By Eilis Flynn
It’s one of those tried-and-truisms for writers that writing sequels is the way to go. It’s not until the author further delves into the world/universe that he or she has set up that the readers themselves become vested in the original story and the ongoing saga, the logic goes. I’m all for that. So why is it that it’s taken me way more than a decade to get back into the world of Kurit and the ongoing weather phenomenon of waterfire?
I wrote the original story for THE SLEEPER AWAKES over two decades, so that was the first challenge. I wrote the first scene back in 1986 or 1987 when I was still working for the EF Hutton brokerage firm (back when there WAS an EF Hutton, the first time around). I was waiting for an evening class I was taking for work to begin, and the instructor was late. So as I was doodling, I wrote:
“Seven gates stood out in the open, some of wood and some of iron, carved and decorated, unopened and unopenable. The curious could walk between them and see through them but the gates seemed to have no purpose. They were older than memory. No one had ever seen them open but legend had it each gate held a secret. And when the gates were all opened, the legend went, peace everlasting would be theirs.
“One day the first gate opened.”
I liked that. I had no idea what the story was about, but I figured it was a good start. And then the instructor finally showed up, and I had to think about financial crap for a while.
The story, as it happens sometimes (and frequently for me), came together in bits and pieces, usually in a visual form, as it also sometimes happens. When the story was complete, I had a complex universe, complete with sociocultural intricacies, history, tradition, indigenous ethnic groups, and a romance. Because, frankly, every story needs at least a touch of romance (and without it, there would be little civilization, no matter what misogynists claim).
And then I closed the door on that universe. I had some sequel ideas that I noodled around with, but I didn’t do much else with that. I usually say that I got busy at work, and I did, but that wasn’t the only reason. It’s the challenge of fantasy: once you create a universe, you have to populate it, you have to build the cultures, figure out how they’re different and how they’re the same. You have to figure out the method of money. What’s valuable, what’s not? Is the gold standard in effect? You have to figure out what social changes might have occurred in this new world. When you set up a situation in a parallel reality, you have to figure out what the status quo is in a world that has those differences.
Can you tell I was an anthropology major in college? I spent a long time thinking about these factors. Really, I spent way too much time thinking about it. But you want your world, no matter how close it is to our own, to work. You don’t want someone to think about the story, either during the initial reading or afterward, and realize: “Hey! That doesn’t make sense!” I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me, I am so disappointed. It ruins the suspension of disbelief. When I want to disbelieve, I want to disbelieve thoroughly, damn it.
So building a culture can be hard work. It can be tricky, it can be frustrating (the research involved can be both fun and arduous), it can be a pain in the ass. But when the culture is built…it’s a sight to behold.
So the sequel to The Sleeper Awakes…I’m finally writing it. It took my being laid off to finally have the opportunity to jump back in. Currently titled THE SERPENT ARISES, the story takes place in a corner of the country of Kurit, far up in the mountains. Now here’s the thing. The people who are at the heart of the story have little to do with Kurit. They are scientists and alchemists, and some say they hold the secret to the eradication of waterfire, the weather phenomenon that essentially controls the region. And now that I’ve unlocked the door to that universe, I can’t wait to explore it again! Even though it means I have to construct another culture, another history, another everything.
Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at www.eilisflynn.com. Since she was laid off, she’s also been looking for a job, but in the meantime, she’s thinking about the Kuriti Chronicles. THE SLEEPER AWAKES is available at most online retailers and certainly at the Ellora’s Cave website.
Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at www.eilisflynn.com. Since she was laid off recently, she’s also looking for a job, which is why she started to think about a land far, far away.
The Sleeper Awakes is available at most online retailers. Some buy links: