Fantasy is ever-evolving

When I first started writing Changeling, the story was set on a single continent: Cyril. It was, like much fantasy, a decidedly medieval European setting – of the thirteen territories, five are based on England, one on France, one on Scotland, one on Wales, one on Poland/Czech Republic, one on Greece, and one on English colonies. Then as the story progressed, I added a second continent, which was based on Indian and Arabic settings of the real world; this was called Kriss.

Imagination progressed, as it is apt to do, and a third continent was imagined: Althaea. Although none of Changeling is set on Althaea, references are made to the culture to the east, and it is mentioned in passing. Althaea is based on German and Native American cultures, as well as English colonies, because the people of Cyril have shipped across the sea to try to claim it as their own.

So here I am, 70 000+ words into Changeling’s sequel, Abomination, and out of the blue while I’m working, I come up with a fourth continent idea, the tentative name of which is Thörstaag.

It, obviously, will be based on Norse and Scandinavian cultures. Continue reading

Naming a book

And what a bloody process it is.

The title of the book is, obviously, one of the most important parts of the writing process itself. If you have a stupid name, despite how good the book may be, people are going to judge it and be less likely to pick it up or buy it.

Being that I work in a bookstore, I encounter some pretty heinous book titles quite often. Namely, romance and mystery titles. They’re often punny or just straight up ridiculous.

Ideally, you would name your book something enticing that relates well with the plot or characters. For example, my favourite book, Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, is called Outlander because the main character, Claire Randall, is nicknamed Sassenach by her confidante Jamie Fraser; Sassenach is a Scots Gaelic word meaning, you guessed it, outlander (at worst; at best, it means Englishman, which Claire also is).  Continue reading

The process of writing

Everyone does it differently. Some people write passionately with pen and paper, and only pump it into the computer once there’s a significant amount. Some take notes and plot the entire story out before even writing the first word. The goal is the same – write the story – but getting there is different for everyone.

I write by the seat of my pants. The one time I can remember plotting out entire points throughout a story, I veered so drastically off course from the timeline that it could have been a different story altogether. I learned then that plotting out every detail is not for me. So I changed it, and I gave up trying to write down what I wanted to happen. If I stuck to a single idea, that was all well and good, but if not, hey, as long as I ended up liking the story, I really didn’t mind.  Continue reading

Putting oneself into one’s characters

Everyone who writes is guilty of this. It isn’t bad, of course. We can relate better and work better with a character we know, who is derived from ourselves. But even if we strive to avoid putting too much of ourselves into our characters, it still happens, and it comes as a big shock when we notice.

For example, the main characters of my three main muses are Sage, from OtArb, Aisling, from Changeling, and Caitlyn, from Purity. Sage, despite being male, is very much like me – or at least, he certainly was when I created him a few years ago. Generally pretty quiet, a little awkward, agnostic, and something of an insomniac. He represents my solitary side, and I’m fully aware of it. It’s similar with Caitlyn. She’s more of my goofier side, with immature jokes and a girlier nature. Continue reading

Judging a book by its cover

Of course there is the old adage about trying not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes we’re guilty of just that. And I do mean literally judging a book by its cover, not some thoughtful thing about inner beauty and crap.

When I started reading the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, prompted by my love for the HBO series True Blood, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t believe the editors and publishers of these books, which aren’t terrible to read, actually looked at them and said, “Yes, this is exactly what will sell these urban fantasy novels.”

Why. Just, why.

Continue reading

A punctuation pet peeve

Sometimes I wonder about authors and their editors. I’ve just recently started reading The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, the novel which the movie Lawless was based on (and which in turn is based on the author’s family members’ lives), and for some reason they didn’t find the need for quotation marks. It isn’t as hard to get used to as I first expected, because the book is more narrative than dialogue, but the dialogue is still awkward once you realize, oh, Jack was saying that to Forrest instead of just observing Forrest. Continue reading

Inspiration: where do you find yours?

Whether you’re a writer of novels or short stories, or a visual artist, everyone finds inspiration somewhere. For me, it depends on what I’m writing at the time. Back in the day when I was writing Purity (and I suppose again soon, as I intend to actually finally finish one of these days) I’d listen to darker music, lots of industrial stuff, and watch vampire movies. There was also one particular story I found that was great for inspiring me to write from the main male character’s perspective – it was, oddly enough, an Inuyasha fanfiction, but the way the author wrote Sesshomaru was similar to how I wrote Fane, and it unfailingly, each time I read it, made me want to write so I should probably get to reading it again one of these days, eh?

But for the things I currently write, like OtArb et al and Changeling, which are both deeply entrenched in fantasy – both worlds, religions, histories, etc, were all created solely by me – it’s easier to find inspiration, since this is more my area of expertise. I’ve torrented the epic soundtracks/scores of the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, IV: Oblivion, and V: Skyrim, and Assassins Creed II, the Hunger Games, Tron: Legacy, and Fable. I’ve also got a few songs from the soundtrack of all six Star Wars movies, and I’m planning on getting some Lord of the Rings tracks. These are excellent, because I separated each song into a different folder, according to their tone. The game music is especially good for this, because obvious fighting songs that play during fights, go into the fighting folder in iTunes. Related to this is games – I play a lot of games, so their universes help me fine-tune mine, and give me ideas how to better describe settings, especially when I’m just frolicking about the countryside.

I also do a lot of these things simultaneously. Before I got my Asus gaming PC – my predator drone – I’d sit with Lappy, my old laptop, and have my writing open while I played xbox games. Now, since everything I do is just on the predator drone, I’ll have iTunes open, headphones on, then write a bit, switch over to Skyrim, play a bit, then return to my main desktop, etc. And sometimes I’ll even have a movie on in the background. I like to waste electricity, is what I’m getting at here.

It works well for me. I listened to the sad Assassins Creed music when I finally offed the baddie in OtA, and I had a good little cry. It suits the mood of writing much better when you have a whole setup.

Does anyone else do the same? What do you all do for inspiration? It’s different for everyone; some people need utter silence, but me, I can’t handle silence even at night.

Favourite characters. Mine are doomed to die.

This is a rant that has reached each of my little corners of the internet, and now that I’ve just finished NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy (unrelated to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle), I feel the need to strike up the match once again.

It’s frustrating. For fictional characters, to be loved by me is to be loved by death.

I must pick the most unlucky characters to love. Even minor characters sometimes, but mostly it’s the major ones I get attached to then so severely disappointed when they’re horribly offed. Many of these even got some shed tears.

There are a few lucky ones who come close to dying, but miraculously survive.

So let me give you a list of characters I love who have died, in no particular order.

Don’t read this if you are terrified of spoilers for a vast assortment of things.

L: Death Note, manga and anime, cried each time.

Sirius Black: Harry Potter, cried each time.

Dumbledore: Harry Potter, only picked him as a favourite character as a backup when Sirius died.

Snape: Harry Potter, haven’t read the last book but everyone has told me about his creepy death.

Sieh: Inheritance Trilogy, and the bastard even had the gall to do it heroically, but this was especially painful because he’s the god of tricks and when he died I thought it was a joke and he’d be revived. He wasn’t.

Ned Stark: Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, but Sean Bean is a red shirt, so is anyone surprised?

Mr Crepsley: Cirque du Freak, and it totally tricks you into thinking that he didn’t die, fucking wept like a baby.

Roan Shryne: Dark Lord the Rise of Darth Vader, cried.

Jack of Blades: Fable, but I love bad guys, so I should’ve seen this coming.

Carth Onasi: Knights of the Old Republic, though he only dies depending on which alignment you choose in the end.

Grandmaster Jauffre: Oblivion, and I know he doesn’t necessarily die, but I was too busy focussing on fuckingasswipe Martin (who can handle himself, by the way) to pay attention to Jauffre, and this relates to

Baurus: Oblivion, who at the same time as Jauffre’s death, also died a horrible Daedra-filled death, all because I thought Martin would die, because it was the first of two points in the game where Martin can be killed.

Martin Septim: Oblivion, and this little shit does it heroically too – and is also voiced by Sean Bean, so, again, shouldn’t have been surprised.

Lucien Lachance: Oblivion, this still makes me angry, don’t make me talk about it.

Boromir: Lord of the Rings, and do I really need to mention Sean Bean again?

Logan: Fable 3, depending on which ending you choose.

Ulfric Stormcloak: Skyrim, depending if you side with the Empire or the Stormcloaks.

Rainlord Nealrith: Watergivers Trilogy, and it doesn’t help that he was outlived by his wife, the most enticing and hateable character in the series.

Taquar Sardonyx: Watergivers Trilogy, but by the time he died I wasn’t really in love with him anymore.

Luckily, there are a few characters who, as previously stated, miraculously escape their impending doom. Here are those:

Atton Rand: Knights of the Old Republic 2, and he doesn’t necessarily die, but it doesn’t explain what happens to him, and if he lives and is mentioned somewhere in SW:TOR don’t tell me, because I’m not there yet.

Lestat du Lioncourt: the Vampire Chronicles, but he’s just suicidal and doesn’t actually manage to die.

Roger Wakefield MacKenzie: Outlander, he’s hanged but luckily his mother-in-law is a present-time nurse who fixes him and also luckily, he’s hanged improperly so he chokes a bit before passing out rather than having his neck broked.

Jamie Fraser: Outlander, survives again because of Claire, his present-time nurse who sucks snake venom from him.

Nahadoth: Inheritance Trilogy, but he’s a god so he can’t die officially, which relates to

Itempas: Inheritance Trilogy, Naha’s brother/lover who is frequently killed but is also a god and is immortal so he just revives over time.

I’m sure there are more, but it’s late and I don’t feel like thinking anymore right now. I’m too upset over Sieh’s death and the whole “he’s a god, the god of tricks, and he didn’t come back to life” thing. Even my own characters that I create are doomed to die. Bad guys, obviously – though I don’t really like any of the bad guys in Changeling so far, but in OtArb… oh God, I cried when the baddie was finally offed. And in Purity, when my wee Roger died. More crying there.

What about the rest of you? Do you recognize some of these characters and did you feel the same about their deaths? Are your favourite characters doomed to die as well?

Please say it isn’t just me.