After efforts to write stories about the gaps between action, about day-to-day life, it was refreshing to write something simple and heroic. And so, a simple action scene.
In writing a continuation of Night / Morning I decided to change the perspective and tense slightly; I wanted to keep my idea of trying to write something about the senses, about how it feels to feel alive, and indeed the discomfort of the setting, but to expand it slightly in scope. It has moved from one person in one room, in a way; it is now about someone trying to turn their current situation over in their mind.
I have been reconsidering what can be done with lost-world and ancient civilisation narratives. And I realised that an imagined setting I was working on, of a magical school in an ultimately colonial age, could stand to be shaken up a little.
Thus I wrote this, about an emissary of a lost civilisation making his existence known to the world. It is a direct sequel to Lunch at the Real…
The inspiration for this story came from the aesthetics of Dishonored 2, which took steampunk and industrial fantasy into the Mediterranean; there was a lot to like about this, and I simply ran with the inspiration it invited into a magic-school setting.
I often find myself returning to the themes of the gothic novel; I find their ideas of power abused and stifling social traditions forcing tragedy upon the innocent fascinating. I think those themes offer a far more interesting avenue for dark fantasy than miserablism and sociopathy; arguing from the position that everyone is compromised and base is less interesting than taking the stance that evil can come from within, from the inability to understand the desires and freedoms of others.
Thus I wrote this, a gradual destruction of a past friendship that itself was not what it seemed.
It’s been a while since I did any new creative writing and this is my first attempt in a while; something vague and dreamlike, written more to evoke a mood than much else. I feel it could go into some more concrete direction, but that would be another story for another time.
I wrote this piece for an online writing group I joined, with the prompt of writing about the reunion of two old friends.
At the moment I am reading The Mysteries of Udolpho and its beautiful prose voice and Radcliffe’s ability to write painterly landscapes and pastoral scenes proved a great inspiration for this piece.
After creating the character of a faceless enforcer of the dystopian state in the previous story in this setting, I thought it would be interesting to characterise them as something other than the usual meathead or killer cyborg.
Thus this came about.
This series of stories, about the remote desert fortress and its unwilling new recruits, is unashamedly inspired by the Trails series as I mentioned above. I like, in those stories, the way in which comfortable worlds of the characters, the easy missions and simple folk, are used for rude awakenings.
This story is about that; a situation the characters are coming to believe they understand is undermined as they are faced with the reminder that the world outside their bubble is one where people with influence and without morals will encourage a path of cruel least resistance, and where their integrity will be tested.
This story is a follow-up to A Train to Meravia, detailing the conclusion of its characters’ journey. It is perhaps a smugger, more snarky piece of writing than I would usually write but it seems thematically appropriate to have self-confidence and arrogance pierced by experience in a story about unwilling visitors to a remote place. It is still strongly inspired by Trails of Cold Steel‘s bizarre yet in the end genius practical examinations, but put through a slightly different lens.