In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Something Fresh

 Ignoring politics is hard. Especially now, when anyone can post anything on Facebook, true or not. The lies I've seen... if every claim that Labour has risen in the polls was true, they'd be at 200% by now. People are claiming the Tories want to close the NHS and starve primary school children. It's ludicrous, the politics of deception and deceit - but it works. People do believe it, and when the claims come thick and fast they reinforce one another. Repeat a lie often enough and people will begin to take it for true.

 But I have work to do, so I'm trying to limit my involvement. I'm afraid that the voters in Britain is no smarter than the American electorate which voted for Trump. They'll fall for deceit and fake promises. Well, that's their business. I'll take care of my family and my writing, and leave the great social movements for others.

 I'm still editing Fanged Fish. 70,000 words are done now, so there's not too much left to do. My plan is to finish that, then rewrite The Death of Ghosts, which needs a few tweaks early on. I wrote it in such a flurry that I didn't give enough emphasis to a couple of things that become significant later in the series. Or I should say... that was my plan. Because I've had a great new idea.

 I'm still thinking through the structure, and a lot of the background isn't clear yet. But the basis of the idea is a portal Fantasy, in which magic interacts with the world we know. People can cross here from their world, and return. Intelligence services track them too, so there's a thread of modern surveillance and the suspicion of terrorism as well. The terrorism matters, because portal fantasies have been done before and if I'm to do this, it will have to feel different to them, something fresh. There are other things in the story to do that - but I'm not going to tell you what they are. You'll have to read the book, kiddos.

 I have to write it, first, and with a new baby due soon that might not be so easy. Oh well.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Do It Yourself

 Like Sci-Fi, Fantasy can sometimes hold a mirror up to our own world, by showing one in which things are nearly the same, but often worse. A writer can get away with Mad Mage of Zog Empire saying something you can't have the President say.

 It's a bit hard at the moment. I can't see how we could have a Fantasy allegory of today's politics, it would be ridiculous. Readers wouldn't believe it. I'd do better with Mad Mage and the Zogs. Good name for a 60's pop band, now I think about it.

 In truth, it's very hard anyway. Politics is labyrinthine, a mess of ironies and contradictions that only make sense to us (well, a bit of sense) because we live in the middle of it all. We pick up the little quirks as we go along, so we have a frame to fit everything into. It's not like that with ancient Rome, say. We might know some important figures like Emperors and writers, but we don't know the hundreds of minor issues that cropped up day by day. We can't really imagine them, so it's tricky to write a political Fantasy novel unless you go into tedious detail explaining everything all the time.

 Robert Graves did a wonderful job of this with I, Claudius, by the way. Read it if you can.

 The best we can do is broad strokes. I do some of that in the Songs of Sorrow books, which tell of the struggle to survive of a small religious group threatened by a much larger one. One character here to show such-and-such, one character there to show blah-blah, and leave it at that. Sometimes in writing the trick is to leave detail out and let the reader fill it in for himself. That way every reader has a subtly different mental image of the story, but isn't that why a book is nearly always better than the film version?

 I'm going to try to ignore the real world's politics for a while. Tough ask, in the middle of a General Election, but I'll give it a go. I think I prefer the struggle of the Ashir, and speaking of that, I'm closing in on finishing the final edit of Fanged Fish. The cover's being designed as I write this and we have a tentative publication date of November this year - a scant 6 months away. Meanwhile Kai is trying to change his people's culture to help them survive, and others are trying to stop him and cling to what they know.

 Politics, eh?