My buddy Stuart has a new book to promo, so I figured I’d lend him my little corner of the interwebs to promo his stuff.
Hi all! To start, a quick Thanks to John for letting me guest post today. If you haven’t treated yourself to a slice of John’s writing, you should do so now!
Okay, to the post:
Since my post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, The Way of the Black Beast, has just been released, I thought I’d share how this one came about. It’s by far my most interesting (and longest) experience in writing a novel.
In order for you to get the full scope of how I created this, here’s the book blurb to give you an idea of what the final product is like:
Malja wants answers. She wants to know why the two most powerful magicians in all of Corlin ripped her from her mother’s arms, raised her only to fight, and then tossed her away to die at age ten. She wants to know why they are trying to recreate the spells which caused the Devastation that wiped out most of the world’s population, leaving behind skeletal cities and abandoned technology. And she wants to kill them.
With Tommy, an orphan bearing the tattoos of a sorcerer, she crosses this shattered land. Despite the challenges they face — crazed magicians, guitar-playing assassins, mutated beasts — Malja pursues her vengeance with a single-mindedness that may destroy all she holds dear, forcing her to make a terrible choice between the family she lost and the one she has built.
Okay — to start we have to go back to 2004/2005 — I was attending the first Ravencon (my favorite con, BTW) and met Tee Morris. Tee was raving about this new fangled thing called podcasting and he got me really excited about its potential. I went home trying to think up of ways to use it. I ended up creating The Eclectic Review which I co-host with my wife to this day. But one of the early ideas was to do a monthly “radio play”-type thing. I wrote out 8 episodes and planned out 12. The story was called The Way of the Sword and Gun. It was a science fiction tale that followed Dana, an ex-security agent struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world and seeking vengeance on those who wronged her. With her is Owl, a master of the Way of the Sword and Gun, and Tommy, an abused orphan who never speaks. The idea was to blend Western and Samurai tales (which share a lot in common) with an apocalypse.
Though I tried a few times, the podcast never got created. Over the years, I kept coming back to those scripts, though. I tried writing a few short stories from the material there but the ideas in it were too big.
Fast forward to 2009. ConCarolinas. After a long day of panels, networking, and drinking with friends, I sat in my bed too wired to sleep. The spark of an idea hit — what if I wrote about a post-apocalyptic world in which magic had caused the apocalypse? From that grew the character of Malja and the country of Corlin. And, of course, I now had a place to plunk down and tweak all that work I had done years before.
Malja replaced Dana and did so with an entirely new character. Nothing of Dana remains except her desire to protect Tommy. Tommy was the only core character that made it into the book but he went from an abused kid who never spoke to an abused kid who never spoke but also could create magic. And Owl? Poor Owl and his special fighting style didn’t make the cut. Malja had too much else to deal with and Owl was too undefined in this new world of magic.
Side note: This odd mixture of magic with Western with Samurai led me to analyze Japanese story-telling and archetypes which I eventually overlaid onto a classic monomythic structure. And if you followed that, you’ll have an extra level of fun while reading the book.
Now that The Way of the Black Beast is out, I’ve started to work on the sequel where I get to mine my old scripts some more. The sequel’s title: The Way of the Sword and Gun. Owl now gets his due with a story that comes crashing into Malja’s story at lightning speed.
Moral of the post: Never throw away the material that doesn’t work for you at first. You never know when it’ll come in handy.