The Fallouts: Origins
In these posts, which I hope to run weekly, I’ll be chatting about the ideas behind elements of the Fallouts series. You can find the first book in the series here. These posts are a candid talk on the mental process which goes into writing, and completing, a fiction series. Each one will be short and sweet. If you’d like to ask me anything, go right ahead. If you want to make the whole read more dramatic, check out this absolutely awesome orchestral piece.
The year was 2009. I was in my first (and last) year of university as a Games Tech student as Charles Sturt, Bathurst. I was living on campus, and not quite living the campus dream. The guys in the rooms upstairs kept me awake much of the night as they thumped around playing table tennis. I loved programming and databasing, but I wasn’t half as good at maths as I needed to be. Matrices? Maths in multiple dimensions? Subsets of infinity? Sure they were cool ideas, but I couldn’t get my head around them.
What I wanted when I joined Computer Science, Games Tech was to make games. What I found when I did the course was that I wanted to make interactive stories. I liked to write and draw. The stories, above physics engines and arrays and assembly language, were what mattered to me.
The year before, I’d written a story, to get myself out of a writing funk. I’d had a hard couple of years out of school where I didn’t write much aside from Doctor Who fanfiction. I was studying for the Tertiary Preparation Certificate at TAFE, and as one of two students in the class who threatened to go the distance, the teachers were relentless. Our homework was crazy, particularly for our science subjects. We worked hard. We got good results. In the middle of everything I managed to write a 240K word story. It was about a witch who goes on a holiday. It ended with a lot of dimension-bending stuff, it had a little romance and a lot of action, and some cool ideas about shifting reality.
When winter settled on Bathurst in the middle of the university year I was having my first doubts about continuing the course. I’d spent a couple of months at the beginning of the year typing my last story, Maple’s Fantastic Bestiary, and now I decided to write something set in the same world. I based this story around university life, with another witch, and a whole system of magic to with it. I didn’t really think about what the conflict would be. I had a complex bit of science concerning dimensional monsters living under the university, and huge catapult machines which were used to fling mail from town to town. It had dragons and soldier boy too. It was all pretty appealing. But in the end, I hadn’t thought about it hard enough, and I let it slide instead of pursuing the ending.
October came around. We were in spring, as much of a spring as Bathurst gets, and my doubts about university were building by the day. I was having serious trouble with maths. I was good at programming, but I couldn’t seem to approach it as everybody else did. I got the same results, but couldn’t follow the same processes. And I had zero memory for syntax. The guys upstairs played table tennis nightly, and I didn’t get along with my gym-obsessed dorm mates. Still, living in Bathurst had its perks. There was a great little comic shop in town, which a bunch of Computer Science students patronised weekly (well, fortnightly, depending on our allowances). I was already into manga, of which the shop carried a very limited supply, and it was there I found Mushishi, which fast became my favourite series. At the same time I was reading xxxHolic, by CLAMP, and trying to understand xxxHolic led me to dabbling in its sister series, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
It was the allure of Mushishi along with the brain-hurting enigma of Tsubasa: RC which prompted me to once again try my hand at writing. Something new this time, I thought. No more fanfiction and no more pure fantasy. I wanted something with a hard science fiction lilt which would let me use my more mathematically-inspired transdimensional theories. I wondered what would happen if I combined the naturalistic and exploration elements of Mushishi, which is a very softly spoken and beautiful series, with the world-hopping fun of Tsubasa: RC. Could I write a story set simultaneously in one world, and many? It was worth experimentation.
I spent about a week thinking about how the story would go. As my ideas festered and grew, I committed myself to writing four volumes. Apparently it’s a trait of Sagittarians if they’re given an inch to take a mile, and I took a mile, and then another mile, and then two more miles. I bought the notebooks to write the series at the uni store. Four nice notebooks, 250 pages each, semi-transparent plastic covers and nice hard backs, 8mm ruled with no holes punched and faintly ruled lines. I tell you, those books are perfect for writing in. You get your Kilometric and your notebook and you can write like a prophet.
Almost as important as the books was the story. I had a couple ideas for characters in mind, and for the world. The world, I thought, should be very turbulent; in a constant state of change. It should be a world where mountain ranges rose overnight and continents pulled themselves to pieces before your eyes. There would be other worlds either side of the main world. The people there wouldn’t really have any concept of these other worlds, wouldn’t understand what they were. I thought the story should consider physical reality as a piece of fabric, with another piece of fabric sewn onto it. The two worlds couldn’t see each other, but both were there, held together with stitches. In the middle of these worlds was another, made of elements of the other two, until it became not recognisably one or the other, but something new. The stitches holding the worlds together would be present in the middle world, but again, not recognisable for what they were. People and things could travel from world to world along the holes created by the stitches.
And so I had a world where travelling between multiple worlds, but also remaining on the same world, was possible. The world in the middle had to be, of course, Midgard: the middle realm. If only because Middle Earth was already taken.
Posted on October 2, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged ain't no rest for the wicked, anneque malchien, fallouts, fantasy, fiction, fiction series, malchien, novel writing, sci fi, science fiction, the fallouts, writing, writing a novel, writing discussion, writing process. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.