Empyraeum : Genesis
It is actually rather hard to believe that I started writing some elements of what become the Empyraeum Collections Thirty Years ago! Thirty years ago and gawky teenager sat at school in Gibraltar to type out the very earliest drafts, he filled cheap exercise books with his immature scrawlings. He started some interesting ideas even back then, ideas and characters who survived into the current story of the Empyraeum Cycle. He came up with Kalshodar and their unique form of semi-apotheosis, their ascent towards post-humanity. He sketched out a Dracograth which influenced today’s artworks very much. He wrote short stories about Neshaa, Kalliades, and Lupernikes.
He was crushed to learn just how similar his emerging universe was to a very popular table top gaming system which became massive in the these intervening years.
Later, he started to come up with ideas about Gabriel, Sham, and Unity. His own life experiences caused him to ponder the questions that set him on the path to attempting to write Trinity but that was not to be either. He tried, into his mid to late 20’s but something was missing, the dots would not connect.
Then, six years ago, anticipating the impending birth of my daughters, something just clicked.
I had thrown around an idea for years, the idea of some shadowy military organistion like the Knights Templar emerging from hiding, declaring that Alexander the Great had never died, merely departed but now, they said, he was coming back.
Just like that my teenage drafts became something very different to what they had began as. As I wrote, first Sham, then Gabriel insinuated themselves into the emerging frenzy of creativity. Before I knew it, three or four long-abandoned projects emerged as a part of a vastly complicated universe; The Empyraeum.
From Trinity came the historical record for the time between the Kalshodar’s exile and eventual return, the opportunity for he who stole the Empyraeum in their absence to rise to power in the first place. Martin Castlebank and his Gaia project joined the mixture, his time becoming known as the Fall; that period of extreme hardship and strife for the human race which allowed the Union to rise in the first place. People tend to need those in order to tolerate autocracies, I have found; their vitriol and rhetoric identifying a clear culprit for mankind’s numerous woes and promising aggressive improvement of their lot.
A lot of my theoi found their michani, but in ways that were consistent and made sense, filled a narrative. I also realised there was no way in hades that I was going to be able to write everything into one trilogy. The universe of Empyraeum is actually bigger than me!
What may appear to be unrelated short stories and fragments to the unitiated have been carefully recrafted to offer some insights, a few hints, and some serious structural background to the massive undertaking which is the Empyraeum. We have touched on some of this in previous episodes of the videoblog; the idea of leaving questions unanswered, letting loose ends happen while hinting at a massive amount of background…they key to good immersive fiction in my humble opinion. Leave gaps for readers to fill with their imagination, you don’t have to painstakingly explain every single piece of lore in exacting detail.
The Collections set the historical scene, give some dimenson to key characters and some insight into how both The Empyraeum and the current situation came about; the stories will give some valuable context to the upcoming novels, some idea why certain things happen later as well as insight into the decisions key characters will make.
What was it that made me write what are, technically speaking, the prequels before the main trilogy?
I have a number of reasons; reasons that may be unique to my writing style or may be common practise for all I know, just not the way I have done it. I know all of the ‘Greats’ have kept voluminous notes and so forth, which were later used to create prequels by their successors or offspring; J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert come immediately to mind. I hear that, as they build their world and the contextual setting for their story, authors will often produce a lot of background “historical” material which never makes it, at least directly, into the main work itself. I think that, quite often, the author writes this material for themselves, as a memory aid and framework in which to set their story. Something to have characters hint at, imply, casually mention, and so forth in order to add some depth and colour to their world, to have a before the first page.
We joint the story when the author chooses for us to but it takes skill and dedication, I think, to let the reader know that they have come in to view events which have started prior to their entrance and, just as we very often encounter people in life who have lived sections of their story in our absence, so too have the characters in a good novel; it makes them seem more like people if they have an implied history.
Just as we do not know every last detail of a lover’s or acquaintence’s story before we joined it, only what they choose to tell us or how they choose to tell it, so too a good writer does with their characters. There is, indeed, in both cases, a deep and complex story behind what you see but do you need to know every last detail, every sensa and stray thought? No. You need to know what is relevent. You need the summary, the consequence, the result.
X likes this and does not like that; Z is nervous/anxious about that, W is somewhat withdrawn today, V won’t talk about this or that subject, why? Because this happened when they were 12 and now they react thusly. You don’t need disserations, the dreaded walls of text, or long wanderings off into far distant tangents. You need anecdotes, brief explanations, a short mental journey perhaps, a conversation between two people who know the story.
As I mentioned in the last video; it is all about restraint and discipline, which are the very hardest things for a new writer to learn. Even the Collections and soon to arrive Novellas will, perhaps, raise more questions than they answer but isn’t that how real life works?
I still haven’t answered your question have I?
I know, I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out…
I refer you to a favourite quote of mine;
“What a poor teacher tells
A great teacher shows.
A true teacher knows
How and when to do both.”Anon
Never forget; we writers and authors are teachers too; just on a very specific and kind of long-winded subject. We create a world and people to occupy it then spend the rest of our lives teaching other people about them.
Keep an eye on the next Videoblog Episode for a possible resolution of this cliffhanger.