Tag Archives: bards and sages quarterly

The ASOIF End is Nigh…?

The Machine Stops had some fun this week, asking a handful of authors how they thought George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series would end. Below is how I answered, but if you’d like to read them all, head over here.

Also, thanks to all who voted for “The Tomb of Jerem’bel” over at the Bards & Sages reader’s choice polls. It won Best Short Story from the January 2016 issue!

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How I might end ASOIF:

“Of ASOIF’s many themes, two of the most prominent are 1) a mother’s love—Catelyn, Cersei, and Olenna all drive their decisions around the fate of their children and in grief are altered to their core—and 2) identity—Arya, Sansa, and Theon all assume multiple names and personalities as they struggle to find safety.

So it won’t be a shock when Daenerys chooses to protect her “children” and remove them far from the world of men rather than use them as tools to become Queen of Westeros. Likewise, Jon will take on the identity he never wanted, as the leader of the fight against the Others, but he’ll never achieve his heart’s desire, the small comforts of a close family.

The spoils of the war between Ice and Fire will go to those who least deserve it. While at the same time, the new power players in the Game of Thrones will learn nothing from those who fell before them. It is a dire fate for a dire world, and though Sansa may reclaim the Stark mantle, and Sam become a Maester, Arya’s list will grow ever long. For while the bite of Winter will leave its scars, its lessons are soon forgotten.”

The Tomb of Jorem’bel by Craig Comer

“Gavane peered from beneath a shadowed hood, scowling at the iron-bound door. His shoulders scrunched around a neck thicker than Ffyordland timber. Beside him, Mior leaned casually against a shepherd’s cart. Her limbs were relaxed, the fury in her blood simmering in a slow burn, as it had for a fortnight—a blasted fortnight!—the time spent ranging the streets of Emberdeen seeking out a mage. She glanced up the crowded street again. There was still no sign of the death-slinger they’d hired. The man had better show. They’d spent the last of their coin and had no chance of opening the tomb of Jorem’bel without aid. A warded door blocked its entrance, the temple erected around it buried deep beneath the city of lost kings.”

My short story, “The Tomb of Jorem’bel,” is now available in the January 2016 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly.

A tale of vengeance full of pulp adventure and dangerous magic, the story follows Mior and her companions as they risk everything to reclaim the talisman of their forefathers.

Get it here from Smashwords. Or here from Amazon.

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A Slice of the Author – Creating Setting

HWP_000It’s long been argued that all fictional characters contain some facet of the author. To what extent remains a debate, but what about setting? After all, in fantasy and science fiction, the where can be more important than the who or the what. Who is Robb Stark without the cold north of Westeros? Or Katniss Everdeen without Panem and the Hunger Games arena? But does that mean that without living through a Chicago winter, George R.R. Martin couldn’t have envisioned the lands beyond the Wall? Of course not. Yet it’s interesting that he has attributed the creation of his Wall to a trip to Hadrian’s Wall in England. His version is just a bit larger and colder.

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I have also hiked along Hadrian’s Wall. In fact, I have hiked it from start to finish—all 84 miles of it—and believe me, there is no end to the amount of stories to be found there. From the amazing views to the castles and fortresses, every mile is ripe with details fit for a story.

And I think that is where an author creates a setting. It’s by taking details of places they know and adjusting them to create something new. Whether it’s from something they’ve seen, watched, or read about, every scrap becomes a thread that can be rewoven into a new tapestry. Or to extend the common forest and tree metaphor, creating setting is like taking the trees you know and rearranging them into a forest of wonder that no one has ever yet beheld.

Garrett Calcaterra, author of the novel, Dreamwielder, has never lived in a labyrinth of ice caves, but he drew upon his experiences hiking around Lake Chelan, in the Cascades, and around Scotland. As he explains, “I got to experience Edinburgh and do a little spelunking in search of Sawney Beane’s secret lair. These experiences melded together with images I’d seen in documentaries about cliff dwelling indigenous tribes and the earth-shaping powers of glaciers. I came up with this sprawling ice cavern [for Dreamwielder] where an ancient race of humans built a city into the living rocks of the mountain and lived beneath the azure hue of the glacier above them.”

“The Dream Thief of Kuthahaar,” my story in the October 2012 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly, grew in the telling, as the saying goes. Only in this case, the telling was of another story altogether, my first in the setting of the Immortal City of Kuthahaar, “The Kultar’s Lost Hand.” For that story I created a place with palaces and bazaars, a congested city teeming with guilds and a harsh ruling class, where the dregs of society found solace only below ground, in deep caverns the rich considered fit only for the dead.

But why Sultans and robes and sandals? Why not trousers and frock coats and timber-framed lodges? I didn’t set out to write an “Arabian themed” tale. In fact, I don’t consider the story Arabian at all. The idea for the story spawned from a movie I grew up with, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Yes, that one. Laugh or groan all you like, I was fourteen and it was the coolest thing ever, next to Willow. And it was the scene at the start of the film, where the thief has his hand lopped off that left an impression with me and started the story. I wondered: what did the man do afterward? Did all society shun him? Had he been a villain before? Or had he been respected, maybe even someone of importance? So the man grew a back story and a personality, and all the time the dwellings and clothes and scents and sounds around him stuck in shades of sandstone, with oils and incense covering the stench created by a glaring sun and too many poor toiling in crowded streets.

It wasn’t difficult to fill in the details. A trip to the local farmer’s market may not yield the same foods, but the feeling of congestion is the same. There are any number of candle and incense shops out there, and as for the desert, Southern California is a great stand in for hot and dry! And so each scene was filled in as I needed it, with details summoned from a wide range of memories. I just needed to pick and place them in a context that made sense for this new society.

As the details were drawn in, other stories sprouted from the nooks and crannies. “The Dream Thief of Kuthahaar,” began as I started to wonder who these Seers were who watched the city (a group of sorcerers mentioned briefly in the first story.) They worked for the Sultan, but how did he win their loyalty? If they had such power, why did they not use it for their own aims? As I wondered, not only did new characters spring up, but new parts of the city as well. A temple, parts of the Sultan’s palace, the lands about the city, all became a part of the setting as young Akil, the protagonist, wandered toward his destiny.

Other stories followed full of assassins and heroines, desperate men and cunning scoundrels. Hopefully, many more will come. All will be a fabrication, holding the merest slices of the author, scrambled and contorted, fried and blended, until the place exists only in the imagination.

For those interested, here is a link to the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail site: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/HadriansWall/index.asp.

This post originally appeared on Tales From the Sith Witch, the blog of Julie Ann Dawson.

Tombs, Tomes, and Sages

Welcome back! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, mostly because I’ve been updating my old website and posting on Realm Tramper. But it was time to consolidate, so I’ve moved this blog to my main craigcomer.com address (retiring the old site) and am looking to trail-off the Realm Tramper blog, or at least throttle back for a while.

On the writing front, my short story, “The Tomb of Jorem’bel”, was accepted by Bards & Sages Quarterly and will appear in their January 2016 issue! My story, “The Dream Thief of Kuthahaar”, appeared in the October 2012 issue and subsequently in the collected anthology Bardic Tales & Sage Advice Volume V. (Check it out here on Amazon.)

You might also want to check out the Bards and Sages Great Tomes anthology series that just kicked off. It promises relics, horrors, and a myriad of wondrous places within its volumes!