Island of Fog Book 5: Roads of Madness

Posted on March 12, 2012 (Subscribe to Blog)

It's been over a month since I last posted, and I have no excuses for being so lax. It's a funny thing, but I've just had nothing to say. What kind of writer has nothing to say?

Anyway, in the last couple of days I finally decided on a title for the next book in the Island of Fog series. With that in mind, I went ahead and created the cover too. I've said before that having a title and a cover to glance at as I'm writing kind of gives me direction and focus, and sometimes an aspect of the cover will work its way into the book. More on this in a moment.

So (fanfare please) allow me to introduce Book 5, Roads of Madness, due out late-summer this year.

I've already written five chapters. In case you haven't guessed, the cover depicts one of the survivors of the deadly "virus" that struck Hal's world. Those who are caught up on the series will know what caused the so-called virus in the first place, and the title of this new installment will make perfect sense. Up until now I've only hinted at the effects of the worldwide pandemic that has left the world deserted and overgrown. Remember in Island of Fog when Hal and his friends reached the top of the lighthouse and looked out across the bay to the deserted city on the mainland? Well, Roads of Madness will take you right into the heart of that city, where disfigured, half-crazed "scrags" are running around in gangs.

There are varying degrees of craziness associated with these survivors. In Island of Fog, Miss Simone explains that when the "virus" struck, many were driven mad with pain and grief, and some became carriers of a mutated strain, thus beginning the spread of a real virus from person to person. Basically, the world was left in a big old mess. These days, as you'll discover in Roads of Madness, people are either surviving alongside the military in shelters above and below ground, or they're stubbornly clinging to private life in their own homes by keeping doors and windows sealed, and wearing bio-suits when they go out. Or there are a rare few who are totally immune. Everyone else is eking a sorry life on the rat-infested streets.

Yikes, how depressing!

The cover art depicts a scarred survivor. She's looking at you and calculating how long you'll live after she tears your throat out. Stay away.

In Roads of Madness, Hal and a few of his friends have to make it through an abandoned, rotten and dangerous world to reach their destination – their familiar old island. I'm looking forward to returning there myself. But it's not going to be the safe haven you might expect. Those who read Mountain of Whispers will know that the soldiers were sent home and the hole closed for good. Does this mean the soldiers and scientists shuffled meekly back to their military bunker? Of course not. The island is now a hive of activity. UFO and conspiracy fans will know all about Area 51, a top-secret base in the deserts of Nevada. Well, Hal's island is far more exciting than boring old UFOs because it boasts a portal to another dimension – or at least it did. Hal knows there are two other such portals to Miss Simone's world, but the soldiers don't. At least, not yet...

Of course, this is a moot point since the phoenix rebirth in Lake of Spirits closed all the holes anyway! But Hal and his friends are hopeful that one remains open. Otherwise they might be stranded forever.

So that's the basic premise, but as usual I have a number of surprises along the way. The biggest challenge for the children is that the phoenix rebirth not only rebooted Miss Simone's world and wiped out all the magic, but left the shapeshifters unable to transform. A book about shapeshifters who can't shapeshift is a contradiction in terms, a little like a writer who can't think of anything to write about. But despite the bleak tone, there will be plenty of adventure and tension, and I feel fairly certain that Hal and his friends will get their shapeshifting abilities back.

Eventually.

Comment by ROGER ESCHBACHER on Wednesday, March 14, 2012...

Ooh, I loves me some post-apocalyptic style adventures! Sounds like Hal and his friends have a tough road in front of them. Can't wait!

Comment by SHANNON on Sunday, March 18, 2012...

Oh thank goodness! I was getting desperate to find out when the next book was due and what it would be about. When I finished the last one I was so angry at the ending, and myself for reading it so quickly. Now I have the next book to look forward to :)

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, March 18, 2012...

Sorry about that, Shannon. I'd promised in the Author's Note of Mountain of Whispers that future adventures would be one-off stories... and then I went ahead and did a great big cliffhanger at the end of Book 4, Lake of Spirits! Well, the adventure continues in Book 5, Roads of Madness, and although in my head the arcing story (the "magic situation") won't be fully concluded until the end of Book 6, the end of Book 5 should at least leave you feeling calm and satisfied. :-)

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