First week of school and a take on Fantasy - with cake, because cake makes everything better
This past week marked the start of my son's school year. To say we are both beyond knackered, is an undertsatement. Coming from a three month vacation - that's Portugal, for you - no one was ready for this. No one even knew what to expect, seeing we only got hands on the kiddo's school schedule a day before classes started. There was no time to prepare. And the wake up call is a VERY early one. Until we get into the scheme of things, we will all be a little bit cranky and tired, but it's ok. All it matters is he's very excited and enthused with his classes and the new school, and he's eager to learn and work and do his best. What more can I ask? Let's hope he keeps this up all through the school year.
The fact he has such an early start has been an unexpected stroke of luck for me. I swear to you, never have my mornings been so productive before. I've been able to pack so much work into the morning, before I break up for lunch and to pick him up at school, I can hardly believe. From exercise, to social media, to writing, I've managed all. In fact, I have managed to write down circa 11,000 words in three days. Now, that's a record for me. I am usually verbose in my writing, and I tend to pack betweem 1,500 - 2,500 words per morning, on very good days I may come near 4,000 words. That is, if I am doing it all in one sitting. If I am writing without interruptions or breaks - at least if those aren't long enough to break my focus, my concentration. When I'm in the zone, I'm really in the zone, you know?
And this kind of hours have served to get me so in the zone. Of course, it also helps that I'm currently starting a new novel. After having wrapped up my Arthurian trilogy and put it away for later revising, I immersed myself completely into this new venture. I had already started world buliding and character creating for this one, I had the plot in mind too, inspired as I was by what were two of the most marking albums I've ever listened to. Being a fan of Iron Maiden and Helloween, I have always had my imagination triggered by their work. And exactly thirty years ago, both bands released two albums that have haunted my imagination ever since. I have always wanted to write a fantasy novel based on those albums, inspired by them. So now I'm doing just that. After all, fantasy was always my first love, when I was six, seven and first started reading, it was fantasy that had me spending hours with a book. Until I met Monsieur Poirot and Mr. Holmes, that is. But soon I went back to Fantasy and an uncanny love for dragons as well, which I have since outgrown.
I have written Fantasy before, make no mistakes. Although, for many years vampires and witches have been the thing that haunts my dreams, I did play around with Fantasy too. As I did with SciFi. Don't intend to go back to that one, though. But after ten novels where vampires and witches run rampant, I found my mind turning in a different direction, and going back to old dreams and inspirations, so I allowed myself to go for it. Years ago, I was writing Fantasy novel in Portuguese - of which I spoke often in this same blog - which I ended up dropping after writing two books and a half on what was to be a series of four novels. I intend to go back to it, one day, perhaps even sooner than I think. But right now, I need to get this one out of my system, as I did with my Arthurian tale. I need to give these characters a chance to have their say and come to life.
Writing Fantasy is not easy. But it's also not as hard as many people make it sound like, out there in writing guru land. When I started jotting down the basics of this story, I ended up with practically all the cliches and tropes there can be for Fantasy writing - as said by plenty of those oh so clever authors whose sole function in life seems to be dissing other writers and their work or completely destroying the confidence of begginers. I had a CHOSEN ONE (this is the biggest no-no, from what I've seen), who wields a... SWORD (of all things, go figure! We are advised to use other weapons, as everyone and their mother wields a sword, but guess what? Yeah, I'm their mother. So my characters wield swords when I want them to.) and has a... NORDIC INSPIRED NAME (another no-no, from what I gathered, because Fantasy has far too many heroes and worlds that are nordic inspired and no one wants to read that anymore. Happens I ONLY want to read that, so call me whatever names you need to, even racist, as I saw in one particular blog, for not writing Fantasy inspired by other cultures.) My new WIP being the ultimate trope, I figured I needed to add all the cliches as well.
There's the broody character, the unhinged one, the brave, corageous female, the underdog who turns out to be so much more than what he's given credit for, the girl who is not what you think, the grey morality, the natural born killer, the saviour, the destroyer, you name it. It's a cliche fest! By the time I ended reading blogs on what to do and not do if you're writing Fantasy, I already knew I had a flop in my hands. I already knew I shouldn't even waste my time writing this book, let alone THINK of even publishing it. I knew, but did I care? Nyet. Still writing it. Still believing there's so much more to it than just what at first sight looks like tropes and cliches. The same goes for my previous works, especially where it comes to the Blood Trilogy. Yes, they're vampires and witches and immortals, but there is just SO MUCH MORE to those characters. There's humanity in them, and what they find themselves faced with, deep inside their minds and hearts, are struggles somany of us have to deal with daily. I like to believe there's depth to those characters, and there will be depth to these new guys too. Despite the trope-ish plot, and the at first sight cliche of it all.
Having decided to write Fantasy, I also found myself in the mood to READ more Fantasy. This has proven to be a bit of a problem. I love supernatural and paranormal Fantasy, I love urban Fantasy, and tend to read a lot of these. It's very easy to come across free books on Amazon on these genres that at first sight don't totally suck - or maybe I'm a lot more lenient when it comes to these subgenres? But when you need Epic or High Fantasy... well, that poses as a problem. It's not that there aren't tons. But they all sound like takes on GoT - which I've read and thouroughly disliked - or Christopher Paolini inspired - and I am rather sick of dragons, so I'm trying to avoid these. I'm in the mood for something I can't even name, but every book I come across, has left me a bit like... wishing it was more. So far, in my perusal of indie Epic Fantasy authors, only Sarina Langer has left me satisfied. Which doesn't mean I have given up, I haven't, and by reading a few books that do not stand up to my expectations I have realised a few things already about what audiences want - which I can'tv give them, sorry - and what I want to write. It's all an exercise and a learning curve, in the end.
But reading so many blog posts telling you what you're doing wrong in how you write, showing you how you need to handle your story, teaching you how to properly work in your book - because you're just too damn dumb to have a mind of your own - and schooling you on how to create your characters, I tend to come out with nothing new learnt, but a lot of self doubts. My usual ones revolve around the idea that most of the writing advice I see out there does not work for me. I'm not smarter than you nor anyone else, but I am old enough by now to know what I like (to read) and what my writing style is. And it is not what 95% of these blogs say is the correct - and only - way to write a book that will succeed. Seeing that my previous books are very far from being successes, I have to give in and admit, my writing - though quite satisfactory for me - is not what the masses want. And I will NEVER write in that way, it's just not in me. So I'm preparing for yet another 'failure', or at least another series I will end up stowing away in a folder on an external disk and forget about the whole thing. But in the end, I need to write this story as much as I need to eat cake when I get the cravings. So I'm gonna bake a cake and write this damn book.
This is a mad take on the eternal upside down pineapple cake. It's a bit of a tropical cake, inspired by my love of piña coladas. Pineapple, coconut, a dash of rum if you're in the mood, and a basic sponge recipe to bring it together. Look, it's the easiest cake in the world, I grant you, but so satisfying. A bit of a cliche cake, a trope, but one that will hit all the spots. Much like I hope my book will. Here's the how to:
- 150 gr flour
- 150 gr butter
- 150 gr dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla rum extract
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1 cup chopped pineapple
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
* All Sarina Langer's novels can be found on Amazon. This is not a sponsored post.