Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Darkest Hour

I am so thrilled to be the last stop on Paul Anthony Shortt's blog tour for Silent Oath, which is #2 in Paul's Locked Within Trilogy. Let's hear what Paul has to say about writing this exciting urban fantasy thriller:

Happy Halloween! Here we are, at the end of the Silent Oath Blog Tour. I’m delighted to be here with Karen, who hosted the final post for last year’s blog tour, and was instrumental in the series being published to begin with.

It’s a tricky thing, writing the middle-part of a trilogy. In many cases, the middle-book/movie is seen as the weaker installment, filler just there to set things up for the finalĂ©. It’s understandable. When we think of trilogies, they often fit into the 3-act structure. The beginning and end have solid, reliable purpose. But the 2nd act of a story is typically there to serve as character development and for the introduction of complications that will be resolved in the 3rd act. It can be difficult to turn that 2nd act into a story in its own right.

But one element of the 2nd act that can help define a trilogy’s mid-point, and make it stand out in the reader’s mind, is the Darkest Hour.

The Darkest Hour is the moment where all seems lost for the heroes. They’ve had their greatest weakness exposed and the villain is at the height of their power, in story terms. The reader knows, deep down, that the hero will rise and overcome, but for now, just for a moment, all seems lost.

What a time to end a book.

I love when the hero is set up to fall like this. Knowing that I get to have a whole movie or book where the hero struggles back from defeat and finally defeats the villain is a thrill like no other. All too often, I’ve seen villains defeated with little tension or effort on the part of the hero. It leaves me feeling completely let down. I want to see the struggle, the hardship. To feel every wound and emotion.

As many of you may already know, Silent Oath ends on a low point for Nathan. He suffers through things that make his experiences in Locked Within seem like a trip to Disneyland. Enemies are gathering against him, and even his allies’ faith may be shaken by what’s to come.

Of course, the Darkest Hour has one thing that cannot be overlooked.


No matter how bad things get for the hero, the reader will want to believe that there’s still a chance to set things right. They may not have any idea how, but they need to know that the hero is ready to keep fighting. Silent Oath ends with pain and loss, but it also ends with hope. Because there are still people to fight for New York, whatever the cost.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again.

With the fate of the world in the balance, and the forces of the Council, Athamar, and the goddess Morrigan united against him, Nathan Shepherd will return for one final battle.

About Paul Anthony Shortt:
A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.

Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.

Twitter: @PAShortt


  1. Thanks for hosting my last stop, Karen! What a month this has been. What a year!

    1. Always a pleasure, Paul. Wishing you all the best with Silent Oath!

  2. You make such good points about the middle book of a trilogy. An excellent review. And my car was stopped at the railroad crossing. And I figured it all out. Glad you stopped by.

  3. What a great article! Something every series writer needs to consider. I hadn't even thought of "the darkest hour" idea, although it makes complete sense. Must go and utilize now. :)

    1. I love the darkest hour moments. I think the only things that top them, for me, are the turning points, when the hero starts to win the day.

  4. If I ever intentionally write a series, I'll remember that. (I didn't intend to write a series, so all three of my books stand on their own.)

    1. I find it very difficult to not think in terms of a series. Even my next urban fantasy series, which will have more of a standalone mystery novel feel, has several plot points planned out in advance.

  5. Second parts of trilogies are some of the best! And you are so right to point out that it;s because the hero(es) is/are plunged into such deep crises ready for some kind of salvation in the third installment! I'm thinking Godfather 2, Empire Strikes Back (the original Star Wars trilogy!!) The Two Towers (LOTR) etc.

    All the best with your darkest hour - Silent Oath, Paul! Take care

    1. They are, and I hope Silent Oath lives up to the tradition, but not too well. After all, we've got Final Hope coming next year ;-)

  6. Much success to you, Paul. Bravo for this "middle," which I concur must be the most challenging. I find that the middle of any story requires everything we've got to keep the tale buoyant. The ending should be a breeze!

    1. Thanks, Mirka. Writing the third book was definitely more comfortable, but also so much more emotional.

  7. Middle's are really hard to create, and make self sustaining. Great advice.

    The books sound intriguing.