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Our Solemn Hour: How it all began
This song is a mind worm, it dug in and wouldn't let go. I knew I wanted to do something with scattered images that trouble my vision every time I listen to it. No single idea stood out at first and I posted quite a few of them on the site. Eventually, a character stood out and I knew what I was going to write, sort of.
Enter Ronan Keon
Ronan popped into my head and said, "I am a survivor from the lost city of Parthalan. I was there when it fell. I tried to save it, to save anything... but in the end, it all fell apart. I hate what the moon brings."
I perked up immediately. That is interesting, and I recognized that last phrase.
H. P. Lovecraft wrote a vignette called, What the Moon Brings, on June 5, 1922 that starts with the line, "I hate the moon." It is a gastly short about unspeakable horrors bleeding into the world through the moon light. The story is powerful and evocative, but it posed a problem for me.
I already have a dark fantasy setting.
Dragons of Night is my contemporary, dark fantasy setting. Was Ronan a new character for it?
No. Images of a man in Alexander McQueen inspired clothes with a sword on his back and a staff in his hands didn't fit well into Dragons of Night. Then it hit me.
Steampunk Sword & Sorcery Wuxia!
I could write the story as a Sword and Sorcery, a genre I love, and that a lot of you have asked me to work in, while at the same time breaking from several conventions of the genre.
The swordplay and organization in the world will draw on Wuxia and Jedaigeki sources rather than European legends and Romances. This may not be new for anime or manga, but I am not familiar with much prose fiction like that. The idea of writing an anime type sword and sorcery is exciting. I allow myself a lot more freedom than I would have ordinarily to do things differently.
The setting will eschew (I use that word in honor of Mark Twain) medievalism with a world resembling Steampunk, Westerns, Swashbuckling fiction, and Gaslight fiction. No squabbling nobles, royals, or the like. The stories will be about individuals rather than nations at war, and the stakes will be personal.
Characterization will be as important as the Action/Adventure elements. Many Sword and Sorcery stories miss that part. I am not saying that I will be perfect with it, but I really want the stories to be character driven.
Now I had it. A seed for the setting, a character, and some genre rules to build from. Our Solemn Hour is starting to take shape.
The Final Fantasy Connection
I chose that particular vid for Our Solemn Hour for a reason. It starts to build the visual tone poem for the world I am wanting to create.
I pitched the world to Brian by saying: Imagine Final Fantasy meets Lovecraft if it were written by Robert E Howard. That is super high concept, but it helps to bring together a vision until I get the setting bible done.
If I can pull this off, it will honestly be my favorite thing I have ever written. I hope you all enjoy the process as I blog about it and the stories as they come out.