TJ Nichols on Plotting and Planning and their latest release Olivier (Order of the Black Knights #7) (guest post)


Olivier (Order of the Black Knights #7) by T.J. Nichols
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Buy links:   Dreamspinner Press |  Kobo | iTunes | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T.J. Nichols here today to talk about the latest in the Order of the Black Knights series, Olivier and share some insight into the author’s writing process.  Welcome, T.J.!


Plotting and planning by T.J. Nichols

I like to get to know my characters and have an idea about where my story is going before I start writing. Because Olivier is part of a series written by several authors there were also some basic rules that I had to follow, such as including the prologue (about the Knight’s last life and how he died) and also the detail about how Olivier became a Black Knight.

Aside from those couple of things the world was my own to create. It is less fantasy than my other works, but I love a cursed hero and the lure of including past lives was too great for me to pass up the opportunity.

The first thing I did was work out why Olivier signed on with the wizard. Who did he want revenge on and why? Then I needed to show an echo of that in the prologue and have him confront that issue once again in the actual story. After all those lives of killing and seeking revenge without understanding why, he has to eventually learn the lesson.

With one character established I then had to work out who it was that Olivier had been killing over and over again through the centuries. What had this guy done in the past and who was he now? While he hadn’t signed on with the wizard he’d been dragged into the curse.

I knew when I started that I didn’t want the breaking of the curse to become part of the Happily Ever After. It had to be another complication that only makes things worse for Olivier and Cody.

Somehow as I was writing it all got rather tangled and I had to go back to my reliable method of fixing a plot: make a list of every scene with a one sentence summary and a note about whose point of view it’s in. This method has saved many a story as I can see quickly when someone is taking over, or when scenes are missing, or need deleted. What I usually find is that when things get messy I’ve jumped ahead and missed scenes or I’ve taken a wild wrong turn and I need to rewrite one scene to put it back on track. Writing this list also helps me remember what the story is about and to keep true to that instead of trying to make it something else.

With this story one of my problems was working out how to deal with Cody’s father. I couldn’t let him walk away, but I also knew that he was too slippery for the police. Once I’d worked out what to do with him the ending came together—though not as I’d originally planned.


Order of the Black Knights

Olivier Merlo works for a dangerous man. He does what he’s told without asking questions because he needs to protect his sister and niece. When someone gives his boss trouble, Olivier does what he does best. It’s a routine hit—until the victim’s brother starts poking around.

Cody Anders left his family behind a decade ago—along with their wealth and influence—to live on his own terms. Still, he knows his twin didn’t die of a drug overdose, and he’ll do anything to find the truth. What he uncovers is a conspiracy that will topple his family and leave him staring down the barrel of a gun.

Olivier must decide if he’s going to obey orders or free himself from the curse that has guided his hand for centuries. Cody, who challenges Olivier’s notion that no one can love him, holds the key to breaking his chains. But when the truth finally comes out, it might be more than Cody can accept.

About the Author

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day. TJ enjoys writing novellas and novels and has a series, Studies in Demonology, coming out with DSP Publications.

With two cats acting as supervisors, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.


Twitter: @TobyJNichols