Thursday 19 January 2012

The Birth of a Dragon

Writing my second novel for Abaddon, it certainly felt like a bit of a beast at times. With my first novel, The Call of Kerberos, I had learnt so much and the trick with Wrath, was taking all that knowledge and doing it all over again. I believe it's known as Difficult Second Album Syndrome. Also, there was the added complexity of writing in a shared-world universe. This isn't a grumble, it's genuinely been great fun bouncing ideas off the other Twilight of Kerberos authors, it does however mean that everything you write has to chime true for everything the other authors are writing in the same world. Sometimes I'd hit on what I'd think would be a fantastic scene, only to find it would do things with the world that wouldn't carry well into future novels.

As well as the complexities of writing Wrath, it was the period during which my wife and I were awaiting the birth of our first child. Maia Rose Oliver was born on the 10th of February, 2011, about halfway through writing the novel. It's true what they say, being a parent changes everything and you can see some of my fatherly concerns channelled through my hero. In fact, Silus is accompanied by both his wife and child on much of his adventures.

And adventure is really the key to this novel. When I first started writing all those years ago, I actually saw myself as being a moody horror writer. (Think of an emo Garth Marenghi and you wouldn't be far wrong). Horror is still my first love (although I think I've grown out of that emo phase) but it was in my early twenties that I first started reading the pulp fantasies of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and Clark Ashton Smith. It was also in my early twenties that I first started gaming, starting with Call of Cthulhu, but soon moving onto Dungeons & Dragons. The fantasy worlds of the American pulp writers and the adventure games I had started to play had as big an influence on my writing as Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King when I first started. When I sat down to write my first novel, I wanted to give some of the joy back I'd had reading the pulps and rolling a D20. I'm not hugely keen on world building, so with Call of Kerberos I set it almost entirely on the sea or beneath it, giving me a sort of blank watery canvas. With Wrath I started with a world in its infancy and explored pre-history. Both of these gave me great scope to do pretty much what I pleased.

And I decided that I'd do the dragons.

Dragons had been mentioned in the previous Twilight of Kerberos novels, but neither Mike, Matthew or David had gone into too much depth (aside from some scenes in Mike's novels). I decided then, with Wrath, that I wanted to do the dragons. I'm still really pleased with the scene depicting the creation of these awesome monsters and a great deal of the book follows the adventures of the eunuch, Emuel, as he travels across the desert with his dragon companion. Not the easiest creatures to write, as they're so iconic, but I had a lot of fun with them.

Anyway, if you like your Sword and Sorcery redolent with Leiber, Lovecraft, Howard and Ashton Smith and packed full of adventure and monsters, then I present to you my final novel for the series. Head over to the Rebellion store and check it out.

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