Regarding Text Sketches

I have posted the first text sketch! I paint an eerie but calm scene that brings us briefly in contact with a character we already know, and illustrates also that the blackness we associate with certain types of people is not always as dark as we might imagine. Or as constant.

You can find the text sketch (as well as future ones) on the Text Sketches page. There is also a link on the site menu.

June 2014 Update

I fixed up a couple of links on the lore page that had broken, so if you were trying to navigate that, it should work now. They stopped working when I changed the continent name from Silencia to Rylacia (I thought I’d fixed all the links, but obviously not).

Also, I’m considering starting something similar to my Soulshard Chronicles posts on a new page: text sketches. Essentially, these will just be short descriptions or scenes from Rylacia or its surrounding continents. They won’t have larger underlying stories, but instead will be standalone scenes. I might add a page describing a city, or a forest, or a family. Or perhaps a short paragraph describing an encounter between a merchant and a townsperson. I have a few ideas, and some of those will let us see other glimpses of characters we’re already familiar with from the Soulshard Chronicles. Can’t wait to get started!

The Waiting Game

Ah, the waiting. It’s been ages since I last wrote here, but I’m still around. I haven’t forgotten you guys! I’ve been on and off busy and messy. All sorts of plans to work out, including the publishing of The Soulshard Chronicles (I’m hoping that a traditional publisher will take my writing). Fingers crossed!

British English

Ugh. If there’s one thing that’s confusing, it’s British English. The Brits (and other subscribers to British English) all hail it as divine and perfect. For everyone else, it’s just confusing.

Where is the consistency! Some British words have two L’s (travelling), some end with an E when the word clearly finishes with an R (sabre, centre), and others just add extra letters to make us try and pronounce them funny (colour, neighbour). But not all such words. Pester, for instance, is not spelled “pestre”. It used to be, yes, but (perhaps for the sake of confusing people?) is not anymore. And “attorney” is not spelled “attourney”. Logical? Not exactly.

I’m afraid I also find British punctuation messy. My favorite (or rather, my hated enemy) is a three-item list within a sentence – which, when punctuated the British way, turns out to have only one comma. (e.g. “Get some pizza, meat and tomato while you’re out.”) How does one divide three items with one comma? Perhaps it is only one item on the list – pizza – and meat and tomato are the desired ingredients for it. It’s also absurdly easy to skip a list (and become utterly confused by the sentence) when it only contains one (comma) pause. Commas have a function. Words alone a poem might make, but words alone can form no break.

My next on the confusion list is the use of quotation marks, but this is less messy than odd. (‘Alice, “no” isn’t a good enough answer.’) Why is the inside quote flagged more heavily than the main part of dialogue?

Ah, those Brits. They can have their English, sure – but it’d be nice if it at least made more sense.

(And that is why I much prefer – and use – American English.)

The Land of Rylacia

That’s right, Silencia has undergone a few changes. It will take time for the site to reflect that! I’ve been editing The Soulshard Chronicles, and several changes should be noted:

  1. Silencia is now known as Rylacia, and while it was the featured land in The Soulshard Chronicles, Rylacia is only a small continent (if you can even call it that) in a much larger world. It’s less than a fifth of the currently-known land mass.
  2. The gypsies are now known as the Famari. They originally came from Falamorna, but left those roots behind upward of a century before Imalion encounters them.
  3. The Elves are now known as the Myklamir. Myklamir are not quite Elves, at least not in the Tolkien sense; they are far more curious, and more greedy when it comes to magic or magical objects and creatures. That’s part of what pulls the dragon situation onto them and gets them destroyed.

I’ve got a lot of art now. I need to whack it all together into a book, I know, but that takes a lot more time than it sounds! I’m also looking at pitching to publishers, so I might have to cut back my plans to self-publish in the near future.

So many ideas! With The Soulshard Chronicles finished (it still feels amazing to say that), I just need to clear up the other jobs I have to do (editing for a game publisher, editing for Aurealis, etc) and sit down and write more. Meramon has several stories to live out. Tamon’na may yet feature in his own book, and Jenna beside him. Aena and Beren are possible candidates for a novella series. I’m also looking about a thousand years into Rylacia’s past, a time when Brucia was a militaristic empire and set on colonizing as much of the known world as possible (slightly before the dragon-human pact). I’m not actually so interested in ancient Brucia as in the way they effect the rugged tribes that live far to the north.

Cover Troubles

There’s been some minor trouble in the cover development… it turns out that the cover my artist has almost finished is the cover for the third part of Imalion’s journey, not the second. In other words, it will be a little longer until I can publish the next compilation. A minor nuisance.

Imalion is very close to finishing his journey, though! So, when I have finished writing his story, I’ll collect the whole diary into one book and put it up as an eBook. When I have all the pieces of art, I will publish it in physical form, but until then I will update the eBook every time I have new art for it. (If you buy it on Amazon before the final update don’t worry,  because you will be able to follow the updates without buying it again.)

In other news, I plan to put some little musings on magic on the Lore page. The great wizard Talle is one of the contributors.

Slow Going

Writing has been slow of late. I’ve had my nose deep in several books over the past two months: the Hunger Games trilogy, two good books and a cop-out cliché for a finale; The Tournament, a somewhat un-Matthew-Reilly-Matthew-Reilly book, fairly interesting, but certainly aimed at mature audiences; Empyrion: The Search for Fierra and The Siege of Dome, which I hadn’t read in a long time; Hounded, again; and I had a go at Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which was slightly interesting, but I can’t see how it turned into a bestseller.

Aye, so my writing has been slow. I haven’t given up on Imalion’s diary; it may seem so, and that’s why I thought I should write an update. I thank you for your patience. I originally thought I would wait until my second and third complilations came together (which would ideally have been within this last month)… but, seeing as I haven’t got the cover art yet, I’ll not wait until I have that before I release Imalion’s next entry.

Tribute to Metro 2033

metro-2033Dmitry Glukhovsky is possibly the best dystopian author I have ever read. Oh aye, I’ve read several of the classics: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, War of the Worlds by Orson Welles, and others; to a lesser dystopian degree, Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden, and the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. I’ve also played many dystopian games, such as the Crysis series, Left for Dead (less mood than gameplay, unfortunately), Mass Effect, and others…

But nothing comes close to the sheer setting of Metro 2033. It’s perfect: the world powers tipped their deadly hands and lit the earth up with nuclear weapons. The only survivors were those in especially-protected untargeted buildings and people who were in the Russian (or in this case, in Moscow’s) metro system. The surface was rendered uninhabitable: the air turned and remains toxic, the radiation lingers indefinitely, and the sun glares down through a damaged atmosphere.

The setting is (almost terrifyingly) plausible. I’ve traveled in Moscow’s metro myself, and its surviving a nuclear surface strike looks very likely (although I am not sure what the physical blast radius of a nuclear missile is). Most of the metro is more than sixty meters deep: the deepest part is seventy-four meters below the streets above. Some stations have two long escalators between the entrance and the trains; others have an escalator and several stairways.

In the book, the metro stations have been turned into towns with city-state roles (many of them are slums, but a few flourish with trade). Trade between these miniature city-states revolves around food and fuel and firearms. Cattle is nonexistent; pigs and chickens are the only livestock, as they can survive on scraps of just about anything. Rats make poor-man’s meat. Farming is minimal, due of the lack of sunlight.

Insanity and terror abound. The tunnels between stations are smotheringly dark, and people rarely dare to travel alone. An unwritten rule states that unless three or more people go, the trip is doomed. Cut-throats and bandits stalk some of the tunnels, but more often it is mutants, creatures, or madness that turns travelers around. Some of the most remote stations have turned primal.

In terms of writing, Dmitry demonstrates strong imagination (and quite a bit of originality, too). His descriptions are fantastic and gritty. Every station is slightly different, as Artyom, the main character, notices. Some of them are worse off than his own, with poorer lighting and more terrifying shadows. A couple are so brightly-lit that he must wear shaded glasses to protect his eyes. Most stations are grimy. Some abandoned ones are layered with dust. Dmitry even breathes dystopian life into tiny outposts.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite as excited by the story. Although Artyom sets out on a perilous journey, the majority of the conflict is either internal or psychological (the latter being caused by the “oppressive” darkness. Political – man versus man – conflict also features, but for me the setting begged for the tunnels to contain something more dangerous than darkness and ghosts. Rats (although not during Metro 2033‘s timeline) seemed to be the most dangerous creatures in the tunnels. Story-wise, I preferred the computer game; there, mutant creatures haunt the caverns – and ignoring any noise is dangerous.

Human nature goes beyond wrong. Dystopia in all its glory. The metro system is rife with insanity and darkness, and chief among the problems is the phoenixes of the Nazis and Communists. To a slightly lesser extent, satanists and cannibals prey on people who stray near or into their territory.

I mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again: Dmitry Glukhovsky has the perfect setting for his dystopian story. I almost envy him – but as a fellow writer, I congratulate him. I learned much from your novel and the book-inspired game, Dmitry, and I will make use of that knowledge. You have my thanks.