Oh, don’t look so shocked. You knew this was coming.
That said, with the exception of suggesting in a comment that whichever of the characters on the cover one found the most attractive was modeled after me — which is, like, so obvious a lie that no one could reasonably believe it — I’m happy to say I never once explicitly lied about the nature of the project; I was just very very choosy in the words I used to describe it. For example, I never actually said I was writing a trilogy; I said “Tor announced a fantasy trilogy of books with my name on them.” Also, when I was using the word “fantasy,” I was meaning a different definition of the word than is generally suggested in this context. I did in fact talk to Bill Schaefer at Subterranean about what a limited edition would be like; he suggested black text on black paper. Oh, and that contract? For the short story, written as if a prologue for a longer book.
Basically I wrote enough that I could say without lying that I was telling you folks the truth, while at the same time implying something that was manifestly not true. Just enough plausibility to get at least some of you over your inherent and wholly justified April Fool’s Day skepticism. Hey, I can do that, I’m a writer and allegedly good with words.
So, yes, it’s a joke, nor do I think most of you are really that surprised. As folks noted in the comment thread, we left lots of clues hanging around, not the least of which was this Tor.com article, including me leaving the very first comment. And in fact, that was the genesis of the project — after I joked about writing the trilogy, Patrick phoned me up and told me the Tor.com folks wanted to have a prologue for an April Fool’s thing. I don’t think he actually finished the sentence before I signed on.
Because — and this really is no joke — my brain had already started working on what a book like “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City” would be like, if I were to write it. I eventually decided it would have to go one of two ways: either a send-up of the silliest parts of fantasy, or a completely awesome action-packed novel that took that absolutely ridiculous title and totally redeemed it.
For the record, I actually got further plotting the completely awesome action-packed novel version. But for an April Fool’s joke, hey, you have to go with the humor. Also, the request got to me late and I had, like, a day to get it done. That’s enough time to write a funny short story, but not a completely awesome action-packed novel. No amount of amphetamine would make that happen in that timeframe.
Yes, yes, yes, I hear some of you say. It was a joke, but you could write more if you wanted to, right? Sure, and I had enough fun that if one day I think of an actual story to go with that prologue, I might get back around to it. Or I might whomp up that action-packed version instead, just to mess with your heads. But honesty requires me to suggest you not to get too worked up at the possibility. I already have a stack of projects on my plate. Sorry, man. I’m just trying to be square with you.
And no matter what, we’ll always have the prologue, which, I have to say, I had almost too much fun writing. I think that first sentence makes that much totally clear; it was one of those things which, after I wrote it, I sat there giggling for five minutes because I was actually getting paid to come up with a sentence like that. So then I wrote a second sentence that was even longer, and then a third sentence featuring the most hackneyed phrase in all of literature. And it was all awesome. There are probably lives for which I am better suited than the one I’m living, but I’ll tell you what, I can’t really imagine what they might be.