Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oooooh, Scary Story...

For the main part of the story, Zandria and Olena are chased by werewolves.

I did not want the girls to meet the principal bad guys in this story. They never encounter Gusk, Vanril or Sasha directly. That left me with the opportunity to maybe bring those three back later. Instead, werewolves!

Are werewolves too scary? They definitely add a sense of tension and urgency to the sisters' journey. The werewolves work well as a constant reminder that Zandria and Olena must keep going. There is also an intense scene involving the werewolves and unicorns. So, yes, they are very scary.

I believe it was Walt Disney who said we need fear. He did not mean outright Stephen King-type terror, but King works from the same principle. Disney employed wicked witches, killer whales, step-sisters and ghosts across his stories. That little bit of uncomfortableness reminds us of where and with who we are safe. Maybe a werewolf jumping out of the shadows gives us a fright, but then a giggle and the reminder that we are surrounded and protected by the ones who love us.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Girls

After a sweeping introduction to the land of Empyrean, we finally meet the two main characters:

Zandria and Olena

Two sisters born four years apart. They spent their early childhood in the beach side village of Banookanook. My own girls are only eighteen months apart, but the older one definitely acts older and the younger is my baby.

I wrote this story for them, really for all four of my children, but especially for the two girls. Life's hard enough and being a parent makes it that much tougher. Here I had a chance to teach my girls some values, show them how important it is to be strong and independent. I could sneak a lesson into a make believe world of fairies and unicorns. That way, when they reach the age when they know more than me (probably twelve), it will be ingrained and my job will be done.

So yes, Zandria and Olena are my daughters. It's almost like having two sets of daughters. At least with one of the sets, I will have complete control over where they go, who they date, etc. Unfortunately, life is not as easy as coming up with an outline and writing a chapter.

I took some of the best traits of my girls and gave them to Zandria and Olena. I even stole some of their behaviors and idiosyncrasies. That click that Olena does when she has something important to say is real. Then I had to give them some things to make them different and allow them room to grow. My oldest is not nearly as self-centered as Zandria starts least not yet, she's not a teenager.

I gave them a beautiful home and a happy life. Then I took it all away and threw them into a huge adventure. Even with two young girls as the main characters, I needed the story to have a broader appeal. The girls couldn't sit around building sand castles and playing dress-up.

So I sent my girls out into the world of Empyrean and I am going to do my best to keep them safe.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Little About The Bad Guy

So, The Forgotten Evil kind of sums it up.

He's really old, so much so that he's been forgotten. Literally, there's no one around that remembers him.

Oh, and he's evil, really evil.

The Forgotten Evil will not be seen until the final story, The Last Queen. Until then, he is a shadow and a mystery. Any bad guys that come along in the meantime work in service of this guy. He's the reason they do what they do. The Forgotten Evil is nameless and shapeless. Maybe at one time, he was a person and there will be more on that in Book IV: The First Queen.

For now, he is the man behind the curtain, serving mostly as a plot device.

Being such an absentee master, he still manages to be quite a motivator. In the land of Empyrean where peace has reigned for hundreds of years, the Forgotten Evil has managed to muster quite an army: the snail-like General Gusk, dwarf Lord Vanril, Sasha the gypsy witch, carnival ringleader Raymond Shaydaway, Spynum Begg, Emperor Am-Li. Not to mention the hordes of underlings willing to do mean things: werewolves, Rockhorns, dwarves, half-dino warriors, black cloud monsters, or kappas.

The question is, who will win in the end? The Forgotten Evil or the queens?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

He's small, but not a chicken hawk

Aeran is the Captain of the Guardian Hawks of Empyrean. 

These hawks are like an honor guard. Oh and they're tiny, like hand-size tiny. They do important things like deliver messages and look good at special events. The hawks have a rich history and they used to be much larger. There will be more about them in Book III: The Secret Queen and Book IV: The First Queen.

In The Fourth Queen, the hawks are represented by Aeran (he gets his name from my brother Aaron, btw). This little guy is the newest captain and he's fairly cocky. Chapter 3 shows his change from a bragging showoff to a dedicated and honorable soldier. He has the first encounter with one of the Forgotten Evil's beasts and gives us a tour of the eastern realm at the same time. We see from the air all the terrain that Zandria and Olena will have to cross on the way to the castle.

Besides Aeran, his three fastest hawks are Bellevue, Derek and Habrok. While Aeran's name is borrowed from the real world with an avian twist, the other three are homages to fictional birds. Hábrók comes from Norse story Gylfaginning, dealing with the creation and destruction of the world of the Norse gods. Ever heard of the Bellevue Blackhawks? I'm not a sports fan, so I wonder what I was thinking in retrospect, but that name comes from the Bellevue, WA basketball team. Derek is inspired by Derek Blunt, the greatest agent in the history of Darkwing Duck's S.H.U.S.H. agency. While the names were inspired from their hawk origins, they really have nothing more to do with their source material. 

One of many "easter eggs" in The Empyrical Tales.