In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Few Fables

 I admit, some of my recent posts haven't had much to do with writing. That's OK, because if I burbled on about my work time after time I'd bore myself, let alone you merry lot. But the launch of Black Lord of Eagles is close now, April 7th, so I really ought to chat a bit about that.

 The story is inspired by the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in 1532. This is the last time that two cultures met with no previous knowledge of each other, having developed along completely different lines, The Inca thought at one point that the Spanish must be eating all the gold they stole, because they couldn't think why else they'd want it so much. It was an encounter with the Other - a completely alien culture.

 It ended in tragedy, with the Inca all but wiped out and their culture destroyed. But it was close. In 1536 the new king attacked the Spanish at Cuzco, and wiped out four relief armies before he was defeated. In the end it took until 1572 for the Spanish to kill the last king. If it hadn't been for the ravages of smallpox, the Inca might well have won.

 Imagine that tomorrow, we discover an invisible people that has been living alongside us humans all along, and now they want to conquer us. Their technology is better than ours and they're right here among us before we know they exist. Everything we thought was true about the world was nonsense. We would be shocked, stupefied, hardly able to think. That's what happens to the Ashir in Black Lord of Eagles, when they discover an alien culture on the border of their land. The invaders shouldn't exist. But they do, and the Ashir have to find a way to deal with that blow before they can begin to defend themselves.

 I love the Ashir. Their warriors are tattooed with society markings, wear their hair in crests and adore jewellery. People eat bread rolls filled with peppers or squirrel meat. They tell fables of monkeys who longed to be eagles, and of a lost people who carved the great stone heads which litter the land. They're hopeless romantics. Now me, I'm a cynic to my bones, but there's a part of me... a little whisper in my heart... that doesn't want to be. A part that wants some of the fairy tales to be just a little bit true.

 The Inca lost. Maybe the Ashir will too, when it all comes down to the last of the struggle. (What, did you think I'd spoil the ending?) But if they leave a few fables, and a sense of wonder, then we'll owe them something. I think that's largely what Fantasy is for, and it's what I aimed for with Black Lord.

 I really hope you like it.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Clever Clogs

 Well, this is odd. Michigan University research has apparently found the key characteristics of intelligent people.

 They are that you learn from your mistakes; you argue intelligently (i.e. without being confrontational;); you don't believe you're intelligent; you like sick humour; you enjoy being alone; you are physically lazy; you have used illegal drugs; you're an atheist; you don't post inspirational messages on Facebook; and you're the eldest child in your family.

 Really? Then basically, a first-born fatso who can't be arsed with going out because he's spent all his money on weed is a frickin genius.Especially if he has a taste for jokes about the Yorkshire Ripper.

 These claims are so generalised that they don't mean anything. It annoys me that people take a study like this seriously because it was done by 'scientists'. It's as though the white coat confers some sort of divine right to have all the answers, but y'know, that's priests, if you believe in that sort of thing. (Which means you're not clever, apparently). The truth is that some science is good, like evolution, and some is really bad, like homeopathy, which isn't really science at all but bollocks wearing the ol' white coat.

 In the same way, some clever people might be co-operative and low-energy, but others are confrontational Christians. People are different. Why this weird urge to compartmentalise and pigeonhole? Our greatest human attribute is the richness of our diversity. If you think people fit into this kind of neat packaging, go watch Susan Boyle's audition for Britain's Got Talent. Might change your mind a bit.

 Oh, and by the way, Black Lord of Eagles is due out in less than a month now, on April 7th. I promise to concentrate more on that next time.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

A Mobius Strip

 Hi all. This blog's been a long time coming, because for some reason my 'New Post' page refused to load. Sorry for that. I'm not a tech guy so it might have been due to pixies as far as I can tell.

 While I remember, I'm not on Twitter as @benblakeauthor. I have a dismal 20 followers and feel a wee bit overshadowed by these show-offs with hundreds or more. Help a poor chap and like my page, eh?

 OK, well the launch of Black Lord of Eagles is now a bare month away. I'm quite excited and also a bit nervous, because while I can write well enough (hopefully), that's done alone. Speaking in public is not, and at the launch I'll have to talk for 20 or 30 minutes and not make an utter jackass of myself. I do tend to wander off the subject, so there's a real risk of blather. I'll just have to focus, I suppose.

 I'm already editing volume two, title Tales of Fanged Fish. I need a cover for it too, and that book will also be published through Blue Poppy Publishing, either in November or the New Year. It feels weird to be talking about the coming New Year when March has only just begun, but plans need to be best-laid... or as best I can, anyway.

 I think then I'll work on Starfire. Volume one is finished, two and three are blocked out and plotted, and the story has potential to carry on for a long time beyond that. It could go a bit like the Shannara series, which reminds me of a Mobius Strip - it goes on and on without ever reaching an end. Starfire could reach between worlds though, because underlying the series is a mythic link between realms. I like that idea. It would let me incorporate all manner of weird and wonderful peoples and places into one story, told over generations but still continuous. When I felt like it I could come out and write a separate tale, like Isles of Eternity or The Pyramids of Saqoma. And that, my friends, is the rest of my writing life mapped out... unless I change my mind.

 Which I do. Quite a lot.

 Don't bank on anything much after Fanged Fish. There's no telling what a writer will do next.