The Raven Ladies on Hold
The Raven Ladies series includes The Gunfighter and the Gear-head, The Steam-Powered Sniper in the City of Broken Bridges, The Gunfighter's Gambit, and book one of the Ravens from the Ashes prequel trilogy all based on a short story in the Astral Liaisons short story collection. As of now, I'm sad to say the series is on hiatus for the foreseeable future.
I love Fiona, Gieo, Veronica, Ramen, Tabitha and all the other characters of the post apocalyptic old west, which makes this decision exceedingly difficult. The fact that the series is by far my best selling series and The Gunfighter and the Gear-head is arguably the only hit book I've written only makes the hiatus more difficult, but I feel it is necessary, essential really.
When I began writing the books back in 2010, I didn't really like guns. My wife (then girlfriend) was from a gun-loving family, but even though my family has a history of military service and hers doesn't, I wasn't raised with or around guns the way she was. She took me shooting at a range in Brea before we moved across country to Florida to try to get me used to the idea of the gun her parents wanted us to have for protection. I hated it. I hated shooting, I hated the gun, I hated the idea of having it anywhere near me. Since she was largely indifferent and doing it only to make her parents happy, we skipped the gun and I'm glad every day that we don't have a gun in the house.
To write these books accurately, which I desperately cared about, I had to spend an enormous amount of time looking up information about guns on the internet, talking to my in-laws, and consulting with the members of the military in my family. I didn't like doing any of this either, but it was far enough from holding and shooting an actual gun that I made my peace with the process required to depict a gunfighter like Fiona even though I'm way more like Gieo who barely touches a gun in the first book and only reluctantly when she finally does.
I could list all the school shootings, mass shootings, and individual acts of police brutality that resulted in people being shot, but I couldn't point to an individual event that has broken me. It's a combined weight and I can't breathe under it, or, more specifically, I can't write under it. I can't look up gun information on the internet. I can't talk to my in-laws about guns. I can't ask questions of military members in my family. I can't write about bullet holes, gunshot victims, or the death and destruction firearms inflict. I've spent months trying to figure this out, trying to divine a way to continue the books without guns, and I couldn't come up with anything. Guns are essential to the series in a way I deeply regret.
This wasn't a publisher's call. No editor decided this for me. No public outcry forced my hand. I made the decision to discontinue the series on my own, knowing full well it'll probably hurt my brand, my sales, and disappoint my most loyal readers. All I can say is, I'm sorry. I wish I was stronger to overcome this crushed feeling, or a more devoted artist to persevere through my discomfort for the sake of the work, or a better writer to be able to write my way out of the mess I created. But I'm not.
I'm stepping away from the series not simply out of principle, although that's certainly a more noble reason and part of what motivated me, but mostly because I can't do it anymore. I can't see what guns are doing to children and innocent people all over our country every day and then sit down to write about how they're saving the fictional world I created and the characters in it.
I'll be focusing on other projects for the foreseeable future and I can only hope people enjoy them as much as the Raven Ladies. Again, I apologize to fans of the series for this unceremonious halting mid-story, and I hope you can understand my reasons.