's probably all that's safe to give away without spoiling anything. I'm currently expecting to tell the story in four parts: Induction, The Mufflers, The Community, Closure. I'm also assuming that will be entirely wrong.

I've made a copious set of notes on the world, its ministries, its magic, its background history (which will become very important over the first three novels) and also details about twelve characters so far. Although there's quite a bit more planning to do, I've decided to write two or three trial chapters next to see how things settle down, before undertaking a more major piece of planning for the rest of the novel.

At the moment, I'm thinking of telling the story in the first person from Rowan Webb's perspective, Other than my original work, The Stream, all my other stories have been in the third person. I'm not entirely sold on the idea of telling in the first person yet, which is why I want to have a dry run of a couple of chapters first.

If I'm vaguely happy with them, I may share those chapters in a blog post later. We'll see. This is just the early scoping phase for what I hope will be a major piece of work for me over several novels. Once I get my feedback on My Family, then I'll be swapping back to that, but this should keep me busy in the self-isolated interim!

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