How Long Is This Story & How Long Will It Take

I’ve had loads of feedback. Thank you and please keep it coming, I’m interested in your thoughts and criticisms, whether as reviews (Amazon and Goodreads), direct (, Facebook ( or even comments on the blog posts. I read them all and I respond to every email at the moment.

I’ll feed back on the range of feedback in another blog post, but two emerging threads are ‘how long is the story / how many books’ and ‘how quickly’, and I’d like to deal with them separately here.

How Long Is This Story

Okay, a word of warning to start with. It’s longer than I thought at first, and for reasons I’ll describe below, my estimations need to be taken as just that – estimations.

The whole Amber Farrell arc has three parts or three sub-arcs, unimaginatively called the beginning, the middle and the end. This is not a series that will trot on with no end in sight, and each third of the whole arc has a direction and a purpose.

The beginning deals with setting up the world view and explaining the factions. Much of what appears to be, turns out not to be. For example, in Sleight of Hand, Athanate are not vampires. This was my original theme for the beginning – deception and revealing the truth.

The middle will be the development of the factions’ positions, the increasingly fraught relations as Emergence (discovery by humans / paranormals revealing themselves to humans) threatens. Things get tougher and tougher until…

The end will deal with the fallout.

Nothing earth shattering about that progression.

Here I reveal why you should take my estimations with a pinch of salt – before I started writing I thought this would be a trilogy. One book per third of the whole arc. Ha!

My estimation failed because I was thinking purely in terms of the meta-story described above. Honestly, how long could it take to describe the Athanate, the Were and the Adepts? But I wanted each storyline to be woven with threads down from the levels of ‘OMG the whole world is in danger’, through ‘I’m becoming a vampire’ and ‘my sister hates me’, right down to ‘I can’t afford to repair my car’.

Half way into Sleight of Hand, with this layering, it was clearly going to take more than a book to set up the world. At this point, Sleight of Hand was called Bite Back. I split it into two, shuffled some mini-arcs around, and thought ‘well, two books for the Athanate, one for Weres and Adepts’. So my estimates were now that the beginning sub-arc was a trilogy, then there was a book for the middle and a book for the end.

Ahh. Book 3 is not going to be quite enough to fully reveal the Were, let alone the Adepts. So the Bite Back series, the beginning sub-arc, is now estimated at four books.

On that basis, I have to think the middle (which will form a series in itself ) will be two books and the end (also its own series) will be two books.

The answer then, is current estimates say the full Amber Farrell arc will be three series comprising eight books in total. Or maybe nine. Let’s say not more than ten. J

Is That All

No. There will be a prequel novella dealing with the attack on Amber in the South American jungle. There will be a series using Bian as a POV character; shorter books, maybe three of them. Both of those are started. I’ll put the starting chapters of both up on the web site presently.

I currently anticipate a book based in England using a different POV character, using the same world view and global events. This might be a format for another couple using different characters around the world. And maybe some short stories featuring existing characters, even including Amber.

Is That All (2)

No. I have tons of ideas for other books. I should have started writing earlier!

Alt-reality Sci-Fi, sort of YA, Joan of Arc (without the burning end)
Spy thriller male protagonist
High Fantasy dragons/coming of age, female protagonist
And so on.

How Long Will It Take

Each book is different, but I doubt I’ll be able to write anything that is shorter than Sleight of Hand, for instance, at 120k words.

Four months at 1000 words a day doesn’t sound excessive (until you try it), and two months for edits is pushing it. I really can’t see me getting more than two Amber books out per year.

I can, however, write two different books at the same time. A change is as good as a rest! This means that, hopefully, this year (2013) will see two Amber books, a Bian book and an Amber novella. That’s what I’m aiming for. Keep me to it!

About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

8 responses to “How Long Is This Story & How Long Will It Take”

  1. ljbreedlove says :

    I appreciate your openness on the planning of these books. One thing that you haven’t touched on is how you got the word out — marketing. I just stumbled across book one in late November, but your sales were well underway at that point. As a writer in the marketing trenches, I’d be interested to hear your views.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Hi Lois
      Thank you for the prompt to write about marketing and especially thank you for the review on Amazon for Hidden Trump – much appreciated. I will put up a blog post in the next week covering what we did and why, and what I think worked. -Mark

  2. Alan Ballantyne says :

    So glad the story will be over more than just 3 books, the characters are so intriguing and the storyline so in depth that after reading your post I was happy to hear that the development of the series will be much more than I expected. The prequel novella is something I’m very interested in and the Bian book should be really fascinating. Thank you

  3. Bryce says :

    Well… I cant say im too happy about the series being so long but i can say i am VERY happy that you seem to have it planned out and hopefully not have it drag. Alot of authors now seem to keep a story plodding along that only seems to hurt it. So heres hoping you can keep the quality up.

  4. mediaxyz says :

    Read both books back to back after being put on to them by word of mouth. Great reads both.

    Based on the timelines above, I guess we can expect book 3 to come out around mid-year?

  5. Terrie says :

    I am sooo pleased to have stumbled onto this series! I agree I was surprised that I hadnt heard of this series beforehand. Oh, I believe this series is great and I think you are a welcomed addition to the land of paranormal books.. I am so excited to hear that there will be more books to come. The more the better, my dear..LOL

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