Hegemony Concept Alkemas Neshaa

Alkemas Neshaa; The Persian, The Zoroastrian, the Dracograth.

Neshaa joined Alexander’s campaign at Susan, during the Night of One Thousand Weddings. Neshaa himself remained unwed that night.
He was one of the first to become Dracograth, together with Kalliades, Korae, Lysander, and the acerbic Iapetus.

Neshaa is an odd choice for a soldier, he is a devoted Zoroastrian and, thus, a pacifist. He explains it;

“protecting one’s friends and the innocent from evil is the ultimate Good Work. To stay passive while ubiquitous men and their works flourish serve Ahiriham more than any act of justifiable violence…”

Neshaa is also the only man in History who has not only sermonised (cheeked, according to Kalliades) to a dragon and lived to tell the take upon he also won Her respect and love.

Though chalk and cheese to all appearances, he and Kalliades are the deepest of friends. They stand guard together, laugh together, play jokes on the other Dracograth together, and enjoy Lupernikes’ famous lamb stew together, usually in the company of their fellow ‘conspirators’ (though they only conspire to make sure first Alexander’s ‘malady’ then his disappearance are kept secret).

They have many adventures in Korae’s company before reuniting with first Lupernikes tgen Alexander and Sham on The Dragon’s Crown in a far-flung corner of the galaxy. Sham greeting him,as, always, as “that big ginger dreamer” and received a joyous hug in reply.

#Hegemony #Dracograth, #Persian; #Neshaa #Zoroastrian #alanjfisher #digitalart #bookseries #writingcommunity #bookart #booksecrets #Kalshodar #concept #conceptart #bookseries #characterart #characterconcept@LaurieGoulding

Hegemony – Marcos Lupernikes

Marcos Lupernikes; Spartan deserter, vagabond, general , Kalshodar, punisher of the guilty…

Once, he was known simply as Marcos the Spartan but dramatic events one day changed that. He picked up the name “Lupernikes” or “The Victory of Wolves” that day in what would be one day called Nepal.
The army had been camped on a frozen plain for months while Alexander did gods know what inside the mountain. Big armies get restless when they’re inactive; with no enemies to fight, they look for action closer to home.

By this time, Alexander’s army was made up of Macedonians, future Greeks, Persians, Sogdianians, Scythians, Indians, various Asians along with thousands of “camp followers” (suppliers, wives, children, artisans, entertainment)…division was already very much present. Some of the younger soldiers formed gangs of the kind often found in less salubrious neighbourhoods.
The “little wolves” ran various extortion schemes, petty theft, prostitution rings, protection rackets…the usual. They were tolerates until they crossed into murder and rape…

They raped young prostitutes and then viciously murdered them and Lupernikes got to hear about it.
Their leader was a cocksure little pup; full of vim, verve, and fancy Athenian ideas. He felt he was owed something. He felt his band were fighting oppression and his little pack would be instrumental in liberation Greece from the Macedonian Tyrant. He gave such a speech as Lupernikes sat in judgement.

Lupernikes, who was going to whip them all and them hang them had another idea…he told the assembled army thusly;

“You are big bad wolves chasing away the dogs, eh lads? Biting the hand that feeds and maintains you too? See, rape is rape and bullshit is bullshit, lads, no matter how you season the dish. You little dogs are no threat to Alexander or, by extension to me! Call yourselves wolves? Bollocks. Wolves don’t yap, wolves watch, wait, and when the time’s right, they do. Little dogs yap.
You say me letting you off, as you’re certain I will – in the spirit irresistible fellowship and all that – will be the victory of your wolves, right?
Right. Only, see, there is no victory of the wolves, there is only me.
Geld them. Chain them in the yard for the night and any little pup yaps, end the lot of them, clear?”

So he became the big bad wolf that are the balls of the guilty or The Victory of Wolves from then on because army humour is rarely sophisticated. As a loconic Spartan, we think Lupernikes liked the titles.

Lupernikes here, in his excellent 3D model, holds Wolf-breaker, his imfamous black sword that is longer than most men. Note how his armour varies little from that of his fellow Kalshodar. This probably shows his laconic spirit as well as his practicality. A soldier is a soldier no matter his titles. Achilles dressed like his men, so does Lupernikes.

#Hegemony #Kalshodar #Lupernikes #alanjfisher #conceptart #scifi #digitalart #concept #bookseries #bookart #characterart #bookseries #writingcommunity #writerscommunity

Kalshodar 3D Models

Two 3D models of a Kalshodar Kasha or sergeant. He is armed with a “growler” (Manticora LAR) rifle and his original dwarf-made sword.
His armour and sword are aglow with powerful runes making up a large part of his defensive reflex field. Dragon designs are clearly endemic.
Also shown, of of the mysterious and tragic One Hundred, his armour whitened in mourning. The pure black and silver colour scheme of the ancient Kalshodar has developed into a more practical look for a Modern age; the main surfaces are darkened or bright silver with some golden or black details.

The stature and power of a Kalshodar warrior is well represented in this model which exudes menace and clearly demonstrates his superior size.

Deciding on the look of the modern Kalshodar after the fantasy-inspired ancient armours you have already seen was a challenge. As you can see, elements of the original suits remain but they’re sleeker with more of a future soldier aesthetic. Their heritage, however, remains present; the ancient flaming sword paired with an ultra-modem rifle is a very intentional design choice.

More is to come seeing as the first three Hegemony Collections were quietly re-released over last weekend.

#Hegemony #alanjfisher #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #Kalshodar #digitalart

Hegemony Concept Art : “Manticora” LAR

Kalshodar compact rail-gun or LAR

The “Manticora” LAR (Linear Accelerator Rifle) is the favoured distance weapon of mainline Kalshodar in combat.

Using technology recovered from the cache on the Moon, the Manticora crystallises and accelerates projectiles of an exotic metallic allow at hypersonic speeds, similar to a compact rail-gun. The Manticora gets its name from the distinctive “growl-bark” sound it makes when operating and firing.

Its projectiles are both very dense and sharp, though they tend to fragment upon penetration, causing significant (usually dramatic) trauma to an unarmoured enemy.

One canister, as you see mounted in front of the trigger, is good for around 200 shots and can provide a good rate of fire at 45 shots per minute, one shot every 3-4 seconds. This slower rate of fire is best suited to squad based covering fire scenarios and accuracy is vital. The rifle’ s targeting systems are slaved directly to his armoured internal HUD.

#Hegemony #alanjfisher #writerscommunity #writingcommunity #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #kalshodar #weaponry #weaponconcept #design #conceptart

Hegemony Concept Art

Ancient rebuilt and evolved

Concept artwork for the “modern” Kalshodar of the upcoming Hegemony Trilogy. More specifically, this helmet belongs to one of The Hundred, survivors of a horrible tragedy who painted their normally black and silver armour white as a sign of mourning.

This concept aims to capture both the ancient origins of the Kalshodar and their evolution into modern times. Dwarves are a practical race and, I think, the idea of improving the old when there’s no need to throw it out, would appeal to their nature.

The menacing air of the Kalshodar faceplate took work and I didn’t want to overdo it because these are, afterall, the good guys.

More to come soon, I promise, because The Hegemony series has been seriously ignored of late.
#alanjfisher #writerscommunity #writerscommunity #writingcommunity #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #hegemony

The Art of the Storyteller video series

We are soon to be returning with our popular Art of the Storyteller video series. For the time being, we are sharing our most popular episode to whet your appetite;

Art of the Storyteller – Episode 6 

Love. Passion. Excitement. Drama. Engagement.

These are things which can turn your writing from a collection of words into a Story! Make it something you loved writing and are proud of to something which people will love reading and want more of. Of course we are writing for ourselves and writing a style we love but we do want it to sell right? We want to see our vision on the Silver Screen or the TV at least. We don’t write it to leave in a drawer somewhere to desintegrate do we?

No, Alan we do not, we would love ot achieve success with it and have lots of people read and love it like we do! You have many ways to create these but here are a couple;

Fight or pursuit scenes. How can you use style, skill and language to create tension, draw them in and make them want to know how your scene ends. How can you create that ‘edge of the seat’ feeling?

Tension Building Scenes; when the reader has a good idea what is going to happen but you ‘lead them down the garden path’ in a way where they are no longer sure or don’t know HOW it is going to happen.

Death Scenes; If you have not built up a character as interesting and complete, will they care if that character dies? Can you build your scene so that, at least, a tear is shed and a heart flutters? Can you, through your passion and love cause them to feel it?

Conflict Scenes; When two or more protagonists hold vastly or only slight variations of viewpoint and that difference is either a point of conflict or pivotal part of story. Here, dialogue will likely be your friend, internal dialogue also, perhaps.

This is the hardest part that, I believe, no-one can teach because you have to feel it, you have to present it and give them a reason to engage, to emote and to be pulled into the narrative. Today I will be doing things a little differently than I have, with a reading from a key scene in my ultra-secret collaborative project.

A scene entitled “The Fall of Atlantis.” This is an example of a tension and a sort of death scene. It involves sympathy, perhaps, for someone who should really deserve none. It involves a twist of perception and an idea turned on it’s head. The idea of a sympathetic villain and why he chose to act as he did; how he got so angry and twisted up and who he had around as his only allies left to influence him. He’s effectivelty the First Villain too… How can you do this in your writing? More news and reveals on this exciting project to come but look into the style and my perhaps slightly rusty delivery and acting skills. (Alan’s acting skills could perhaps use some work but he’s trying! He has no plans to become an actual actor so don’t worry..he shall not inflict singing on you next so relax) coming soon.

Get ready for some huge changes to the website and also to existing books with the dawn of this new year. I have some very exciting and unexpected big changes coming.   The text I was reading can be found HERE
for those of your who would like to follow along. I made a couple of corrects and changes as I went along; hence my occasional long pauses.

This is a DRAFT not a final one either so there are errors in it. That’s why my project remains TOP SECRET because I am far from having it in presentable form. This is a hint and only here for illustrative purposes. No critique of spelling or word choices please (or observations of me diverging from the text, it is MY text so I can!) as this is a firmly WIP. Enjoy anyway if you like. The essence is true and measurable emotion and we will talk about that in the attached video. How can your words make others feel and how can you make your story huge. By appealing to people’s feelings. The Chronicles of Enoch : Darkness Within is coming soon.

Please be sure to subscribe to our channel for future episodes.

#Holiday #PassionForTheArt #AlanJFisher #Language #Create #Creative #thoughts #ArtoftheStoryteller #Storytelling #WritingTips #Writers #WritingMentor #creativewriting #Dramatic #Conflict #TheRaven #Passion

Subverting the Genre

The Wordsmith’s Anvil

It is tempting, as a writer, to conform to one of the popular genres; fold together the de-rigeour plotlines, bend and hammer in reader’s favourite character types, heat and finally temper it into a shining example of sure-to-sell. It is so easy to do.

If you do it right then you may have a functional knife, decent sword or even another hammer to shape more words on your anvil. You may well be successful. That is good, do you not think? Maybe. Molten Words Cast Out of the mould it pops. Smooth off the cast lines and flash, polish it into… …into what?

Exactly what the mould tells it to be. You see, you take your mould, fill it with the molten result of your works and leave it to cool. After a time, you crack it open and out comes….an exact copy of what the mould was made from. Vampires who have various existencial crises. Angels who, in spite of having god-like powers, still chase after a much ignored young girl who secretly has reality shattering powers.

The all-powerful evil overbeing who commands legions of fanatical followers and can murder anyone they like with a mere thought with the hidden weakness that everyone had forgotten about, killed by a precocious pubescent… Funnily enough nobody asks what happens once the hero and love interest share a kiss and the final page is turned.
The vast army or empire does not simply shuffle it’s feet and decide that unfettered evilness was a poor career choice. Will the minor villains and henchpeople turn good and they live in the cliche everyone loves? What do you think?

A Mighty Sword Forgéd

Yes, the accent is intentional for we are about to enter into a fantasy-based extended metaphour…(spelling intentional for pedantic accent)
The hero of the tale will often be seeking a weapon of some sort with which to end the Evil One forever.
No simple sword, hammer, arrow or pointy-murder-thing will suffice: a simple and enthusiastic poke into a convenient soft bit will not end the threat which means to end everything that is Good forever! It is never that easy.

A Quest must be undertook, many dangers faced and disparate characters who do not get on will find common ground and form an incredible team. Some of them might die, a traitor will be uncovered, maybe a deathbed (or death rock) redemption or two might take place. All good and fine.

The weapon being sought will be of incalculable power meaning that the Bad Fellow will be utterly destroyed by it. It might be somewhat harmful or devisive to our Bold Adventurers too but that adds to the depth and drama does it not?

A Sword is not Simply a Pointy Metal Stick

Now, not to bore you with the technicalities involved in turning non-sword-shaped metal into edged death, it is a long and arduous process.

One must select the metal, have a picture of the end result in one’s mind. One must bend, fold, hammer, smooth, beat, heat, temper and quench just right or one’s weapon will break the first time you try to beat someone with it.

For this example, too, one must also enbue the item with magic, secret knowledge or really, really fancy ornamentation in order to make sure said Evil One becomes the requisite number of Evil Pieces (none of which will be placed in a microwave oven to burn the hero’s house down and kill his parents).

One can make a sword mould and pour all the right ingredients into it. One can wait for it to cool and free it from its prison. One can tidy it up, polish it, give it a decent edge. One can even make it shine like a mirror.
One can do all of that but the first time your weapon meets a master (or mistress) forged equivalent, it will snap in two with a rather disappointing crack sound. The crack of disappointment, they call it.
Whomever it may be that they are.

Start with the Basics

As the metalsmith starts with – you got it – metal, what does the wordsmith start with? That’s right! With their brain! We got you, drew you right in and played one of those awful context jokes on you! Actually, some might call it inspiration, that ephemerous output of the Muses, others call it research. It is the same thing though, a wordsmith’s base material.

Words are, afterall, simply a process of re-arranging 26 letters into different configurations. This brings us to the First Contentious Moment; writers and storytellers. Anyone can be a writer but few have what it takes to be a story teller.

Five Minute Argument Break…

You clicked on it, didn’t you? I know, it’s an awful joke but it keeps me amused.

Author’s Self-Promotion Moment.

So, of course the author is going to mention his own work here. Why not? This is my Blog, thank you very much! In this case, I am using it as an illustration so please forgive my cupidity.

To those who have read either the current draft or the prequel: Collected Preludes one thing may well stand out. Not just the odd British spelling and strange sense of humour. What might draw the most inquisitive of minds is this; the subversion of assumptions, the twisting of expectations and the fact that the mountains of source material are questioned at each and every point.
All the stories are true, or at least that used to be. One popular genre these days involves the Bible of Christianity, just like The Chronicles of Enoch does.

This, in its way is a subversive genre started by that rather popular series of novels which started everyone wondering about what that ancient Italian Polymath was really up to with his religious paintings.

A whole sub-genre has since emerged, feeding on the doubts and controversy Mr. Brown stirred up. The good ones among therm ask the most important of questions; how did it truly begin and how did it change so drastically?

What would happen if we could prove that the carpenter from Nazareth actually meant something quite different to what was later attributed to him?

The Dramatic License

Oh, it looks like mine expired. That could be embarrassing (also I am not that young, please don’t tell)!

I have mentioned this before because, you might be surprised to learn, it is very important .

Dramatic license; not the terrible mockup I created for a few seconds of amusement but the less physical kind.
Storytellers predate writers because, should we believe the archeologists, speech predated writing. Before people discovered that making symbols mean words was the latest thing (all the other up-and-coming civlisations are doing it!) there was only one place to store all the important stuff and make sure it did not vanish forever.

The Oral Tradition.

Travelling storytellers would move from placed to place and, often for a space by the fire, free food and alcohol, would entertain their hosts with stirring tales about the exploits of some heroic figure or other.

Perhaps they would include religious or moral instruction into the mixture. They would leave but the story would remain behind, now resident in the heads of those who had just heard it.

The Travelling Story Now

Seeing as the storyteller earned their living from the quality of the stories they told, it was not unknown for a good one to…well…add bits to the original they had heard previously. Some local flavour, a bit of cultural relevence, seemingly casual observations made on their way into the village/homestead/farm/tavern as well as their own opinions and biases.

When they left and a copy of the story remained with the latest recipients thereof, the story may well not be the same as the last version told. In fact, the same story could be getting told, in a variety of slightly different incarnations, in a number of different places at the same time.

One day, newcomers would come the village or, gathered around and, lacking decent television and WiFi, the villagers would retell the story. Perhaps they would go to a local gathering and tell it there.

Storytellers being as they are, the urge to stamp their own individuality onto the tale was rarely easy to resist. Lessons and themes important to their culture and society would find their way in.

Names might well change in the process, locations, even the ending. The more the story travelled, from mouth to mouth, ear to ear, the more it changed, the harder it became to recognise the original from the new and shiny version. It is possible that facts were exchanged for the kind of drama which promised food, wine and a warm bed for the night.
Maybe the overwhelming need to ensure that an important lesson was learned or vital information passed on was factored in.

That favourite childhood game of “Ethinic Stereotype Whispers” is suddenly quite a significant learning experience. Gilgamesh became Noah and the list goes on and on.

History is as stable and as reliable as the human beings who study and repeat it.

The Point is Reached

It is easy to conform to a popular genre.

Anyone can, with effort and focus, produce a half-decent tale of what people on certain platforms like to read but will your story, neck-deep in the morass, ever be more than one of hundreds?

The point of this article was to illustrate how seemingly mundane and everyday events may well become something quite different.

A young boy on the way to market sell his family’s only cow returns with a handful of beans and concocts a fantastical lie.

Two children bearing bread through the dark forest get lost for days and agree on a spine-chilling tale to explain their absence and, to their thinking, avoid a good thrashing.

The human race prefers the gentle lie to the hard truth. That is, as writers, our job; to bear them along the path of a fantastical tale towards the final truth, the point.

Along the way, we entertain them, we show they joy, dispair, shock and perhaps horror.

We teach them without their even being aware of it and then, when they arrive at the final page and – in a mixture, we hope, of pleasure and sadness – read the final words they mutter

“Now it makes sense! Now I understand!”

And they smile as they stare off into the space you took them to.
They have accepted the truth without even realising it!

History #Villain #ChroniclesofEnoch #Discovery #PassionForTheArt #AlanJFisher #Religion #Creative #Philosophy #thoughts #Dramatic #ArtoftheStoryteller #Storytelling #WritingTips #WritingTropes #WritingMentor #Writinghelper #WritingCoach #BookWritingPixies #NewWriters #assumptions

Lilith – The Birth of the Goddess

In the beginning there was The Creator and the Creator was the Word and the Word was….what?
Later on, man and woman were made…then something went from, they scrubbed that line out and started again, this time making woman out of a piece of man for reasons known only to them but we can guess, we think…
Into the pristine Garden, LIlith stepped, her feet wanting to dance from the sheer joy of it even then, she felt the power of Life filling her and was sure nothing could steal this happiness from her.
As is so often the case, Lilith was wrong.
Adam seemed like a nice enough lad, incredibly attractive, even compared to the angels who were beautiful beyond words, but there was something a little…off…that she couldn’t put her finger on.
Nobody needed to explain the whole procreation thing when night fell, that is what he and she were for after all, to fill this garden with more of their kind and give The Creator joy at the same time. He had given her a part of His ability to Create and she both treasured and was terrified by the gravity of such a gift.
So, as the moment came and Lilith surrendered to her natural passions, he stopped her, at completely the wrong moment too.
“I have been speaking to Gabriel,” he said, apropos of nothing. “Who told me of The Creator’s thoughts on our relationship.”
Lilith was puzzled. The Creator would greet them daily, share a few words with them here and there, remind them not to eat the peaches from that big tree over there, and so forth. Some of the angels liked to chat but they were very busy with the the rest of Creation these days. Why would The Creator show an interest now?
“What did he say?” she managed, burying her frustration with an effort.
“Well – ” Adam began, quite nervous and with the words that followed came an event which, according to many, changed the flow of human history.
Later, as she sat in her new cave, watching the dance of shadows on the rough walls from the fire she’d eventually figured out to make. She was dirty, she was tired, she was hungry, and she was….she was…she did not know what she was….
Angry? Well yes, obviously…the sheer cheek of those people!
Upset? Who wouldn’t be? Was it that little snake between his legs that made him think he was better?
Betrayed? Well obviously also, The Creator had given a long speech about her ability to create new Life as He can and how proud He was to gift this unto her. It had included a lot of thees, thous, heretofores, and the sort of Language he used when he was happy.
This feeling though…it was all of those and thing yet it was….something more and, somehow….something less. She felt both empty and full at the same time as if there were a summer storm raging within her. She did not like it, she decided, and it was their fault.
What was this thing which stirred and disturbed Lilith so? It was simple actually and, it would appear, also complicated. it would be many years before Lilith herself understood it completely.
Adam had demanded – demanded, look you! – that she, Lilith, be submissive to his will in their lovemaking, that she lie beneath him and be receptive only to his wishes. It did not stop there, though. It would apear that this new attitude she was expected to adopt was to be a more permanent thing. The Creator had spoken, as it were.
It would appear that Adam was not only somewhat insecure, he was also a sneaky little rat (he’d seemed to like those scurttling little creatures when he was naming them last week)! He had, she was certain, gone whining to either The Creator directly, to His stooge Gabriel, or both.
Probably didn’t like the whole “…thus doest thou create Life as so do I making thou equal almost to your Creator…” speech.
The Creator hadn’t told him anything like that, she mused, checking the rat roasting on a skewer in the fire with an impish grin. Somehow she felt better though, once again, all these feelings were new to her. She would learn though and then, when she had learned, they would all learn too.
The Realm of Lilith
After Lilith’s rather dramatic exit from the Garden, various attempts were made to negociate a peace. It took a while for the angels to find her to begin with because she had sought refuge in what can only be called one of the ‘left over bits’ from Creation itself.
You see, as Lilith was fast learning, the Void that was mentioned in any good account of The Creation was not simply an empty nothingness; it was an empty – ah – everythingness…it had the potential to be anything at all while, at the same time, being absolutely nothing. It was unadulterated potential.
It was also alive.
Or, at least, it appeared to be, for Lilith had followed a shadowy figure to this place. It was gone now and she had seen no sign of it since but something told her that it wasn’t too far away. That was curious, she thought, learning that she was capable of all kinds of things no-one had thought to tell her about.
She had already began to shape this place to her desires. Where there was once empty greyness, there was now a a waterfall feeding an azure pool surrounded by rocks and flowers where she liked to bathe. She also enjoyed watching the bees and humming birds feed from those flowers. All those things now existed her because she had asked them to but they continued to exist with no further action from her required. The first time she’d fallen asleep in her new bed, she’d been worried that everything would have gone the moment she entered the darkness of sleep.
But, as she anxiously edged her way out of the cave that morning, the bees and birds continued their raucous dance, the flowers bloomed as if trying to impress her, and the water plished prettily on the slick rocks.
Also there was an angel there, sat playing with the butterflies and hummingbirds. He seemed very much absorbed in the activity and to also be enjoying it.
“So delicate yet so vital,” he said as if continuing a conversation that had began without her. “and so beautiful also though they ap[pear completely unaware of it themselves.”
Raphael’s voice was like one lost in a dream but he always sounded like that. His eyes always had that faraway look to them, his lips always curled in a smile. He was, it appeared, eternally content. “Hello Lilith,” he said, as if noticing her for the first time. “Such a lovely place you have made. Devilishly difficult to find though.”
“Hello Raph,” Lilith approached him warily, though it was so very hard to be in any way anxious around the archangel. “That was pretty much the point, you probably realise.”
“Oh, yes I do, I do,” he smiled and drew his hand through the water. “But I was sent. They thought that I’d be the best one to speak to you. Gabriel irritates you, Michael angers you and my brother Raguel is as inflexible as…well…” He trailed off and dabbled his hands in the water. Raphael was impossibly honest too.
Lilith could not help but smile as she tired to unravel his thought processes. “Not that I mind seeing you, Raph, you always know how to bring joy to a place,” She began. “But I am not going to go back to the Garden. Not unless they have changed their minds…”
“Oh, Lilith…” there was something in his tone that made her heart jump in a way she had never felt happen before. “You don’t know? I had thought you’d be pleased…”
“Know what?” she said simply, feeling the dread building up behind her eyes and her heart making a concerted effort to go swimming in the pool by itself. No, no…surely not that…
Raphael was talking but she barely heard the words….The Creator made another…the thundering of her heart sounded like the ocean during a hurricane in her ears, he vision greying as cold sweat speckled her hands, her feet her throat…Adam called her Eve…her stomach went into freefall, a weight, vast and yet insubstancial filled her head and then careened downward taking her stomach with it…The Creator took one of Adam’s ribs in the night and shaped her from it….heart beating so fast she was sure it would explode out of her chest and ruin the angel’s pure white robe, the tips of her fingers tingled, her toes too, as all other senstation faded and…
“Oh good, good…” Raphael’s voice seemed to come from far away, over the swooshing of Lilith’s heart and pounding of her head. “I have never seen you do that before. I had thought you’d died or something terrible.” He sounded both concerned and fascinated.
Raphael was knelt beside her, propping up her head as he gave her cool water to drink. Lilith gratefully took long and energising swallows but either did not or could not open her eyes. She felt something new building, something that made the weakness that had caused her to fall earlier fade away. It was red, it was vital, it filled her veins fire and took away that cold and empty feeling in the pit of her stomach that caused her to donate her lunch of rat to the fishes in the pool.
It felt…well, it felt good, it felt strong…it felt like hers…
Lilith opened her eyes and met the violet orbs of the angel cooly.
“Get out.”
She watched his face change. He went from concern, to mild panic, to incomprehension, and finally to acceptance. He went up several rungs in her estimate and he simply nodded and rose, leaving without a backward glance.
The Dark Creation
There is much rumour spoken about Lilith over the eons; a lot of of it wildly inaccurate, and most of it simple slander.
They said she, in her rage, grew lustful and lay with the Fallen to birth monsters with which she filled her realm. They are half right; the demons, Lilith’s children, are real. They are right that Asmodeus was a regular visitor to her realm that none could enter without her permission. They are terribly wrong about Asmodeus in so many ways because he made sure it was so. His lustful and dissolute nature, for one, is complete fiction. Asmodeus gains more pleasure from a well-made plan and complex scheme than he does from a woman. He deems himself above such pursuits and will defend Lilith’s ‘honour’ against anyone who makes such accusations.
“I never touched her and she never asked either.” he smiled as he said it. “Funny how they try and reduce her to a rutting animal, getting her revenge on her back isn’t it? Tells you a lot more about them than it does about her.”
The more observant among you would realise that, for Lilith to create her bathing pool with its waterfall, its rocks, fishes, flowers, and birds, she had simply to think of it and want it to exist. After Raphael left her realm and she closed the door to the curious, her thoughts and desires became darker in nature and so too did what they brought forth from the raw potential of the remnant Void.
After a few centuries it changed from nobody being able to enter her realm without to her permission to nobody wanting to even if they were invited. If torured rage, hatred, and a confused welter of emotions still alien to the bearer were to be given form, imagine what wonders they could create.
In Lilith’s realm, you don’t have to imagine, they will immediately see you and hunt you down. They won’t kill you when they catch you though, oh no, they wouldn’t want to spoil the fun but ending your suffering too quickly. They want to savour it, drink it, refine it into the purest of music.
That Lucifer sent those responsible for the Nazis so-called “Final Solution” there for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the place. The worst nightmare of Hironymous Bosch is a day in the park compared to what waits where Lilith squats in judgement
The Impossible Choice
So, what was it that started it all, that caused Lilith’s rage and caused her refuse to return? Was it the submission that did it or was it that she was put in a position, forced to make a choice that was not a choice?
I want to ask you to consider this; It follows more or less what Raphael explained to Lilith one day; much later on. He was the only angel she really trusted, she even allowed babies wearing his symbol to be safe from her ‘children’ at night.
“Lilith.” Rafael had said, the permanent smile never far from his face. At least it was genuine in his case. “I know how you feel but it this really worth it? The bitterness and anger?”
“It’s mine.” She answered sharply. “He and all of you didn’t want me to have mine own but to be possessed and submissive. I don’t want to do that.”
Rafael’s face became serious for a moment and he visibly sighed. “You fail to see the complexity.”
She gifted him with one of her famous ‘looks’ which were said to make anything male feel about three years old. Rafael actually blushed and, though he was not obviously male, looked like a scolded child.
“I’m serious Lilith.”
“As am I. Nor am I stupid, Raph.” She favoured him with another look and then smiled reassuringly. “Explain it to me then.” She touched his arm gently.
“You have some idea of the power of woman I imagine.” He smiled.
“We can make life,” She said uncertainly. “Just like He does.”
“Exactly like He does but slower.” Rafael confirmed with a wry grin. “But that is not it. Not completely anyway.”
“I am confused.” She would rarely admit such weakness to anyone. This angel was a friend, if she could claim to have such a thing. She considered him such a good friend that she allowed any babe bearing his sigil to be safe from her children.
“You see what one of your looks does to Man do you not?” He gave her a frown in reply. 
She admitted that she did. She could calm the even a savage beast such as Abaddon with a smile or look. Only Lucifer seemed to be immune, and him of course but he was less obviously male than even the angels were.
“Woman has what Man most desires. Man is built to want that, to procreate and to dominate it is in his – what did Father call it? – DNA, the code which makes him, well, him. That role of the protector and aggressor against threat. Woman is to nurture, Man is to defend and attack if needed. Father saw this sharing of roles and natures to be wise make Man and Woman partners; He had a word or two with Adam.” He blushed again and appeared to looking for an exit. “Man does these things and thinks that he is in charge…listen I’m not supposed to be telling you this, you were supposed to work it out for yourself…”
“Tell me what?” She purred and Rafael blushed.
“That!” He gestured sharply toward her with a hand. “With your female ways and wiles you can make Man your absolute slave and he will love you for it! He will do anything for that which you have. That which he so deeply wants. All you have to do is let him think he is in charge.”
“But I am instead?” She put her chin in her hand and her eyes went distant.
“Exactly.” He blushed to his ears and looked at the ground. “I tried to tell you before but then they got kicked out of the Garden. Azraphael is guarding the gates with that big flaming sword of his now so they’re not getting back in; they wandered off East somewhere I think.” His voice trailed off and he looked her in the eyes.
“You’re stubborn, Lilith.” he muttered. “If you had only listened to me before…”
“I have to be! I…”
It hit her then, she had been a fool and allowed her pride to take over instead of using her great intelligence to work out what Rafael had just told her. How different could things have been had she realised this and used the knowledge as the angel had suggested? She wanted to cry suddenly but would do no such thing in front of something that at least looked like a man. As the pain gripped her chest and her heart skipped, the rage which had kept her going all these eons came to her rescue as it always did…
Now, that seems like a simple choice for her, doesn’t it? To Raphael’s mind it is, even for such an honest being as he, it has logical sense to it and, of course, it does. If one were to think about it like an angel, it makes perfect sense and to do otherwise would be foolish.
The angels who have never set foot on the Earth though, forget one important factor; however; how that feels.
You see, for angels, feelings and emotions are not the same as they are for humans. They are spiritual entities rather than biological ones and feelings come with the meat, as it were. A supposedly simply, yes/no decision to a cold and logical being like an angel is not so simple for us. Lilith pretending to be what she is not in order to have what she wants is against everything that makes Lilith, as it were, Lilith.
In order to give The Creator what He claimed to want and, ultimately, gain what she herself wants, Lilith would have to surrender everything that matter to her, her very self. She would be compromising daily and be given none in return. Adam would get what he wants and, probably, be incredibly smug about it, who knows what else he would ask The Creator for?
In many ways; this choice of Lilith’s is an allegory for abusive relationships everywhere…surrender your happiness and vitality for the other person and gain little to nothing in return except some vague satisfaction.
It’s no wonder she became a bitter and self-consumed creature of rage is it?
Lilith is an allegory for a great many things and possibly the most complex character in The Chronicles. Her influences and signs of her are everywhere, rumours and stories about her also.
The stories we read about her were intriguing but, as with the rest of them, missing some important elements we felt. Most curious of all we found that, in stories which clearly expressed something approaching admiration for what many may call feminist elements to her character, there were still elements of stereotypes; she was a witchy, bitter, twisted, and lustful creature that copulated with anyone she could find in order to have her revenge. We felt that this conforms too much to what we consider female stereotype.
She had to be more than a monsterous queen breeder in order to be the truly glorious character and person that she is; to be the goddess, the true Queen of Heaven.
She also represents the true choice of many women (and men); when they suffer many forms of abuse and use in life, are taken for granted and cheated upon, there is a choice, whether conscious or not; you become bitter and vengeful or you decide it is not and never was your fault and, instead to soar.
Lilith was never out for simple revenge. She was not the mere woman spurned and replaced looking to get back at the ‘other woman’ or Eve. She was not simply taking revenge on their descendants because she felt cheated of motherhood. No, she had genuine concerns.
You see, to her, Eve represented everything she feared that she would herself have become had she stayed; meek, submissive, constantly compromising and compromised, a slave. A mother for children, a preparer of food and cleaner of home. Not a person in herself, not an individual at all but a weak and emptied shell.
Lilith was certain that she could, over time at least (and she appeared to be immortal), make women as strong as she felt they should be; through travails that would make them or break them, she would forge the weakness inherited from their ‘rib-creature’ of a mother into something worthy of the name woman.
That is why her meeting Lorasta is so significant. Lorasta, the abused, badly used, the confused and lost woman who is conflicted in herself is exactly the student Lilith needs. Lorasta reminds Lilith so much of herself; she is angry, in conflict with herself and everyone around her, she retreated away from everyone and into herself yet she retains a strength that even Asmodeus has admired, a determination not to be just what she was born as but to forge her own future any way she can. Lilith admires and is overjoyed to see that because, to her, that is what woman should be.
We are seriously looking forward to where The Chronicles take Lilith and Lorasta and how people feel about these characters. We dearly hope that we have done her justice and, through her, those to whom this may matter most.
We hope that strong women can be as proud of her as she is of them.
Note: for those who have been asking; Lilith holds in her hands; a lamp shaped like the Moon, a golden knife, a blood chalice with an anhk as ornamentation,a golden apple marked ‘to the fairest’, and a dove. I could explain the symbolism to you but I think it would be more fun if you figured it out for yourself…

“Oh, What the Hell…” a short story

Oh What the Hell!’ A Short Story

Alan J. Fisher

The man sat down at his desk, fiddling with his grey leather notebook. He was square-jawed, with blue eyes and neatly cropped black hair. He was also very worried. He looked at his notes again, stared off into the middle distance as he tried to organise something in his mind, then back at his notes again. Something was not right.

Detective Max Bullion (he’d always had wondered about that name) had been on this case for years, or at least it felt that way. He was a loner and would barely even share what he’d watched on TV last night with his colleagues, let alone the details of this case but there was something going on that even his razor-sharp investigative mind – honed further by years and years of street experience – could not wrap itself around. He shook his head and rubbed the three days of growth on his large chin, his metaphors were getting clumsy these days too. 

The Pointless Killer, the press were calling him; he had twenty notches on his murderer’s belt so far and was sure to add more if Bullion didn’t find a way to stop him and stop him soon. It was strange though, as soon as somebody around town became in any way pointless, a little boring or humdrum in even the remotest of fashions Boom! Up the killer would pop and take out said individual in what was often a rather dramatic and excessively violent manner. Last guy had made sense at least, thought Bullion, studying his brown notebook.

Wait! I could have sworn it was grey only five minutes ago…am I going crazy? Maybe he needed a brea- he stopped himself right before he uttered that evil word which meant the opposite of fix. He needed another opinion, not a euphemism for a state of disrepair.

Oxblood leather notebook in his hand, he straightened his green tie and strode down the box-filled corridor to where he’d find the bearer of said opinion. Special Agent Mulally.

Mulally was a pale, red-haired Irishman who looked nervous all of the time. He was seconded to the SCD (Serial Crimes Division), which Bullion headed, from the FBI and seemed like the feebies were in no hurry to get him back; he’d been here for something close to ten years, always down here in Records. Mulally seemed to live in these boxes of files and photographs, or at least he was incredibly familiar with them. Bullion could casually mention a case or individual and Mulally would fall into a moment or two of deep thought. After this moment or few, he would immediately exclaim something highly pretentious and disappear into the deepest depths of his box jungle, be heard cursing and fighting paper for a few moments, only to emerge with the key piece of evidence held triumphantly in his hands. 

Mulally looked harassed and hangdog as usual as he remained oblivious to Bullion’s ten-minute knock fest and had to be yelled at from three feet away as usual. Bullion wondered whether the man even slept.  He reminded Bullion of that lethargic bloodhound from the cartoon, his curious patch of auburn hair was even more dishevelled today than usual and his small glasses perched too far forward of his thin nose.

“Oh! Detective Bullion!” Mulally’s every statement sounded like an exclamation of surprise. “I’m sorry I have been so busy! Busy, busy, busy!”

Bullion rolled his eyes and took a calming breath. “I need your genius Mulally, this Pointless Killer case…”

“Oh? The rapist you mean?” He bustled around with a mess of papers. “Number twenty-one? The one who got hung up by what normally hangs down?”

“Yes him. Got what he deserved that one!” Bullion sighed, eyeballing the hyperactive man. Just watching Mulally made one feel exhausted. “I’m trying to find a pattern and I just….I just…damnit all Mulally…I can’t find a damn pattern!”

“Yes! Yes, yes! Pattern! Pattern!” Mulally effused. “Pattern? There isn’t one! I know! That’s why we called him The Pointless Killer! Who came up with that anyway?”

Bullion shrugged and consulted his sage green notebook for a moment, feeling a strange sensation of discontinuity. I am going nuts! Next thing, I’ll be thinking this lovely blue tie of mine was green earlier on or something! He came up with nothing. Just an entry for Killer, Pointless but no explanation as to why he’d called them that. There was a big list of the deaths, the circumstances thereof and his observations but nothing more.  

“Some of the deaths just seen so….so” He made a searching gesture with his hands. “Pointless! I mean, it’s like he wants us to notice some of them! Like he does it for drama or something!”

“Yes! Yes! Drama!” Mulally was making Bullion want to have a drink, although the hard-boiled detective had been on the wagon for close to ten years now. “What do you need?”

“Some of your magic, something which will give us an idea of what’s going on here.” Bullion muttered. “In the worst of chaos there is always a pattern, it’s just knowing how to find it!”

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Give me five minutes, Detective!” Mulally turned in mid-panicky retreat. “There’s bound to be something in here somewhere!”

Bullion smiled and sat down to review his notes. Of course there would be, there always was.

Bullion woke later that night in a cold sweat, shivers coursing down his spine and his heart pounding like the drum of a speed addict. His dream had been weird and that was being generous. He’d seen himself in a dark room, following The Pointless Killer’s trail to an old abandoned warehouse on the East side by the docks (why did they always hide out in places like that?), he had his gun in his hand and had been following a strange light and sound. He had been sure he’d heard voices, men’s voices, talking about him…about how they’d kill him…that he was becoming difficult and annoying. 

That readers were considering him too much of a stereotype and that maybe it was time to finish the series off on a high note before fans lost interest. Maybe rework him out as someone new in a different series? What did they mean by readers? Talking about books and series…he checked his bedside table in the half light of the passing elevated trains which thundered by, making his rickety apartment tremble and shake. No drink or bottle there. He never did drugs, unless one counted the odd cigar. He’d never had a dream like that one before either and it made him feel curiously frightened and uncomfortable. He was a practical man and had no time for strange superstitions like dreams having meaning or being visions from some other realm! 

Dreams are just dreams! The brain doing a re-file during the night! He had to admit that this night-time fact fixing had helped him solve some of his toughest cases but that was just his brain doing its thing undisturbed while his body was resting, nothing magical. This was nothing like that…He mused, looking for the cigar he knew he didn’t have, the stores wouldn’t be opening for another three hours or so. Odd! That half bottle of whiskey definitely wasn’t there earlier….

Bullion sat at his desk reviewing the files that Mulally had magically produced from his kingdom of boxes towards the end of the day yesterday. Things had started to get weird since last night. He started doing strange things and thinking odd thoughts. At times he was sure he’d had a drink of something but could remember neither buying nor taking a slug of any form of alcohol…

Ten years ago he’d been a drinker, he’d done all the usual stuff; woke up in the gutter or inside one of his own jailhouse’s cells, had blackouts, did things he should have been ashamed of at the time and was now. It had almost gotten him killed when he’d had to pursue a murderer while still half cut and bent his Bentley around a big lamp-post one night. 

He’d had a talk with the doctor who’d saved his life and decided that the old and bespectacled man had a point; it was the drink or him. So he’d joined the AA, took his Twelve Steps and hopped onto the wagon. He’d been there ever since. He would be lying if he said there hadn’t been times he’d sat too close to the edge of that wagon and almost fell off but he never dismounted. His iron determination to stay alive and be a good father to his daughter – she was fifteen now and a handful, her mother still refused to speak to him – by sticking around a lot longer than he would have. He would always be an alcoholic but he’d never take even a sip of liquor again! So why these odd thoughts? It’s like something was trying to take him backwards and back to the Bullion he used to be, not this safer and steadier older man he’d become. He liked being steadier and safer, maybe not older so much but nothing to be done about that!

Mulally had actually ventured out of his cave and was stood nervously beside Bullion’s desk. His eyes were twitching and jerking around like he was watching every shadow, afraid something would jump out and bite him. He was sweating and rubbing his arms and chest impulsively, looking to all intents and purposes like a junkie in need of his fix. Right down to his patch of hair being darkly plastered to his funny little head. He fiddled with his glasses and folded himself into the chair Bullion offered to him. 

“Try not to die in front of me and make me investigate a murder without your skills will you?” Bullion joked.

Mulally reacted as if the Detective had pulled his S&W special out and stuck it into his mouth. He actually yelped and retreated down into the chair as if he were trying to imitate a startled turtle. “I had a dream last night!” He almost whispered.

“We all dream Mulally.” Bullion smiled in what he thought was a reassuring manner, he always felt he lacked what people called empathy these days, couldn’t really adapt to the feelings of others or recognise them. “Part of our human condition, isn’t it? I dreamed last night too.”

“That…that…that…t-t-that p-p-people were talking about killing you?”

Bullion’s hand stopped half way to conveying his much chipped coffee mug to his mouth so quickly that he slopped some of the foul brew onto his pants with a curse. At least it had been cold. 

“What did you say?” His voice was quiet, almost as if the words were afraid to come out.

“I…I…I w-w-was in my…you know the place I work in?” He stammered out his story. “Late at night? I was alone but th-th-that’s nothing u-u-unusual!” 

He accepted a tepid cup of coffee from Bullion’s desk-side brewer with thanks and took a shaky sip or two to calm himself before resuming. “I heard voices Mack, voices back where I always find the files you need, what I call my magic area. They were talking about me.” He took a few more delicate sips of coffee, grimacing at the bitterness but glad of the distraction. 

“Saying I was getting too predictable. That it’s always the same; you get a case, you can’t solve it, you run around roughing people up until you get annoyed and think about drinking again – one of them muttering something like ‘He was much more interesting when he drank’ or something then, by the way – then you come to me and then, after a suitable period for you to check through your notebook and link some facts you’d missed together, I emerge triumphantly with the very thing you need! No-one knows how I find it, how it got there or when the FBI is going to take me back to Quantico. Getting much too predictable, they said, needs to change or finish it off, end the series and kill him in an exciting way! Last case kills them both but they take their biggest case to hell with them!”

Bullion’s mouth could not have been open wider if he had been a snake and not a man. He was sure that if he looked down, he’d see his finely chiselled chin on the floor. He just stared right at and through Mulally. His expression shifted and flickered like one of those old slide projectors he used to employ when victoriously presenting his evidence to the Chief, who’d doubted him all along right up until Bullion had his man and proved it all to his boss as modestly as he could manage, which was none at all. Smug is not modest but he’d never truly cared. 

Amazement, eyes wide and mouth wide. Shock, mouth and eyes wider. Fear, eyes narrowed and mouth tight, lips a bloodless white. Suspicion, fairly similar to the former but eyes moving around, side to side. What-the-hell, eyebrows raised then relaxed, mouth and face bland. The whole shebang in rapid strobe-lit montage.

“Well doesn’t that just pluck the chicken and boil it!” He exclaimed what had become one of his signature phrases around the Department. He looked Mulally in the eye for a full minute before speaking. “Feel up to venturing outside? The sun’s up and I’m worried about you  exploding into flame or something.”

Mulally said nothing but made his haha very funny face and nodded.

Braggadocios Ice-cream Parlour was a blast from the past. It has been discussed, by some of Don Braggadocio’s younger nephews, that changing the name to Gelateria would bring things nicely up to date but the old man would hear none of that. People came here for ice-cream and milkshakes and that’s what they’d get, none of that fancy-schmantzy hippy rubbish! 

Old man Braggadocio was sat where he always sat, same avuncular smile on his wrinkled face around his moustache. He welcomed Bullion and Mulally in and took their order for milkshakes, scribbling Mulally’s Super-Schlooper-Sundae onto his pad with one of his understated eyebrow raises. He repeated their order back to them; despite having been in America for close to four decades, his accent appeared to get thicker with each passing year. 

Odd that, thought Bullion to himself. I’m observing a lot more than I used to, being critical almost….

His blue imitation leather notebook was on the red, chipped formica of his favourite booth together with the heavy envelope Mulally had brought along. They waited silently until the pretty young waitress, one of Braggadocio’s nieces Bullion believed, had finished setting down their milkshakes, Mulally’s sundae and wishing them a much more pleasant day than they were sure they were going to have.

“What we talk about now is going to go no further than the two of us, Mulally, are we clear?”

Mulally, his mouth full of ice-cream simply nodded.

“So, let me get this clear, you had exactly the same dream like I did. You dreamed about some people discussing killing you off and our cases being just way too predictable.” He consulted his notes, tapping them with his much-chewed pen. “And I quote ‘Bullion the drunk was much more entertaining and popular’, among other things?”

“Yes!” Said Mulally, pink milk-shake moustache in clear evidence.

Bullion made gesture, circling his mouth with a finger. Mulally nodded and removed his moustache with a napkin. “Same dream I had, without the poor reviews on my personality changes.” He added simply, taking a large suck on his straw, savouring the vanilla sweetness of his milkshake. “Same dream, same night, same content. Odd.”

Mulally nodded and spent a moment demolishing his sundae. Bullion left him to it, knowing his old friend was thinking. Watching Mulally eat was always a surprising thing, the thin man could eat in a way which any fat man would be proud of. Bullion had no idea where all that food went! After a long period of deep and commited scarfing, Mulally put his spoon down and reached for the envelope, opening it with the flat end of the spoon. 

“I know you don’t believe in coincidence, Mack” He said through chilled lips. “But I managed to find a big one.” He produced a battered paperback and showed Bullion the cover. Mack Gold, Detective. It said. The Case of the Wandering Cat-Stealer. Underneath there was a name he did not recognise emblazoned on a dramatic scene of feline theft.  “So you’re a crime-solver who likes cheap crime novels.” Bullion smiled. “Possibly shameful but not earth-shattering. How is this relevant –“

“I marked you some of the pages you should read, Mack.” Mulally had never cut him off before, Bullion blinked in surprise. “Never wondered why I started calling you Mack and not Max?”

“Always thought it was a speech impediment or something.”

“Please,” Mulally stirred his remaining ice-cream soup with the spoon and considered eating it. He never did but always considered it “Read the pages I marked.” He ordered coffees for them as Bullion raised his eyebrow and opened the battered little book.

The coffees arrived and were consumed with Bullion barely noticing. Mulally ordered another round and these went the same way as the first. Still he did not lift his head from the pages. Four hours later, coffee stone cold and the sun having long dipped below the horizon, he looked up and took a mouthful of stale coffee.  “Well that’s just shit in the cookie jar….” Was all he could say.

It was late now and the Department was quiet and almost empty. Everyone knew they worked there so none barred their entry. Bullion checked his watch but realised he wasn’t wearing one. The two retired to Mulally’s cave where the file hoarder had hidden a very special bottle he’d been saving; an original and unopened Rogerbucks cinnamon and apple coffee syrup! Oh! We really are rolling out the barrel tonight! Mulally was on the wagon too some pleasures had to be substituted.

Rogerbucks was the best there was for them now. 

“Tell me you have some of their triple roasted Hawava Bean roast in here too…”

“Whole beans,” He tossed the bag onto the littered desk. “And burr grinder right here,” He indicated the compact little electrical device. “Best drip filter maker on the market right under the desk.”

“Why did I never find out all of this about you before Mulally?” Bullion shook his head. “Jeez I don’t even know your first name!”

“Patrick,” Mulally said, emptying beans into the grinder and plugging it in. He adjusted the dial to correct coarseness and switched it on, so Bullion’s reply was lost to us all. 

Of course it had to be Patrick!  He mused as Mulally busied himself with water, filter and emptying the ground beans inside. Within moments, the bewitching scent which only fresh coffee can create replaced the old-paper musty smells of the place. Bullion almost forgot what they had learned that afternoon. Patient as he had always been he waited for the coffee to brew. 

Give Mulally his moment; it was probably going to be close to their last anyway. He let Patrick (how strange to even think of him by his first name) add syrup to the coffee with great ceremony and then, after quite the affected pause produce a device. “Le Pièce de resistance!” He announced in the tone of voice Bullion would have expected someone to use when presenting Excalibur. Not in French though, he was sure that hadn’t been invented back then. He held up a small box with a rod attached, it looked like an egg whisker but he knew it was not. “To puccino the cap!” He offered the device to Bulllion who thought,what the hell, and frothed his coffee up like a pro. As weird as this all was, nothing could top the reason they were still here.

“So tell me again.” Bullion said with a rather decent cappuccino moustache gracing his top lip. “What the hell all of this means.” He took another sip. “This is incredible by the way; I have to say you surprise me.”

Mulally took the compliment with a modest smile and took a few sips himself. “I have some amaretto biscuits in here somewhere you know.”

“I wouldn’t say no, buddy.”

As Bullion munched on his almond cookie and slurping his sweet coffee, Mulally explained.

“You remember that movie from years ago? Had that rather unexpressive actor fellow in it. Wore a lot of black, sunglasses and did all kinds of mind-bending kung-fu stuff?” Bullion had never noticed that Mulally was actually Irish and spoke with the accent, not some fake 6th generation pretend Irish guy who sounded like everyone else. 

“Are you trying to tell me we’re living inside a computer game or something equally odd?”

“Don’t you find how out of character we’ve both gotten over the course of the afternoon a little bit odd?” This interrupting Mulally was certainly different . “That book I gave you at least slightly in-bloody-sane?”

“Out of character?” Bullion sipped more coffee.

“Here you are acting like you’re relaxed and off duty for – what? – the first time in your life right? Usually it’s one case after another, one high tension chase, shootout, argument with the Chief, dark chats with me; problem solving, puzzle piecing, edge of the seat, non-stop unlikely buddy action, right? I’m surprised they never made a film. I want Ed Byrne to play me; he’s a craic and would do a perfect Paddy Mulally!” 

Bullion looked into his coffee cup and sniffed it. Apart from caffeine and an awful lot of sugar there was nothing harmful he was able to detect with his finely honed detective senses. “I think De Niro could pull off a great version of you, although he looks nothing like you.”

Bullion checked his coffee again, just to be sure and decided that if Mulally was the killer and had poisoned him after executing his highly elaborate fiction, he was dead already so he might as well enjoy it. 

“We’re relaxed and off duty because He’s asleep.”

Now Bullion was sure there was something illegal in these mugs and set his down deliberately. “Listen Pat, mind if I call you Pat? No? Good. Well; the book, I admit, is more than slightly strange, no idea how that could’ve been done. The fact we had the same dream.” He was counting off on his fingers. “That so many odd and frankly out of place things have been happening recently, things I cannot explain. That I have started to have some frightening thoughts. The fact that every case seems to follow the same formula, just like in the book…” He saw he was running out of fingers. “Shit, that’s too many fingers! Ok, just tell me.”

“He is the writer of this,” He flourished the novel he has shown Bullion earlier. “Except not this version of it. In a blazing stroke of hubris he created the alternate versions of his books inside of our universe, the one he created, as a nod to his own ego and to give the readers a chuckle.” He took a slug of coffee concoction and sucked his teeth; Bullion noticed the silly little glasses were gone. 

“See I was on the internet earlier and I looked up this here fella’s name. The webpage I found told me your man’s in a coma after a car accident. Or he was. He woke up this afternoon, to general celebration among his fans, of which there are still hundreds. Thing is, before he had his wee misfortune, he was talking about scratching his popular Mack Gold series because he was tired and his fans were dwindling. All this new crime fiction coming along was more interesting, modern and engaging. No-one wanted the episodic crap anymore. Then, after he wakes up following a three month kip and sees how popular all these team-based detective shows have become he hits on a masterstroke. Kill off me and thee and have this super-duper, glamorous and loveable investigative team of fellows get spring-boarded into the spotlight by investigating, connecting and solving our murders. At least characters in this thing,” He flicked the cover of Mack Gold. “Who, you will admit, bear a remarkable resemblance to our good selves right?”

“Right.” Was all Bullion could say. He was tired and had enjoyed this day of freedom like nothing he could remember ever enjoying before.  Not even that brief and ultimately disastrous marriage that’d led to his daughter , back when it was good, could compare. 

“See, your man’s been writing about the two of us for – what? – close to fifteen years now? Something like fifty books he’s written about us in this time. Got to know us pretty well and gave us plenty of space in his brain to live in. Bet he swears blind we write ourselves when he does interviews on the telly and everything. Because we do! We’ve been doing it while he took his long nap. At first we were following out our roles but limited by the fact that we’re us and, you know….it’s like complicated, how do you write yourself thinking you’re real. Which you are, pretty much but not in the way you thought you were.“ He popped an amaretto not his mouth and crunched it up, giving Bullion time to make sense of that last sentence. “Today, the oddness got so great that we both decided to just be the us we always thought we were.”

“So we’re in a book?”

“Whole series of them. Fifty ‘adventures’ I think, last count. I think we should get a TV program if this arse does kill us off.”

“We’re made up people in some nutcase’s head?”

“That sums it up yes. Just a very wealthy and successful nutcase whose talent is appreciated by so many.”

“Well bugger me…”

“No thank you, Mack, if it’s all the same to you.” Mulally winked. “Despite reams of unbelievably awful fan-fiction to that effect we never – ahem – did the deed and never shall for you, sir, are not my type, not even the right gender there fella.”

Bullion opened his mouth and closed it again. Too shell-shocked to even get angry. He just sighed and made himself another drink. Hardly the staple of the hard-boiled Detectives now was it? Tastes incredible though so screw those guys; when you ditch one obsession, you usually have to find another to replace and and he knew that there were worse things than coffee…De Niro? De Niro could do me justice alright…Need an actor of his presence and scope to take in all of my complexities….Wait, wait, WAIT! Was he accepting all of this…well what other explanation was there? “So what do we do?” His voice sounded like that of a lost child suddenly, powerfully afraid.

“What can we do? Enjoy this time and hope your man decides to keep us on, not murder us creatively.  Maybe pray for that TV series and film, or films. Maybe someone else will rent us space in their head and pick the series up or revamp it?” He shrugged sadly. “Not like we have anywhere to go is it?” He sipped his coffee. “I’m well enough stocked in this to keep us going for a while at least. I plan not to miss a single minute of this and waste not one on sleep, just in case. What do you say? Ya with me?”

Bullion considered this for a moment, finding no arguments against the Irishman’s reasoning. He sipped his coffee and munched his biscuits, enjoying the contentment. 

“So, we solved the Pointless Killer case after all!” He smiled and saluted with his mug, it had a cat wearing socks on it. 

“We did at that! Shame it’ll never make a book though, might be a bit high brow for his usual crowd of readers.”

“Wait!” He seized Mulally by the arm urgently. “Say that last part again.”

Mulally looked confused and a bit irritated at being man-handled in this way. “Might be a bit high brow for his usual crowd?”

“That’s It! That, my genius of a coffee-master of a friend is IT!”

“What is what?” Mulally blinked like a startled mole.  “Oh thanks for the coffee bit, I try, like but never get to share with anyone usually and –“

“We can, sort of do what your said writers claim their characters do with this guy right?”

“What write ourselves? But we have been –“

“Influence him! Have him promote us into one of these high-brow, high-tech special investigation teams everyone loves and all the hilarity that would create. Us old-fashioned, hard-boiled traditionalists mixing up with these fancy-schmantzy new-fangled folks!”

“Comedy gold…” Mulally breathed. “Well you are a clever fe-“

The well-timed clack of heavy mugs meeting in salute and  slopping some frothy coffee on floor conveniently kept his comment both family friendly and somewhat amusing.

“Let’s do it!” Bullion announced. “But how –“

“Let’s figure it out, eh, good old mate of mine!”

They sat up the rest of the night drinking sugar-laced coffee concoctions and munching down almonds and more sugar. They talked about old times, old cases and how they’d make a future happen, though neither of them had any idea where to start but oh what the hell what did they have to lose?

The Power of Voice

Once upon a time”…

“A long time ago, in a land far far away”…

“Are you sitting comfortably? The I’ll begin..”


That’s how they always began the favourite times of my childhood. Dark autumn or winter nights after school, I’d do my chores and my homework, turn on the gas heater and settle down in front of the TV for my favourite program of them all….Jackanory, the storytelling hour! I would sit rapt and it was there that my mother usually found me when she got home from work, in my little island of fantasy, enjoying and living every magical word…

I come from a culture where storytelling is considered a great skill, good storytellers are prized and will command an audience in the pub (more often than not). I always loved stories; reading them, telling them. I enjoyed, even as a child, lands of my own invention. I was, perhaps – by birth, genetics or upbringing, always destined to be a writer. A storyteller…

“You can learn, in books and that, how to follow The Right Way to do things. You can learn to write, you can learn how to use the language and The Rules. They can teach you grammar and how the important and rich fellas do everything. Storytelling though, they can never teach you that. You know that or you don’t. How to lead ’em along by the nose, listen to your every word; laugh, cry, rage…that’s born in that is. Writers can be made but storytellers are born…”

Ronnie Drew (1934-2008) – during a storytelling session of his in Cork, Ireland. Might be slightly paraphrased

Ronnie was one of the most interesting storytellers I knew and I only attended his sessions three times. He was old school but he could do all that he described. He was a drinker, a smoker and a swearer but he was beyond doubt a storyteller too. He is right, I believe, too, storytellers are not made. You can’t learn how to do it in a class, any more than you can train to become a good comedian. It’s in you. You can learn how to bring your inner storyteller out though!

I think that, if you enjoy writing, telling a story, waking a muse, you have a storyteller in there somewhere. Not until it is released, though, will you write as you were meant to write.

My journey is still one in process but, I am certain, this is rather normal. Even our idols, those writing giants of fame, fortune and BestSeller’s lists had to dig their storyteller out and give him or her a good talking to. Being a writer, I have just imagined that and, if you are reading this article for the right reasons, so have you. In fact, if you spend most of your day imagining darn right silly and pointless scenarios, chances are you either belong right here or in that place where everyone dresses in white and they give you those lovely fitted jackets.

Where do we start? We start with characters of course! We all have them, they are the ones which we created first, before we started to invent stories to place them in. They are like imaginary friends who hang around in our minds feebly trying to attact our attention. We gave them life, we gave them traits (perhaps those we lacked ourselves), we gave them an identity. We gave them a name and we probably gave them friends and enemies.

A Character is Born

In effect we started giving them opportunities for conversation. Now, conversation or dialogue is actually the hardest part of storytelling to do naturally and also the part which will turn a run-of-the-mill story into a great one. You can have the best techniques, the best style, the best grammar and use all the words you are supposed to, avoid all the ones you shouldn’t. You could have the most technically perfect piece of writing every conceived but nobody reads it. Why?

Because a flat piece of paper has more depth than your characters do. Your dialogue is about as engaging as those telmarketing calls you get after work while you’re trying to make dinner. Your characters all have the same voice. Chances are. I am not saying this is the case but there’s a good chance of it. We all do it and this is the hardest part of the storyteller’s art. Engagement.

How do you suck the reader in? How do you grab them by the throat and make them read your story? Putting a gun to their head doesn’t work – it’s very time consuming and one of them will call the police on you eventually. Begging doesn’t work either. Diva-like hissy fits? Nope. Emotional bribery of friends and family? Depends how good you are. None of that will get you the Holy Grail for a writer though; A Following. Once you have some fans, well…the world indeed is your overly-expensive marine mollusc of choice!

So how, O! Great and wise one, do we do that? You all cry in perfect unison? You tell me. I can teach you how I learned and improved, that’ll work for me but only you can take your journey. I can give you some pointers though.

It’s all about voice. Let me explain. Each character we invent and invest our time in has to have something which makes him, her or it unique and different from everyone else you add to your narratives. Chances are there will be more than one invention of yours in it. It would be rather boring if it was just one guy in a dark room wouldn’t it? He would start talking to birds or something…oh not, not that,  nevermore!

Imagine a typical social scene, probably a birthday or work function. There is probably noise, laughter and alcohol involved. People are likely enjoying themselves and may not be looking directly at everyone else. So how do we know who is asking us that embarrassing question at completely the wrong time? By their voice of course. How they sound.

Let’s go back to the good old days of my youth (if you don’t want to, this is my article so you really have no choice, sorry); when things were simpler, winters colder, young folks more polite and music decent etc. etc. Ok, ok! Back to the day before cellphones. Back them, in black & white times, if your phone rang, you usually had no clue who was going to be on the other end. This could often prove embarassing if some family members sounded similar to each other or you had forgotten what the person calling was, they sounded sounded like someone you knew but…. You could do one of two things in said scenario;

  1. Be a man/woman/child of worth and value and admit to your ignorance then face the consequences.
  2. Play along for a while, feigning knowledge but seeding the conversation with questions or leading pointers which will, if you are skilled enough, give you a clue to their identity.

Now, do you think it is any less frustrating for your readers if they do not know who is speaking? A book is not going to get offended if they ‘hang up’ on it, like a person giving you an unexpected call will. They’ll do it. They might even write you a review and it won’t be one of the kind you want. So now what?

Now, I am a bit of a rebel, I always have been, it’s in my blood apparently. I am of the opinion that, while there are no end of books, manuals and guides on how to do writing (error intentional), they have the intrinsic and artistic value of those instructon cards on aircraft. They make you feel safe and good but will be meaningless when it comes down to it. I am not saying there are no rules, don’t be silly but name me one artist who became famous by following the rules. One will be fine. Take your time, I’m not going anywhere….




So, dialogue. That’s right, we were going there, I remembered, even if you didn’t. Dialogue is key to both the engagement, realism and character development in your book. Look at it this way; dialogue reveals a lot of different things, for example:

  1. It can  establish the voice and style of your character, how he or she interacts with others. His hopes. Her fears.
  2. How the character might act differently in the presence of different people.
  3. How groups of characters interact with one another, the group dynamics. The little cliques and the characters who don’t belong to them.
  4. Revealing background and side-story/history is always done better through dialogue (in my opinion.
  5. Just for fun and maybe sneak in some little hints and secrets though the diaogue.

Those are just some of the simple examples. I tend to use dialogue a lot and I like to put my characters in situations one would not expect to see them in. I do this for a number of reasons;

  1. It shows who they really are once you remove them from familiar surroundings, what comfortingly familiar behaviours do they default to?
  2. How does their behaviour change around the difference and the stress?
  3. Do group dynamics change? Do ‘leaders’ change?
  4. What do they do in attempt to restore normality to the situation?

These things tell a lot about your characters and help to develop them also. Everyone can create an archetype. We are all archetypes apparantly but we are also individuals. Our experience and our growth made us break from the archetype. In essence, our character development is what made us, us. Without development your character will lack depth. Without depth you could kill said character off and no-one would even blink. Let me give you you a scenario;

In Skander Draco we find four characters; Alexander, Neshaa, Kalliades and Sham; in a very unfamiliar situation. Their reality suddenly isn’t and they are living in a world where the history they remember never happened. They remember their past and their future (this haunts them in dreams) but they also remember their past in the world in which they now find themselves. They are uncertain of which is real – they are uncertain of their own sanity even – until they start finding one another. Until events start showing them that they are not crazy.

They eventually are reunited in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic and try to make sense of their situation and develop a stragegy to fix it. Mostly they default to their basic character traits for example;

  • Alexander. Taking care of and protecting his men. he cooks for them and takes care of their wellbeing.
  • Kalliades, he gets moody and confused at first, becomes passive and is referred to as a boy a number of times through dialogue.
  • Neshaa, becomes completely trusting and fatalistic, default behaviour for a ‘man of faith’. He pragmatically lets ‘fate’ guide his steps.

Sham. Actually becomes the de-facto leader of the group and the one everybody talks to, shares their worries with. Despite being worried half to death himself and very much lost and confused, he puts the others first.

The scene in Skander Draco where Alexander is cooking breakfast for everyone and his conversation with Sham before “the boys” wake from their hangovers, is very much the defining one of the book and the one which sets up everything else. That conversation with Sham and Alexander reveals much of the missing story as well as character points. So; a Macedonian Soldier, a Zoroastrian, an Indian Yogi and Alexander the Great were having breakfast in Santo Domingo does sound like the setup for a very strange joke, I admit but it is an example of natural behaviour. Out of their depth, afraid and in very unfamiliar circumstances, they seek solace in the familiar activities of food and companionship. Alexander executed a leadership masterstroke when you think about it. He actually got everyone to relax and be happy (or drive their mood in the right direction some might say) with some frying pans, plantains, salami and eggs. He displays the instinctive leadership the historical Alexander was famous for and also acts completely in character despite this being very unfamiliar behaviour for a man of his fame. He also becomes a real man, a person and, in doing so, assists in humanising everybody else.


Excuses for Dialogue

I use food as an ‘excuse’ for dialogue often. I have been asked why and even accused of clumsiness (or repetiveness, maybe even simpleness) but ask yourself this; name a situation where conversation naturally occurs in human realtions. Food or drink will be involved somewhere. As a species, we humans seem to have entwined the acts of eating and drinking with social interactions  Your aim is to make your writing and, by the by, your story realistic and believable right? There you are then. I’ll use a quote if you make me, I don’t want to but OK then….

“It is the writer’s art to take unexectional people and ordinary lives, throw in exceptional circumstances and make greatness happen. It is your job to paint the ordinary in ways we find exciting…”

In other words, we take the ordinary and make it extra-ordinary, that’s what people pay us fo; nobody will buy a book which does not transport them somewhere, excite them, give them a journey to remember. If they wanted technically correct and dry pieces, they would read newpapers and textbooks. They come to us so that we can take them to somewhere they have never been before and in a way they will greatly enjoy. My last blog entry, by the way, is an “intercept” in two parts; part 1 is a 3-4 page telephone conversation. I did that quite intentionally as an experiment; to see whether my “voices” can be identified properly without me constantly reminding people whom is whom. To see whether their voice is identifiable by itself…

One barrier to creating tension or realism in a conversation are the constant “he said”, “She said”, “he muttered”, “he averred”, “she murmered”, “he yelled” and so on. I use them, everyone does, sometimes the choice of words or circumstances do not allow for anything else but not for every phrase!


The “Rules” of Engagement

Here are my “Rules” which I encourage you to break if you want to;

  1. Give each character an accent. Give people from the same place, or same background a similar accent.
  2. The accent does not need to be phonetically represented unless necessary (as for my dwarves) but you can hear it in your head as you write. This will influence word choice and pace, even if it is subconcious.
  3. Qualifiers are more of a break between long chunks of dialogue than a requirement. Use them judiciously.
  4. Using “He said”, “he smiled”, “She laughed” is actually OK, keep things simple.
  5. People rarely use their interlocutor’s name at the end of every sentence. In fact they rarely use it at all.
  6. Unless they are joking, making fun of, being sarcastic or in a group conversation and wish to attract said person’s attention or make a comment about them (usually a dirty or insulting one with my lot).
  7. Having a section of unqualified phrases (nothing at the end of the quotation marks) which flows is quite a skill to manage. Good voice differentiation will allow readers to fill in the gaps and the passage will flow naturally as real conversation might.
  8. Use qualifiers or lack thereof to manage the speed and the flow of your dialogue
  9. Try different qualifiers and manipulate with them. I have used “F$%^ off” He hinted/opined/managed eloquently…among others.
  10. If you can have more than two characters conversing and the reader can tell who is who, you are a master/mistress and I salute you!
  11. Don’t take it so seriously, enjoy yourself! You’re doing what you love and are passionate about, remember? Make fun of yourself in your own writing, play with the 4th wall if you dare to…
  12. Talking to yourself ‘in character’ does not mean you are insane. There were plenty of earlier signs for that. It’s called developmental practise and means you are a writer. Probably an insane writer but anything else would be an oxymoron!

Let us consider an important facet of giving your character too much scope and leeway shall we?


Shamshir Naik, a Case Study in Fictional Character Rebelliousness  Disorder (not crazy!)

What, oh writer of stereotypical Indians with “Oh dear bloody hell!” accents and using humerous malapropisms, are those? Those, you traitorous and very fake Fakir, are when one of your characters gets all sassy and decides that you need to write him a little differently. Perhaps a lot differently. Like Sham did.

Sham is my typical example, thought all of my characters have become more than I originally intended over the course of the past year. Sham has, thought, been the most obvious and dramatic example.

Sham was to be a throw-away wise mentor, guide and teller of mysterious history. Essentially his purpose, in the first draft of Trinity was to rescue Gabriel and Unity, act as a wise mentor and tell them what being Trinity meant, what The Prophecies are and what they mean and then disappear after a few chapters,. He was also there for occasional comic relief. Not any more.

Let me explain. I was feeling personally that literature has been too full of fellows from my country, you know, fellows in turbans who play music to snakes and lie down on beds of nails and all that rubbish, right? So he makes me more sophisticated and educated (thank you for that, Alan!), gives me a pipe, (awful habit smoking; he smokes too, that’s why he uses it so often. Let’s see if he keeps that up when he finally quits..) and a smart-arse mouth. I think, OK, this is hardly original here, so how can I make myself a little more, you know, less stereotyped?

So, I think, I need some history is what I need. I need some depth and some secrets, right? Now I was stuck, I do rely on Alan a lot and he’d been very busy with all kinds of things so I was patient isn’t it, I mean I have to be really, right? Then I see he is really – I mean really with seven syllables – struggling with something. I mean he wants to write both of his old stories; the Alexander one and Trinity, which was mine but he can’t decide.

He’s determined and motivated by those beautiful little girls of his (they are the most beautiful things you will ever see, I promise you. I’m not biased, I hate his arse!) but he can’t think how to start and which one to start on. So he starts with stories and puts those together in his Alexander Collections. Very clever that, I like it. Of course I make my appearances with Gabriel in Trinity then we – yes we made the decision together, he asked me if I felt comfortable with it and I agreed – decided to try me out in Alexander’s world. I am ancient (don’t look a day over 500 though!) and Alexander did have an Indian along for the ride with him so; seeing as we’d already changed history in quite a significant way already, why not make ME that Indian?

It was simple and it was brilliant! I helped him out and really pushed myself in my scenes! I looked about and found some really good ideas.

I suppose I should have asked him  first, you know, before I invaded Martin Castlebank’s stories too and linked myself not only to Alexander but to The Council and Martin also. I actually decided it’d just be much simpler if all the stories sort of fitted together, right? That meant he could just write and I’d do my best to help out, like. Ok, so I became pretty much THE central character in both series, helped create the unified mythology and world of The Hegemony and altered a number of frankly boring situations and characters with my presence but I remain humble.

I am a very humble man, despite scandalous lies to the contrary! I actually found a way to link both series of books together through the method of my good self and in a rather artful fashion actually!

Thank you, Sham! You are an incredible and selfless person! He was about to complain about it AGAIN when all I ask for is a bit of gratitude from his arse just occasionally! I’ve worked really hard, suffered a lot and lived like seven lives at the same time or something…come on!

Well, he summarised much better than I could have! I’m sorry, Sham, thank you. You’re quite right! I’ll write you a girlfriend or something  like that (you made me celibate, you bastard!).

Sham appeared to rewrite himself and turn himself into both one of the most important characters of the entire Hegemony (past and future) but also one of the most pleasurable (and at times difficult) to write. He changed from a sterotype to one of the deepest and most interesting – and frankly surprising – people I ever invented. Then, in the Chronicles, Asmodeus went on to do it too…

Has anyone else ever had that happen? With me, it has only been one character so far but what if they start talking and it catches on? Other characters seem to ‘bounce off’ the unexpected and unplanned behaviour of said character and scenes turn into something quite different to what you had planned?

Here’s the vital thing though; real people do unexpected things, all the time. It’s what makes them real. You HAVE to let your characters be occasionally unpredictable, you have to let them act OUT of character just like we do. That how we developed and how they will. If you behaved as was expected all the time you’d be just like one of your parents! You know this is true!



Archetypes and stereotypes are pointless and not really that interesting. Sham & Asmodeus have taught me that; I tried to make them somewhat stereotypes and they were having none of that. I learned, perhaps, a little bit about myself and the creative process when writing them. I think I found my voice when I was focussed on finding theirs.

Remember we are all a unique source of talent and we have to find and nurture our uniqueness, our oddness and our own eccentricity (we’re writers, none of us lack those). I encourage and greatly push you towards finding your individual story to tell. DO NOT waste your talent on what is popular or you think will gain you sales or popularity. We are artists, THE ART should come before the dollah, shouldn’t it?

Instead waste your time being you, your life making your dreams real (at least on paper) and having arguments with people who don’t actually exist. Everywhere elese they call you crazy for doing that, here they give you money if you do it well enough! Waste every spare moment inventing stories nobody will probably read, creating places few will every visit and people nobody will ever care about. Not unless you truly are amazing that is. Find out how to be…