Rested and Recuperated

Alright, exams are done for now and I’m back on vacation. Work on Wyvern Diary is going well and if I keep up my current work rate, I should be done with the raw manuscript in two to three weeks. After that, I plan on talking to some local publishers here in SA and hopefully get Wyvern Diary traditionally published. Until then, it’s hard work and trying to finish the last lap of this race. I’ll be getting back to usually scheduled blogging shortly.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

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Where Babies Come From #2

As usual, spoilers ahead. Get a copy of Blackout or give me a shout if you want a free copy.
We’re going into the more meaty stories now, with Panic being first. I wanted to go to a foreign location for the epicenter of the apocalypse. Doing one of the cosmopolitan European cities would have been a cheap way out and there are enough end-of-the-world stories set in the US, so I didn’t need to add any more. I thought Nigeria, being Africa’s largest economy at this point, would be interesting place in which to set my story.

Most of my stories, novel including, happen long after the Event hits, so I felt obliged to write one at the point of impact. The whole thing is described as horrific, world-ending but very distant in the main narrative, turning Panic into something more visceral and more real. It gave my descriptive skills a bit of challenge in keeping the reader’s attention with a single character, no dialogue and an entire city going to hell. No one in the subsequent stories quite knows what happened, so giving the reader something extra seemed good.

The apocalypse introducing the power of telekinesis was always on the cards, with the end of Panic showcasing my unique take on magic system in science-fiction settings. With telekinesis being a magnetism-like force, I have a somewhat scientific sounding system that’s quite fun to play with. I really enjoy the sense of scale, destruction and power that telekinesis brings to a story, so I wanted to have that as a resource in my novel and in Panic, you get to see where that comes from. Mutagens introducing superpowers are something I’ve seen in some of my favourite pieces of fiction and I took it upon myself to deal with the concept very differently.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

My World- Part 3

Angelfall, the day it all changed

Excuse the cliche above. I’ve introduced you all to the Apocalypse Seven before and if you haven’t met them already, here’s their introduction. Effectively, they’re the dream team for evil, edgy teenagers (note: I turn 18 in April. I’m allowed to make this joke.) Being entirely responsible for the state of the world as it is, the angels are the primary antagonists of the series. The Black Angel opposes the protagonist in Wyvern Diary, being a very personal enemy to him. Anything beyond that veers into spoiler territory. I personally love writing the Black Angel because of his ‘overacting’ and his destructive tendencies really test my descriptive skills.

With their high speed and the augmentative qualities of telekinetics, the best way to battle the beast is hand-to-hand, with the ubiquitous sword being more economical than the gun in any case. Characters in the novels fight with both in equal amount. Personally, I love the mental image of a dragon squaring off against a mech suit with squads of riflemen flanking both.

The story of the first novel revolves around Steven’s change from child seeking justice for the world to revenge-filled angry teenager, and the repelling of the angel as he invades Cape Town. Being South African, it gives me great pleasure to be one of the very few authors setting science-fiction novels there/here. I’ve dropped a few hints here and there in Wyvern Diary as to locations and such. Between action sequences which I have been praised in crafting and quieter character-driven plot, I hope Wyvern Diary ends up being exciting and wholesome.

In terms of characters, we have:

First Squad:
Private Steven Hail (16): 
A blond-haired idealistic boy tainted early by a family tragedy. Extremely stubborn and strong-willed, Steven will fight until he blacks out.
Sergeant Emmet Hail (16): Steven’s twin brother, a much more responsible and cool-headed lad but with a dark intelligence about him. Motivated equally to protect his brother and serve his PMC to the best of his ability, it may yet tear him up inside.
Private Sam Steenkamp (16): A red-headed jokester with no sense of seriousness, Sam provides a well-needed jest in the face of horrific battles and monsters. Coming from a scholarly family with heavy pressures on him, Sam discards it all, though how successfully remains to be seen.
Private Isa Claramond (16): Notable for her emotionlessness, stark paleness but otherwise remarkably pretty face, Isa is an enigma to most of the platoon and a deadly one at that. As probably the second best fighter in the platoon, she gives Steven a pointer or two in that department while hiding deep-rooted issues of her own.
Private Amanda Walker (16): Sarcastic and biting where her best friend is jovial, Amanda can barely be found away from Sam. Exceptionally brave and a no-nonsense professional, she prefers to bottle her emotions than express herself. Does that suit her, though?
Private Kyros Manis (16): A kind-hearted young lad born from a Greek father, he is far more jaded than his smile lets on. Blessed/cursed with the ability to create fire, Kyros is a talented telekinetic who fears his own powers. Despite his considerable utility to the platoon, he often doubts his place in the squad structure.
Lieutenant Damian Wolf (22): The devastatingly handsome, hyper-dangerous celebrity soldier in charge of the platoon, Wolf lives for battle and for the thrill. The sole survivor of the previous iteration of the 46th Platoon, he values the lives of his subordinates dearly, prepared to fight a god to keep them safe. Always looking out for the emotions of his underlings, he buries his own wants and needs deep…
Dragon Guild PMC:
Major Maxine Harris (24): Another survivor of the disastrous Congo expedition, Max is Steven and Emmet’s adoptive sister and a superlative fighter in her own right. While accepted by most of her family, she has considerable friction with Steven due to events in their youth. When these tensions reach a point, can she put duty above her personal issues with her brother?
Colonel Sheila Hail (40): The premier one-on-one fighter in the Guild and an absolute hero. She is practically worshipped by her sons, especially Steven. But as to all heroes, there is a dark side, one that many refuse to accept…

Aube Rouge:
Aube Rouge is an Australian-based PMC that provides the nameless goons for much of Wyvern Diary. Headed by an ambitious Black Angel, they invade Cape Town for reasons unknown.
The Black Angel (?): An enigmatic beast from realms far beyond, the Black Angel is supremely confident, overly dramatic and unbelievably dangerous. With close-combat ability besting even the most capable soldier, the Black Angel goes about his private agenda with stunning effectiveness, darkly mocking Steven as he goes. He’s a troll and a murderous one at that.

I hope that outlines things nicely. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

My World- Part 1

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I often get asked the question “What is your book about?” and I must admit, I’m very bad at answering it. My mind gets tangled in spools of plot, unnecessary details and assorted nonsense. With that in mind and with a self-imposed countdown to the release of Blackout mixed in there, let’s get started with a breakdown of the universe of Ira Draconis. 

I’m going to try and do one of these per day. The below is copied straight from Blackout, the next set will be all new content.

Before the End and Immediately After

Mankind had lived like kings, spreading its seeds of civilisation far and wide as its population exploded. Industry and technology helped to feed and satisfy man’s greed; from the earth’s riches came lead and iron and from them came conflict. Humanity has always thirsted for competition, and between sports, war and corporate jousting, it’s had its fair share. For a long time, it seemed as if another global war, one of utterly cataclysmic proportions, was on the horizon. With titanic steel monsters and weapons of mass destruction under the fingertips of every head-of-state imaginable, it would not have been long before the tensions reached a boiling point and a warlike society more dangerous and more violent in its advanced state than anything the twentieth century had to offer was unleashed upon itself. There were smaller wars here and there, old rivalries and grudges springing up, but the global conflict would have been catastrophic.

Then it happened. Cities in Eastern Europe fell silent, their presence disappearing in the blink of an eye. The Europeans panicked, a course of action that became justified extremely quickly. London seemed to be sucked into a bright blue vortex of energy, a catastrophe that sapped the electrical power from the city in a matter of moments. In a moment, England fell into darkness. The world stopped to breathe… Then Abuja shut down.

The world was over. Electricity stopped. Running water stopped. Agriculture stopped. Life stopped. Those lucky enough to have food stocks and stored water became people of importance. Any prior ties or titles, after a while, became meaningless. And very soon, human life became meaningless. Without the pressure of the crumbling governments to police them, violent people started to band together and started to be a law unto themselves. Empty bullet casings, freshly spent from some conflict or another, very quickly grew in importance. Man has always loved symbols and the appropriateness of an empty cartridge representing blood money was too much to pass up. Every shot made someone richer, so people were looking for excuses to fight. Militant groups banded together and set up shop wherever they could, like old-school gangsters marking out their turf.

 

Violence, of course, breeds violence and, perhaps due to demand or through pressure, the militias became somewhat more formal. For a long time, the concept of private military contractors had been a dead one but with the shutting down of states and parliaments, the corporate animal was free of its chains. The corporate economy, shedding its government ties, took over land on its own and sovereign states were replaced by companies and unions. PMCs and enterprising businessmen were the new ruling class. Thus, drug dealers, gangsters and murderers took over the world.

Through the marriage of business and battle, commercialised warfare was born. Mankind has a knack for creating celebrities and who better to celebrate than the man protecting your way of life? A new age of decadence may yet have been on the rise, gambling dens and advertisers latching onto the life-and-death madness of warfare. With electricity and conventional power practically dead, the overworked civic beast of burden had to backpedal. Steam, bronze gears and iron hammers started to replace the ubiquitous industrial factories, giving the surviving dregs of humanity something to do. They’ve made the best of a bad situation and fifty years on, life started to take up some form of normalcy. Normalcy defined by constant war, famine and degeneration.

World Building- Literally the Ground Up

Reaching towards the sky higher than any of the buildings in the city by at least a half, the highway was a road as wide as a bus was long and held up in the heavens by ivory-white ribs made of steel and concrete. These gigantic struts were each covered by a mesh and striped with alternating bands of fungus and moss, each of these poles dipping into an evergreen valley filled with plant life. The road itself was encased in a cage of glass and metal supports creating a kilometres long tube reminiscent of a huge train. Even though some panels of glass had fallen out and chunks of the ribs had broken down, the titanic construction was in remarkable condition. A lammergeier flew just under the road itself, giving another indicator of its spectacular height. A ray of sunlight through the clouds cut through the glass and refracted over the sparkling tree tops.

New science-fiction authors generally have quite a task ahead of themselves. They have to create a whole new world for the readers to explore and this world is by definition different from the one we inhabit. So how can a sci-fi guy face and tackle this daunting task of moulding a world? Note that this advice can apply to any sort of world-building.

1. Create the image of the world. This step is vitally important to any piece of writing and world creation is not an exception. Create it as a full entity in and of itself before diving into your novel. You never know; perhaps the geyser field far away from the current or even eventual storyline could prove useful later.

2. Use the atmosphere and social perception. The 21st Century on Planet Earth within the Sol System of the Milky Way Galaxy is a place where most people are quite idealistic and optimistic. Generally, in my experience anyway, people believe that they can do things that matter and change their own circumstances. There are of course exceptions. Your world doesn’t have to be this way. It could be an extremely nihilistic existence wherever your world is, where the idealistic protagonist is repeated and brutally put down. It could be a world where the common man would be filthy rich by today’s standards and animal rights are abused for the entertainment of the masses. A world can be anything you want it to be as long as you…

3. Describe effectively. Make sure to include everything you need, nothing more and nothing less. What may seem like a mundane detail that you could quickly gloss over could be the hook that draws a reader into the novel, into its atmosphere (sometimes literally). Categorise the things that are different to the world that you know and write them down. They need not be the most extreme things. Subtlety sometimes aids believability. Think of any novel or film with an underground of any sort, be it criminal activity or an entire society. It could be something as simple as underground dogfights with dangerous performance drugs to something as extreme as the gladiatorial combat of genetically-engineered fighting beasts played in front of thousands.

4. Make the inclusion of the world’s details meaningful. All of these details mean nothing if they are deposited in gigantic info-dumps. The best way to include these sorts of things is in plot and in relevance to characters. The dog pits are a far-off tidbit of information until John, who is stricken with melancholy after creating the drug, appears on the scene or until Lucy mentions the pits as something she’s seen very often in the streets. That kind of weaving makes the world seem real rather than characters and the world being separate chunks in the space of your novel.The most important thing to do is to connect everything believably.

Twofold Progress Announcement

Wyvern Diary is going well; I’m around a third of the way in and Steve is looking less like a prick than before. Mission accomplished.

On a different note, I’m also starting work on a supplementary anthology of short stories detailing the events and circumstances right after the catastrophic Blackmatter Event. Current storyline ideas include:

Chaos at Nigeria’s impact point
Mutagen outbreak at a military facility
First awakening of telekinesis
The beginning phases of ubiquitous civilian weaponry and ever present warfare

The story, under the working title of The Blackout War, will attempt to give a global picture, so if you have any suggestions on location and subject matter, please contribute.

I look forward to your contribution and I hope you have a good day.

Beta Readers, Assemble

Given that exams are finishing today, I can put my focus back on Wyvern Diary. I’d greatly appreciate it if some of you would volunteer to read a few chapters, as many as you like, so that I can properly tweak this novel for a decent release.

So if you like military science fiction, post apocalyptic science fiction and pseudo-magic, as well as action, email me at s.k.wonza@gmail.com to rate and review.

Thanks in advance and enjoy your day!