On Christmas Day, 2007, I began work on an epic project to tell the story of a tennis star’s journey from tennis hero to superhero. I had done this first as a comic (in the early ’90s) and again as a computer game (in 2000, with moderate expansion work still in progress). But in 2007, the time came to tell the story as a series of adventure novels, and that meant pulling the randomness of the first two versions together into a deeper, more cohesive tale. The plan was to write ten novels, each comprising of a year of Jimmy Knightly’s life. It quickly ballooned into something as wild as the iterations before it. As much as I’ve tried to tame it, as a living story, it wanted no such thing. I’ve since conceded that each “year” of the story needs to be told in multiple books. Eventually that’ll happen. But each year was designed to follow a theme and a lead villain, so I think there’s still a place for telling each year as a whole unit, even if it doesn’t tell the whole story. There will be time for that in its fourth iteration.
For now, here is Year One of Jimmy Knightly’s tale. This is an extended edition of the story’s original version (written from Christmas 2007 to October 2008). It will be expanded again to fit a trilogy of books, each with their own dedicated storyline. This version takes major chunks of that trilogy to tell a cohesive thematic narrative about one man’s rise to superherodom.
This Annual Edition is a Smashwords exclusive (with its respective distribution channels–Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.), and is free for now. Additional volumes will have a price respective to their length. It will be released between late December 2015 and late February 2016.
Note: Its free status will remain until I begin releasing the individual books. Then the price will return to $4.99.
Year Two will be available for preorder at the time of Year One’s release. Expect Year Two to be released in May 2016.
I have no expected release date for the individual books that will tell the complete story. As of now (December 2015), there are still chunks missing from most of them. When I do release them (if I release them as an indie), they will go to print, and they will go to everyone.
If you need a more practical comparison, think of the Annual Edition books as the theatrical versions of the Lord of the Rings movies and the individual books as the extended editions.
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It’s Day 4 of the Australian Open, the temperatures are insufferable, and Jimmy Knightly is engaged in a heated battle against his rival, Jake “The Rake” Caramel, for advancement to the third round. With the exception of the fierce heat, the match goes as he expects–he plays hard, and Caramel plays dirty. They keep it neck and neck for as long as they can stand, but then, as they near the end of the match, Caramel goes for the injury shot. Moments later, a man in the crowd takes a real shot. Chaos ensues in the stadium. Jimmy is whisked away to the hospital. His chance to advance to the next round ends.
The events at the Australian Open seem random at first. An irate fan goes berserk–could happen to anyone, for any sport. But as Jimmy spends the next couple of months recovering from his injury, he begins to discover how dangerous a turn his match at the Open has taken. Someone has put a price on his head, and the man taking the contract is an unstoppable killer with masks and support cover-up technology that no one knows how to investigate. Everyone tells Jimmy to run, as this killer is a ghost in the flesh, but Jimmy is not so willing to give up his life, no matter how likely this guy would kill him.
Fortunately, FBI Special Agents Joyce McKinley and Thomas Sturgeon are on the case. This enigmatic killer, the Spotless Cowboy, has been on Sturgeon’s radar for eleven months, and he and McKinley are eager to close the book on him. Sturgeon just needs cooperation with Jimmy, and part of that means keeping him alive. Every little bit of information he can offer to uncover the Cowboy’s identity helps. But Jimmy’s memory is terrible. He would have to draw this killer out in the open again just to identify him. Sturgeon is not against the idea of using bait. But he would prefer to protect his asset. That means putting him in Witness Relocation, even if it doesn’t change the fact that Jimmy is a celebrity who cannot actually hide.
Fortunately, deep in the mysterious waters of the Caribbean, a secluded island called New Switzerland is designed to do just that–hide people who don’t want to be found. But is it any safer than Los Angeles?
What follows is an epic journey of trust, realistic expectations, unrealistic expectations, terror, weirdness, unrequited love, and ultimately heroic transformation, as Jimmy, in his quest to put the Spotless Cowboy behind him, somehow manages to invite even scarier people into his life who want to turn it upside down and mash him into pulp. And those are just the good guys.
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