Hey gang. I know it’s been a while since we’ve come and talked to you guys, and for that we’re sorry. There wasn’t anything in the way of DOING that, except for the very reason that this blog exists: writing.
I know this has been said BEFORE, but this time it’s for real: The Dusk Harbinger is finished. How is this different than times before? Because I have personally put my quality seal of approval on it; it is DONE. What else have I said before? It takes however long it takes to get done and however many words that requires. The very first book in the Twisted World series is “content complete”: there is nothing left to add, all that is left is cleaning, editing, and testing.
It’s a funny story, really. The Dusk Harbinger started way back in 2009; Yeah, almost 5 years ago. In fact, Dusk Harbinger was started BEFORE Rabbit in the Road was even an inkling of an idea. Rabbit in the Road happened as an experiment, in a way. We needed to find out how complicated the self-publishing process would be, and we wanted to know what it was going to be like trying to turn those thoughts and ideas into an actual book. Rabbit in the Road was a fantastic experiment and learning experience. It required The Dusk Harbinger to be put on the back burner to achieve and know that we were headed in the right direction.
Now, we’re right back where we started. I suppose that it is poetic, in a way.
In the past I’ve said that I’ve hated a lot of genres; not just in writing, but in other media formats. It’s pretty known that I’m a fairly avid gamer, and I also did game journalism for a short number of years, covering general news and also reviewing. One of the big genres that sticks out like a sore, angry thumb for me is the First Person Shooter (FPS). I thought I hated the genre, but after the introduction of fantastic, innovative games in that realm (Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Borderlands, and Left 4 Dead being huge examples), my opinion changed. I learned that I didn’t hate the genre, but actually hated the people MAKING the games in that genre. And why? Simple. Because they fell back onto old, tired tropes to get by. They didn’t want to innovate, they wanted to play it safe.
The same could be said for my attitude towards fantasy. I don’t hate the fantasy genre. I hate the people who are creating content in it, because none of the content reaches out and talks to ME. They’re not trying to do much that is new, or fresh. They want to play it safe.
Roughly the same number of years ago, I read part of one of Teddy Roosevelt’s speeches, known as “Citizenship in a Republic“. The section of the speech that stuck out to me has gone on to be known as “The Man in the Arena”:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
It is very easy for one to criticize; it takes very little effort and you sound far more important than what you actually are. But those who act, those who DO… those are the ones worth paying attention to. Who am I, what right do I have to complain when I’m not even willing to put my own stuff out there and make it open to a great deal of possibly horrible criticism? What right do I have to complain about how another man plays poker, when I’m not even willing to throw my own chips into the pile? At least that man is daring, bold enough to try and back up his claims.
I realized how hypocritical a great deal of criticism can be, so I did exactly that. I decided to throw my chips in and play the game.
I’ve talked about and hinted at the Twisted World for a long, LONG time on this blog; tiny little bits here, tiny little bits there, but I’ve never been very upfront and DIRECT about what it is about. And so, I will break that cycle today and tell you exactly what the Twisted World is.
The Twisted World primarily deals with a world that is wrought with phenomenon known as (quite obvious, really), Twists. Twists are dangerous things; you can’t see, taste, or touch them. A Twist by itself is nothing. It’s the effect on its environment that makes a Twist dangerous. It takes things and twists them into bizarre versions of themselves; things that should not be possible.
Legends tell of the field of grass that was caught in a Twist, and all the blades of grass are made of very sharp stone; To trip and fall here would be… not pleasant. Another legend tells of the Fortune Tree; A tree that from a distance appears to bear beautiful ripe apples, but on closer inspection, they are actually the biggest rubies you have ever seen in your life. They grow and bud right there on the tree, and fall off just like any other apple would.
Some Twists, rare as they might be, are beautiful. Others are quite grotesque and terrifying. One such Twist would be one known as “the Slicer.” Anything that wanders into the Twist is quite rapidly, cleanly, and efficiently sliced to almost nothing, leaving nothing but a bloody wake behind. Another horrible Twist does very little but the results are nevertheless grotesque, depending on your point of view. This particular Twist makes things that wander into it not so much invisible, as transparent. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine being able to see through a man’s skin, and see what he has eaten that day? Unpleasant, for certain.
Our tale follows three principle characters:
- Piotr Carlyle, the completely droll and mostly forgettable protagonist of our story… maybe.
- Kurt Kathan, the Accidental King who thinks too much with his stomach and his heart and not his brain.
- Sadah Loc, the mysterious and beautiful singer… who can no longer sing.
Maybe it is fate, chance, or destiny that brought them together. Maybe not. But what we do know is that young Piotr has a special touch, a gift that no one in the world has ever seen before, and no one will ever see again: The ability to undo the damage that Twists have brought.
But really, what is the story ABOUT?
The story is about many things. It’s about people; Mothers, fathers. Brothers, and sisters. Men, and women. It’s a story about love, in all its different incarnations. A hatred of love and a love of hate.
I wanted to tell a story about all the different people in the world, and not just the “idealized” versions of people. I wanted to talk about REAL people. Kurt Kathan doesn’t think before he acts, and this gets him in trouble. Piotr is… incredibly apathetic and lacks so much drive, and ambition. Sadah is filled with anger, and it’s not directed in a constructive way. It just… lashes out and hits whatever it hits.
Real people, and real emotions. Real processes and very real, flawed behaviors. The world doesn’t function because it is a perfect place, no; It functions because it is a VERY IMPERFECT PLACE.
It’s a story about breaking unnecessary and unreasonable tropes; women and men alike play a big part. All our men, all our women, are lovers and fighters, for very different reasons and motivations. You’ll not see dragons nor chain-mail bikini armor here; those things a fantasy world do not make.
Piotr, Kathan, and Sadah’s venture will be tough, and filled with danger. But not only that, they will be forced to face the aspects of themselves that they haven’t had to face before. They will grow and learn, and have a new understanding about themselves, and perhaps they will overcome their shortcomings, all on the way to stop something that should have never existed in the first place. A terrible tragedy, an original sin.
I hope you’ll stay along for the ride, with me. With us. It won’t be much longer now.