Hope you all had a great Christmas and are enjoying the new year. Here in Rotorua it's been strange – weather wise at least. We had days and days of rain, intermixed with thunderstorms and endless grey skies which kept me locked inside a lot. But just at the moment we seem to have been hit with a heatwave and I can't even step outside without burning my feet off. So go figure!
Anyway all this enforced home detention has been good for my writing, and a new book is now about eighty percent complete. At this stage it has the working title of “Fineas and Tusk – the Epic Journey of a Man and his Pig.” The scary thing is that that may in fact remain the title – I haven't decided.
It's a slightly different twist on my usual epic fantasy of a hero – or more often a reluctant fool – setting out to save the world or at least some of it. In this story it begins with our hero actually plummeting from an airship a league above the ground, to land in a savage, magical land and then wanting to do nothing more than make his way home to his pregnant wife, a thousand leagues away. And once on the ground he encounters Tusk – a two hundred pound wild boar – who travels with him. While Tusk might or might not be a familiar – I've called him a companion which is simply an animal that those with magic are sometimes accompanied by – he doesn't talk, or cast spells or do anything other than what wild boars normally do. If he has a magical gift, it's eating and embarrassing Fineas as he journeys east.
My main struggle in writing Fineas and Tusk, has been in shaping the nature of Fineas. As many of you will know, I normally spend a lot of time trying to get into the head space of my main characters, and Fineas has been particularly difficult for me in this regard. He's so close to the traditional good guy in many ways, but his world view and beliefs are so different that often when he does things that seem to be what a good guy should do – he does them for completely different reasons. So if he steps into a battle where a woman is being attacked it's not because of a sense of justice or fear for her safety – it's because of his inbred need to act honourably. It would be shameful to let a woman be harmed. He will walk into a war even when he's quaking with fear and show not a sign of his terror, simply because he is a Lord and he can never fail in his duty or show such emotions. And when things go wrong as they inevitably do, the true destruction of his life isn't brought about by typical things like bankruptcy or criminality. It is again the code of honour which lays him low as he is shamed by the actions of others even when he has acted with nothing but propriety.
As I say he is close to being the generic good guy / hero, but when you cut to the heart of what makes him tick, he's almost completely alien. Tusk on the other hand is much simpler – it's always about the food!
Anyway, that's been my January. And as I sit here writing and bathing in my own sweat, I hope to have Fineas and Tusk and their epic journey off to the editor in February. After that I suppose, I'll have to start searching out cover art – and strangely there's a large dearth of covers out there depicting Lords walking with wild boars through medieval worlds!