Where does the Music come from?

•May 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Music features heavily in this story of Evanna and her adventures. From the half-way hinted mention of Evanna carrying a fife with her at all times and being a “Piper” (or flautist) to the feature picture of the cuatro of Sir Matthias (yes, it is Matthias’ cuatro on the cover!) it is a theme.

Have you ever wondered where the overlaid music that plays over an emotional movie love scene comes from? Why does music move us so? How can a few notes make us dance and laugh and cause us to shed emotional tears?

If I were to be completely purist about it, music consists of varying tones going up and down with different rhythms separating them. If you break down what music is really made of – it really isn’t very exciting at all.

C.S. Lewis once wrote a story about some children who find themselves on a sea-faring voyage on a ship called the Dawn Treader. Eustace, Lucy and Edmund landed on Romandu’s island to discover the man was a “star”. And the “star” said something very telling when Eustace tried to be a smarty-pants and explained that stars were in fact, balls of gases and fire – but responding that while gases and fire may be what stars were made of, that it was not what they were.

I believe the same is with music, a bunch of sounds on a page is what it is made of.

Perhaps we in the scientific era have confused the constitution and make-up of any given object with the identity of the object. In fact, we do it with ourselves. We are more than skin and bones and cells – we call ourselves “human” because we know there is something much bigger, far more majestic – and yet so brittle and fragile and broken.

Next time you hear music, perhaps it would be prudent to stop and reflect on the soul of what you are listening to – what it IS. Perhaps it is a clue to who you are too!

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Sir Torias and the Priestess Adeline – Auditors and Accountants of the Antediluvian World

•May 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

And yes, my reference material for this couple was also a couple – and guess what they did/do!

Every story needed a little bit of romance, and instead of making my main character the subject of conventional romance, I decided to make a fairly prominent supporting character into one instead.

Torias was a difficult one to portray on paper. He had to be complex enough to take on the role at the end, but jovial enough to act as the ‘clown’ for the first part of the story. All in all, Torias was a good man to have around when something needed to be done. Evanna knew that and put him ahead of the column to lead the siege. Ischahalia knew that and put him in charge of the defences.But Torias the incurable romantic would frequently journey into the city to see his beloved.

Adeline was perhaps one of my latest character additions – but possibly one of the most impactful. A timid, mild-mannered Priestess and Healer by training, she was also a studious and diligent person. Hidden by hints and cryptic clues at the beginning, Adeline’s character was not fully revealed until the meet-up point where she declared her bold decision to follow the army in the face  of uncertainty and fear. Her courage, devotion and sense of adventure took her to new grounds and the frontline of the battlefield to become a powerful support to Torias and to Zeina.

The Matthias Connection – Sir Matthias

•May 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As prominent as this character became in the story, Sir Matthias was in fact, only a very late development in the whole scheme of things.

It all coincided with the arrival on the scene of some new friends (at the time) in 2008 and with Sir Matthias, as in the book, came a host of other characters who came with him. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say, that this friend – who became very dear to our family (hubby and I) – made a huge impact on my writing.

Sir Matthias came onto the scene of the Simasian Palace, where Evanna was already working on the commissioned piece for the Prince. He was inducted as a newly-awarded soldier – a Knight of the Ordinary Order – for his part in defending the Northern Border of Simas. It was the way in which Simas rewarded outstanding soldiers. It was Antediluvian HR in Talent Management and Development.

Sir Matthias however, had entered the story a lot earlier by way of a conversation between Lord Dharius, Sir Endor and Prince Vahan, who mentioned briefly his achievements on the Northern Border while they talked of the situation in Drone. He crossed paths with Evanna when at a dare, he interfered with combat training between her and Sir Bendon. After initial awkward exchanges and mutual appraisal, their mutual service at the Royal Temple, their friendship and their common ground in smith-craft brought them closer together.

Sir Matthias’ energy and sharp-mindedness and perception  and catlike randomness was moderated by his fierce loyalty to his friends and a passionate devotion to the Most High. Unconventional even by Simasian standards, this young knight was to Evanna like a brother she never had. While she had been brought up by her adopted twin brothers Ameyon and Armaraque, over the years they had drifted apart, due to Evanna’s unique position and stubborn personality. He intuitively understood her and as some special friends were able to do with perhaps some of us – he tapped into her frequency. This bond, although intimate, was completely platonic. This allowed for the entrance and brief, sketchy relationship between Zeina and Matthias. Where that led, we are not told.

Perhaps what made Sir Matthias such a prominent character in the end (having started so late and on the side), apart from the force of the chief Reference was the scope of what I was able to do with the character in service to many of the more difficult elements of the story – approaching key scenes from various angles, exploring the various emotions the Evanna was going through from a different perspective – all these things I was not able to do with other, more conventional characters. How did I know? I tried!

So I hope you will enjoy – or have enjoyed (if you have already read it) – this rather strange character 🙂

 

The Cover Story – Part II

•April 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

For a long time I scribbled in my sketchpad thumbnails of vials and swords and guitars and dragons and all kinds of imagery that I thought were symbolic of the story.

I tried the two-part green pendant of Lord Vidar, I tried the image of the vial, I tried drawing dragons and phoenixes into a border which surrounded the title (and it just looked cheesy!!), and I tried multiple iterations of the blue vial. And for the longest time I just could NOT settle on an image that was appropriate for what I was hoping to achieve.

It came to the point where I had the design of the sword pretty much set with the phoenix and the red stone and the white pommel but it looked too bare on the page by itself. I toyed with several layouts and threw the idea aside.

Then I settled into designing a sketch for Matthias’ ‘cuatro’ or Guitar. I think it was back in High School where I did this art class on some mixed medium printing and I had this design of the middle of guitar with some fruits around it – the middle part was cut out and replaced with the exact same design in another medium (yes, confusing) but that, and a CD cover I had seen with the perfect circle of the guitar gave me the idea to use that as a feature. I also decided that the circle (sorry to all the technical guitarists out there, I keep referring to the circle) could be decorated ornately to show elements of the actual story. Being a very expensive custom-built guitar in the story I went to town with putting gems and inlays into it.

The map was a last-minute idea when I was putting together the printing file for BookPal, I suddenly realised that I FORGOT THE MAP!!! At the time I was sketching the guitar design so rather than leave the guitar hollow in the middle, I decided to sneak in the map of the main areas of the story (muahahaha). Then I photocopied the design of the sword that I had, and of the guitar, and cut them out, and placed them side by side on a mock up cover to see how it would look. The phoenix on the spine of the book was meant to be the Standard or emblem of Itticca.

I hesitated for some time about including the guitar on the cover because it was not such a central element of the story – but in the end it was included – not only because it was visually fitting, but because it had some symbolic significance to the story. To me, it was the symbol of friendship and communion and solidarity – as well as belonging to the secondary-main in the story, Sir Matthias. Sir Endor’s dagger would have also been fitting here but visually much less appealing.

I scanned three different layouts to Xi (my very awesome graphic designer) and she came back with a recommendation.The cover design was born and my ‘evil’ plan of sneaking the map into the cover worked!! >:D

So that was the long and the short of the cover design 🙂 So say what you will about the cover design – but I had a lot of fun sketching and working with Xi through the process!! 🙂

 

 

It has been some time….

•April 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It seems that I have allowed life to take over and have not put in an entry since February!!

Hmm… time flies when one is having fun! I have continued to be fairly quiet on the promotion front, perhaps to the bewilderment of many of my friends who knew of this work. But it has certainly not been quiet by any definition of that word!!

Apart from happenings at Church and weddings and parties and working bees and meetings (and some increased time playing SIMS3and ebaying), I have also been undertaking some post-graduate work (Professional Diploma) in Human Resources – it’s fun but writing essays and reports just don’t come as easily as fiction!! >< (and referencing is soooo tedious!!! – apparently one is never allowed to have their own ideas in academia unless you "level up" to a certain point – what idea is original anyway??!). But yes, I am a touch workaholic.

I have been looking at some trial post-card productions. I had sent off a file to Vistaprint and had received back a decent-enough quality of postcards (just to see how they would work). They worked out much cheaper than the other option I was looking at in any case, and if they worked well enough I may just do a reprint.

Well I think I might post something about the plot soon, so stay tuned!!

xoxo
Karen

The Matthias Connection – A brief touch on characters

•February 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I so named this post because it is a post about Characters and how I have found people around me who influence my writing. Matthias was among the more prominent supporting characters other than Evanna herself, with Endor and Vidar close behind. And so I just picked Matthias cos it had a nice “ring” to the title. No, nothing about Matthias, I’m afraid!

Almost every writer draws from his or her own everyday life, and crafts an piece of art from it. Part of that art might be fictional, part of it might be very real – and in time, everything melds together in the story that develops a nature and a life all of its own.

Some people are off-limits, such as immediate family and the like. They are just too close, a little “sacred” if you like to appropriate into something imagined.

People and their lives are 4-Dimensional; a page is at best, 2-Dimensional. I’m not sure any pen on earth will do another person justice in any case. One person has not only the nature written in their DNA to contend with; but also their nurture, influences, thoughts, worldviews, mindsets, personalities – add onto that circumstances and you have layers and layers of story – just to ONE individual alone. No, no pen can fully capture another life.

A bit tongue-in-cheek, I wrote a disclaimer at the end of my book, stating that all characterisation which resembles someone I know is “accidental” as the characters are all fictional and don’t actually exist in life, so I take no responsibility for any perceived misrepresentation of friends, enemies or acquaintances. While it was said half-jokingly, it actually came about because I was talking to a friend about the plot and the characters and got a question directed at me saying, “So, is so-and-so THIS character?”. The answer of course, is: NO. So-and-so did not exist prior to the time of the Floods of ancient times and nor were they Knights and fighters of a kingdom long lost to memory and time.

Did some of my friends influence characters more than others? You bet! Strong personalities have strong influences. That’s just a fact of life.

Well, I hope this brief post sheds some light on the characters – but perhaps I might post a bit more “Spotlight” posts on certain characters. We’ll see!

 

The Ancients & the Serpents & Phoenixes

•February 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

All throughout recorded human history there have been stories and legends of Dragons and Serpents and Enormous birds. We are so enamoured by stories of gigantic creatures – from the Spiders of HP & LOTR to the numerous web documentaries about the search for giant snakes, lizards, fish, squid – well, we are just fascinated  by all these lifeforms and what they look like, how they behave – and we seem addicted to the thrill of possible adventure and discovery.

That got me thinking. Perhaps stories that have been passed down from so many different cultures aren’t as isolated and baseless as some might believe. Perhaps among the common threads and story elements there is truth. Perhaps it is that the truth of the one-time existence of such creatures are interpreted through different lenses.

The story is set on a great island, consisting of several countries/kingdoms of varying sizes – what we have dubbed “Pangea” in the Geological world, perhaps remnants of the once-great Atlantis. All of these creatures were a daily reality to the people of this land, and in their world, it was completely logical to talk about Mountain Lions and Reptilian beasts in the same breath, because they were part of the same ecosystem. In my mind, it was a perfectly workable reality.

Warning: I am on ramble mode so – be warned!! 😀

Some of the more “fantastical” creatures in Blue Scorpion really came from this thought. Here are some examples:

Dragons & Great Reptilian Lizards:

In my book, Dragons and Lizards just aren’t the same thing. No way. The majestic winged dragons of the greatest stories can’t be related to the monitors and komodo dragons that we moderns are used to. And there seem to be more than one type of dragon. Some aren’t really dragons, they’re “serpents” – and personally I classify them separately.

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, the worldview I adopted was one that was created perfect, and yet was ruined by a single act of betrayal. Things that were once pure were starting to decay and as the generations go on, the genetics started also to degrade.

And so it was with the Dragons. I imagined that there was once a great race of Dragons – perfect, faithful to the Most High and majestic beyond belief. Over time, they started to weaken. These are the creatures I have dubbed “The Ancients”.

These “Ancients” were the last of their kind – other dragons also existed (as dragonlore persisted way beyond the Flood) but these were cross-bred, less beautiful, less pure specimens. The Ancients were the fair dinkum Dragons – the originals. They were creatures of beauty, strength and they were known to be quite fierce and unapproachable, and they earned their reputation amongst the old world civilisations as terrifying creatures. They were also elusive, living in the highest mountains and in the most hidden places on the island, coming out only to hunt or stretch their wings. They were creatures of incredible intelligence, but they would commune with humans on their own terms. And by the time the story began, they were really struggling for numbers. These creatures had a powerful instinct: when they were about to pass from Life, they woukld fly from the great Island to find smaller islands to make their own final resting place.

There are also Great Reptilian beasts (aka Dinosaurs) in the story – but they are completely unrelated to these Dragons. These creatures occupied lower lands, preferring to be in grazing herds or hunting those that grazed in herds.

The Serpents of Old

There is an ancient legend from the ruins of the Mexican pyramids that a rainbow/feathered serpent came down to teach the people wisdom and culture and gave them much of the technology that they learnt at the time. There are creation stories with large rainbow snakes and serpentine dragons that imparted knowledge and teachings in many cultures across the globe. There are tales of the Loch Ness Monster and depictions all over the world of colourful, long, lithe creatures that floated in the sky. In the Bible the Serpent is a symbol of the Oldest Evil – the Deceiver and the destroyer of Eden.

And so I based my Serpents on such creatures – the Serpent in the story doesn’t do very much but much of what it did was implied in backstory. It was beautiful, cunning, and imparted secret knowledge and wisdom to a man who hungered for power. I won’t say much more lest I spoil the story for all! Suffice it to say that the serpentine characters in the story were up to not a lot of good!

The Phoenix & the Roc:

The first time I heard of a giant bird story was back in junior school – I bought this book from our junior book club called “True Monster Stories”. All I recalled was that I loved to scare the living daylights out of myself reading the werewolf stories – the rest of the stories were somewhat stereotypical, and they did not much interest me.

But among the stories that did catch my attention was this story that in Africa, a boy in the fields was carried away by a gigantic eagle which swooped down from nowhere to snatch him from his friends. The boy was never seen or heard from again. Many efforts were made to find this alleged eagle but no one could find it. There was also a story in my school English Text book which we never got to study – which was an Indian folk story about how a Princess Sita was carried away by a giant crow.

Ahh, giant birds – again, I decided that they could exist in that ecosystem – Giant Reptiles, Giant Snakes… why not Giant birds?

In the story, the Roc was a symbol of the Country of Simas – its national emblem.

Oh, and Phoenixes – need I explain them? They’re just awesome. End of story muahaha. Well, they are the national emblem of Itticca.

These two creatures in the story have a largely symbolic role – they really are just the markers for certain people groups and territories within the story.

There are many more…

Oh dear, how I do ramble…. It’s a lot of fun just playing with all the possibilities in a story. But imagine a world where such possibilities are real. Now that would be an adventure in itself 🙂