I don’t often write about writing. It always felt like a waste of time. I always thought, ‘why bother? I could use this time to advance the story, or do a bit of world-building.’ But after a few conversations regarding the direction of my story and what my intentions are, I’ve come to realize that as much as it might satisfy the curiosity of those I speak to, talking about the story and what I ‘meant by it’ has been rather more helpful for me.
Writing something new and original is never easy. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re shaped in a thousand different ways by the stories we’ve been exposed to, by the way we grew up; things we share with countless other people. How do you tell them things they’ve never heard before? Offer perspectives they’ve never considered? Fantasy has many beaten paths, and the obvious ones are ‘safe’ roads.
The hero’s journey.
A quest to restore what was lost, or to destroy some great evil.
An evil sorcerer/overlord/general, as an enemy to defeat.
In rarer stories, there are societies to defy or to define, Fatalism to prove or disprove.
Sometimes stories are about finding human will and the desire to change the world, or at least, to change the circumstances.
The world is often ailing, and the hero(ine) must find the cure (or is the cure).
I’ve seen it a dozen times. I’ll probably see it a dozen more… whether people like it or not, they often enjoy the familiar, even as they tear into something for being ‘derivative’.
I enjoy the beaten path. But I know that as a writer, I shouldn’t venture down it myself.
What I began was something I hope will be different.
Where The Gods Lie Dreaming is meant to be my contribution to the world of fantasy , and I meant it to stand apart. There is very little ‘journeying’, and more intrigue and questions. There is heroism and there is valour, but our protagonist witnesses it as much as he displays it. And there is evil, but it has not yet been revealed. The world is at peace, but there is something seething beneath the surface, both beneath the city of Valharrow, and in every word of the so-called wise and strong.
Of course, Where The Gods Lie Dreaming is only one third of the full story. I had always intended to publish my three books as one complete volume, but it wasn’t feasible at the time.
I split the book into three, and, per the advice of my editor, these splits caused a few shifts in tone as I revised the story’s three endings. I also had to come up with two other titles, and because getting the title Where The Gods Lie Dreaming took finishing the entire goddamn book first, I was not happy about that. Fortunately, I just needed to use some of the drafts I had, which, all things considered, now fit the arcs each book will be covering.
- Where The Gods Lie Dreaming: The reader’s first glimpse at the city of Valharrow and the world of Amarith, a place of secrets and old wars, where the straightforward nature of the Knights of Audren is undercut by a millenia of half-truths.
- Chained Gods: The revival and threat of the old world, as the deities of an old, destroyed nation revive in the dreams of one of their descendants.
- Elegy of the Immortals: Amarith is changed forever, as old truths surface, and the hero is charged with the consequences of their revelation.
There is a ‘villain’ in these stories, of course. But for the first two books, a more apt term is that of ‘antagonist’, or ‘adversary’. Elegy will reveal the ultimate villain, and I can only hope that his foreshadowing is handled well in the first two books. I’m still new at this, despite writing for what feels like an eternity. But we’re always new when we’re trying to create something never seen before.
There will be other stories in Amarith of course. In fact, I’m about halfway through writing another story. Strangely enough, that one is a journey… but like before I wanted to go off the beaten path. It seemed to make sense, as a story with a growing theme of death and decay prevailing in the world, that my very next protagonist would be a necromancer.
But that is – quite literally – a story for another day.