Lucas Bale

Award-Winning Speculative Fiction Author

The Work In Progress Blog Tour – A Shroud of Night and Tears

I've never participated in a blog hop (or tour) before. Maybe I'm old before my time, but Mike Hicks nominated me, so I thought it would be rude to refuse a friend. Take a moment to check out Mike's site, and his writing. If you like hard-boiled science fiction with a dark twist – imagine the lovechild of Stephen King and Robert Crais – then you'll love Mike's writing. His story for the No Way Home anthology I curated, Revolver, has already won plaudits from ARC readers who said it stayed with them for days afterwards.

The WIP Blog Tour ‘Rules’ (the law is rigid and should be slavishly followed, honest) are:

  1. Link back to the post of the person who nominated you. Well, here you go Mike.
  2. Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress.
  3. Nominate some other writers to do the same.

And so, here we go. Do check out my nominees listed below for info on their works in progress and hopefully find new books to add to your to-read list.

A Shroud of Night and Tears

Book Three of my hard science-fiction and epic space opera series, Beyond the Wall, has been in the works for some time now. Even as I was releasing Defiance, back in November last year, I was planning and plotting for Books 3 and 4 of the series. I'm writing both at once because it allows me to keep track of the many plot-lines and characters, keeping them constant and unfolding at the right pace. It means that A Shroud of Night and Tears is taking perhaps a little longer than The Heretic and Defiance did, but it's far more complex and much longer. I'm at 68,569 words, as of this post, with a likely final word count of 110,000 words.

However, every scene is planned (albeit plans are usually subject to change at the whims of my chaotic characters who very much like to write their own paths, especially Natasha). Every sequence is structured so the pacing works and Book IV, I would hope, will run very smoothly indeed (I've already written about 15,000 words of it).

I'm not going to say any more than that. Some on the blog hop have outlined the blurb or synopsis of their novels. I'm not going to do that. I want you to be ready for it and see the cover and blurb at the same time. Am I cruel? No – I want it to knock you out as much as it's knocking me out writing it. This will be the best work I have done to date and I am really, really excited about it. However, the rules state that I must give you the first few lines from the first three chapters, so here they are in that first draft stage so they are sure as hell subject to change!

Chapter One – Black Dragon

The only interruption to the silence of the dark came from the steel walls of his cell—a low, sonic hum which never faded. It had been his perpetual companion; an enduring reminder of where, and who, he was. There was no such thing as night or day in the depths of this ship. Time lost its meaning down here. He had chosen the dark because, with the lights on, he couldn’t ignore how tight the walls were.

Chapter Two – Flight

‘Sir, you need to see this.’ Frome, usually all business, was breathless. He bit his lip before he spoke again, blinking repeatedly, and Gant watched him search Isaacs’s face for a reaction. ‘Sensor data indicates three gas giants with a number of orbital moons, and a number of smaller planets, some with their own moons. One of the smaller planets might qualify.’ He jabbed his finger against the screen, then turned to Isaacs. ‘It’s the right distance from the yellow dwarf star; it’s within the habitation zone.’

Chapter Three – The Illusion of Freedom

Gant heard his name being called and opened his eyes. Papin was staring at him.

‘It’s time,’ she said. ‘You going to sleep all day, or should we go fly a little?’

He nodded and rolled his neck. As it always had, the rebreather mask felt too tight and claustrophobic. He hated it. He looked forward to the moment he could take it off, collapse it down and stow it. He glanced down at the module on his wrist—the altimeter read 30,029 metres. Oxygen supply was constant and the small tank was full. His heart rate was high, but it always was about now. He felt light-headed, but not to the point of concern for hypoxia. It was probably just the usual excitement tinged with nerves. Time to get yourself moving, Will. He unbuckled himself and stood. The deck of the drop-bay was a pitching beneath his feet, but he was used to it and made his way to the middle of the bay. A few seconds later, Papin joined him.

My Onward Recommendations

Harry Manners has been producing some great work recently, from his Ruin saga, to his brilliant story for No Way Home, which I loved, called The Happy Place. Subscribers to my mailing list will get that story, and another he's written, free when they subscribe. He's a fiendishly clever physics student (and my phone-a-friend for science and other geeky advice) and soon to release a cli-fi (climate change science fiction) novel called Our Fair Eden. Really, this is a guy who is writing some inspired science-fiction.




Alex Roddie writes Victorian mountaineering fiction, set in the golden age of alpinism. It's something of a niche market, you might think, but if you're a fan of Conan-Doyle, Dickens and modern crime thrillers all rolled into one elegant package, Alex pens stories which will draw you into a world you never knew existed. Try The Atholl Expedition, recently nominated for TGO Outdoor Book of the Year, with its wonderful illustrations and you will not be disappointed. His science-fiction debut, as A.S. Sinclair, has been described by me and others as Lovecraft meets James Herbert. Cold Witness also appears in No Way Home.


All words copyright Lucas Bale, 2015