Monday, October 22, 2012

The Long Goodbye

I don't know how some authors do it.

At some point in all the most popular fantasy narratives, one of the characters that the audience has grown to (or grows to) love has died: Boromir in Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore, Snape, the one Weasley twin, etc., in Harry Potter, everyone in Game of Thrones.  At some point, the author had to stop and say to themselves, "Well, this is it.  This is the last time that I'm ever going to see this character operate under their own volition.  We might hear about them again through passing, or discover some of their unmentioned deeds, but they will never have a meaningful, growing relationship from this point on."

It's got to be a painful experience.  The characters we create are kind of like our children, in some regards... little brain babies left to their own devices, going out into the world.  If you've ever lost a loved one, you know that the most horrifying result is the knowledge that you'll never be able to hear their voice again.  When my father passed away, it didn't really hit me until a few months later.  Sure, I was emotionally damaged because I had lost my dad, but the reality of the situtation wasn't clear.  I had a house repair to make, and I remember getting my phone and scrolling through the contacts, intentionally landing it on his name.  And then I realized that if I had called, he wouldn't have answered.

These characters are gone, even if they're not forgotten.  Unless you've got some clever way to bring someone back from the dead, the only time you're going to experience their personality is in flashbacks or prequels.  It has got to be a tough call to make, even if you've been preparing yourself for it for ages.

George Martin is a mass murderer, yet I refuse to believe that when *SPOILERS* Ned Stark made his unfortunate exit at the end of his first book in the Game of Thrones series, he wasn't a little dissapoitned that it was the true experience he would ever develop with that character *END SPOILERS*.

I can't imagine how J. K. Rowling felt at the end of the Harry Potter series.  In one way, it's difficult to leave one character so that your story can proceed.  It must be a completely liberating yet tragic feeling to come to terms with the finality of an entire world you've created.  I'm dreading the final moments of this trilogy, because I know that it will probably be one or two years before I ever "see" many of the characters again.  If I ever determined that I was done with the Tellest universe, it would have to be because I knew I was dying, and I had given it the logical, fair closing point it deserved to have.  And even then, I'm sure I'd be more miserable about the fact that it was the last time I would ever venture into my little made up world than I was to be leaving this one.

The beginning of the final episode of "season three" of Tellest is wrapping up.  I'm nearing a moment of respite for some characters, and I'm bowing my head one last time for others.  While it's a great feeling to know you've finished a mental task such as this, it's almost depressing at the same time.  While the words themselves may be immortal, the lives of the characters, in some ways, are not.

The long goodbye is cruel and cold.

13th Hour Edit: I, of course, should mention that one way around the death of certain characters is redacting that with later storyline.  Gandalf the Grey became Gandalf the White.  All of R. A. Salvatore's characters have been snatched from the jaws of death at some point.  Even Martin lets some of his characters live after the reader believes they have shed their mortal coil.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Comfort Zone

Poo Warning: This post reveals intimate details about my writing method.  If you or your loved ones hold sacred the - dare I say - art of defacation, and do not want it soiled by my words, please, turn away now.

Whenever I'm writing, it's usually in a comfort zone.  As I've stated before, typically, a hotel room does a great service to my creative side.  The single best comfort zone that I have, however, is a bathroom.  That's right.  If you've read any of my work, there's at least an 85% chance that you're reading inverted poop literature.

But wait!  I can compound the oddity quotient.  You see, the main reason writing in the bathroom is so effective for me is that it just became comfortable after so long.  The lavatory was a safe haven for me to escape to when I needed a break from anything else, whether that was family, or work or even my other hobbies. 

If it was feasible to write in the shower, I probably would.

So it's been established that I am at my most relaxed when I'm dropping trou.  But for me to truly feel absolutely at peace, I need to be as near to natural as possible.  That means that I am practically naked when I'm scrawling my brain baby onto paper.  Think about it.  How else can you be that intimate with your hobby?

Furthermore, breaking down the outside world helps to establish that personal connection that I truly need to find expressive dialogue and emotions in my work.  If I had one readily available, I'd find comfort in a nice waterfall - but bees and flies and other things could preoccupy my time, so I find white noise elsewhere: a hair dryer.

Friends and family have taken to referring to it as a dryer poop.  It's my little piece of heaven, for fifteen minutes at a time.  I'm relaxed, I'm warm, and I'm naked.  But that's just the point.  When I'm in that mentality, I'm as far away from reality as I've ever been.  It's in that state of relaxation that I can best displace myself, and write from the point of views of multiple characters.  It's practically an out-of-body experience.  Fear me, for I am an almighty poop god!

Now, that's not to say that I can't write elsewhere.  In fact, that's the point of this blog post.  As I draw closer and closer to the end of a novel, the perimeter of the comfort zone seems to grow.  I'm not sure if it's because the intimacy of the project grows as I prepare to bid it a final adieu, or a need to express myself more often (usually attributed, I'm sure, to the volume of the story that falls into that last chapter or two).  In any case, I can write just about anywhere.  I'm a veritable Doctor Seuss character as it pertains to scribbles at this point.

This becomes such an issue that - despite the fact that I'll finish The Enemy Within, with the intent to put it away and not look at it for a month - I will begin writing the follow-up to the novel within the next few days or even hours.  When I finished As Darknes Falls, I knew that I was going to be taking a huge step away from my original conceived notion of The Enemy Within.  I thought I'd need time to load the new ideas into my mind, but they were already buried somewhere in my mind, and I ended up renting a backhoe without any prior anticipation.

Basically, it all boils down to this: over the next month or so, it becomes incredibly interesting for me as a writer.  I can't wait to see what insanity comes to pass!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ebb and Flow

There is a natural progression in all things.  The water moves at its own pace, so does the wind, and, if left to it's own devices, a fire.  Who are we to govern or manipulate our destinies?

I've spoken at length before about how it's my intention to create a videogame, and that hasn't changed.  However, it's recently become established in my mind that my enthusiasm may have convinced me that I was able to complete what I was aiming for in far less time than I need

It was my intention to have Devour done and launched by March, but that may be an unrealistic goal.  The initial plan was to have the programming of the game finished by the end of December, at the very latest.  The worst thing you can do in life is believe that your long-term plans are unshakable.  The time that the team working on the game requires is tricky to obtain, mostly because this is a part-time project.  Real life, if you want to call it that, can sometimes get in the way, and I can't fault anyone for that.

What I can do is adjust the timeline we have.  There's no reason that the game wouldn't be able to come out in June rather than March.  Obviously, there's some dissapointment there, because I would like nothing more than to reveal my brain baby to the world as soon as possible.  Devour can only benefit from the extra time it has to baste, however.  I'm still going to give it all the attention it deserves, and when it does manage to come out, it'll be even better for it.

In the meantime, everything else Tellest-related is still on track.  The Enemy Within is going to be finished, likely by the end of this month.  Then, it'll sit in a drawer for a month before I pick it up and go through the edits for content and for quality before it heads off to my editor.  March is looking to be the month for that!

In other news, it's been a couple of months since the Bindings of Fate came out in paperback.  To lead the way for The Enemy Within, As Darkness Falls is going to see a physical release in either January or February as well. 

Finally, there are a few other workings in the background that we may be able to talk about soon.  Keep sending your good energy our way, and maybe we'll have some decent surprises for you before you know it!

Monday, October 8, 2012


One of the things that I haven't really had the chance to talk about is how much I know about the universe I'm working in as it pertains to Tellest.  I've been writing the novels since I was 17, and a lot of what my audience reads is something that's been written twice.  It wasn't until I finished writing the third book in my series (the first time) that I decided my writing had evolved far beyond what it had started out as.  So many things changed - but I was still writing the same baseline stories.

Several times over the course of the books, I've been able to surprise myself from a narrative standpoint.  Characters who were evil in the original books ended up on the other side of the playing field.  People who had small parts were embellished, and others were completely stripped from the book altogether.  And then, of course, there's the whole point of the series getting down to brass tacks right away this time.  In the original trilogy, you learned very slowly of the superhero powers that each of the characters had.  In this one, you learn it all right from the get go.

A lot of the time, that change in the narrative comes as a surprise, even to me.  Whenever that happens, I'm invigorated by the potential.  It's scary, because you're going off track from what you anticipated, but I've always been of the mind that you let the story dictate itself - you're just the writer.  On the other side of things, it's absolutely exciting.  When you're writing a story you know without a fault, some of the scenes can tend to drag on.  You're not doing anything new.  It's been done before, and you're not pushing boundaries.  But when you manage to surprise even yourself, you know you're onto something good.

Whenever these things happen, I tend to try and make sure there is potential for readers to catch it before it actually happens.  This has happened twice before in my series... once in each book.  As time goes on, I'm sure people are going to look out for them like I'm the M. Night Shymalan of ancient superhero novels.  Eventually I'm going to have to think up even bigger surprises.

Side note: Shymalan is actually a pretty nice guy if the conversations I've had with him are genuine.

For now, I have to wrap myself in the twist.  The payoff has to be as powerful as it was before, and I think in this case, it will be even greater.  And then of course there's the post-climax reveal that I was already intending on writing...

But that's a story for March, I suppose.  Not too far away now!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Game On

As the final book begins winding down (only two chapters left!), the game that I've been working on is heating up!

Last week, Rhianna and I took some time to figure out the concept of the main character of our game, which, for now, I'll call "Digger" just to try and retain some amount of mystery.  She had me jumping around on all fours like a baboon, which really isn't that much of a stretch for me.  I mean, have you seen my arms?  Her sketches were impressive enough on their own, but now, we have something that we can show you.

"I just want to be held."
World, meet Naryx.  Naryx, meet world.

As you can see, our little creature is very anxious to be starring in his own game.  He's got a lot to learn, but then, so do I.

The good news is, my team is pretty much put together, and I couldn't ask for better developers.  Our pixel artist is very impressive, our musician is uber talented, and the programmer... he's definitely the glue that helps me keep everything together.

I put together an official story the other day too, and so far, the reception to it has been very good.  I can definitely see this being a game that a lot of people are going to enjoy.

Over the next few months, you'll see me drop more tidbits of information, some art, perhaps some music, and, one of the coolest parts, a campaign, where you help out and receive rewards for your patronage.  If you're especially interested, who knows... maybe you could even be part of the game.  More details on that later...

As I said before, there's a lot ahead of me.  But a lot of the time, when you weather the storm, you come out bigger, stronger, hungrier on the other side...

"And I'm not even fully grown."