Clarrise


It was rained the morning of Clarrise’s three-hundred-and-sixty-first birthday.

It wasn’t the most important factor of the day, or the most obscure event that took place, but it was the first thing that Clarrise noticed when she woke up and it was, she decided after some thought, a sign that things were about to go wrong.

She was right, and sitting in her lounge at three o’clock she congratulated herself on just how right she had been. The gunman who was waving his pistol far too close to her face failed to see how this was amusing, but after three hundred and sixty one years you had to see the funny side of these things.

She found the sound his wrist made especially humorous when she snapped it backwards and sent the gun clattering to the ground. The accomplice screamed more loudly, more shrilling, the sound rattling against her ear drums in a annoying fashion that had her ending him quicker than she would have liked.

She called Fred.

‘Do try harder darling,’ she sighed.

The Trouble With Characters

The trouble with characters is they develop voices of their own.

And lives,

lives you’re no entirely certain you choreographed

as you watch them dive-bomb your plot lines

in a manner most unexpected.

They start to get ideas…

often late at night

just as sleep approaches,

that’s when they leap!

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Rebels, Plots and Spies

Calling all NaNoWriMo fantasy writers out there! Are you ready for November yet? How’s your world-building going? Have you got those factions sorted out yet? What about races? Are you going to have any? Will there be friction between them? Who’s ruling your world? Is there more than one ruler? Do they get along? Are there wars? Who’s winning? Why are they fighting? Does one side thing they’re fighting because of one issue and does the other side think their fighting because of something completely different? Wait! Are there more than two sides even? Dear flubberworts, writing a fantasy-fiction novel can be confusing.

For those of you who haven’t checked out the about page I’ll let you in on a secret  well known fact about me. I love my history. Especially medieval and early modern Europe. Anything under two hundred years old can suck it, you’re too young and I’m just not that into you. But I digress. My point is, history is awesome and if you have any sort of background studying history in the medieval or early modern eras then you’re probably going to find it pretty useful when it comes to writing your novel.

Yes. This is one of those “oh she’s off on one again and is trying to disguise it as an somewhat educated blog-post”. Haha, you guys know me so well.

Anyway, my madness aside, a little knowledge is great for world building and yes I’m now going to refer to Game of Thrones. Now the books by no means reflect the real events of The Wars Of The Roses and for those of you not in the know The Wars Of The Roses were a fifteenth century civil war that took place in England. If you want more detail leave a comment and I’ll write a blog post about it but explaining it in any more depth here will lead to a very, very long rant and I’m trying to avoid those when talking about other things. So back to Game of Thrones. You can see a lot of themes from The Wars Of The Roses in the first book, and from my own reading of it I found more than a few characters who seemed to match up with the historical figures. The Wars Of The Roses lack dragons though I’m afraid.

You know that depth Game Of Thrones has? How complicated the characters are, how scheming everybody is? It some ways it seems to almost mirror reality in the fifteenth century. Did anyone reading this watch The White Queen? It’s based on a historical fiction by the same name written by Phillipa Gregory and in the T.V series you see Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII (Divorce, beheaded, died, divorce, beheaded, survived.) No Margaret Beaufort was only fourteen when she gave birth to her son, and she spent the rest of her life scheming and plotting to get her son on the throne of England. Really Henry Tudor should never have taken the throne. There were questions about the legitimacy of his bloodline, he lived in exile most of his life with his Uncle in Europe and there were others with much stronger claims. He still got there though. He may of usurped Richard III to do it, but he managed it. (And thus we have the end of The Wars Of The Roses and the start of the Tudor reign which in itself gives you a whole host of plots and rebellions to be dealing with.) All in all I’m saying the English monarchy is complicated and more than that there was always something threatening the monarch just as there is in Game of Thrones. More often than not more than one thing.

Another example would be Mary I (I’ve just finished reading an article called The English Exile Community In Italy And The Political Opposition To Queen Mary I by Kenneth R. Bartlett.) In her case you have Protestant exiles staying in and receiving support from a Catholic Venice against a Spanish-Anglo marriage between Mary I and Phillip of Spain. There was an established Inquisition in Venice! Surely that should have made Venice a big no, no for Protestants since they would be considered heretics, but here we have an example of politics taking precedence over religion because there was common ground. Phillip of Spain was a Hapsburg, a family which coveted the title Holy Roman Emperor and large swaths of land across Europe. They did not want England allied with Spain against them. At the same time France has Mary Queen of Scots in their grasp who also has claim to the throne, there are plots to put Elizabeth, English Mary’s sister, on the throne and a guy called Wyatt even throws a rebellion into the pot. And that’s a basic overview.

Now imagine your writing a book. Character A is on the throne, but you want your plot to end with character B taking it. History can give you the basic outline of how that happens with a few plot-twists already formulated on the way. I’m not saying give your reader the history of […] between […] and […] but if you’re stuck working out how your fantasy kingdom works go and do some research. Have imprisoned heirs vanish without trace, rebellions of all scales for all sorts of reasons. Hike up the price of grain just to piss off one remote corner of the Kingdom that never even gets mentioned in the book only your planning. History is complicated to the extreme with connections between people in the most unusual places, put some of that into your writing.

Also be aware that everyone can be a spy and under Henry VIII the Royal Bottom Wiper was a job of huge privileged since it brought you into regular contact with the King. Royal Bottom Wipers can be useful message carriers.

And on that note I shall leave you. Good luck NaNoWriMoers!

Darkened Daughter Extract – Rickets Den

You did not got to the Purple Pig to drink. You went there for whores and information.

Before the new King’s reign Molly’s tavern had been one of the most successful in Dondara. Now it was nothing more than a crooked sign and a few worm eaten tables crammed into the darkness.

“Are you sure we’ve got the right place?” Mole kept close as his Captain hurried down the city streets towards Rickets Den. Behind them the stone houses of the wealthy seemed to glow softly in the moonlight, oil lamps dotted along the cobbled streets to ward off the shadows.  Rickets Den on the other hand was a mass of shadows, curling and twisting around the wooden buildings which tumbled into one another and disappeared into the depths of the old mining pits. Mole wasn’t a brave man. He was really quite timid by all accounts with a thin reedy voice and a thick, short stature that left many confusing him with a child. Danny found him useful for sneaking into tight spaces but it took some encouragement to get Mole to agree.

“Just stay behind me and keep you voice down,” Danny warned. “We’ll be fine.”

Mole nodded and picked up his pace, determined not to be left behind. If he’d dared he would have caught hold of the tails of Danny’s coat, but he doubted the pirate would appreciate it so he kept his hands where they were. Quickly the cobbled street ran out and instead they were picking their way across mud slick boarding. Mole tried to swallow the bad feeling bubbling up in his throat as he heard his footsteps echoing beneath him. When he was much younger he’d asked his father how deep the old mining pits in Dondara were,

“Deep,” his father said, and left it at that.

Danny led them further into the wooden city, dropping them further into it’s depths ladder by ladder until Mole lost count in the gloom and found himself stood outside a lopsided shack with no windows. Rickets Den was a feat of engineering. It had started when the poor began building their homes near the edges of the open mine, steadily moving closer and closer until their houses jutted out over the edge. It continued that way until eventually half the city seemed to hang in the air above the endless pit, each building pinned in place by timbers, completely interconnected. Mole wondered what would happen if just one beam snapped. Perhaps the whole thing would crumble.

“Stay alert,” Danny warned, fist raised above the door closest. “This may not go as smoothly as I hope.”

Turning away from Mole Danny rapped on the door three times and then retracted his hand quickly, his fingers wrapping around the handle of his sword as he waited for a response. For a long moment there was nothing but silence and the creak of wood as the whole place heaved and sighed around them.

“No one home?” suggested Mole.

“So it would seem.” 

“So we can leave then?”

Danny shook his head and took three steps back, something of a luxury since most of the streets in Rickets Den were barely wide enough to walk down.

“Here,” he said, shrugging off his coat and handing it to Mole. “I need you to hold this.” 

Current Projects

I received the comment that my last post was a little random so I thought I should try and put up something that actually links into my work as a writer and not just the weird ramblings that sometimes constitute to a decentish story. So here we go; current projects!

 

‘The Lady Winters’

I currently have 25000 words of plot-less nonsense with random characters and very few links between said random characters. The next step with this is going to have to be some serious planning. Two years of the panster technique has got me a fairly decent foundation to work on but now I’m flaking in the swampy middle bit of the novel , but I’m determined to refuse sinking under into the pit of failed novel despair that surely awaits if I don’t clean up my act.

I have some some characters that I adore though.

Sophia Fall is currently my favourite, though that isn’t her real name and even I forget what he real name actually is most of the time. (Hazardous when writing certain chapters.) I think developing her back-story will be the first move in my new plan of attack. I already have the framework but already I can see numerous tangents of development to wander down. Most will probably never see the light outside my computer screen but that’s fine. As long as there is something more than what there is now to dreg up when I need a motivation boost.

 

‘The Terrifying Life Of Henry Granger’/’The Debt’

Henry Granger by Miss Antonia Brennan I’m probably going back to the original chapter, I’m probably going to double back on my ideas for the plot and I’m probably going to reduce the importance of Evie Fallows in the book. Henry was the inspiration that started me writing so I think I need to give him centre stage once more and focus in on his story, since the original title would suggest he is the main character of the book. ‘The Terrifying Life of Henry Granger’ is also no longer a novel but a novella with a target word count of 30,000 words. If this was ‘The Lady Winters’ the first draft would be almost done. As before some planning is needed but I’m going to focus on writing chapters first and salvaging what I can from the original drafts. I think most of the story is there so ‘The Terrifying Life Of Henry Granger’ should be knocked into some sort of almost finished state by the end of the Summer. Make sure to comment regularly and ask how it’s going to get a first hand taste of the epicenes of my “almost there” speeches.

 

‘Obscurite’/ ‘The Midnight Runaway’/ ‘Wooden City’

Tara by Miss Antonia Brennan

I started looking at this again the other day and though I’ve got some new ideas cropping up I’m going to focus on ‘The Lady Winters’ and ‘The Terrifying Life of Henry Granger’ before I return to this. [Are you starting to see my tendency towards abandoning novels halfway?]

You’ll see snippets cropping up in the flash fiction challenges I do, but that will be the same of all my projects since I’m trying to push my writing forward using the prompts as snapshots of storyline possibilities.

‘Headquarters’

If you don’t know what ‘Headquarters’ is then read. There are now two halves of the story line ‘Safe Haven’ and ‘Central Command’. I’m working on them both but updates might slow a little over the next two/three months since I will be finishing up my second year of uni and I need focus my attentions on getting a good grade since I really want to manage at least a 2:1 by the end of third year so I can go on a do a masters [funds be willing.] The posts are disjointed and pretty much free-write the whole way through. I don’t want to worry too much about perfecting a storyline with these, I want them to be a fun, interesting read for anyone interested and a useful writing exercise for myself. If I start redrafting these posts over and over then I will be taking away from time I could spend on the other projects getting ready to try and get them finished and published.

 

Twenty’

Twenty is the self-published collection that will be coming out in April. The content has been finalised and it is now just about working out the typos and kinks with presentation. At least something seems near completion.

 

 

Anyway, those are the main projects that are currently lingering on, around and under my desk. Feel free to bug me about the progress of any of them, the nagging will probably do me good. Are there any projects lurking in the background of your mind currently?

 

by Miss Antonia Brennan 

Random picture of myself and the Illustrator. All will be explained in the next post.