I wrote my first book when I was six. I’m not saying it was Shakespeare, all that much longer than a few tweets, or that I remember any more than someone in a ship did something terribly important – probably saving some world of fuzzy things. It was also illustrated, however poorly as a six year old is apt to do. Alas that great manuscript is forever lost. That’s where it started though. I’ve spent my life obsessed with building worlds, the histories behind the people that live in them, and struggling with the challenge that is taking a setting and characters that compel me to a meaningful destination. The journey is important, and most assuredly hard.
I took my first stab at writing a proper novel sometime around ten, and spent years re-writing those first chapters of two books over, and over again. I added quite a few more to the list of endless re-hashing over the next decade or so. I’ll get back to those worlds some day (as if I don’t visit often,) but for now I am here, and the tale of the Ashtons and the world that grew exponentially around them is farther than anything else I’ve ever tried before.
Even my currently profitable career as a tech-artist is a path I stumbled down out of my desire to tell stories, and my frustrations with the tools presented to me. Be it the organizational process of redesigning history, society, and the interpersonal events of day to day life, or the want to craft tales that do not tell so much as show. (Character illustration is also notably time consuming.) Or just the uphill battle of vision that always exceeds scope. I don’t do small, simple, or short easily, and almost every time I try it gets away from me.
I have always been a daydreamer, drawn inexorably to the gravitational pull of the mysteries in human existence. A fundamental philosophical agnostic, far beyond the bounds of theology and into the realm of knowledge itself. Nothing is truly knowable, but it sure is fun to try. More honestly I long ago came to the conclusion that no knowledge is absolute, no truth perfect. There are only questions and turtles, all the way down.
I readily ponder the point in our fascination with fantasy. The pull of magical thinking that permits us to embrace the idea of mages, dragons, spells, and occasionally even moral government. Really no more fantastical than swords made of light, engines that warp space time, and little blue boxes that are bigger on the inside. I write that kind of fantasy too.
I can only presume that there is some fundamental survival value in our determination to ask “what if,” even if what follows is close to gibberish. A determination to challenge the status quo even if that might be gravity itself. What if I flap my arms? No. What if I use a sling shot? Probably not. What if I light literal tons of oxygen and hydrogen under my ass? Sometimes.
In my day job I write code and make art. I deal both in the quantifiable certainty of mathematics (not always as certain as you might think,) and the ephemeral chaos of fudging it till it feels right (which some would argue is a science!) The strange reality that while a single switch gives you black and white, eight give you a couple hundred shades of gray, three ‘channels’ of these and you have millions of colors. Then maddening as it is, the fuzzy organic mechanisms of the human eye can still see hard lines between them.
I like to approach magic rationally. There is no distinction between magic and physics within the context of a fantasy world. Magic is in that sense Science, mysticism on the other hand is the cargo-cult of failing to test what parts of the process actually achieve a result, or even to ponder if correlation is not equal to causation. It is the failure to check if our accepted understanding of how space is shaped or light works, is not an over simplification of something gloriously more complex. Dogma is available to all possible world views, and all worlds filled with emotional beings.
Which is not to say I do not obsess over mysticism, and religious ideas. How we arrive at our faiths, and scientific certainties, that are always just a little off fact (what ever that might be.) I am however far more interested in switching the pieces around to make something new, than believing in something unknowable. I am more interested in exploring the divine mysteries, than accepting someone else’s answers to them.
I am deeply fascinated by how things work. Less the very particular parts of chemistry, the resistors, how the switch works, but rather to grasp the fact that under all that, there is a switch. If black and white make up the system, it informs what that system will become, as surely as shades of gray change the game.
We are fuzzy organic systems filled with quantum uncertainty, living in a binary world. Not just the technological age that we are now in, but the monotheistic construct of binary morality we have built western civilization on for centuries. Although I like to assert it is really dithiestic, as god and the devil represent polar opposites. Any distinction of ordinal or power disparity between them is trivial in the actual application of how it informs world views into discreet buckets of good and evil. Black and white. On and off.
The world of O&E is one shaped by a very different moral conflict. It is not a battle between gods for the worship of mortals, but the more direct struggle of mortals in abstract of clear personal gods, over the very idea of morality. The pragmatic Clarions obsessed with an idea of a march towards a perfect being – in essence to create or become god – and the “chaotic good” view of morality above progress or rules. Set further again against even more upheaval from greed and ambition with or without faith. For some, greed and ambition are their faith.
The Storm Cycle has four planned books – tentatively titled (no spoilers):
- Rain in Avrale (Complete & Published – aka Children of Avrale)
- Dust the Wind (Publishing in Progress)
- The Weathered Road (20% written)
- Stormfall (fragments and the end written)
There are also two supplemental books I strongly intend to write in the same time period, and involving secondary characters:
- The Rose of Osyrae: (general outline)
- A tale split between the schemes of the palace and the streets of the capital.
- Liora’s Lament: (general outline)
- A defiant young girl’s path through an order that thinks little of women.
Other books set on Thaea that I hope to get to – many tentatively titled:
- Path of the Maji:
- The Last Witch (40% written)
- Set in ancient Lycia at the dawn of the age of Kings.
- Lady of the Vales
- The rise to power of First Queen Navi.
- The First King
- The beginnings of magic, and the overturning of the old order.
- The Last Witch (40% written)
- The Empire Chronicles:
- The Wolf and the Imperator – the fall of Lycia and the founding of Corinthia.
- Heirs to the Wind – how a nation became an Empire to span the world.
- The Shape of Dragons (many fragments written)
- The rise of dragons, and fall of an empire’s golden age.
However all consuming O&E tends to be – is far from the only world I want to share with the people of ours. Here is just a small peak at a few notable for being close to completion or publication.
The Granddaughter Paradox: (first draft complete)
A tale of first contact and political maneuvering in the thirty-first century. Pondering the nature of a ‘post singularity’ near immortal humanity, and inspired by one of the more chilling solutions to the Fermi paradox. One of several completed manuscripts in my back pocket. Other books started, and under consideration.
The Architect of Babylon: (first book 60% written)
First book in a series re-imagining Judo-Christian and other myth by fragmenting the role of the devil, and leaving God an uncomfortably open question no one might like the answer to. Two or more books currently planed.
The Roses & The Raven: (completed short story)
An unconventional stab at a conventional fairytale format. Following the schemes of a witch to over throw a Witch Queen who has cursed and conquered a once great and (ig)noble land, and two young friends that find themselves the crucial pawns in a dangerous game of magic and prophecy. This has spawned further exploration of the youth of the Raven Witch, and the fall of that once proud land, that is so far incomplete.
And dear god – far too many more.