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Everything posted by Xanxa

  1. I should have mentioned this in my above post, but only thought of it later. One of the things that annoys me about the fantasy genre is the stereotype of attractive protagonists and their equally attractive partners, coupled with the ugly/scarred/disfigured villains. I have to admit to sighing and rolling my eyes at yet another incomparable beauty and a ruggedly handsome leading man. With that in mind, I prefer more realistic characters. I will have some who are attractive, but I still try to give them small flaws, like for example, Anwyn is definitely alluring, but in an ungroomed way. She has unruly eyebrows and hair and she hates dressing up. Her mouth is a little too wide and her chin juts out like her father's. She disdains young classically handsome men. Her first husband is in his sixties when they marry. She is sixteen. Her second husband, who she marries two years later, is in his early fifties. Both have terrible dress-sense, according to Anwyn's best friends. I also have a culture where being on the plump side is considered beautiful.
  2. I've never understood all the hate and criticism that prologues get. So many accusations of bad writing, info-dumping, self-indulgence on the part of the author ... need I go on? I never skip a prologue in a book that I'm reading for pleasure. Or an epilogue. I consider them valid parts of the book, chapters by another name. As for my own writing, I've done two first chapters which could be considered prologues, though I've named them "Chapter 1" in each case. The one in "The Sunshine Acolyte" is vital for both character-building and setting up of plot. In retrospect, I could have done without the one in "Malachi's Law" but I consider it a sort of background/scene-setting that helps the reader to understand the locale and culture where the story begins. I've never felt the need for an epilogue in any of my novels. Interestingly enough, epilogues don't seem to get as much bad press as prologues.
  3. This sums up my thoughts on the genre too. With that in mind, I always include diversity. I have several distinct races and cultures, plus I also have disabled characters, gay and lesbian characters and transgender characters. I prefer to have morally grey characters rather than clearly defined heroes and villains. While I do have a few classic heroes and villains, I prefer to leave it up to readers to decide which character or team to root for and which to boo. In some of my novels, the concept of enemies is quite vague. The "enemy" might be a series of obstacles and challenges preventing the protagonist from reaching their goals. Or it might be the protagonist him/herself, being their own worst enemy, plagued with doubts or doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
  4. I mentioned elsewhere that I've got several of his books. I've not heard of this one though. Sounds like it's more on the sci-fi side. I'll have to search for this book and have a look at reviews, see if it would be my kind of thing.
  5. I love comic relief characters. I think they play a crucial part in bringing some light relief as a contrast to the many darker scenes in fantasy novels. My friend and fellow author, Marie Andreas, works a lot of comedy into her fantasy novels. Even some of her more challenging scenes are sprinkled with humour. It makes for an easy and lively read. It's hard to pin down characters in movies and TV shows who are only there for comic relief. I find Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones) amusing. His witty sarcastic delivery and often self-deprecating humour is awesome. In the books, there's even more of it. But there's also a darker and more serious side to him, so I can't say he's purely there for comic relief. I also loved Murdoch in the original A-Team TV show. His habit of talking to himself or to a sock puppet, for example, is hilarious. I love the way the rest of the gang have to bust him out of the mental institution when they need him to fly his helicopter on missions. In the movie version, Sharlto Copley does a great job of reinterpreting his character. And now for my own characters: Lyle Menehari has a penchant for the theatrical, no surprise that he ends up being a drama teacher as well as a spy and assassin. I have him making exaggerated gestures, giving ridiculous speeches and even conveying serious issues in a comedic way. Ignacio Ingrao is supposed to be a fearsome villain but I've made him a figure of fun. He deliberately plays the idiot and behaves in a shameless and inappropriate manner, especially in public. His clumsy lewd behaviour hides a keen intellect. Behind closed doors, he is a warm and loving parent and he treats his household staff like close friends rather than servants. Kvyrt Elygiak (also known as the Trickster) has a fondness for practical jokes and a vicious scathing sense of humour. He makes no concessions to polite behaviour and he cultivates a deliberate ungroomed appearance. Even when has to attend formal occasions, his robes will be crumpled and he prefers to hover above a conference table rather than sit in his allotted chair. My favourite comedic character has to be Luigi Nentofore. I introduce him as an eccentric street-dweller who dresses only in bandages and scraps of fabric. He loves leaping off high buildings and doing other acrobatic stunts. Later, I give his back-story that he was once a famous motor racing driver until he met with an accident which caused him to give up professional driving. He then became a circus acrobat and finally ended up living rough on the streets in a deprived district, despite the fact that he comes from an extremely wealthy family. They don't neglect him. He chooses that lifestyle out of personal preference. He has a childish manner of speaking and often repeats himself. He also loves using beds as trampolines. As with the others, his silliness hides his underlying intelligence. When he slips out of his childish persona and behaves like a proper adult, it comes as a surprise, especially to those who don't know him well.
  6. Xanxa

    Age of main characters

    I have a wide range of ages for my characters. I write multi-generational family sagas, which by their very nature have to include more than adolescents and twenty-somethings. Using older characters to explain traditions, rituals and other issues is a neat way of avoiding the dreaded info-dump, since it can be dealt with in dialogue, giving insight into characters along the way. I love my older characters. Some of them have lived multiple lifetimes and have great wisdom and knowledge to impart. One of my main historian characters teaches his students the "real" version of history which he has lived through, pointing out the discrepancies in the santised version which appear in history books. Also older characters have some great eccentric habits and quirks which can be fun to write. I often take a character from birth or early childhood and chart their life into adulthood. I like to show how they develop their personalities, preferences and moral stance, also how they react to certain situations and learn from them. Or don't learn, as the case may be. I also try to stay away from the "young and beautiful" cliches of fantasy characters. Not all of them are classically attractive. Many have flaws and scars and I make sure they're not all slender and elegant. To me, variety is the key to creating interesting and memorable characters.
  7. Xanxa

    Organizing Your World Building

    The Winchesters are fine young men, a little young for me but still cool. I have to confess a liking for Bobby and also a strange fascination with Crowley. I'm actually writing Crowley in a fanfiction crossover. He's been busy turning people into mice and dragons. Great fun!
  8. Xanxa

    Daydreaming, Stories, and You

    I sense a new topic emerging soon.
  9. Xanxa

    Organizing Your World Building

    Still laughing at how Dean Winchester managed to sneak his way into this discussion! I've been building my universe for around 30 years. To keep consistency, I started writing a sort of guidebook, like a Lonely Planet guide, dealing with geography, history and culture. Over the years, it's grown with each new novel that I write. When I started my blog a few years ago, I was stuck for what to include in it. I didn't want to blog about the process of writing, as I felt that would only interest other writers, and not be of interest to potential readers. So I picked topics from my guidebook and turned them into blog posts. You can find them in The Virian Chronicler along with some freebie stories that I wrote in collaboration with other authors. The guidebook posts are among the earlier blog posts but there's a search facility so you can type in keywords like "culture" or "planets" to find them. In fact, I'll make it easier for you: Fenian Culture
  10. Xanxa

    What do you want to write?

    I've got several novels in the planning stages, so I already know what I'll be working on when I've finished my latest round of editing and completed two partially-written novels. I also want to explore a concept which is very much in the development stages and has only been mentioned in passing in some of my novels. It's the sort of concept which could spawn a whole new series, so it will give me plenty of material. For those who need new ideas, I'd reiterate what Livvy said about trying prompts and looking for images. There's also the "adopt-an-idea" forums. There used to be one on here and on the main Nano site. There's also one on the site that I admin and I'm sure you can find them elsewhere. Another suggestion is to take a side-character from a novel you've already written. Try writing their back-story or giving them an adventure of their own. Take the under-developed character and fill in the blanks. Re-write scenes from an existing novel from their POV.
  11. Xanxa

    Daydreaming, Stories, and You

    I daydream a lot, especially when I'm on my way somewhere or stuck in a waiting room before an appointment. I can't imagine what it would be like NOT to daydream. Some of my daydreams are about my novels. I play out scenes from them in my head like a movie. I know what most of my characters look like, even if their faces aren't totally clear. I can imagine their voices, the different accents and slang they use, their mannerisms when talking, even down to the way they walk. Sometimes I'll experiment with a new scene, one I haven't written. Only a few of these scenes make it into novels because most of them are unrelated to the plot. I also imagine conversations with people I'd like to meet. Not only celebrities but some of my online friends. Also when I see someone in the street who intrigues me, I imagine having a conversation with them and getting to know them.
  12. Not heard of Illuminae. The trilogy I have is a new genre for me - Japanese steampunk. The novels are called Stormdancer, Kinslayer and Endsinger. I took a long time reading reviews before deciding to give it a go. Three books this year? I'll have to look out for them. Thanks for the heads-up.
  13. Nevernight! I got that for Christmas, along with the sequel, Godsgrave, and another Kristoff trilogy. Really looking forward to reading them.
  14. Xanxa

    Subverting Fantasy Tropes

    What an awesome idea! That would make an intriguing twist to any story. Definitely worth exploring.
  15. Xanxa

    2019 Goals and Resolutions

    Wishing all denizens of this site a productive and hopefully prosperous New Year. My writing-related goals are: Finish my in-depth revision of "The Unborn Child" Fine-tune, proof-read and format "The Window Man" and get it published (self-publishing) Finish "The Halloriyaan" Finish "Probyt's Progress" If I achieve those, get started on my two planned novels. My other goals are: Get out more socially Attend more events in my local community Continue with helping to organise local events Increase my level of physical fitness
  16. In my current WIP, I'd say the most difficult choice of Anwyn's life is when she supports her mentor, Uncle Claude, in his decision to attack an enemy facility. She knows the family alliance is not fully prepared to undertake such a bold and risky attack. But she loves and respects Claude, so she refuses to go against him. As for what happens during the attack, SPOILERS!!
  17. Xanxa

    Merry Christmas!

    @Zovi - Very pleased for you. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been.
  18. Xanxa

    Merry Christmas!

    Besides the photos, I also got the following books: Joe Abercrombie - Sharp Ends, Best Served Cold, Before They Are Hanged, Last Argument of Kings (I already have The Blade Itself) Jay Kristoff - Nevernight, Godsgrave, Stormdancer, Kinslayer, Endsinger Trudi Canavan - Successor's Promise (to complete the Millennium's Rule Trilogy) Robin Hobb - Assassin's Fate (to complete Fitz and the Fool Trilogy) A quiet time really, just me and hubbie, listening to music on our new hifi system. We're old-school and don't do all this ipod dock malarkey. We prefer CDs and in some cases vinyl. We also watched some DVDs and I managed not to ruin the dinner. Hubbie got music CDs and plenty of spiritual/esoteric non-fiction books.
  19. Several of my MCs in various novels are assassins, so yes, they've committed murders. Often at a relatively young age. Starting with my trained assassins: In "The Window Man", Lyle is fifteen when he carries out his first contract killing - the favoured servant of the man who tried to have his father poisoned. The murder is sending a clear message that it's easy to infiltrate the household. During the course of the story, he commits various other murders. In "Chimera Obscura", Andreas kills a bully at the tender age of eight. It's not strictly murder, since he only intended to give the lad a good beating. However, the build-up of many previous encounters with the bully meant that he became enraged and could not stop. He becomes a trained spy and assassin later, so that's not his only kill. In "The Halloriyaan", there is a "kill list" and several of my trained assassins carry out the murders. The targets are known terrorists who have bombed public places and killed many innocent citizens, so my assassins consider that they're doing a service to the community. In "The Unborn Child" Anwyn is abducted by one of her supposedly trustworthy tutors. She ends up killing the tutor. Although it's self-defence, it later transpires that the tutor was plotting against the family, so it's considered a legitimate kill on behalf of the family. Again, she's trained for such work and goes on to kill others. Those who weren't trained as assassins: In "The Maker" and "Mind Games, the characters become involved in war, so there are multiple killings throughout. In "Neurotic Mothers' Battleship" and "The Virian Fellowship", there are various clashes between rival clans and gangs, resulting in loss of life. In "The Sunshine Acolyte", a mentor kills to protect his protegee. There's also a sorcery duel near the end. Neither of the combatants survives. In "Malachi's Law", Malachi becomes possessed by an evil spirit/demon, leading him to commit murder and destroy his previous good reputation. In "The Crystal and the Nethiyaan", thirteen year old Theo murders a priest and a concubine. There is a fierce battle near the end, resulting in several other killings. In "Carrying A Torch", eleven year old Malawi murders a fellow student because she considers his behaviour towards her best friend inappropriate. Later, she kills her best friend (pre-meditated), a tourist (on a whim) and her sister (pre-meditated). I'm sure there will be others ...
  20. Xanxa

    Handling class in your writing

    Thanks for the compliment. I have many characters who do relatively mundane jobs, like housemaids scrubbing floors and doing laundry, couriers delivering documents and parcels, construction workers and of course waiting staff in cafes, bars and restaurants. Also, in "Chimera Obscura", the mother of my MC works as a volunteer in a hostel for the homeless. Even when she's employed as a housemaid for a wealthy gangster Lord, she continues with her voluntary work at the hostel, because she says the street people need her more than the Lord does. I also have people working in the seedier professions - drug dealers, thieves and prostitutes.
  21. Xanxa

    Handling class in your writing

    One important detail about my world-building and societal structure - you will not find any monarchies in any of my novels. Military dictators, devious political leaders and gangster bosses aplenty, but not a single traditional monarch. (In real life I'm a vehement anti-monarchist and I don't even like writing about them in a fantasy setting). Many of my societies are ruled by those who grab power, rather than those who are elected or those who inherit. Basically, those who control financial institutions, businesses and the media are the ruling classes. Sorcerers who live in enclaves don't generally concern themselves with politics and power-mongering. However, those who live in the outside world often ally themselves to people of power, whether in a mercenary context or because they support specific causes or cultural groupings. I write a lot about the underclasses - the homeless, the disenchanted, those who choose the travelling life. They form small communities who help each other and sometimes clash with other communities. Most law enforcement agencies are toothless or unconcerned. They only act when it suits them and they have become a laughing stock. Social mobility is possible. For someone suitably motivated and prepared to play the long game, they can rise up and seize power, regardless of their origins.
  22. Xanxa


    This is what a one livati coin looks like. I haven't designed any other of my currencies yet.
  23. Xanxa


    Since I write urban fantasy, financial issues are pretty much the same as in the real world. I have developed my own currency system, as follows: FEN and SHEN: The currency of Viria, fen being the larger units and shen being the smaller ones. LIVATI: Widely used throughout mainland Varathusia by Carpathians, Varahs and Par-Varahs alike. RYNDII: Varagan currency. Although many Varagan traders will deal in livati, they still keep their own separate currency, especially on the Varago Islands. SHEKELS: Sartorian currency. Tribal Sartorians prefer to barter goods and services rather than using money. Shekels are only used in the settled areas of the planet. CREDITS: Virtual currency used widely on Mondias, Yttria, Varathusia and Malvania by means of an electronic chip. There are such things as credit coins but these are only used in smaller, more primitive communities on Malvania.
  24. Xanxa

    They do say to write what you know...

    Mine will seem dull in comparison with all those, but here goes: Alongside my secretarial training, I also trained as a translator and interpreter. I never worked in that field professionally, but I have done the odd translation job for friends or acquaintances and I've also done a bit of interpreting when travelling abroad. Interpreting is far harder than written translation due to having to remember what has been said while simultaneously translating it, then attempting to convey it in the other language. (One time when drunk on vacation, I ended up speaking Portuguese to my mother and English to my Brasilian friends. It all got a bit confusing, but it was a great laugh). I love to include linguistic mix-ups and "lost in translation" moments in my novels. I worked as a legal secretary for around 20 years, dealing in personal injury law, property law, probate law, employment law and a little divorce law. I once represented myself in court and managed far better than I'd expected. As a consequence, I include many lawyers and paralegals amongst my characters. I've also written several courtroom drama scenes. Several of my previous partners worked in the construction trade. I learned about some of the unsafe practices that go on, as well as the bad pay and conditions that many workers have to put up with. That really helped with my novel "Carrying A Torch" in which one of the MCs gets a job on a construction site. I also did rock-climbing as a hobby for several years. Climbing has featured in several of my novels. I've been a home-based carer for my disabled husband since 2007. I've learned so much, including disability issues. Several of my novels feature disabled characters. I once worked as an electoral assistant. Although that's a very specific thing, it's helped with certain aspects of my writing, especially to do with my gangster families and some of my secret societies conducting ballots. I've worked as a waitress and kitchen assistant. Those trades can also be found in my novels.
  25. Xanxa

    Subverting Fantasy Tropes

    I try not to have too many ridiculously attractive characters in my novels. It's a trope I've come to loathe. I make many of my characters have scars and other imperfections. I also like to include different body shapes. Not everyone is slim and graceful. One novel that's not yet written and only in the planning stages will feature the farmboy trope with a twist. A young trainee sorcerer will run away from a sorcerers' enclave and for a while, he will work as a farmboy under a false identity and hide his abilities. Some of my families are actually happy, for the most part. My young characters aren't all orphans. In fact I've only used the orphan trope a couple of times, that I can recall.