I just finished the manuscript for a novel titled THE DEMONS OF PARIS. This is the first book in a series I’m starting with Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett. They have now been co-authors of mine on four novels — three in the 1632 series (1636: The Kremlin Games, 1636: The Viennese Waltz and the upcoming 1637:The Volga Rules) as well as The Alexander Inheritance — and by now we have a very productive and comfortable writing partnership.

The series is a cross between alternate history and fantasy. The alternate history aspect is that it begins in Paris in the year 1379, during the late Middle Ages. The fantasy part stems from the premise that a curse leveled on Tamerlane tears open a rift between our universe and a netherworld, through which a multitude of demons pour through. The term “demons” is not used as a pejorative; some of them are beneficent, many — probably most — are rather neutral in their moral attitudes — and only a minority are given to wickedness. That minority, of course, is often Very Wicked and Very Powerful and so… we’re off to the races!

Despite being set in a medieval period and having plenty of swords and sorcery, I wouldn’t call it “epic fantasy.” To me, at least, the series has more of the flavor of contemporary urban fantasy. The reason for that is that the alternate history side of the story has a time travel element, in that a van full of (mostly American) teenagers attending an English-language private school in Paris gets sucked into the world of medieval Paris by a demon who is himself getting (very unwillingly) sucked through the rift and seizes upon their van as a vessel, not realizing that it’s an artificial machine rather than a living creature.

Thereafter, the demon has essentially possessed (or haunted) the van and his interactions with the modern era teenagers get… complicated and interesting. More demons get invited to the party and many of them accept because they are fascinated with 21st century cyber technology. The teenagers, being from the year 2017 and wealthy families, have a LOT of cyber technology in their possession — laptops, cell phones, tablets, you name it — and all of them soon become inhabited (sometimes but not usually also possessed) by co-operative demons.

(Full disclosure: The school from which these teenagers derive is rather closely modeled on a school which I actually attended as a kid when my family lived in Paris for several years. The real life school was then named the American Community School and still exists today under a different name. It was originally set up right after WW2 for the children of American expatriates living in Paris, but soon attracted people from many nationalities for whom English rather than French was their preferred educational language.)

I don’t know of any existing fantasy series that weaves AI into the setting and storyline to the extent that we do. That’s why, although the setting is that of medieval sword and sorcery fantasy, I think the flavor of the story is a lot closer to urban fantasy. That said, YMMV.

We’re publishing the series through my Ring of Fire Press, partly because established publishers that we showed it to (including Baen) tended to look at it cross-eyed, and partly because a long-running series like this is likely to provide RoF Press with a valuable boost. Publishing it through RoF Press also gives Gorg and Paula and me complete control over the project since (cough cough) I am the publisher as well as one of the co-authors.

As usual with RoF Press, our main emphasis is on electronic publishing but we do provide a POD option for readers who prefer paper editions. I’m not sure how soon THE DEMONS OF PARIS will come out. Larry Dixon is doing the cover art and we’ll need to wait until he’s finished. He’s already started working on it, but Larry is one of the top illustrators in F&SF and needless to say he’s awfully busy. That said, it shouldn’t take more than a few months. I figure — this is just a suck-it-out-of-my-thumb estimate, you understand — it will get published early next year.

How long will the series run? We’re not sure yet, but it will be at least four novels, just based on the plot outline we’ve already developed.

And now, I’ve got to get back to work on ALL THE PLAGUES OF HELL. I think Baen is going to publish that novel late next year. That’s still a year off, but I want to finish the novel by the end of November. Somewhere in the next six weeks I also need to write my story for GRANTVILLE GAZETTE VIII, which is definitely slotted to come out in June.

After that, I’ll start writing the sequel to OTTOMAN ONSLAUGHT. I’d piss and moan about my work load except, even all these years later, I can still hear David Drake’s none-too-sympathetic response when I complained to him about the work load I had at that time — which wasn’t nearly as heavy as the one I have now. “There are only two states of existence for a freelance fiction writer, Eric. You either have too much work or too little. Decide which you prefer and stop belly-aching.” (No one is ever going to give David Drake an award for “Most Tender-Hearted Person of the Year.”)