Sometimes, when I inform people that I speak to online that I am an aspiring author who still would like to find a break even though he has given up hope with much of anything else, I get asked what it is I write about.
Although I have attempted to write on several subjects in fiction, the stories that I have completed to a degree I am satisfied with all occur in the same world and deal with a fairly regular cast of characters. The first series of stories I wrote in this “universe” consists of four novel-length manuscripts, with a novella set decades before the first of the novels. Lest that description concern you, rest assured that it was written for a good reason. The central character of the first novel is a Dwarf-Human hybrid who ascends to rule the realm he was born in at a time about twenty years after his mother has died of old age (there is a substantial gap in the life expectancies of Dwarrow and Humans). As I continually made changes and cuts to the manuscript in order to promote better flow (and less serious errors), it occurred to me that although we hear a lot about this character called Firien, we never really learn much about what she was like as a person. That story attempts to provide a sliver of an answer. Just enough to let the reader fill in the blanks themselves.
The other series of stories I wrote in this universe is the one I am currently working on. It so far consists of two novels, and a bridging short story, with a third novel in progress. And although I started working on it for a silly reason, it mutated into something that I cannot help but keep going back to.
The first novel in this arc, The Raven And The Ruby, concerns itself with two women who are in their final year of secondary schooling. Both are Mages, both are Halflings, and both are boarding at a specialised school in the Elvish realm called Nagëlheim. Ruby Amelda, the character through whom we see and absorb the story, ends up engaged in the Mage equivalent of a fistfight with the other main character of the novel, Linula. As the story progresses, we learn this fight started with Linula using her powers to throw garbage upon Ruby for a couple of reasons. One, Linula feels attracted to Ruby (this becomes a theme touched upon throughout the arc). Two, having been sexually abused by a “respected” family member in the past, feeling sexual attraction to any living thing tends to make Linula feel rather uncomfortable to say the least. And she sublimates that feeling of discomfort into violence.
The second character arc in The Raven And The Ruby concerns itself with two men who are in their final year at Nagëlheim’s secondary military academy. The first, Séindarion, is injured by a stray bolt of frost during the aforementioned Mage equivalent of a fist fight. Before we delve further into the sexual abuse themes with Linula, Séindarion asks Ruby to join him in attending an exhibition of moving pictures (the world in this story is just starting to develop a film industry, which I will explain a bit about in good time). As Ruby is falling in love with Séindarion, however, Linula begins to make attempts upon her own life, obviously distressed about her past and the results of it having finally been brought to the attention of the proper authorities. As a somewhat desperate measure in conjunction with therapy in an attempt to stop Linula trying to off herself, Ruby and Séindarion introduce her to one of Séindarion’s friends at the academy, Sirian.
Now, as I mentioned, there is a plot element in which moving pictures are shown to an audience for entertainment. Which sort of should clue people in to the kind of world I am writing about. Although people automatically revert to Tolkien when I mention that the characters are Elves (Séindarion and Sirian) or Halflings (Ruby and Linula), the truth is that far more Heinlein went into this story than anything else. As with all stories in which an entire class of characters can fight using forces that bend the laws of physics, there has to be someone there to police them and promote their healthy coexistence with the rest of society. Although he has agents that he never reveals to the main characters, Kronisk is that police force in the body of a man who looks nothing like the other inhabits of the world in the story. And his fascination with films, still images, and music carries over into the world of the stories. Hence, many things are deliberately referenced in the story that are used for entertainment in the reader’s world.
The second story in this arc… well, I have some problems with it. For one thing, I tried to write a full-length story with no violence, or as little of it as I possibly could. I do not believe I was entirely successful in doing so and making it completely compelling from start to finish. Redrafting is therefore likely.
The character Kronisk begins to experiment with another concept that is carried from our world into the world of the novels. As Kronisk mentions to Ruby at one point, he is not exactly an example of the ideal physical specimen, and a lot of that has to do with genetics. So he is seen at a couple of points using some very far-out devices to “edit” what looks like DNA sequences of a living creature. The results of this monkeying around with combinations of DNA from both himself and his current apprentice, Minílwen, are two bears. The elder of the two, Baladu, adjusts fairly well and quickly to the world that he is born in, and even begins to experiment with verbal interaction at a rapid pace. During one scene after the two happy couples described above are invited to come and visit the then-in-construction Ursine village (and accept), Baladu even asks Ruby quietly, “Friend?”. That is, of course, echoed a bit more articulately at the end of the story. But the birth of Baladu’s brother, Gilmick, is what essentially makes up Ruby’s mind about what she wants to do as a career.
In one scene, Gilmick is brought into the hospital, comatose. Within minutes of his birth, he looks at both of his parents. Seeing warmth, hope, and choral music in the aura around Minílwen, he is pleased. But something in Kronisk’s aura (actually, all of it) scares him so much that he just lapses into a coma, not wanting to see any more of it or understand where it comes from. So Ruby, ever the healer at heart, volunteers to go into the thoughtspace of the comatose Gilmick and find out exactly what the problem is. Her solution to how Gilmick actually describes the problem is… well, let us just say that great films can do so much more than entertain.
The short story, I can be brief about. I am not sure whether I want to really circulate it, anyway. In the tertiary school she is attending in Arterclius, Linula is given an assignment involving the production of still images. Swearing her lecturers to confidentiality, she recruits Ruby (who is studying various aspects of medicine) to pose in a series of still images that progressively get more provocative whilst staying within certain realms of taste and restraint. The less restrained ones that they take without the aid of a photographer or lighting assistant from Linula’s class, they send to Séindarion and Sirian.
The third novel, which is still a work in progress, references the short story to a degree. In one sideplot of that story, a less-enlightened Halfling from Linula’s home realm tries to assault Linula, and she fights him off so effectively that the school’s management does not know what to do until she shows them a recording of the incident. So this lad, expelled and sent back to Bârikha, participates in a conspiracy to frame Linula for the murder of one of her classmates. Fleeing Arterclius whilst Kronisk and several of his underlings work to uncover the conspiracy and its nature, Linula holes up in Archon. After requesting that he be allowed to join Linula in Archon in the aftermath of one of Kronisk’s more creative information gatherings, Sirian aids Linula in further, deeper explorations of her sexuality in between sessions of ingratiating herself with the Dark Elves of Archon. And by more creative information gatherings, I mean that Kronisk uses his ability to make abusive persons feel so dirty, uncomfortable, and ashamed within their own skin that they start to tear whole chunks of said skin off. He does this primarily in order to get more information about the group involved in the conspiracy. But he also makes clear at one point that the attitudes the conspirators have towards young Halfling women who do not want to be sexually assaulted without consequence to the attackers make the use of this power so much more satisfying.
I think that in order to completely understand my writing, one has to understand my storytelling goals. I make no secret of the fact that when I perceive a piece of fiction as trying to infantilise or kiddy-fy the audience, it makes me angry. If you have read enough of my previous writings, you know damned well that I hated being a child, and could not wait to grow out of it, even if only because being an adult entails being able to respond to threats of abuse with the credible threat of force. So whilst there are children in my stories (Baladu and Gilmick for example), most of what is written about them concerns itself with how the adults in their company respond to their behaviour, and others’ behaviour towards them.
In the first novel, Ruby and Linula are approximately sixteen years old. Their beaus, Séindarion and Sirian, are slightly older at around seventeen. Ruby and Linula, although tentative at first, begin to practically explore the subjects of sex and sexuality with these men. This is a perfectly healthy thing to do at their ages, and anyone who tells you otherwise should not be in a position of say regarding anything that affects individuals in their late teens. Contrary to what I will not dignify by directly naming here (let’s just call her SchMeyer and leave it at that) will tell you, abstaining from sex of any description can and will have deleterious effects on your emotional and physical health. As an example of the latter, it is known among a certain branch of the medical profession that men who regularly engage in sex have a reduced likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
Another funny thing about the way this subject is addressed in my novels is that Elves have a natural contraception built into them. In a scene where Princess Andaráwen begins to suspect that she has conceived King Trór Gravewater’s child, she is known to be seeing the spirit in all living things, including the forest itself, to a degree that Humans would have to take a lot of LSD to replicate. Essentially, Elves in this canon are as much a physical spirit as they are flesh, and Elf women are born with slightly more of this spirit energy than is the case with the men. In order to conceive a child, they must shed some of that spirit in order to pass on to their child. By the same token, the spirit of an Elf male must be thinking “okay, I am ready to have a child with a share of my genes around me, let us send up some actual living sperm”. So as frequently as Séindarion, Ruby, Sirian, and Linula merge (both in the presences of each other and with each couple on their own) when they are in the same realm, the fact that Séindarion and Sirian know they are not ready to be fathers yet means that conception is not going to happen.
That is a reference to a serious problem facing our world, Terra, right now. All the problems we have with prices inflating faster than we can cope with, with resources getting progressively scarcer, all stem from one granddaddy problem called overpopulation. Either we evolve enough to learn that consciously being more selective about breeding is a good thing, we evolve so that our anatomies are more discriminatory about how frequently we can breed, or we will become extinct by 2200. In this Wikipedia article, you can see a graph that dramatically shows just how extreme the problem is getting.
It frustrates the hell out of me that I am physically unable to figure out how to get these works in front of someone who can assess their suitability for publication. But then, I would have an uphill battle in this “everything must be suitably only for infants” climate that the popular media of the English-speaking world is in. Family friendly? Up until recently, the youngest member of my immediate family was my sister, who will be 32 later this year. Does my fragmented, hate-between-certain-elements family just not count?
And with that, I will bid those who had the patience to read this far a good night, and good luck. Thanks for reading.
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