Where Babies Come From #4

As usual, spoilers ahead. Also, since starting this little series of posts, sales have gone up significantly. Thanks, guys, I appreciate that a lot. 

Capacity for Atrocity represents me going to my roots as a writer: writing fast-paced, intense action scenes and trying my best to portray something cool. As I said in #1 of this series, I really like mecha and this story follows a random group of mecha pilots in Donetsk. Why Donetsk? I wanted another exotic location and I was out of ideas. I went to watch some football and I was met with a Europa League match between Manchester United and Zorya Luhansk. The commentator starting speaking about one of my favourite players, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and how he used to play for Shakhtar Donetsk. I wanted a snowy place in any case, so a large city in Ukraine worked nicely.

This story was much less of a test for my descriptive skills than many of the others, being more of an action story than the others. I wanted to make the reader feel the sort of unfamiliar intensity and power the characters would see from pre-Event weaponry. In the context of the narrative, these mech suits are almost legendary machines and are certainly much more powerful than anything else at the military’s disposal. I aimed for a melancholy feeling of a lost era as the mecha fight but with the sort of energy and intensity that justifies even hardened professionals cracking under pressure.

The desolate ruins of Donetsk are little more than a microcosm of the global situation. As a Blank Zone, it’s an abandoned area that civilians are pretty banned from entering. I allude to Blank Zones having mutagenic monsters, rogue Lordframes and dormant weapons like virus bombs and untriggered nuclear devices. I intend to set more stories in the Blank Zones, so giving the reader a taste here won’t hurt.

In the end, I wanted Capacity for Atrocity to be cool and intense, showing off both my standpoint on warfare and my technical abilities.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.

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Where Babies Come From #3

The Bloodbringer is actually one of my older short stories, one I posted a couple of years ago on this blog. I received positive feedback on it and, with some tweaking, it was ready for the anthology.

With this story, I wanted to capture the fear of a recovering post-apocalyptic world full of new and terrifying entities and what better lens to shoot the world through than the eyes of a child? I focused on the desolation left behind by the Event and how people adapted to it. References to TV shows and series gave way to dog-eared novels. Having the story take place in the dead of night added to the sinister mood. I know I’m not the only one who was scared of shadows in the night as a child.

Gangsters are rather a large problem here in Cape Town, to put it very mildly. That made putting organised criminals in the limelight as my villains very easy. The fear factor didn’t come from them. I modeled the ghoul in the story on deep fears of mine: lurking murderers, impossibly strong monsters and silent shades. I never explained what the ghoul was and I don’t plan to. Fear of the unknown is another deep fear of mine.

The Bloodbringer was the first story that involved large chunks of descriptive text and represents an important marker for me. It was my first shot an atmospheric piece and I think I did a decent job.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your 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 2

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I ended up being busier than I wanted to be yesterday, so I didn’t manage to get one of these out. That said, I’m ready to move on…

Fall of Nations, Rise of Commerce

War gripped the minds of everyone on Earth much more strongly than before The Event and it became an everpresent fact of life. Even children become acclimatised to violence and death from an early age and the entire business model of commercial war sweeps all of society with it. On the plus side, at least rulers of a given area admit that they’ll invade somewhere for resources. Battle replaces sport as the primary font of entertainment and competition, leading to massive death tolls across the globe and daily casualties relegated to the realm of statistics.

Enterprising companies band together to form unions, coalitions and associations to replace the fading countries, shareholders replacing any sort of pure democratic process. With the human population falling dramatically, any sort of gender and sex based discrimination falls away and women join the wars as full combatants. In fact, in the story proper, Homeward Bound‘s protagonist and supporting character in Wyvern Diary, Sheila Hail, ends up being one of the best one-on-one fighters in the known world. Racial relations either fall away into harmonious cooperation or explode beyond their breaking points, flaring up yet more conflict. Glorified gangs aiming for extended racketeering masquerade as Private Military Contractors, the biggest and shiniest muscles on the world stage.

The nature of the beast makes war celebrated. Soldiers, especially effective and flashy ones, eclipse entertainers as the most prominent celebrities of the age. Between the hyper-effective but humble Damian Wolf taking it in his stride and Sheila Hail completely indulging in the star lifestyle, and the public supporting all of their habits, stardom ends up sticking to soldiers like glue. War pubs, with bets hedged on tactical shuffles, soldiers surviving and particularly exciting duels between combatants, make honest people turn to gambling to pass the time and forget the horrors. PMCs turn to slogans like “Justice Through Expansion” and “Success Through Sacrifice” to garner support and funding. This draws young men and women like our teenage protagonist Steven Hail into the whole culture, convincing them that they’re really changing the world. Other places are more proactive in their efforts to indoctrinate children. Chapel Six is one such example and one you’ll learn about in Blackout. 

Unbeknownst to them all, the real gamechangers are around the corner…

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.

Ira Draconis: Blackout

I’ve got a bad habit of making promises for cool things and then never following up, but this time I’ve come good. I’ve got 4 and a half short stories for my upcoming anthology Ira Draconis: Blackout, ready for peer review. The anthology itself will detail the world of Ira Draconis and, hopefully, create some sort of audience for Wyvern Diary next year.

The short stories range from 1500-3000 words as of the current state of writing, though some of the later ones may be a touch longer. If you would like to help me by reading and giving feedback on these, I’d be really grateful. Send an email to s.k.wonza@gmail.com if you’re interested in reading some work-in-progress short stories.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your 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!