C. C. Hogan
I am a writer, poet, musician and wine lover.
I don't know much about any of those, but I do them anyway. If you want to know more, visit my blog
Underneath the Dirt
Why and how I wrote all this!
I am not new to fantasy, I consumed huge quantities of it when I was young and even more when I started commuting. I always wanted to write one and I have various scraps of paper showing vague attempts over the years.
It was not until I stopped reading fantasy that I actually started writing one! The problem was that I found it more and more difficult to find time to read over the years and since I was no longer commuting, my forced reading time had vanished. I was spending more and more time driving and when I did get home to be honest my eyes were tired.
A year ago my life changed quite dramatically and I decided that I would finish off a story I had been playing with called The Stink. It is not fantasy, but it is a lot of fun and you should go read it!
When I finished that book I suddenly realised that I had done it - I had written a novel. Well, better write another one then!
I made a list of all the types of books I wanted to write on OneNote and started writing rubbish. "It could have a dragon in it, perhaps a lot of water. Someone gets kidnapped?" I still have those notes and they are completely off beat. But somehow the core of an idea was put down. It went like this:
A young man wakes up to find his sister has vanished, probably kidnapped. He asks help from a dragon who refuses to carry humans and also from a magician who really can't do any magic. They fly across half the world and rescue the sister and another girl. On the way back he falls in love with the other girl and they eventually managed to escape.
That was it and if you read Dirt, book one, that is the story. I actually stuck to it!
Of course, it has been padded out a bit, quite a lot really, and is now nearly 170,000 words long, but that is essentially the story. Oh, if you think that is one big spoiler, no it isn't. No one is quite who you think they might be, the world is just not as simple as all that and in fact those few lines are the opening to a story which is just coming up towards the million word mark.
Something happened when I started writing the first few chapters as I attempted to find a style and a reason to keep the story going. The first thing that happened was Fren-Eirol. She is the the dragon that helps Johnston Farthing in book one and she is very special. To start with she talks, has a wicked sense of humour, is incredibly intelligent and is a few hundred years old. It suddenly struck me that anyone that is all that, dragon or otherwise, would not want to sleep on a pile of gold in a damp cave. They would want to have relationships, possibly a family, somewhere comfortable to sleep, stability; they would want everything we want.
I realised I had a much bigger story behind the missing sister, I had a world in which two completely different species had to cohabit and, preferably, get on. But what if they didn't? You see dragons are very big. They live hundreds of years and are not very good at breeding (though they are addicted to trying!). They also fly, which means they are not territorial. How can you be territorial about your land if your neighbour can simply fly over the top of it? Turns out they are also generally very peaceful, have never warred amongst themselves (though they have had some good punch ups) and would generally much prefer to drink copious amounts of beer.
And then there are humans. Well, we all know what we are like. See a problem looming? So did I and it is going to take me around twelve books to resolve it. Hope you are in for a lot of reading!
Websites and books go hand in hand now. The vast majority of my readers are going to be hooked up to the internet so the expectation is that they can get a little more of my world than just the original words, and that is fair enough.
So, A World Called Dirt serves two purposes. It will, I hope, help promote the book, but also it is my chance to offer readers extra bits and pieces that would otherwise mean acres of appendices in the back of the tomes.
I wrote the books using Word, like a lot of people, but I have imagined the story and the world of Dirt using OneNote, scraps of paper, Photoshop, text editors, a pad by my bed and so on. I have generated a huge library of notes and thoughts.
Now, I could leave them to rot in the proverbial shoebox or I could do something with them. Et Voila! The Abbey.
Let me make it clear, the Abbey is not really a wiki - well, only I can edit for a start, but it is also not that style of presentation. Creative writing is what I do best and my world is full of creative, clever people, so the Abbey is THEIR work, not mine. My bits are the occasional "Author's Notes" in the sidebar.
With any luck, and a few months down the line no doubt, the Abbey will turn into a fun read of its own, written in the opinionated style of Berra Harra. Oh, yes, who is she? Well, she is a character from Series 3, so you will have to wait!
I can add one little spoiler. The Abbey is actually called Bresthorde, but none of the characters in the current books know that yet. Okay, so it is not a major spoiler, but gift-dragons and all that.
Talking of spoilers, this is one major potential problem with The Abbey concept. I am going to try to protect major spoilers under buttons you click so that at least you have the choice of reading ahead of yourself and don't get the story ruined by mistake, but I cannot be completely spoiler free. For instance, you may be able to work out which characters survive battles occasionally. Be particularly careful with the Author's Notes as these will inevitably contain spoilers.
One note about the history section. A running theme through the books is how accurate information about the past has not survived, even accounting for the long memories of Dragons. Part of this is intentional because of the past actions of some ancient characters, but much of it is because of the nature of Dirt itself. This is a fragmented world which suffers changing dynasties who have no interest in the past (except their own) and where most people are illiterate. Good history has simply not survived so characters are very ignorant of the past and get it wrong regularly!
I am trying to reflect that in some of the histories where buried under spoiler sections will be corrections to what was currently believed. I have not completely worked out how to write these yet, so bare with me!