Hello, and welcome to this final installment of the Legends of the First Empire. This book marks the sixteenth novel in my fictional world of Elan and the conclusion to the age of myths and legends that forms the foundation of my previous series.
This book is releasing at an unprecedented time in our history. As I write this, it is April 2020. The Coronavirus Pandemic is rampant throughout the world, and people are sequestered in “lockdowns”—families trapped in involuntary staycations. Early Kickstarter readers, who seem to be hoping to escape their four walls and perhaps the daily news, have been flooding my inbox with emails, clamoring for the book. Robin and I have struggled, but we managed to keep on schedule for the ebook and audiobook versions. We were thrilled the printer could produce the book at all, and it was just three weeks late.
While most people have struggled with stay-at-home orders, life here in the valley hasn’t changed much. As most of you already know, we live in a cabin in the mountains of Virginia. Being a fulltime writer with a wife who is my editor, agent, business manager, and publicist means that we have long lived the lives of hermits—by choice. In the past, we have invited people from all over the world to the cabin. We have enjoyed the company of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, retired military generals, famous as well as aspiring authors, fans of my work, and even a few who had no idea who I am or what I do. All of that stopped in 2020, of course, and when we come out on the other side of this, I hope we can return to hosting people. So, if your travel plans ever take you to the Luray, Virginia area, drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll have you by for a drink.
For those who cannot come here, there is a possibility that we might come to you. Earlier this year, Robin and I bought a Jeep and a teardrop camper with plans of doing some traveling. Once the virus-imposed restrictions are off, we hope to start. Over the years, several people have said, if you are ever in <insert-various-place>, let us know, and because we have lived like hermits, we, unfortunately, didn’t write those down. But we now have a system for recording such things, so if this is of interest, you can go to https://michaeljsullivan.survey.fm/if-you-are-ever-out-this-way, and let us know where you live. If it turns out that we’ll be passing nearby, we’ll see if we can meet up.
As it turned out, that teardrop camper came at just the right time. Robin became ill at the end of March, and she has been isolating in it. We are hoping she’ll be able to emerge in a few days, but like everyone else, we are erring on the side of caution because we don’t want those measures circumvented by moving too quickly.
Finishing this book has been interesting, to say the least. Robin and I work via Discord when she isn’t resting to go over typos reported by the gamma and early Kickstarter readers. Usually, we would be in the studio while Tim records (something we always look forward to); however, that wasn’t possible this time. We did receive the dailies and were able to communicate changes via emails. Thanks to Tim’s in-home studio, he was able to stay mainly on schedule, and that saved the audiobook’s release date. As always, our heartfelt thanks go out to Tim and our undying gratitude to the extra work he put in. He had to work alone without an engineer or director, but his efforts meant the audiobook’s release wasn’t affected by the crisis. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Tim for his added hard work.
So the long journey is finally at an end. I don’t think I’ve fully processed that yet. Getting this book out in May fulfilled a promise Robin made; keeping that pledge was important to her. My hope is that this book has the power—in some small way—to help. I want to think we’ve created something good and lasting that can be shared—a doorway through which you can go to catch your breath, ease some stress, and perhaps even remember how to smile. Here’s hoping that everyone who started reading this series will be able to finish it because that would mean the specter passed by your door. Stay safe. Keep your spirits up. And join with me now for the next, and last, journey into the Legends of the First Empire.
Michael J. Sullivan
April 18, 2020