A few years ago when we visited Yosemite National Park in California, the area was struggling with extreme drought conditions. On our drive into the park, several wildfires were already ongoing in the region and one was burning near the entrance to the park. As the day went on, the temperatures climbed and the sky remained cloud free. Around mid-afternoon, I noticed a huge cloud just over the trees. At first I thought it was just smoke from one of the fires. Upon closer study, it turned out to be a towering pyrocumulus cloud. I had heard of these types of clouds before but never witnessed the creation of one. This occurred around the same time as I was pulling ideas together for the third book in the Secrets of the Elements series, The Fire and the Anvil.
As time passed, and after doing further research, it became clear what this particular novel needed to be about. All of the various narratives from the first two books in the series (Race the Sky and The Hammer of Amalynth) needed to converge in the third. At the same time, it also needed to pull in elements from the short stories Dust in the Whirlwind and Firebugs. Despite the complexity, I think I have arrived at a satisfactory outline and am now working on the first draft of the novel.
The book is built around the framework of John Sayers (the storm researcher from the first two books in the series) writing a research paper about an enigmatic professor named Dr. Ferganut and the man’s numerous inventions. The novel will delve into Dr. Ferganut’s past and his escalating rivalry with a fellow scientist, Dr. Minton. Previously, Dr. Minton made a brief appearance in the short story, Firebugs, but in this novel he will be a major character. With this novel the stakes will be higher and the technology battles between the two characters will escalate rapidly.
Together, these three novels will form a complete narrative arc. I'm leaving open the possibility of adding more books to the series, but that depends on how things go with this one. I'll post more updates as the publication date draws near.