Madness behind the method

Those of you who’d rather not go on another exotic tour into the weirdness that is Kate’s mind can stop reading now.

For everyone else, I have yet another something bubbling, for which I know exactly what to blame: Overlord. I’ve been playing the game obsessively as a stress-release method (my day job is… well, there’s no polite way to describe it. Even the more colorful terminology fails to capture the madness), so much so that every time I close my eyes I see glowing eyes and minions with their cute-evil grins.


Um. Oops. They like sheep. They think killing sheep is a great sport. Of course they think killing anything is fun, but then, they’re evil minions, so what would you expect? Anyway, during the week I’ve been doing minion farming (“Sheepies!”), which consists of – yes, sheepies – killing stuff to gather life force so I can summon more minions and then summoning minions into my armor (long, complicated story. Short-short, you summon minions and boost your armor by getting them to jump into the forge).

Except that somewhere in the back of my head is a story bubbling away, involving a Dark Lord (Overlord is probably a tad too close to the game title for comfort. Dark Lord is a bit more generic) who is actually the previous Dark Lord’s daughter (no, she’s not the Beautiful Daughter. She looks too much like Daddy for that), and wants to reconquer Daddy’s territory because the goblins and the orcs and the trolls need somewhere to live, and those snooty elves are just impossible and….

Well. The problem with this is ConVent needs final edits soon, ConSensual will need edits, I’m trying to finish a longish short story in the ConVent universe, and meanwhile Vlad is getting very impatient about having to wait so long for me to start on Kaziklu Bey (the sequel to Impaler). I don’t blame him for that, but… Writing from inside Vlad’s head becomes all-absorbing, and I really don’t need to be channeling him right now. I also start thinking fond thoughts of impaling the next programmer to send me something with a stupid bug (I’m quite understanding about the kind of bugs that aren’t in-your-face obvious, but when I open something and get an access violation I’m not a happy software tester), and that’s just not socially acceptable.

Just in case anyone is thinking of a fitting for those nice beige jackets with the oversized sleeves, I do know what’s the real world and what’s from the world in my head. The real world is the one where the bits of me that don’t hurt, don’t work. The other ones are all my imagination, which – like most writers – is rather too vivid to be entirely comfortable sometimes. (Who am I kidding? I like it that way. It’s fun. What I don’t like is when real life gets in the way of writing all the good stuff down).

So. Ms Dark Lord shows up in my head sneaking through occupied territory with a band of goblin, orc, and troll families (don’t ask about troll babies. PLEASE don’t ask) while bitching to herself about snooty elves, and heroes who think the world revolves around their… uh… swords. And mostly trying not to think too much about Daddy because she really doesn’t need to start crying right now, and she knows Daddy’s dead because he blew up the tower with himself inside.  And the babies are sniffling and will need to get changed soon or the elves will smell them from a mile away – upwind – and the trolls are getting hungry and you don’t get between a hungry troll and food or you’ll BE food, and…

This is what passes for a plot for me, at least in the early stages. A character, usually with a little more flesh than the archetype he/she/it got based on, a situation that’s pretty dire, and a vague idea of where it’s going to finish and roughly the direction it’s going. Ms Dark Lord will end up reconquering Daddy’s former territory and becoming the next Dark Lord. How, and possibly conquering everything else as well. How she does it is something I don’t know yet. If she doesn’t get noisy enough, I might never know, and this will be all there is. It’s a bit like pointing at the distant mountain and saying “We’re going there”, with no real idea of what’s between you and the mountain, much less how to climb the blasted thing.

No doubt there will be metaphorical quicksand along the way. And cackling. Goblins cackle. A lot.

Meanwhile, I’m back to the joys of the real world battling unstable software – and that’s a fight you can’t win.



  1. “For the master!” or would that be “mistress”?

    Write it, Kate. It sounds like serious fun. Of course, I love Evile Elves, too, so it may just be that I’m warped. Oh, wait, I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be warped. That’s right, isn’t it? I shouldn’t be worried, should I?

  2. Kate,

    I love Bad Guys who really aren’t. I have a retired Evil Wizard, myself. He really didn’t want to leave home when the forcibly retired wizards escaped. Even if it was his fault.

    1. I’m not going to say that the goblins, orcs and trolls are just misunderstood – but I’m not going to say that the elves are all that’s goodness and light, either. Besides, Dark Lords play a very important part in the fantasy economy.

    1. Brendan,

      That is SO true it’s painful. I wish I could hammer some of those points into assorted managerial heads. Yes, with real nails. And a real hammer.

    1. Rowena,

      Thanks – an unusual POV character is sometimes all it takes to make a standard trope seem fresh and new.

  3. Y’a know, I think carrying a wooden stake (ala impalement) into review meetings might do a great deal to focus the programmers’ attention on fixing those bugs. Just casually sling it over your shoulder, lay it on the table… don’t explain it, just let them wonder.

    And I wanna read about the troll babies! Do they use Chinese style baby clothes (no crotch, just squat and drop 🙂 or regular diapers (made out of… steel wool?) Wait a minute, weren’t there little ugly dolls, with big eyes and long hair, that were called troll babies? I’ll bet troll babies do have big, big eyes, and quivery blubbery lips, and those noses like squashed bugs?

      1. Mike,
        There are many who need it. I could line the street with them… if it wasn’t socially unacceptable.

  4. Kate,
    It sounds a great idea to me. If you write it I’ll definitely buy it. I loved “Grunts” by Mary Gentle that was similarly told from the point of view of the “wrong” side and had a fresh and very funny take on elves and traditional fantasy heroes amongst other things.

    Of course you’d have to keep Vlad and your other characters quiet while you did it.


    1. Melvyn,

      Keeping the other characters quiet is the most difficult bit!

      I now have other characters showing up. As if I didn’t have enough on my plate.

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