Posts Tagged ‘k’zirra’

I’m taking a slight departure from last week’s blog on Horror (which I plan to continue, but want to finish the non-fiction book I am currently reading and want to use as the basis of that blog) and approach a different subject.

Horses.

Horses and nightmares aren’t exactly two completely different things (night-“mare” anyone) but that’s not what this post is about.

Along with joining many others in Holly Lisle’s Summer of Fiction Writing, I am continuing to work on her How to Write a Novel course (yeah, I know, I already wrote a novel but there’s plenty more to learn. AND: Disclaimer: if you purchase it through that link, I will be compensated as I am an affiliate). The subject of that novel happens to be a character I’d already established (and one of my favorites), Ennid the Havoc. If you haven’t met him, you can do so via Amazon or Smashwords. He’s a mash-up kind of character in a mash-up kind of world: a fantasy version of MMA fighting, horses, angels-versus-demons-on-human-world-battlegrounds, pirates. Ennid’s got an uneasy alliance with his world, his past, but enjoys the simple things like good food and the company of his not-so-simple horse, K’zirra.

For this novel, I decided to dive into his near-past and gave him a scene in which he finds himself washed ashore, after he gets swept off of the deck of a seagoing vessel, stranded on the proverbial deserted island*. My original plan had him discovering the remains of a settlement and something very unsettling they left behind.

Then the horse showed up.

Galloping (literaturelly?) onto the shore, this magnificent golden stallion shows up and starts tossing his mane and his attitude right at Ennid. So it got me to wondering — this idea of the horse seemed so left field. Where did it come from?

Once I thought about it, not so left field. Apparently, somewhere in the back of my brain, a memory bloomed in full color after I’d had all of my words on the page. The Black Stallion. (Movie, not the book, although I did read that later in my childhood.) So that scene and the thought of a guy and a horse on a distant shore with no one but each other for company and possibly survival. There are, however, plenty of differences; Ennid isn’t a teen, the horse isn’t black (truth be told, the golden stallion’s not even a –but, wait, that would be a SPOILER) and there’s a whole different threat going on than just having to survive on the island.

Now, for you “horse purists” out there, I will warn you that you won’t find an “accurate” portrayal of a real horse in the stories, so you can save yourself the keystrokes and the electrons of sending hate mail. Sometimes my horses behave horse-like, but other times not at all like the normal equine creatures. This is completely intentional. My inspiration for K’zirra, and subsequently the golden stallion that has no name as yet, came from my love for the Ranyhyn of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever. There are “normal” horses in the world, but the Ranyhyn are very special. Aside from being tied to the Earthpower of The Land in those stories, these horses possess a kind of prescience that allows them to know when their chosen rider will call them, and they respond long before the call and show up exactly when their rider calls them, even if they were hundreds of miles away. If anyone has played The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, you will understand when I say that I think Roach is a Ranyhyn, hehehe.

I hadn’t ever planned for there to be a horse in this story about Ennid, other than for a brief mention for other-story-foreshadowing purposes, but this stallion was demanding I do something with him. And he was right.

Hey you writers: have you ever had something come up while you were in that writing zone that seemed so disconnected from what was already on your page or in your plan that turned out to be better than expected?

 

*Which is actually a DESERTED island, as there was something there at one time, as opposed to the “deserted” island in which no living thing had been and established anything in order to desert it. And also as opposed to a desert island, since there’s plenty of foliage and swamp-age and all kinds of things that are pretty opposite from the concept of what a ‘desert’ is.

Since the dawn of my cognizance, I’ve heard the phrase uttered over and over “write what you know”. (To be fair, I’ve read it often enough too.) I’m here to tell you today that if you write, don’t just write what you know. I doubt many people would want to read an chapter-long exposition on how to repair the air-conditioning and pressurization systems of Naval aircraft, with all the nuts and bolts (literally). Instead, I implore you to write what you love. That passion will sneak its way into your work, and the words on the page (electrons on the screen, if you’ve gone digital) exude it in visceral ways the reader unconsciously picks up on. Insert your own fears into your work, and the reader can’t help but feel that anxiety.

Anyone who has read my anthologies and my longer works may be able to pick up on things I’ve inserted because I love them, or am fascinated by them. Animals are a near constant, either as main characters, sidekicks, pets or just there as local flavor. Casey, K’zirra, the wolf, Sharza* and a few others. I am also intensely interested in classical Roman History, the ethics of cloning, eschatology, mixed martial arts and, of course, nearly anything post-apocalyptic. People who love these things may be attracted to my work, if not for the storyline (initially) then for the inclusion of those elements in fiction they love to see and read about. In that same vein, writing my own fears into my work us in some ways very cathartic, as I can help myself by using the process of figuring how the character is going to cope or overcome. (Dear Lord , are they ever so much more courageous than I am! But I’m glad I don’t have half the problems I throw at my poor characters.)

So, don’t worry about being a hack, don’t try to copy someone else’s style, don’t just write “what you know” or you’ll come out as a dreaded expositor. Write what you love and the passion will flow.

* Who is Sharza, you wonder? She’s in The Opal Necklace, a novel which should be complete and released sometime early next year. What is she? Well, you’ll have to wait and read.