Dispatches from the Desk: A Long and Wandering Road, But Progress

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything on the blog, and March being the start of a new year (at least it feels that way to me once the snow starts melting and the sap starts running — an important psychological year-mark even though I only own one sugar maple and don’t tap it), be it hereby resolved, I am going to post on the blog more often. I’m aiming for once a month. Go ahead and subscribe by email or the RSS feed thingummy [technical term] to get notifications of posts, if you will, and/or follow me on Twitter. I tend to be on Twitter a lot; it’s my home for virtual Marakander coffee-house socialization and I enjoy it, so why not try to bring some of the same approach to the blog, I said to myself this morning. Rather than feeling guiltily that I need to somehow scrounge time from writing whatever book it is I am presently writing in order to compose a long and thoughtful essay, I’m going to aim for some sort of monthly blog post of news and progress and reflections.

So here I am, and here we are, and what have I been up to lately? Well, The Lady came out in December. It’s the second volume of Marakand, completing the story begun in The Leopard. Marakand can be read as a sequel to Blackdog, or as a standalone, since although the histories are connected, the focus of the two is different. With that out and launched upon the seas of fate (go buy it, go read it, and give it lots of love in reviews . . . I, like every author, beg you — because that really helps), I’ve carried on with my current project, which is another book set in the same world.

How’s it going? Well . . . it’s been a long and wandering road. There was one element of the story, a very difficult psychological journey for a character, that took much thought and revision to get right. I couldn’t seem to get on with the external plot and the main characters’ external struggles, until I (and that one character) had mastered the internal one. You remember the old “themes” we were taught back in elementary school? In those days all stories were labelled as either “man against man”, “man against nature”, or “man against himself”? This one is definitely having two parallel stories happening, and one of them is “man against himself”. Those over-simplified “themes” are found in varying proportions in most stories, but in this case, getting right this story of a man struggling to survive the aftermath of great psychological trauma — shellshock, PTSD . . . in his world they would say he has been wounded in his soul — really dominated my work on this book for many months, to the point where in the end I concentrated on writing that one character’s story (and that of his partner which is necessarily closely entwined with his own and is in fact the warp thread of the book, the spine of the story), while leaving the strands of three other important people and the larger plot of external enemies, civil war, and stuff you’re going to have to wait for the book to learn about, for later.

But now, having finally written that strand of this polyphonic plot to my satisfaction, I am at the stage of going back to write the parallel-and-interwoven external story. “Man against . . .” what was that conversation Ahjvar and Ghu had in The Lady?

“Who are we fighting?”
“You and I? Mostly everyone . . .”

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About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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