The Witch of Val d'Ossa
a new novel in process

The Witch of Val d'Ossa; Where the heck did that come from?

Posted on September 8, 2016 by Jim

I was planning to spend this year working on a number of projects, but oh, the best laid schemes of mice and men!

I did finish Of Treasons Born, which was published in April by Open Road Integrated Media, and there was a fair amount of work editing The Thirteenth Man, which was published just two weeks ago by Harper Collins Voyager Impulse. In July I finished the third book in The Dead Among Us series, Never Dead Enough, and I hope to have that available for readers near the end of this year, so I haven't completely ignored my self-commitments. But I must admit that a novel titled The Witch of Val d'Ossa was not even on my radar.

After finishing Never Dead Enough, I took a couple of weeks off to just veg out and update my web site. I was watching TV after dinner one evening, when something triggered an idea that I thought might be cool to include in a story:

A fellow is walking down a busy street in an early, 19th century city, he glances over his shoulder and sees a Knight of the Witchguard following him.

The knight is not in uniform, so I wasn't sure how my protagonist recognized that the fellow is a knight. Still, it was an interesting idea.

The next morning I decided to sit down and write a little without any preparation or outlining, writing purely by the seat of my pants. Doing this is really the preparation for using the idea. It helps me flesh out and understand what else must be defined to use it properly in a good story. I'll crank out a couple thousand words, then put the whole thing away, and I may not use it for months, or even years, and it may be only a little piece of a story.

To my surprise, it quickly became the basis of an entire book, and two weeks and 60,000 words later, I had completed 60% of a full-length novel. And it's one of the most unusual things I've written.

It's titled The Witch of Val d'Ossa, and subtitled . . . her apprentice, the thief, and the prostitute. I had originally thought the subtitle would be . . . her apprentice, the thief, and the whore, but I've been told I shouldn't do that. My wife thinks it should be . . . her apprentice, the thief, and the harlot. I'd be interested to hear what you readers think.

Without giving away any plot-spoilers, here's a little about the story as it has developed so far:

It takes place in a fictitious, European-ish, regency era (circa 1800) city named Val d'Ossa, which is ruled by the Witch. One step below her in rank are the four High Noble Houses. Beneath them are the rest of the Noble Houses, varying from wealthy and influential, to those that are very minor and only one step above poverty. Jaxon is the son of one of those very minor houses, and nine years ago, when his father died, at the age of sixteen he was disinherited and thrown out onto the streets of Val d'Ossa to fend for himself.

Jax became a thief to survive, though he only steals from the wealthy, and only just enough to survive. Maelleen, his lover, is a tall, sexy, voluptuous and curvy prostitute. Venessta is the Witch's apprentice. She's a beautiful, young woman of average height, and slight of figure. When Jax first sees her, he notes that she has "nice curves of her own, but nothing like Maelleen's. Maelleen's curves are just . . . curvier."

The book is shaping up to be something like Henry Fielding's 18th century novel Tom Jones, but set in the 19th century, with witches, and lots of murderous plotting between the Witch and the High Noble Houses. Jax and Maelleen find themselves caught in the middle of that plotting, and if they don't stay one step ahead of the Witch and the Noble Houses, they're likely to become the victims of that murderous intrigue.

Update, September 10, 2016:

I had originally titled this book The Witch of Valdosa.  But based on a comment from an acquaintance, I changed the title to The Witch of Val d'Ossa. It's pronounced the same. Anyone care to guess what Val d'Ossa means. You might have to get out your Italian dictionary.