Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Mark Morris. This guest post is part of The 'Obsidian Heart' Blog Tour.

Mark Morris has written over twenty-five novels, including four books in the popular Doctor Who range. He is also the author of two short story collections and several novellas. His short fiction, articles and reviews have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and he is editor of Cinema Macabre, a book of horror movie essays for which he won the 2007 British Fantasy Award.

His latest novel, The Wraiths of War (Obsidian Heart, Book 3), was published by Titan Books in October 2016.

Click here to visit his official website.


I’d never written a trilogy before embarking on OBSIDIAN HEART; had never even considered it, in fact. I’d always thought trilogies were exclusive to high fantasy writers, who had worlds to build, histories to create, wars to document and casts of thousands to manage and manipulate. Horror, I’d always thought, although occasionally apocalyptic, was more self-contained and claustrophobic.

And then I came up with an idea that combined crime fiction, horror fiction and time travel, and instantly I knew that the story I wanted to tell would have to be big.

I knew too, pretty much from the outset, that the tale would be told in three distinct parts – the first set primarily in present-day London, the second set largely in Victorian London, and a big chunk of the third and final part taking place in the trenches of the First World War. I also knew that it was going to be a story about a quest – not only a man’s quest to find his lost daughter, but also a quest to discover the truth behind the book’s (trilogy’s) titular artifact.

Early on, I still think I had it in mind to write the story as a single book – maybe one that would ape the style and ambition of those expansive and ambitious horror/dark fantasy novels of the late 80s, early 90s, like Stephen King’s The Talisman, Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song and Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. But even as a 700 or 800 page book it felt cramped in my head; it felt like it would be the fictional equivalent of trying to squeeze a middle-aged butt into a pair of skinny fit jeans that you’d last worn as a teenager.

And so I decided to let the story breathe, to expand, by proposing it not as one book, but three – and immediately that felt right. The problem then, of course, was whether my agent would be able to procure a three-book deal, which fortunately, thanks to Cath Trechman’s enthusiasm and foresight at Titan Books, he did. He sold it on the strength of a fairly detailed plan for book one, a less detailed plan for book two and a pretty sketchy plan, in which I posited a possible ending for the entire trilogy, for book three.

It was a risky strategy, but I knew that because I was writing about time travel, and because the story had so many elements, and would contain so many potential twists and turns along the way, I didn’t want to straitjacket myself into a story with no room for expansion. I knew that because the trilogy would take a few years to write, new and better ideas than the ones I currently had would most likely occur to me during the writing of each book – as indeed they did. I also knew that I wanted to challenge myself by writing mind-bending cliffhangers to books one and two that I’d then have to resolve in the following books. My big fear during the writing of the first book, and possibly a good chunk of the second, was whether I’d be able to maintain the pace and energy of the story over so many pages, and also whether, considering the twisty-turny nature of events, I’d be able to keep the story coherent and the characters consistent.

Luckily I had a great editor who kept me on the straight and narrow, pointed out potential inconsistencies and vague areas, and asked lots of pertinent questions, and with her help I think I managed it. I’m certainly proud of the trilogy, and it definitely hasn’t put me off writing another.

In fact, even as I write these words, there are the glimmerings of a new three-book story bubbling away in my head...

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