Welcome to the first ever post of my blog about writing fantasy fiction and my continuing quest to live in as many different imaginary worlds at the same time as humanly possible.
As I write this; my first book, a London based Urban Fantasy novel called A Day in the Lies of Inari Meiwaku, is nowhere near finished and definitely not published yet. Inari herself would tell you that it will be the greatest book ever written. But she is an immortal Fox Spirit and a self-professed liar so you probably shouldn’t take her word for it.
Still, why not have a look and see if any of the following things appeal to you?
- Unreliable narrators
- Paranormal spy agencies
- Invincible undead warriors
- Immortals and their intrigues
- Ghost ships sailing up the Thames
- Swords and shotguns
- The byzantine courts of the Buried Dead
- The Black Swine of Hampstead Heath
- The use of lifts as offensive weapons
- Vikings! Kind of
If something on that list sparked your interest then you should check out my book. You can find extracts from the first couple of chapters of the first draft over on Inkshares and on Wattpad so please enjoy those and comment on them here or there.
I should warn you that this blog will probably end up being about all the things that distract me from writing at least as much as the writing itself. So expect me to talk about the fantasy books I’ve read, the ones I’m still reading and the ones I’m waiting for. Also stuff on video games, tabletop rpgs, TV shows and perhaps the occasional film. Then there are the things that get stuck in my head like nonsensical song lyrics and idle thoughts about fantasy and horror in general.
Real life might poke its head around the door from time to time too, because I can’t hide from real life all the time. Not until someone successfully Kickstarts a real ‘Better Than Life’ machine anyway. And while this is not a political blog at all I am finding it very difficult to ignore the rise of modern Fascism in Europe and the USA. So there might be the occasional rant or snide remark. E.g. thousands of Americans believe that they have been the victims of alien abduction; why couldn’t the little green slackers kidnap Trump or Pence?
Most of my political rants are confined to Facebook and Twitter for now though. So if you don’t mind a lot of left wing, liberal and feminist politics mixed in with your fantasy and writing news then you might want to check out my Twitter page. https://twitter.com/rmarpole
Speaking of real life and politics. Here is a disclaimer. I have a day-job as a Library Manager. Part of the job description for that job is to be ‘the face of the Library in the local community’. At work I promote my library online and IRL. This blog has nothing to do with that job. This blog is about me being a writer. So I won’t talk about my colleagues, though they are fantastic, and I won’t talk about my customers, though they are lovely. I won’t promote the Library Service I work for and that Service is in no way responsible for or associated with anything I say on this page. Even if I say something really divisive like “The first Hunger Games book sounds to me like a rip-off of Battle Royale”.
Right then, 2017. Worldwide it’s probably going to be pretty eventful. For me it’s probably going to be pretty quiet. Because you know, writing a novel. Which means a lot of staying indoors inventing adventures and very little going out and having them. That’s ok; I’ve had some IRL geeky adventures in the last few years. Last year I went to Nantes to see their Steampunk theme park and ride on the back of a giant mechanical elephant. The Grand Elephant is one of the most amazing examples of outright geekery that I have ever seen; three stories high, beautifully decorated and housed next to a steel tree made as a home for mechanical birds. The park/exhibit itself is not very big but is definitely unique. If you’d like to visit or just see the things I’m wittering on about then here is a link for you. http://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/en/ (Most pages on the site do have an English version).
For my part I’m happy to let Inari have all the fun for a while. (Fun meaning risking her life and nearly getting eaten by deathless Nordic warlords).
In the mean-time I’m waiting avidly for some proper authors to finish their latest books so that I can get my hands on them and distract myself even more from my own writing. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is the one I’m most looking forward to at the moment. It’s about a librarian. There is also a blue-skinned goddess and a man called God-Slayer. There is a lost city, weird beasts and something called ‘blood-candy’. Moths are involved, though it is not at all clear how or why. I want to read it very badly. Here’s a link to a more official and coherent blurb for the book. https://www.fantasticfiction.com/t/laini-taylor/strange-the-dreamer.htm By the way, Fantastic Fiction is a great website for finding out what books have been published in the UK or are due to come out in the next few months. Despite the name they cover all genres.
I’ll talk about the books I’m currently reading in my next post. If you can all stand to wait that long.
Game-wise I’m switching between Dark Souls 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition at the moment and enjoying both.
I still wish that the developers of Dragon Age had picked a less evil title for the organisation that you end up controlling in their game. Ok there aren’t many positive words for a militant religious movement and you do get the chance to cast judgement on your enemies but I can’t shake the idea that I’m playing the bad-guys.
You don’t actually inquisit very much in Dragon Age: Inquisition either. You don’t interrogate suspected heretics or uncover hidden pockets of Protestantism. You don’t have to find out who is loyal to the Church and who is experimenting with dangerously modern ideas like astronomy. The only questions you really need to answer by the end of the game are.
- Why are there holes in the sky with green lightning coming out of them?
- How can we close the green-lightning spewing holes in the sky and stop them coming back?
I guess that ‘Dragon Age: Sky-Patchers’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.
It’s weird to flip between Dragon Age; where you are the leader of an army, have dozens of powers and can pause mid-combat to pick specific targets. And Dark Souls; where you are a lone nobody surrounded by people who are manifestly more competent than you, most of whom want to kill you. And you can’t pause.
I do think that playing through both games is a good way to keep your self-esteem at a healthy level though.
Dragon Age showers you with compliments and constantly tells you how special and great you are. NPCs fall over themselves to thank you for completing quests that you just blundered into, you shape the fate of nations and you are showered with titles, presents and followers as you go. Also, a startling number of male and female NPCs will start flirting with you at you the slightest provocation; even when you are playing an eight-foot tall, grey-skinned, yellow-eyed brute with a lumpy forehead and the horns of a bull.
Just as you hit the peak of that high you decide to play a bit of Dark Souls.
Dark Souls greets you with a spiked club in its hands and says. “If you’re so great and all-powerful then you won’t mind blocking this attack with your face.”
And Dark Souls takes the club and beats you to death with it. Then it resurrects you and beats you again and again until you learn to roll out of the way, whereupon it sets you on fire. It only does this because it loves you of course.
My experiences with Dark Souls 3 so far include;
Stumbling through a poisonous swamp being hunted by shambling monstrosities that I never got a good look at because I was too busy running away from them. (Which must be what playing Amnesia is like).
Having just one of the armoured knight enemies consistently cut me to pieces every time I met him, as if to prove that I will never be better at sword-fighting than a computer sprite.
Shamelessly bullying some small mud-crabs for a while until a giant mud-crab ran out of the trees and snipped me in half.
Before depression sets in too heavily I usually sneak back to Dragon Age for some TLC and remedial empire-building.
“So how’s the actual writing going Richard?” You ask.
Umm, yeah. Pretty slowly. I’m inching my way towards the 50, 000 word mark for the first draft. Writing takes energy and I don’t have much left to spare at the end of the working day. (Translation; I am lazy and all I want to do when I get home from work is watch Youtube, read, watch TV or play videogames).
And it looks like I might have to radically increase my planned word count as there’s definitely more than 35, 000 words worth of plotting that I still need to fit in.
Trigger warning. Minor plot and character spoilers for A Day in the Lies of Inari Meiwaku follow this message.
I’ve got some plans to deal with the wordcount issues though.
I’ve already admitted to myself that I am most likely going to have to cut out at least one character for now and have them feature in a later book. Namely Jacques Forger; a greasy little Boggart that Inari first met in the trenches of the First World War. One of the things I love about writing Inari is the chance to flesh out over a thousand years of backstory that encompasses many different eras, lands and Otherworlds. But I know that if I wallow in her past too much I’m going to detract from what’s happening in the present. I had fun writing her meeting with Jacques in the scuzzy garage he calls home. But I haven’t been able to find a useful way to weave him into the current plotline so I’m planning to take him out of it. He will return someday though.
Don’t worry, there’s still room for plenty of other supernatural characters for Inari to interact with in the first book.
There’s Rymer; a fellow immortal and inveterate schemer. And there’s Aria; a fellow shapeshifter who is naïve but quite lethal. There are other supernatural beings in the book but let’s look a little closer at these two for now.
Here’s a little insight into how Inari views Rymer.
“Many people believe that a man who can only speak the truth is a man to be trusted. Rymer tends to eat people like that alive, (not literally, he actually has very civilised tastes when it comes to food). There is nothing preventing Rymer from tricking people; from telling them a misleading truth or leaving out some vital piece of information.”
Here’s a quote that gives you a glimpse of Aria.
“Most of her body was hidden by her wings. That was fine by me; they were a marvel all to themselves, as beautiful and intricately detailed as a woodblock print. The upper portions were a mottled brown that was just a little bit lighter than the feathers on her head. Beneath this was a slim band of black and grey. The lower area was a deep yellow, almost gold, with little licks of black here and there to give the impression of stripes. The very edges of her wings were tipped with black.”
Both of these quotes are from the first draft and are subject to change or deletion of course. But let me know if they sound interesting. (Or if they don’t).
Right now I’m writing a scene where Inari meets Rymer and engages in some verbal sparring. I’m a little stuck though. Inari wants something from Rymer and he is going to oblige. I just haven’t worked out what he’s going to ask for in return. Perhaps you’d like to tell me what you think an immortal would want?
I’m also contemplating how involved I want Inari’s colleagues from the secretive government agency that employs her to be in the main plot. They definitely kick things off but Inari’s instinct after that is to ditch them and fall back on more Otherworldly allies. The question for me is whether I let her get away with that. At the moment I think not. I think that needing to safeguard the ill-informed humans she works with is a great way to force Inari into situations that she would otherwise weasel, (or fox), her way out of.
But more of that another time.
Join me next time for more writing updates and some very insightful waffling about my sources of inspiration. And to watch me talk about GMing the Fate version of Kerberos Club, philosophise about the fantasy books I’m currently reading and get overexcited about some of the TV series coming our way later in the year.