Oliver Invictus | Official Reveal and Pre-Order

If you read between the lines of my last post, this one will come as no surprise. I’m pleased to announce the upcoming publication of Book 3 of the Annals of Altair: Oliver Invictus arrives on September 18, 2019.

You can pre-order the ebook HERE. Hooray!

Oliver Invictus book cover

Summary: Oliver Invictus

Dead at Fifteen

Oliver Dunn’s life is officially over. Pulled from his bed in the black of night, he’s headed for the Prometheus Institute’s mysterious shadow campus, where anomalies like him vanish forever.

But no sooner does he leave Prom-F than the school descends into chaos. The student body revolts, classmates make a break for freedom, and one silent, powerful projector among them corrals the adults into a hive-minded collective of slaves.

Yanked back from his impending doom, Oliver’s mere presence restores order. The Prometheus heads demand that he ferret out the rogue projector, but he’d rather die than cooperate.

His life is already over. They can’t threaten him with any fate worse than his own. But they can threaten the one person in the world he actually cares about: his former handler, Emily Brent.

If you haven’t read the first two books of this series, that summary might raise a lot of questions. If it’s been a while since you read them, ditto. Because I’m a giver, I’ll go ahead and post links for those two books as well:

Book 1: A Boy Called Hawk

Book 2: A Rumor of Real Irish Tea

That’s it for the announcement part of this post. A new book! Go forth and pre-order!

Or, if you’re game, stick around and read on.

Background Notes

I always considered the Annals of Altair complete at 2 books. This is apparent in their structure, which is pinned to the US Constitution. A Boy Called Hawk uses the main body for its chapter numbering (Preamble, Articles, and Sections) and A Rumor of Real Irish Tea uses the amendments (27 in all).

My younger self thought it was funny to have the Constitution as a meaningless frame for a hypothetical future in which that document itself had become meaningless. Actually, my current self thinks it’s funny too.

So.

A third book was not on my radar. What was I supposed to pin it to, the tax code?

The Plot Thickens

Still, I had family members that asked for more, and I knew that more happened beyond the scope of those first two books. Besides, if the original structure was meaningless, and meaninglessness was the point, then abandoning it for a meaningless chapter-numbering system would be fine.

Confident in that reassurance and the knowledge that I don’t have to publish everything I write, I tackled a third book for NaNoWriMo.

Back in 2015. (Seriously did not realize it was that long ago, but the timeline checks out. Tsk tsk, Kate.)

The story stalled at the third act, as my stories chronically do. I played with it a bit over the years, but it was definitely a back-burner project.

Why?

Well, I’ll tell you.

This series gets the least amount of traffic among my literary canon. Not a surprise. It’s dystopia lite instead of the gossamer fantasy that is my usual fare, so it’s easily skipped. It was also more like a personal art project than a commercial endeavor. Hence, for a while, I saw it as my weakest link.

We don’t draw attention to the weakest link.

But I truly love the story and its cast of characters—on both sides of the conflict. My initial vision to spin a yarn about four kids escaping an oppressive government morphed into a tale about the rotten little antihero tasked with bringing them back. By the end of the second book it was clear that Oliver and Emily were more the main characters than Hawk, Hummer, Honey, and Happy. I’ve always known what became of them afterward, and part of me always wanted to write it.

However, it seemed self-indulgent to work on a book that strayed so far from my perceived fantasy brand, and that few people—if any—actually wanted to read.

So what changed?

For my birthday last year, I sat down and conducted an inventory of my writing: unpublished projects, planned-but-unwritten projects, and works-in-progress. The list was kind of a slap in the head: I had 20 books in some form of development, not including my notebook of story kernels, and not including the six published books I still needed to switch over to my imprint.

The creative pile-up weighed me down. When you have too much debt, you get rid of the smallest one first. Thus, Oliver Invictus, 75% complete, moved up in the work queue.

(As a side note, the idea for Soot and Slipper hadn’t even occurred yet. I’m not great at managing my plot bunnies.)

The final impetus to complete the draft came from a comment on my blog last April. It’s one thing for people you know to ask for more of your work—there’s always a voice at the back of the head saying they’re only being polite, or that it’s their way of expressing a compliment. It’s quite another for a stranger to speak up. That’s a call to action.

And, as it happens, answering that particular call was within my ability. So.

Long story short (too late)

I estimate that roughly twenty people outside my own family might actively want this book. I hope more than that will read and enjoy it, but if its total market saturation is only those twenty, I still consider it time and effort well invested.

Mostly because I want this book.

Whether Oliver Invictus has a large audience or a small one, I’m excited for its readers to experience the next leg of this upside-down world.

And why September 18th?

It’s Oliver’s birthday. It seemed a fitting day to bring his story to light.

Annals of Altair series book covers

Look at these covers, you guys! They look like they belong together! +1 Branding skills for me!

13 Responses to Oliver Invictus | Official Reveal and Pre-Order
  1. JSU says:

    It did seem to me that “dystopia lite” was a more honest product of the zeitgeist than fantasy/sf (though this is one of those things authors shouldn’t necessarily care about either). OTOH I don’t know if I would have checked this series out without KU.

    Anyway, I’m now one of those 20 people, so thanks!

  2. Jillee S. says:

    I haven’t read this series yet, but I’d like to at some point. Sadly I have very little time to read these days with my own projects and applications for grad school. And wow, 20 books? I thought I had a lot but I think I’m at like 5. I completely understand the thing about family asking vs. strangers. Every time my family tells me they like something I wrote, I verify it at least three times because I just assume they’re trying to appease me. But nice comments on my online work always gives me a little boost of confidence!

    I’ll take this opportunity to add my own voice to the call for more work. You’re one of my favorite writers (and I’m picky!) so I hope you never stop writing.

    • kstradling says:

      Oh, goodness! Thank you for such a lovely compliment!

      The 20 books include a series or two, so at least it’s not 20 different projects. I would be completely frazzled if that were the case. (I do need to keep my eye on them all, though, because they seem to multiply every time I look away.)

      Good luck with your writing and your grad school applications!

      • Jillee S. says:

        Exciting! Can’t wait to read them. I think I only have one big series in the works but it’s been on the back burner for a while unfortunately. 🙁

        Thank you! I’m probably in over my head but oh well, go big or go home. 😀

  3. Shell Smyth says:

    I am definitely one of those that is really glad you decided to write this book. In reading the other two, I had assumed there would be a third, so I’m glad it’s coming! I love your works, and am often astounded at the depth and mastery you have over English and writing. Because this series is so different, I have no idea what to expect, but I’m really, really hoping Emily’s romance story arc continues to a more satisfying conclusion. I know it’s not the point or purpose of your story, but what can I say, I’m a huge fan of well executed romances! Either way, I’m really excited to read this book!

    • kstradling says:

      Well…

      I’ll just say this is more Oliver’s story and leave it at that. I’m half-terrified to release it, because it doesn’t necessarily follow where readers might expect. I do hope that you’ll be satisfied with how things turn out, though. And thanks for being excited regardless! 😀

  4. JSU says:

    So I pulled up the first book on my Kindle to reread before the new one comes out, and it looks like nothing has changed. No new cover image, imprint name, or anything. Do I have to delete it from my phone and re-download?

    • kstradling says:

      Hmm. The cover image should have updated on its own. As for the contents, Amazon has this policy of not pushing ebook updates to readers. The author can request that the update be made available, but there has to be some QC issue (like fixed typos) rather than revised or added content, and examples have to be documented (as in specific Kindle location numbers for the errors and their corrections).

      It’s a bit frustrating. I haven’t figured out a way around it yet, so sorry about that.

  5. AmW says:

    Found you while browsing Amazon for clean fairytale retellings. However, since you had several and I liked the first one I got, I purchased everything you had in the store.
    This series has been high on my favorites list, and just as I finished the second one you announced the third. BEST. DAY. EVER.
    I love the dry humor and realistic and hope-filled relationships that fill the pages. Saw part of the ending of book 2 coming, but definitely not all of the twists and turns. A surprise in a good way, so thank you! Can’t wait to read your next in the series and anything else you write!!

    • kstradling says:

      Wow. Thank you! Your comment just made my day!

      (I’m so glad the timing for Book 3 worked in your favor, too. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.)

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