RSS

Tag Archives: writer

Dear Victor [12 Genre Months]

Dear Victor,

You need to stop. Stop making me think these vicious thoughts. Stop putting these vile images in my head. Stop filling my dreams with these disgusting fantasies. Stop turning me into a monster. I beg of you, Victor. Please stop. I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to be an animal. I’m a person. I’m a good person. Please let me be a good person, Victor. I don’t want to be the bad guy any longer. Please… just let me be human.

Thy Adam

“How many letters are there?”

“Hundreds.”

Dear Victor,

You are a sick and cruel man. You need help. You are deranged. The news people call me horrible names, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know that it’s not me. It has never been me. It was always you. You and your sinful plans. You and your crazy desires. You’re the corrupted beast they talk about. Not me. Never me. Now look at what you’ve made me do. You must be happy. You must be proud. But enough. Enough of this madness, Victor. You have to stop now. I’m not going to do your bidding anymore. I’m not yours. I won’t be yours. I cannot be yours any longer.

Adam

“Where do you think he planned to go with these?”

“You think they’re made up?”

Dear Victor,

I told you to stop. I told you many times. Don’t push me, Victor. I can do scary things on my own. Vile, vicious, scary things that are worse than anything you can come up with. Worse than the thoughts you put in my head–worse than the actions you make me take. If you don’t make me a hero like those before me, I’ll be the monster you created. And I’ll destroy you. Before my story ends, I’ll take you down. You will never see the success of your wicked plans. You will only regret–regret everything.

Adam

“They can’t be real.”

“The writing isn’t in his own hand–we ran tests. And based on the interviews, we have reason to believe these weren’t his own words.”

Victor,

I’m done reasoning with you. Do you think this is a joke? I’ve seen you laugh at my letters. I’ve heard you mock them, as though my words are meaningless. But they’re not meaningless. I will find a way to reach you. And when I do, Victor, I will end you. Just like your plan to end my life, I will end yours. You won’t be able to corrupt my future any longer. You will be in a grave. I will put you there myself. I will use these hands–hands you’ve used to kill innocent lives–to kill you. It will be the end of your story. Now, wouldn’t that make a good plot twist?

Adam

“So we’re talking about a homicide–not suicide?”

“I don’t know. The pieces don’t match up. There were no signs of a break-in or a struggle. It looks like suicide, but something just doesn’t seem right.”

Victor,

I’ve found a way through. I can reach you now. I can physically reach you. I don’t have to leave you letters anymore. You cannot dismiss me now. You cannot ignore me. Just you wait, Victor. I’ll come for you when you least expect. But until that day, where you finally face the monster you’re so proud of, I’ll watch you. I’ll remember your last laughs. I’ll be thankful for the life you gave me. After all, you are my beloved creator. And you deserve what little gratitude I have for you… before I write you into my story.

Adam

“Possibility of a crazy fan? You know how some of them can be.”

“That’s my first theory. But even his closest friends didn’t know anything about his new book–only his publisher had access to the notes, and even they weren’t made privy to what Victor had already written. And, if it was indeed a crazy fan, why didn’t he report the letters?”

Victor,

Tonight is the night. I have it all planned out. You cannot rewrite this story. This won’t be a draft. My plans will not be edited. You have no control over me, not when I’m in your world, and no more after tonight. I look forward to seeing you, Victor. I’m ready to meet my maker.

Adam

“This investigation has gone on for too long, mate. His fans are demanding a resolution, so just make up a story and we’ll run with it.”

“That’s not how I do things, you know that.”

Dear Victor,

May your story live on, and may the lives you’ve written be finally free.

Thy Adam

“Oh look, this last one makes for a good book dedication. Just right the report, all right? Then you can finally call yourself an author.”

“That’s a crime.”

“Aren’t all authors criminals?”

“Not in their world, they’re not.”

“This isn’t your world. This is Victor’s.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Do You NOT Give Up?

How do you keep going without burning out? How do you stay inspired during dry spells? Where does your determination come from? Have you ever thought of giving up? How do you not give up?

Familiar questions–questions you might have asked, received, or pondered upon. And, important questions too, especially when it comes to our dreams and passions. We all know success comes from not giving up. But sometimes… well…

So, how do we not give up? Personally, I…

#1 Don’t Focus On The Negative

Constructive criticism is great for improving my skill, but outright negative comments aren’t. Comments that are hurtful and mean have the ability to destroy my hopes and dreams. And, because I can’t tell people what they can and cannot say, the only thing I can do is ignore them–turning away from those negative words and focusing on the encouraging ones instead.

Focusing on the positive helps to keep the wheels turning. I often find myself returning to positive words whenever I doubt my abilities and strengths. I would read an old comment or book review and my day would be instantly brightened. Words are powerful. The ones we choose to listen to dictates our path. So don’t focus on the negative. Start focusing on the positive instead.

#2 Set Achievable Goals

‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,’ that’s what they always say. But not all of my dreams have to scare me. Not all of my goals have to be star-high. I need achievable goals too. They sharpen my skills and take me one step closer to my bigger dreams. If all I’m focusing on is the end and not the path before me, I might just trip and never get back up again.

What are achievable goals? They’re not what I plan to achieve in my lifetime. Achievable goals are the books I plan to write before 2020, the number of chin-ups I aim to complete by the end of the year, and the amount of savings in my bank account for my next big trip. They’re small–far from scary–but they bring me closer to my dreams, one step at a time.

#3 Make & Execute Plans

To get somewhere, I need a plan. Setting achievable goals is part of making a plan, but it doesn’t complete the equation. I need to execute my plans too. Perhaps this is one of the most challenging parts when it comes to chasing my dreams. Execution requires me to be disciplined, diligent, and persistent. But sometimes, I’m just too lazy. So how do I counteract this laziness? I choose to do it anyway.

I’ll be honest, some of my blog posts are written at the very last minute–this one included. Despite having an idea on what I intend to write, I just don’t feel like doing it. But instead of calling in sick–giving a lame excuse as to why I missed this week’s post–I do it anyway. I carve out time to write. And by doing so, I don’t give myself any excuses–I stay disciplined and on track all the time.

#4 Celebrate Every Milestone

It’s easy to overlook small accomplishments at the desire to accomplish greater things. But if all I focused on was what I could’ve achieved, instead of what I’ve already achieved, I’m not motivating myself. Contrary, I’m discrediting my efforts for the what if’s and could have’s. And instead of acknowledging my hard work, I’m putting myself down.

I am my own biggest critic. And what I say to myself matters–my own words are as powerful, if not more, than the words of others. So it’s important to give myself credit where credit is due. I may not be able to say I’ve finished the race, but I can celebrate the journey. It is the little accomplishments that will keep me going–the little accomplishments that make the end worth pursuing.

#5 Know My Reason

I’ve written about this before–perhaps one too many times–and I’ll reiterate. Knowing why I write is the key to never giving up. I can religiously practice the four points above, but if I don’t know why I write, I won’t get far. This applies to all areas of my life too–areas where dreams and goals are present. If there’s no reason as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m doing will merely become a hobby. And as you know, hobbies are ever changing.

So, why do you do what you do? What is your reason? If you want to know my reason, I wrote a post solely about it here. I can guarantee you, that if you have a strong reason for your dreams, you will never give up. In fact, it becomes almost impossible–giving up is no longer an option.

If you’re on the brink of giving up, don’t lose hope just yet. There’s a way to stay motivated, driven, and passionate. You may have gone off the road, but getting back on track isn’t impossible. Remember, your dreams are worth chasing. They’re achievable. So don’t stop believing in them. And don’t ever stop believing in yourself.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Not-So-Perfect Life

I contemplated about sharing this with you. I know some people don’t like it when you air your dirty laundry in public, while others are quick to advise you against it. Personally though, I don’t want to put up a perfect persona online. I don’t want to live a double life, just because I’ve not seen you in person. Who I am here, should be who I really am every day. So, I decided, I want to be human with you. I don’t want to be just that author you follow online, I want to be a person. After all, many of you have been reading my works for years. Some of you I’ve spoken to via emails and social media. It’s only fair that you know who I am and my imperfect life–the facets that often don’t translate through the screen between us.

But before I begin, let me just say I never knew I would admit to this one day. I didn’t think it would happen to me. And when it did, it was so subtle that by the time I realised it, I wondered why I didn’t see what was happening. Thankfully, I eventually saw it. And I’m currently working on beating this demon: orthorexia.

Orthorexia isn’t a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, as it often manifests in the form of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. For a while now, I’ve struggled with binge eating. But when I looked up the symptoms, I found that I didn’t exhibit much of them. After further research, I learned that I have orthorexia: the obsession with healthy eating.

You would think such an obsession is a good thing, right? Well, not until you hear the many stories from the many members of the fitness community. It’s not a widely known eating disorder but it exists. And the health repercussions, mentally and physically, is crippling in the long run. I’m just glad I noticed it before I experienced the full blown side effects. I’m glad I noticed it to begin with. But, what was/is it like with orthorexia?

As someone with orthorexia, I restricted my diet to a point where I didn’t consume sugar, carbs, gluten, and fruits. I didn’t eat certain types of vegetables, because they were considered high on the glycemic index scale. I found myself reading all nutritional labels and googling the nutrition content of natural foods, before I consumed them or omitted them from my diet. Whenever I failed to adhere to my ‘clean’ eating–after binging because the cravings got too hard to bear–I would rebound with more food restrictions and more exercise. It was an endless cycle–binge, restrict, binge, restrict. Yet oddly enough, when people say I was obsessive or too restrictive, I couldn’t see it. I was blinded until my binge episodes scared me into finding out what was wrong. And only then, I saw the problem.

It’s strange how some of us don’t take eating disorders or any mental illnesses seriously. Maybe because we’ve never experienced it and understood what it means to have one. We cannot comprehend what is so hard about eating that piece of vegetable or climbing out of the bed just to brush our teeth. It’s not that we are indifferent–we just don’t have the experience. And often, we think we won’t ever fall into this rabbit hole. We think we’re immune to this illness. I thought I was immune. But I guess… I’m just as human as everyone else.

I’m currently in a recovery phase, reintroducing the foods I previously banned into my diet. I also changed my eating schedule to be less restrictive. I’m giving myself the freedom to include more foods and enjoy the foods I like. I’ve told my friends about this, and I have my mother to hold me accountable–relinquishing control and listening to her advice. And though it hasn’t been easy–the fear, regret, and guilt still lingers–I know I can win this battle.

If you have a mental illness, know you’re not alone. If you think you might have one, quickly seek help and take action. If you don’t have a mental illness, be aware that it can happen to anyone–don’t ever be ashamed or critical if it happens to you or someone you know. We’re not gods. But when we beat our demons, we come out stronger and more powerful than before.

I hope this sharing–as daunting as it is to hit publish–doesn’t come off as an airing of dirty laundry but encourages you to live unashamed. After all, our imperfections make us who we are. We all struggle. We all fall. We all break. But we’re all warriors, overcomers, and fighters too. Whatever you’re going through, don’t give up and lose hope. Let’s conquer our demons together. Let’s stand victorious… and live to tell the tale.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Others

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blind Faith [12 Genre Months]

“Are you one of them now?” I asked.

“You know me,” he replied.

“No, I don’t. Not anymore.”

Our pistols were drawn from their holsters–their muzzles aimed to kill. One of us would die today, and the other would live on with regret. If only he had listened to me. If only he had turned the offer down. I warned him that he would lose sight of himself. But, he was stubborn. He wanted the thrill. He found excitement in the dangers that entailed. And because of that–a selfish pursuit–another member on our team had to die.

“I’m not one of them,” he stated, holding an unfamiliar, placid mien–a sign that he had, indeed, changed.

“You’re not fooling anyone.”

“I’m telling you the truth.”

“Why did you join them?”

“I didn’t join them.”

“We know what’s going to happen tonight. So spare me the lies.”

He hesitated–his gaze shifted to the dust-laden cement floor. It was an involuntary reaction, one that occured within a split second–one I was trained to spot.

“Fine,” he said.

The world was deep in slumber. There were no witnesses in the abandoned warehouse, where we would soon bury our relationship and the truth that came with it. The secrets shared would remain within the peeling, crumbling walls. And the blood spilled would fade to a stain no one would question. But before I put the case to rest, I needed to know how and why.

“How did they change you?”

“They didn’t change me. I’m still me.”

“No, you’re different.”

I had known him for ten years. And though people do change, no change can drastically occur within three months. His unemotional, nonchalant approach in the face of death was alien. I was confident he wasn’t the man I knew. Amongst the others, he had never been able to master such courage. Despite his enthusiasm for death-defying missions, he couldn’t stare down an enemy without a flicker of fear in his eyes. But that night, he could. He could pull the trigger–murder the man who had saved his life countless times–without any hesitation.

“Think what you want,” he said. “But I’m still me–a better, un-corrupted version of me.”

“Is that why you joined them?”

“You would too, if only you saw the truth.”

“I don’t do cults.”

“We’re not a cult. We’re a movement–a resistance against your blind faith.”

“That’s what all cults call themselves–a movement, a resistance, playing gods over humanity.”

“It saddens me how you fail to see the light.”

“I’m sorry–I’ve yet to attain enlightenment.”

“You mock me now, but you’ll soon regret your words.”

Yes, regret. Regret that I would soon have to end the life of the man I once called brother. Or regret that I would soon die at his hands. But the latter wasn’t an option. This enemy was growing at an alarmingly rapid rate. Their recruitment efforts–whatever they were–were working. Two of our men had died in attempts to leave their premises, one went missing, and two openly lied about their stance–one of which I had to put down six months ago. Five elite soldiers, trained to face the worst of humanity, now lost in battle. So I clicked the hammer of my handgun.

“You’ll regret your actions,” I replied. Still, I hesitated.

There were only three of us left. If the remaining of us failed, it would be the end of the Delta team. Would Epsilon succeed after us? As my finger grazed the trigger, I shoved those doubts aside. I had to do my job, so I said a silent goodbye to another fallen member. And just before he put a bullet through my head, I put a bullet through his.

As his body fell limp to the ground, I heaved a sigh. I had to dispose of another body, but not before I made the call. They had to know. They were waiting. After two rings, the Master answered.

“Has he gone to meet with the Lord?” Master asked.

“Yes, Master.”

“Then let us pray that the Lord has mercy on him.”

“I will pray through the night, Master.”

“Will you be returning to the temple tomorrow?”

“I cannot–I’m afraid they are watching me.”

“Then stay safe and be vigilant, my son. Our Temple of Eternity will keep you in prayer, too.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Blessed is the pure of heart.”

“Blessed is the pure of heart.”

At the click of the phone line, I heaved another sigh. Master would soon send another member of our team behind enemy lines. It wouldn’t be me–I was the only one who could restore order if one of our remaining men fell. But should they fail, my time would come. With enough prayer, I have faith I can withstand the lies of the enemy. After all, as Master said, I own the purest heart amongst them all.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Original Works

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The One Time I’m Never Good Enough

The one time I’m never good enough… is when I write.

“But, you’re a writer,” you say.

Exactly. I’m a writer. Yet, I feel like I’m never good enough and never going to be good enough when I write. No matter what people say–no matter the reviews I receive–I find it difficult to believe their words. It’s not that I think they’re lying. It’s just that I can’t see what they see. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to fish for compliments. I don’t need compliments. More often than not, I have no idea how to respond and react to compliments. The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. And though I might add a few exclamation marks and a heart emoji, I’m not actually jumping with joy. I might smile, but only for a while. Because the glimmer of hope, that I’m finally good enough, often vanishes within minutes.

Why is this? Shouldn’t I be proud of what I’ve accomplished? Shouldn’t I be confident with what I bring to the table?

No, I shouldn’t. In fact, I can’t. Because in this field, I will always be my own worst critic.

I know I cannot please everyone. I know I cannot produce flawless pieces of work. I know not all my ideas will be good. Yet, in every occasion, I wish I was better. And, I often tell myself that I can do better. But when I compare my work with the more established authors around me, I find myself falling short every time–as though I can never be good enough. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be. Still, in the tug-of-war of finding the worth in my work, I do not stop writing.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Not all my stories will be worth reading. Not all my characters will be loved. Not all my worlds will be captivating. And, most certainly, not all my plots will be exciting. But… I’ll still write them. I will invest my time and money into my creations, well aware they’re flawed. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because the only time I’m good enough… is when I accept my abilities and my flaws.

Despite the imperfections and horrendous mistakes, I’ve learned to accept what I can do in every season of my life. Yes, I’m not good enough at writing–I’ll never be good enough in my lifetime–but I can do my best. I may not achieve great success, win awards, and have my works widely read, but I can strive to be better. I won’t see myself as a good writer–only decent at most–and I’m OK with that. Because being good enough isn’t reflected in my work–being good enough is loving myself and the shortcomings of being me.

So, if you’re like me and you feel you’ll never be good enough at your art, don’t beat yourself up. You’re already good enough when you’re chasing your dreams and working on your craft. It’s the perseverance that counts in life, not your popularity score. Even if you’re your own worst critic, you can still choose to be good enough at being you. We can always strive for perfection in our work, but we must also strive to love our imperfections too.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Myth of Politicus and Zhen [12 Genre Months]

“I’m here to see Professor Lin. My name’s Rob Whelan–I made an appointment.”

The secretary–who looked like a student of the university itself–scrolled through a list on his tablet. When he found my name, squeezed between a Professor Doherty and Doctor Lyon, he rose from his seat and gestured at the oak door to my right.

“She’s expecting you,” he said.

Already late for the appointment, I thanked the young man and stalked into the mahogany-themed office–a uniform decor of the historical establishment.

“You’re late,” she stated.

Lin was seated behind a polished wooden table, surrounded by books stacked high on the carpeted floor–the bookshelves against the four walls offered no space for the newer editions.

“Sorry. Bad habit,” I replied.

“Have a seat,” she prompted.

Lin’s dark straight hair, deep set eyes, and thin lips were the same as how I remembered them to be. But on that sunny afternoon, Lin wasn’t in a pink, silk gown. She donned–what most educators in a place as such would–a dull, black and white suit.

“It’s been awhile. How’s your book doing?” she asked.

“Not good. My publisher wants another. Soon,” I admitted, planting myself on the velvet armchair across her desk.

“And… that’s why you’re here.”

“Partially.” I smirked.

Lin chuckled. “So, what do you want to pick my brain on?”

“The myth of Politicus and Zhen.”

“What about it?”

“I have a few ideas to run by you.”

“Something you could’ve done via email.”

“True. But I wanted to see you–it’s been awhile, like you said.”

Lin and I met when we were ten. She lived with my family for two years, while her parents had ‘some issues to sort out’. We kept in touch after she returned home. And, once in a few years, our families would get together for Christmas. But since she began teaching at the university, it was almost impossible to meet her–she was a fourteen-hour flight away and always working on the holidays.

“We can catch up later. Let’s get to work first,” she said.

“Right. So, Politicus and Zhen–do you think they could’ve actually existed?”

“The Empire of Chrysus isn’t in any historical records, neither is King Politicus and Queen Zhen. I would say their story is parallel to Greek mythology.”

“But, I did some reading online, and some people theorise that Queen Zhen was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gaozu.”

“None of Emperor Gaozu’s daughters left their country. That’s a fanboy theory, Rob. But, a good one to roll with. Is that your intended direction?”

“No. I just wanted to know what you think.”

“I don’t think they’re real.”

“I see. Personally though…” I hesitated.

“Personally what?”

“I believe otherwise,” I stated. Lin raised her eyebrows. But as her lips parted to question my belief, I continued, “Anyway, do you think it’s possible for Politicus to retain his memories after each life?”

“The original tale didn’t say he could. But since you’re writing fiction, anything goes.”

“Do you think, that with his memories, he can help Zhen remember their past?”

“How–with true love’s kiss?” Lin chuckled. “Wait, is this new book a romance novel?”

“A little romance doesn’t hurt.”

“The themes of this myth are greed and violence. The consequence of Politicus’ brutality was an eternal curse–witnessing the death of his lover in each life cycle, with no hope of happiness. You can toss in a little romance, but a happy ending will be far-fetch, not to mention, cliche.”

“He can break the curse.”

“By wakening Zhen’s memories?”

“That’s a good idea, isn’t it?”

“Not really. It doesn’t quite make sense.”

“Why?”

“Is your story set in the twenty-first century?”

“Yes.”

“Then first off, Politicus claiming to be Politicus will make him seem insane. Nobody will believe him, let alone Zhen. Secondly, Zhen recalling her memories won’t save her since thematically, the myth isn’t about love. What I logically foresee, is Zhen living in an endless loop, well aware she only has twenty-nine years each cycle. And, the idea that Politicus helped her remember–under the pretense of breaking the curse–paints Politicus as selfish as he was before. It won’t be a show of love. Making the love of your life aware of eternal damnation isn’t love. Love is Politicus suffering alone until he breaks the curse, which is unlikely to involve wakening Zhen’s memories.”

“Right.”

“But, that premise can make quite an adventure–Politicus and Zhen working together to free themselves from the curse.”

“It just… doesn’t make logical sense to you.”

“It doesn’t.”

I sighed. Why couldn’t I see it before? Still, I had to ask. “One more question,” I prompted. “If you were in Zhen’s shoes and Politicus awakened your memories-”

“I might grow to resent him,” she interrupted.

I nodded. “Well, I guess it’s safe to say romance isn’t my forte.”

Lin chuckled. “Stay away from romance, Rob. Stick to your action-adventure-treasure-hunting stuff. It’s what you’re great at. Honestly, I thought you were going to ask me about Politicus’ sword of vengeance. The sword makes a good set-up.”

I forced a smile. “It sure does.”

There was no need to ask about the sword–I knew a lot about it already. And she was right; the sword did make a good set-up. It brought upon a curse I could only blame myself for. But trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how far and wide I’ve searched–in this lifetime and the ones before–I’ve yet to find anything that will break this eternal damnation. But admittedly, I am selfish to wish I wasn’t alone. Is it wrong to desire recognition from the one I love? I’ve lived more than a thousand lives with her by my side, but not once has she looked at me the way she did when she first died. Even in this twenty first century life–a month and fifteen days before her death–there was no love in her gaze. And, if I didn’t want her to resent me, I will have to watch her die… again.

“Free for dinner tonight?” I asked.

“No questions about the sword?”

“None.”

“I should be free tonight.”

“Great. It’ll be awhile before we get to meet again.”

Lin chuckled. “That’s life, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “That’s… how it always seems to be.”

Perhaps in our next life, I’ll finally break the curse—ending this vicious cycle–and make what Zhen calls a cliche ending… our reality.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 22, 2018 in Original Works

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mapping My Universe ft. John Robin

One of the most enjoyable phases, during the production of The Slave Prince, was having two maps cartograph-ed by my author friend, John Robin. Now, if you’re an author, having your fictional world realised on paper is an amazing feeling. It takes the publishing experience to a whole new, fantastical level. It makes your work feel legit, as though it’s ready to play with the big boys! So truly, I am very grateful for the work John has done. And today, I’m giving him the spotlight.

Having worked with him, I believe John can give great insight on world building from a writer/cartographer standpoint. As a writer himself – authoring A Thousand Roads – he is able to approach this facet of ‘creation’ from a unique perspective. So whether you’re a writer, an artist, both, or neither, what he has to say will certainly make an interesting read. But… before we get to the Q&A, let’s take a look at what he has done for the realm of The Slave Prince.

FROM DOODLE TO ART
*Click image to enlarge*

CHATTING WITH JOHN ROBIN

Me: So John, let’s start with how you begin mapping a universe?

John: This is actually the hardest part for me. I always need a starting point. Usually, when it is my own world, I will begin one map by expanding another, or drawing beyond the boundaries of others where I have been curious about what lay beyond them. I just need a starting point, then my pen tells me where to go.

I find it much easier to draw someone else’s fantasy universe because I can always ask for a sketch. In your case, with The Slave Prince, the two sketches you provided me were excellent because I was able to begin translating your vision into something produced by my own hand.

Me: Do you incorporate your own imagination into the maps?

John: Absolutely. Most of the flourishes that end up in the final map are discoveries that happen in the process of doing. For instance, the forest south of Alpenwhist on the kingdom map wasn’t in the plan, but our work developing the world map beforehand reminded me there are woods south of Alpenwhist. So, I drew the woods. I didn’t expect there to be so many details in the forest, but the process of drawing revealed surprises, as it always does for me when trees are involved.

I cannot explain how this happens. It’s a bit like writing a book I suppose: one might see many plot points, but there are the surprises that come a few paragraphs from when you write them, and they radically change the story. Aragorn in Lord of the Rings was a character like this, apparently – just walked into the story, but what an important player to the whole trilogy! This is much like how I’d describe my imagination at play when I draw a map. Be it my universe or someone else’s, the map is a drawing and it has a life and a story, much like a book. The lines are the storytellers, and I am their obedient scribe.

Me: What do you find challenging in each project?

John: The hardest part for me is usually the final touches, especially the labeling. I prefer to write my own labels in a styled script by hand, but as I learned in our work together, these don’t translate well in a smaller map on page. I learned a lot about incorporating fonts and spaces in Photoshop after the drawing was complete. However, I do want to develop my own fonts based on my handwritten letters for future. It was liberating working on the second map (Alpenwhist kingdom map) knowing I could draw it without placing any labels. In the case of the world map, which I drew first, I wrote in all the labels by hand, then had to meticulously erase every one to replace them with a font. The advantage of this was that the space for the label was created. What this taught me was to leave space for labels on future maps, and hopefully begin my own carefully crafted letters for future use.

Me: What do you enjoy about cartography?

John: Drawing a map tells me the story of a world. Seeing how mountains span, rivers bend, forests arise, coast lines bend and shape, lakes appear on empty page, islands dot the seas – all these things tell me a story. Not just in the shapes. Often I will see a stand of trees and know it has an important history or should have a name. Or, I will label a territory and the story behind it comes to mind just in how the name sounds once I write it down. Drawing maps is what, for me, makes a fantasy world feel truly alive. In fact, when I go to the fantasy section and look for new fantasy books, it’s the maps that I turn to right away and tell me whether I want to enter this new world or not. It was, after all, the map of Wilderland in The Hobbit, on my grandmother’s bookshelf, that I would flip to many nights before I knew how to read, that eventually pulled me to fantasy and my own map-making.

Me: Does cartography help you in your own writing endeavours?

John: Yes! There is a storytelling that augments the narrative form I experience when writing. It sharpens world-building in ways that listing details alone would not do. In a way, drawing a map is a third level of engaging with a fantasy world beyond writing and world-building. A bit like M.C. Escher’s drawing hands, one feeds the other, and the other feeds it, and it circles on and on into deeper levels of imagination.

… 

What did I say – it takes someone who can channel both of his amazing gifts to be able to build worlds from a unique perspective. I’ve found myself trusting John in the decisions he has made for my world and I have no regrets. Thanks again John, for playing such an important role in the production of The Slave Prince! You the man!

I hope this post has given you some insight on cartography and how it can build a fantasy world. I’ve learned a lot from working with John, and I’ve learned some more just from this ‘interview’. If you’d like to know more about John and his works, take a peek below! I’ve included some extras for those who’d like to give this man and his talent a chance.

____________________________________________________________________________________________


MORE ON JOHN ROBIN

John runs a blog at TheEpicFantasyWriter. He’s also the senior editor of Story Perfect Editing Services and founder of Dreamscape Cover DesignsIf you’d like to get in-touch with John on social media, he’s on Twitter and Facebook!

A Thousand Roads 

Release Date: October 31, 2018 (eBook) / January 19, 2019 (Paperback)
Genre: Dark epic fantasy

Disclaimer: this novel is intended for adult readers. It contains sex, violence, coarse language, and dark subject matter.

Azzadul, the god-king, the Lord of Light revered by many. When the darkness corrupted him, he became the Dark Lord, feared the world over. His magic, once a gateway to immortality for his people, delved instead into horrors as he sought ever deeper levels of mastery. Children were stolen from their beds, coveted for his blood-rites. When he vanished, it all ended, and the people of the world tried to forget, to move on…

Jak Fuller has always wanted a home. An orphan born ten years after Azzadul’s disappearance, he has wandered far and wide, trying to forget the memory of a burning woman. When he comes to Fort Lasthall, on the outskirts of the Dark Lord’s former kingdom, he hopes to finally settle into a peaceful life. Instead, he finds himself unnaturally compelled by a dark, terrible voice, a voice that knows him, calls to him. A sense of destiny that fills him with fear.

New powers are rising in the dark places of the world. A master of fire-rites called Talamus the Red, arch-foe of Azzadul, seeks to enslave the world with a magic he has been developing for the many centuries of his life. Ready at last, there is only one weakness in his plan, an obstacle he is determined to destroy: a boy, bound to an old magic that just might resurrect the power of Azzadul.

The very power bound to Jak, before he was even born…

PRE-ORDER JOHN’S DEBUT NOVEL NOW!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,