Hi, I’m Kim Fielding, here to talk to you a bit about Flux, my new book.
Flux is the second book in a trilogy of dark fantasy books set in a world in which magic is real and those who possess great powers are often tempted to abuse them. The first book, Stasis, took place in the city-state of Praesidium, where Ennek rescued Miner from a terrible punishment. Now, in Flux, Ennek and Miner are on the run, encountering danger and adventures while exploring their relationship and their self-identities.
I think the second book in a trilogy is a lot like a middle child. I’m the oldest child of three. My task was to be a trail-blazer, the first in my generation to try things. That’s the first book, right? It sets the pace. It gets the conflicts going (sorry, Mom and Dad). It gives everyone a sense of what’s going on and what might happen.
The final book is the youngest child, of course. It wraps things up. It draws heavily on what came before, while also carrying the burden of resolving the problems created by its predecessors. It’s often somewhat restrained, in that it has to deal with the shadow of what came before—it may even be judged in comparison to the first and second. But it also gets the glory of the happy ending, right? The joyous moment when everyone’s all grown up and the drama of childhood is over. (Which isn’t to say adulthood is without drama. Maybe that’s why trilogies sometimes grow into much longer series.)
But what about the one in the middle? It has to contend with the legacy of the first, deal with its own arc in a satisfying way, and yet leave everyone still eager to contend with number three.
I think sometimes the middle child—the middle book—gets overlooked. Number one has carried all the flash of something new, and number three has the promise of neatly tying things up. But the poor second book works so hard! In the case of this particular trilogy, Flux is perhaps the hardest-working book of all. The characters are moving all over the place, they’re dealing with life-threatening risks all the time, and yet they’re also coming to terms with who they are. And they’re making important choices about who they want to be—choices that will carry great significance for the final book.
So, what do you think? Have I strained the metaphor too far? Or are you a middle child now feeling allegiance with the second book in trilogies?
They shouldn’t have wasted moisture on tears. The vomiting hadn’t helped either. By the time the sun set, the bits of Miner’s exposed skin—his face, his hands—felt hot and sore, and both men were as dry as old paper. Ennek had slept most of the day, slumped against Miner’s chest, but as the sky alit with oranges and reds, he stirred.
“I’m sorry,” he said in a sandpaper voice.
“Not being… better. Stronger. Smarter.”
Miner wasn’t sure whether to laugh at Ennek’s foolishness or cry at the man’s inability to see his own worth. He ended up doing neither, instead caressing Ennek’s back under the shredded shirt, murmuring nonsense syllables at him like a parent might to a distressed child. After a time Ennek pulled away a little. His eyes were very shiny, but he wasn’t crying. “I think we’re not far from land,” he said.
“I saw a gull this morning.”
Ennek nodded. “Good. I can try to steer us to shore. I’m not sure how soon I can row us there, though—”
“You’re in no condition to row us anywhere,” Miner said, because Ennek was still pale and drawn.
“Well, neither are you.” Ennek pointed at Miner’s wrist. Then he frowned and took a closer look at the cut on Miner’s arm. “And this is beginning to fester. You’re dehydrated too.”
“So are you. So much water and nothing to drink.”
Ennek looked out over the edge of the boat and frowned in concentration. “I’ll wager I could remove the salt,” he said, almost to himself.
“You’ve already made yourself sick enough doing magic,” Miner protested.
But Ennek ignored him. He knelt and leaned over the side, scooping up a double handful of sea. Then his frown deepened for a moment and he brought his hands to his face. He sipped cautiously at the liquid and then grinned triumphantly. “It worked! Come here.”
Miner considered arguing but decided that would be pointless. He scooted around until he was next to Ennek, also along the side of the boat.
“Get some water,” Ennek said.
Miner stole a glance over the edge and imagined himself hanging over as Ennek had just done. “I… I can’t.”
Ennek gave him a patient smile. “That’s all right. It probably wouldn’t have worked with your wrist anyway. Hang on.” He leaned over again and brought up more water. “Drink it before it drips away.”
Miner leaned down and put his lips above Ennek’s palms. It was a strangely intimate thing to do, to drink from someone else’s cupped hands. But the water tasted only a bit brackish, and it felt wonderful as it
moistened his tongue and throat. He drank it all, and then Ennek gave him another handful and another, and he would have kept on going, but when Miner saw him begin to sway and noticed the way his breaths became harsher, Miner stopped him. “Drink some yourself,” he insisted.
Ennek managed to drink only two handfuls before he collapsed.
“Don’t you dare throw up that water!” Miner said anxiously, moving Ennek’s head into his lap.
“Trying not to.”
Miner rubbed softly at Ennek’s temple. He didn’t know if would help, but he doubted it would hurt. He felt so useless, just sitting there like a great, timid lump. Ennek closed his eyes, and Miner thought he might have fallen asleep. But then ten or fifteen minutes later, he opened them again. “This is a stupid way to die.”
Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard.
Now fugitives, Ennek and Miner encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.
Kim Fielding is very pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.