Jon Darke – new

I began thinking about Jon Darke a couple of months back when I had laid Tree to rest. I needed to write something that was not on a global, epic scale, instead focusing down on a more personal narrative.

Isoland is a vast, circular expanse of darkness, desert, storms and suffering, centred on viral research for the weapons and biotech industries. Separated from the rest of the world (the ‘Outside’) by an insurmountable wall, the test subjects are convicts from the outside world, or captured from the simple tribes of outcasts scattered amongst the enclosed mountains. Unlike the Outside, the tribes have learned how to live harmoniously with their harsh world.

Homested, the biotech farm at the cente of Isoland is ruled by the Vorna Dynasty. Heidi Vorna, fifteen-year-old daughter of oligarch Maxim Vorna, learns of a boy who is uniting the Isoland tribes with golden words and magical deeds. Known as the Magister, the boy appears to have other strange qualities, including an apparent resistance to the plagues used to control outcast populations. Heidi is sent with Maxim’s troops to capture the boy for research. Tragedy follows as he is taken and imprisoned, leaving Heidi deeply troubled. She names him Jon Darke.

Jon grows into a powerful and resourceful young man, forced to survive in the brutal conditions of Homested. Heidi remains fascinated by him, but Jon blames her for his suffering and the deaths of his adoptive parents.

Maxim is both curious and fearful of Jon, and develops a strange relationship with him as teams of scientists try to discover his secrets. Amica Bright, leader of the scientists also falls for Jon, but her love is cruel and his rejection of her turns love to hatred. In return, Jon tries to teach Maxim the truth of life, but his words and actions are wasted.

In the Outside, the fight for remaining resources and viable habitats has led to viral war, and incurable sicknesses cause many deaths. Maxim is given orders to create a new weapon and turns to Jon Darke, but Jon’s growing powers already divine what is intended, and he mysteriously escapes from Isoland, heading for England. The threat of Jon falling into enemy hands is too great a risk, and death squads are sent in pursuit, led by Amica.  Heidi tries to persuade her father that she can find Jon and bring him back. When he refuses, she too leaves Isoland and follows him to London.

Jon finds a world being destroyed by greed and it is not long before he has a following. When Heidi arrives at the airport, everyone is talking about the mysterious stranger and the magic of his words. She sees an advertisement for a television interview and manages to get invited, watching from the audience. He is asked if he is Christ reborn. Jon knows nothing of such things, but he does know that the interviewer’s daughter lies in a coma, and tells her the child will recover. Soon after, the child awakens. At the end of the interview, an attempt is made on his life as a bomb explodes and kills many. Heidi escapes with Jon and persuades him to hide with her. During that time, she realises that she loves him, and begs him to stay with her. Jon cannot remain in hiding and leaves Heidi. He is able to cure children where others have failed, and his teachings are being listened to around the world. Soon, vast numbers of people are demanding change and sharing all that they have. Jon is a threat to the world order. More governments want to understand the source of his power, and Heidi cannot find a way to see him. Jon travels to the Amazon, determined to save the last few indigenous peoples, and persuade world leaders how much they need to change. Heidi’s father makes contact with her, asking her to help save Jon. She joins with Maxim’s squad and travels with them, but learns Amica’s true intent. She plans to execute Jon as he gives a world address, broadcasting from within the burning forest. Heidi has one chance to save the man she loves, if she can persuade him to abandon his cause.

Tree – story of a rewrite

It was time to visit an earlier effort, the fifth novel in the Drakul series. It had always felt that he was in some ways unwelcome in that narrative, which concerned a future London dominated and terrorised by a monstrous tree. The Cazash Tree is part fungus, part animate and needs to escape Earth to continue its expansion, but to do so requires the sporing, using infected humans as disseminators of male spores. The Tree has an army of followers addicted to its deadly sap (‘kine’). The Cazash Tree is an offence against Nature, and soon enough a champion awakens, in the form of druid Myrddin Wyllt. Myrddin must use ancient magic to defeat the Tree, helped by seven heroes. By the end of the novel, the planet is faced with a new future and must choose which direction to take. Very topical these days.

Ouroboros Finished!

I was really pleased with the way that this third and final Eco novel played out, with the distant past and the present coming together to build a new future. It stretched me as a writer, which what I was seeking.

A good novel seems to write itself and I was swept along in the narrative, which gave the primary characters scope for development as they faced new challenges.

When I completed Ouroboros, it gave me time to revisit an earlier novel and to give it a complete makeover. The rewrite also changed the focus and tightened up the storyline, with wise direction from John (Jarrold). Rewriting an existing novel turned out to be a bigger endeavour than taking an empty page, but it needed doing.

Second Dawn finished. Now writing Ouroboros, third and final novel in the Eco trilogy….

Second Dawn ended up writing itself, which was great. But how does the trilogy end? How can witch queen Caia Esvane outwit the Scitha fleet, intent on reclaiming her planet for themselves?  The power of magic will not be enough this time, and she is not prepared to sacrifice the few remaining dragons. To do so would condemn the world to technology and greed, the way it was once before.

Leah Esvane, now twenty-three and as difficult as her mother Caia, wants new challenges. Her affair with one of the hated Centurions is not enough. But Leah is also the most gifted of the dragon witches, stronger even than her mother. Caia has to know how the first Scitha invasion was defeated, over seventeen thousand years ago. Leah is the only one capable of mind-joining across time. Her mission – to occupy the body of Leanne Ty, fighter pilot in squadron leader John Mack’s team, sister to Simon, a scientist on the team developing the magnetic pulse. But when Leah makes the journey, she finds that nothing was as she expected. To save Eco, will she have to change the future, and deny her own existence?

Second Dawn – read how the new novel is progressing

I began planning Second Dawn after returning from holiday in the Spring. I’d spent some of the time raking over an entirely different synopsis, thinking whether I could work with more depth with a much smaller Canvas – the result of reading Major Tom.

The decision was no – I had to continue with the Eco trilogy and there were so many ideas in my head, plus new central characters. The second novel is ‘Second Dawn,’ already 30,000 words and going strong (slight delays caused by heatwave commuting and a medical op!). This time, three ex-‘waste disposal drones’ from City 5 (garbage men) are pitched into the centre of the novel, when socially ungifted Dil Crowne is taken during a raid and vanishes under the sea. Badly wounded, he is taken to a second undersea city. Rax has evolved in a very different direction from City 5, abandoning any attempt to preserve tradition. Instead, Rax is based on the marine ecosystem. The society is egalitarian, the creatures within adapted for an undersea existence. To Rax, the land is a threat.

Dil’s mates Octo and Hath escape from the Rift and seek sanctuary in the dangerous Outlands where they discover an impending war. Centurions, the lawkeepers from City 5 are re-arming with the city’s help, and are planning to invade the Rift for its resources.

And the People of White are finally heading south, cooling the climate as they come. They have decided it’s time to go home, and City 5 contains the secret.

A full synopsis of Second Dawn is available here and from the home page – do read it, suggestions welcome.

Sequel to Emergence – first thoughts.

I deliberately left a few story stubs I could build out on, and am now spoiled for choice as to what happens next. In Emergence, a monstrous submerged city learns that the surface of the planet is once more safe to inhabit, albeit already inhabited by a relatively peaceful people imbued with magic. It’s a world of mysticism and the opposite of the city’s ruthless efficiency where lifespan is decided at birth, and a class system determines the destiny and purpose of each individual. The city, in short, is a mechanistic society reminiscent of ants, but it’s also crazy.  The build up to emergence sees the two societies being pulled apart as they come to terms with having share, and not surprisingly this ends up with head on conflict between the planet and the city. Not wanting to spoil anything for the avid reader, what happens next?

Emergence is just the start of the journey. The planet retains evidence of the original invasion that necessitated creating an undersea ark – crashed Machines, strange devices and ancient memories. There are strange races living in remote places – the People of White, with their worship of the Machines and intolerance of light. The Grey Ones, not remotely human and rarely seen. The people from the city experience disturbing memories when they emerge, as if they too have some connection to the invaders, and Caia Esvane, Dragon Witch and leader of the clans, foolishly mind-touches their queen. There are also social conflicts to resolve – the different castes from the city reacting very differently to their new world, some wanting to learn new ways, others refusing even to leave the city, whilst some want the war to continue.

I’m spoiled for choice!  Watch this space….

What would happen if THEY ever arrived?

Been watching the news with interest, thinking how humanity slips into paranoia so easily. I mean, what would really happen if alien life made contact? Close Encounters style touchy feely let’s all be friends style, or 1950’s style Visitor From Space shoot-out?  based on our own history of Western Culture meets Original Inhabitants, it ain’t promising. But at least we’ve got a sane, well balanced person running the world’s biggest armory. If THEY are watching, then this isn’t the best time…

Is life stranger than fiction

Exciting day tomorrow, as I have a colonoscopy and the same from the other end. I was given a mystery powder to empty myself out in advance, but nothing like the intestinal eruptions suggested by bowel bloggers out there, very disappointing.  A colleague at work who had this done recently (yes I do work as well as write) emailed me this encouraging message –

‘When is went in I sat on the bed looking for the little narrow tube I was supposed to swallow.  All I could spot was something like a black garden hose.  I was pretty shocked when I saw it actually.  It was no drama though so was nothing to worry about.  The stuff they spray down your throat is what I imagine a liquefied rotten dog tastes like though’

thanks for that, Chris.  If you’re wondering what this has to do with SciFi or Horror, try it yourself.