The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities
Aug 02, 2022 11:36 am
Reflections Upon the Anniversary of My Descent: Part Two
Marton, I had promised Demon Dad I’d hunt the rest of your murderers. Like, right this very second. And while it had been easy to rip apart a thug in the dark after being gutted open with a knife, those memories scared me in the bright harsh light of the hospital ward.
Demon Dad could wait.
It's been five years since you were murdered. Five years since I made a pact with a demon for the power to avenge you. None of it has worked out the way I expected...
Get Part One here:
Setting In fantasy
I nicked this email's title from a Samuel R. Delany book that will never be written or released but had a cool name.
I never liked Sydney when I first moved here from a smaller city. It was big and ugly, choked with red brick buildings. It sprawled everywhere, and you had to rely on locals for advice on where to find the secret places: alley-side restaurants and coffee shops; interesting shops full of books and records. Nowadays we've got smartphones and Trip Advisor. The city is more familiar now, but there's a sharp contrast between the glistening shopfronts, and the crooked backstreets where you can feel a sense of brutality rising up from the old worn stones. It's an old murderous convict town, after all.
I enjoy urban fantasy more when there's a strong sense of place. There's Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which drips London and its history. And New Atlantis, in K.D. Edwards' The Last Sun, conveyed the feel of a strange, off-kilter city, consisting of a patchwork of real world buildings gathered into the one location with powerful magic.
Some other books don't evoke the settings as well, as though shot on a generic location in Vancouver.
What are your favourite urban fantasies that have a strong sense of setting?
I've been working on my setting for a while now, and am neck-deep in stories for it. While there are echoes of real cities within it—mostly Sydney, London and Tokyo—it's not definitively based on a real city. And it's not even in this world.
How do I onboard people?
Well, I've hired a journalist to write an ongoing series of articles about it.
New Article: Survival Guide to the Supernatural
In this series of articles, the mysterious journalist known only as 'Vadren Skycastle' explains what it's like to live in the Vestige World.
Welcome to the first article on this blog, designed to introduce newcomers to the supernatural world. If you’re confused, or have questions, these entries should help you out.
Let’s start slow. You must have so many questions.
Last year, I lived in the ordinary world. I took all of it for granted: cars and skyscrapers, burger restaurants, airships, smartphones and watches. I grew up surrounded by stories of an age of magic, but it was all folklore and hearsay.
This is what I thought:
It was reasonable that there had been a tyrant called the ‘Dark Emperor’ who had reigned two thousand years ago, head of an advanced civilisation. I can see his castle from my studio window, and can make out the tour buses heading up the mountain for the top. There’s ruins and towers everywhere. You can’t dig up a piece of land in Storm City without uncovering some ancient brick or arrowhead or historical temple.
And it’s also reasonable to assume that there had been an epic war to stop the Emperor, and the famous General Hawkbow had killed him, or at least had the credit for it. This what history tells us.
But it was unreasonable to think that there had once been an age of magic. Where was the evidence for it? Where were the dragons and unicorns? Where was the crystal city of Reladon, and the wizards that had guided the world from the Crystalspire? What happened to the magic swords? Every archeological dig only returns bricks, quartz fragments and old coins. No weird skeletons. Lab tests don’t return artefacts that have strange or unique properties. Everything can be explained neatly and precisely.
No, it was very reasonable to believe that the ‘Age of Magic’ was a story, and the real history was a brutal struggle that people had embellished.
When I was a journalist, I thought that way. Until I went too far, chasing the story of a lifetime. There’s a thin barrier that separates the ‘Golden’ world of the mundanes, and the ‘Indigo’ world of the supernaturals. And once you cross that barrier you can’t cross back.
The Indigo World isn’t like a separate dimension. It’s a different layer. Like a filter on a camera, or having a superuser password that unlocks more features. For a start, you can see things. Monsters that weren’t there before. People using magic.
And it’s not a nice world. People are out for themselves, or are driven to serve extra-dimensional masters in exchange for magic powers. Magic is trapped in old crystals and relics, and these fought and squabbled over by ‘occultists’, a crazy group of people who consider themselves the heirs to the wizards of the Crystalspire. There are factions, gangs, shifting alliances and deals.
As a person who’s crossed over with no powers—they call us ‘borderers’—you’re not protected any more. People in the Golden World have ancient enchantments keeping them (mostly) safe from the supernatural. We don’t. We’re the lowest rung on the supernatural ladder, ‘meat’ for the rest.
You only survive if you make contacts, or play your cards right.
Next post I’ll explain how you can do this as soon as possible.
The Vengeance Business. Now that Final Night is entering the world of commercial publication, this is my new promo! This contains two stories about Thaena Ashmore, cambion assassin. There'll be stories added to this collection when I release it commercially next year.
Final Night. This will be available for commercial purchase in October. Sorting through paperpack/hardback set-up. Hopefully Ingram Spark isn't as scary as everyone says it is. I'll let you know when it's up for pre-order.
Final Night Sequel. Second draft done. Lying quietly in an undead repose for a bit until I can come back to commence mad scientist surgery, er, structural editing on it. Plan is to get it out next year. There are a number of these stories that lead up into the events of the novel. (Not sure whether I should complete this sequence first, then start the novel sequence, or do alternate releases or.... argh.)
Vestige Novel #1. I'm taking this through a structural editing course, and I'm about halfway through. Re-structuring and tightening up Act 2.
Vestige RPG. I ran the OpenQuest version at a recent online convention! It went well. Percentile% is a great system, but I'm going to try something even more streamlined at my next gaming convention. (Again, this is a while off.)
Action-Packed Urban Fantasy
A swathe of pulse-pounding urban fantasy reads!
Dead Man's Hand
Dead Man's Hand is the prequel novella to the Harker & Blackthorn series - pulse-pounding urban fantasy which follows three cryptid hunters as they search for mysterious beasts, face up to a corrupt secret organisation and discover the secret of an ancient artefact. If you like snarky heroines, nail-biting action, humour, monster hunters, psychic mystery, a diverse cast and a touch of slow burn romance, give this a try.
Lovecraft in a Time of Madness
(Amazon: $5.99USD or KU; collection)
Lovecraft in a Time of Madness is a collection of 21 horrifying tales, inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Featuring stories from across the globe, this anthology unveils a universe of macabre ritual, terrifying creatures, and those brave souls who dare challenge the nature of the unknown!
From Arthurian legends to the very depths of the Mariana Trench and the darkest corners of the human mind, Lovecraft in a Time of Madness oozes with unique takes on some of Lovecraft’s most forbiddable creations. Featuring stories from C.L. Werner, Thomas Parrott, Mark Wheaton, David F. Gray, Scotty Milder, and other new and established authors. Join us as we descend into madness!
The Splintering Place
(Amazon: $3.99USD or KU--Appears to have moved recently from wide to KU)
Secrets can't stay buried forever.
Welcome to Gideon House. A quintessential Victorian masterpiece, with a presence bold enough to bolster a deeply rooted family dynasty, draw in the curiosities of its legacy, and sustain the darkest secrets brimming within its exquisitely aged walls.
Isabel Prado has been offered a job too good to refuse. All expenses paid and an extremely generous salary to care for the elderly Mrs. Joan Gideon - a renowned author and award-winning screenwriter of mysteries and the macabre, now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
As Isabel moves into Gideon House to care for the matriarch of the estate, she’s hopeful this opportunity will give her the security she’s been seeking all her life. But both Gideon House and its inhabitants are hiding sinister secrets … secrets that are slowly unleashing a trail of terrifying supernatural manifestations before Isabel’s eyes.
As Mrs. Gideon’s mind deteriorates under Isabel’s care, Isabel must determine if the ailing widow is conjuring the menagerie of horrific hallucinations through her broken mind to unveil the mysteries kept hidden within Gideon House, or if it’s Isabel’s own sanity splintering, bringing forth her haunting past she thought she left buried years ago.
Growing up in foster care wasn't easy on Ava. At eighteen, she left all that behind, and prepared to start her new life.
But she never expected it to take the turn it did.
Daughter of a druid, she finds herself invited to study at the Dragondale Academy of Druidic Magic, and thinks maybe she's found the thing she's been looking for her whole life - a home.
But not everything is as it seems at Dragondale. She's years behind the other students, and an outcast in a foreign country. And there's only one thing on her mind.
She never thought she was much of an animal person - until she met Dardyr, the dragon with a dark past. Together, can they heal each other, or is there a reason he's offlimits?
If you like magic academies, fun characters, and adventures, you'll love Dragondale Academy: The First Semester.
Love & Magic
Add some sparkle to your life!