At the end of 2012 I began the third book in The Eidolon Cycle, and already I know this will be the most challenging of the three. The story spans one hundred years, beginning in the late nineteenth century, and follows the origins, life and death of one of the secondary characters in Amaranth and Sweet Alyssum; Sabine. Titled Bella Donna, the story will explore how Sabine came to be the twisted creature readers will know from the first two stories or, if this is the first title read, it will introduce the saga from its earliest point.

There are always challenges when writing historical fiction, but I have not made even that part of it easy for myself; the principal location – the city of Lennox – will need to have its own believable history, even though no one really knows in which country it lies. Not only that, but the rules of the eidolon world are already set out in the first two books, even though they are set chronologically later than this story, so there are defined rules within which I need to work.

Then Sabine herself is a challenge; she is an unsympathetic character in the other books – dark, moody, callous and twisted – and to write her in the first person without alienating readers will take time and care. Knowing her as well as I do, I have that sympathy already, but can I get it across to my readers? Enough so that if they happen to read this book first, they will remain loyal to her through the other books? That is the goal I have set myself, and I accept it with relish. Why make it easy?

I am already fascinated with the research I have done so far, and it would be easy to get lost in that without writing a word. The history of our treatment of people suffering from neurological and psychological diseases is disturbing, particularly in regards to women. It is this very treatment, or mistreatment, in institutions around the world, still spoken about in whispers, that forms the backdrop for Bella Donna and Sabine.