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Posts from the ‘DAVE FREER’ Category

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For me anyway, books have distinct phases. The ‘what a great idea I am plunging into’ phase, to the ‘this is hard complex yakka phase’, creating the details and shape of a whole world, picking the variables that will determine your character’s path. This where you find the character and plot have had a less-than-amicable divorce, are shit-talking about each other, and will do the exact opposite of the other wanted, out of spite. It’s the hardest part of the book for me, except for some of the other parts…

Like the next part, where the book is starting to run on rails again… and I ALWAYS re-read and think and wonder… why the reader should bother, and why I as the writer should bother going on.  Yeah, doubt and depression win against the earlier uncertainty, every time, easily. Now, I have written enough books to know that this too, will pass.

It’s like the sign just outside our great metropolis of Whitemark, which says ‘pass cyclists safely’ without giving you a clue how to do this. I mean, if you swallow them with their bicycles, those have lots of spiky stick-out bits, and if you swallow them without the bicycles, the bicycles make a tripping hazard. The answer is to wrap them – and their bicycles in duct tape first. And then lubricate them well to help them pass easily.  Olive oil is better than sunscreen.

Or in other words, there is no obvious easy way of going through this phase: because it, as often as not, it is you that needs fixing, not the book.  This is often where we turn to first readers and ask them what they think. When we have finished the book, we want them to be nasty and try to find the mistakes. At this stage we want them to say ‘take my money’  (Seriously, if helping a friend at this stage, this is not hard edit time.).

So: from the WIP (unedited, raw, hot off the fingers.)

 We had to run to keep up.  The wolf stopped just as I was about to drop. I stood there, hands on my knees, panting. Bey was panting too, but he, like the wolf, was turning his head to listen.  And he looked deathly afraid.  Then I heard it, and I was afraid too.

It was a giggle.

How a giggle could sound quite so nasty, quite so evil… and quite so… gleeful was a shock. But it did. And then off to the side, was another. And then, another, from the other side.

“What is it?” I asked, looking around the snowy forest-land we found ourselves in.

“Nithings.” The word was almost a hiss from Bey. He plainly hated and feared whatever they were.

“What are ‘nithings’?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer.

“Illska hlátr. The cruel laughter. The children of the hag of Niflheim.  They take glee in torture and find sport in tormenting those they catch. That’s who Uncle Luke rescued me from, after the Jotunar killed my parents.”

“What do we do?”

“Run. They wouldn’t be chasing us if there weren’t hundreds of them.”

“I don’t know if I can run much further.”

“You just have to try, Liss. We can’t stop,” said Bey pulling me upright. His voice, his manner… I remembered that, when he first came to stay with grandfather. Bey was on the edge of panic, just holding it in. Only just.  So I tried running again. Got a bit of a second wind, or maybe it wasn’t as steep uphill. The snow up wasn’t deep, just a nasty, slippery crust. It had got a little lighter, possibly because we were mostly out of the forest, onto a rocky ridge.  But the whatchamacallits were definitely gaining on us.  I saw one for the first time, through the trees just down-slope.

I wasn’t prepared for that.

It looked like… a bunny.

And then there was another. It was a cute little baby-face.

There was something wrong with it… with both of them. Babies and bunnies didn’t move like that, though.

And they didn’t laugh like that either.

We’d come to a steepish piece of rock. The wolf bunched itself and leaped, taking it in two bounds and few bits of rock, falling down on us. Fortunately nothing large, but I flung the first chunk as hard as I could at the chasers. Hit one. It even sounded like a baby, yowling about it. “Climb,” said Bey.

So I did. Both of us did. Looking at the milling pack of things below us they… had more legs than a baby. Or a cute bunny. I said as much to Bey.

“They sew the skins to themselves. They like the small and soft. They skin them alive, and then sew them to their own skin.  Angbroda’s seidr keeps the skins looking alive. You’re supposed to feel sorry for them. To spare them, to hold back… and then they kill you. They use pity and goodness as a weapon against men.”

 Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

Pushing through

I’ve been well, sort of log-jammed with the writing and real life – we now have a roof over the family home again. (We moved an old house onto our little farm – in sections. And in the case of one of those sections, in pieces. Needless to say that’s (in the fashion of these things) merely a reveal of how much more I still have to do. And, equally needless to say, how much more it is going to cost.  I am about to try going on a writing blitz, as Barbs will be away for three weeks cat sitting our son’s cat… while I cat and dogsit ours. They’re less hassled by me working irregular hours (into the small hours of the night when I work best) than my wife is, so here’s hoping. Read more

Ideas and the story

I’ve just seen the cover-roughs for SHAMAN OF KARRES, and it looks good. It was always going to be hard to impossible to follow in the direct footsteps of James H Schmitz with these books. I made an effort but I’m not pretending I succeeded. Still, the appeal of old-fashioned space opera seems to go very much wider than the fans of James Schmitz. We seem to have added a whole new generation of younger fans, who are now reading the original books. And the point is: if not me, then someone else.  They might have done far better… or far worse. But, essentially, me is what the readers got. Read more

Why am I doing this?

Like the sperm whale plunging toward the surface of Magrathea, existential questions are something that most writers think about. Not necessarily ones relating to their own existence, but to that of the book they’re working on.

“Why am I doing this?”

It’s actually one those questions that, generally speaking, is easier to answer for yourself the first time around than the 20th (Trust me on this, I’m past that mark. And it’s still hard.) Read more

The value of ‘name’

Now once upon a time (your cue that this is merely a made up tale. No real coffee machines or companies were involved), there was a clever young man who made a new kind of coffee machine. It, simply, made better coffee than anyone else’s machine. It was reliable too. He could have sold his patent, but he was proud of his coffee-machine, and wanted the quality to stay the same. So he got his funds together, started a little factory, and made great coffee machines all his working life. He named them after his father, Frederico. They were expensive (because it was small scale, and used only the very finest materials, with craftsmen doing the artisans’ work with love and care), but the best. Read more

Curry

I’ve just had my version of a hot curry. Now, every single Indian friend of mine just fell off their chair laughing. My Bangladeshi friend I am sure is rolling on the floor. Because honestly, their reaction to it would probably be something like: “Be quite tasty if it had any chili in it.” Or “Bit mild.”

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The Rising Tide

I had one of those interesting days today, at least, in the ancient Chinese curse sense. In part, anyway. It’s the start of national book week here in Oz, and, I may be trifle biased but a love of reading is greatest gift we can give to children, to the future.

Now, for me, crowds are a hardship. I am very sound and movement sensitive, maybe because I am kind of proof of this whole evolution thing, as in I’m a little primitive. Both little and primitive, that is. Being an urban-dweller requires coping well with a sea of noise and movement, ignoring most of it, and shutting out peripheral stimulus. Your little hunter-gatherer who does this ends up either very hungry, or very dead, or, mostly, both. I was raised in hunter-gatherer tradition, and there’s a lot of it my family history, in my genes, I suspect. I guess I am one of yesterday’s people, to the modern world. But I still have to live in it, a little. Read more