After an exciting announcement, we delve into the first chapter of Labyrinth of Souls: Uncertain Journey.
From Wuxia to Steam punk to Final Fantasy to Star Wars, elements of my fandoms find their way into the worlds I build.
How to go beyond the limits of allegory to build deep philosophy into your worlds
Combining elements of Epic Fantasy with Martial Arts fiction changes everything in the setting and the possible stories that can be told.
Magic is a fundamental aspect of Fantasy Fiction, but why? What can we learn about our lives from these tales of Magic and Sorcery?
The story of how a strange dream birthed a new novel and world and taught me to trust my creativity and instincts, and what you can learn from it.
[00:00:00] Welcome everybody to the first Ash Dancer podcast. My name is Charlie. You may know me better as Scifi fantasy writer C. E. Dorset, but you can call me Charlie. I hope you like that intro music I spent quite some time working on it and I really like it. And I think it wraps itself around the setting really well and kind of expresses some of the feelings that I have when I'm writing. It also reminds me of some of the stuff that I listened to while writing.
[00:00:31] So this is the first podcast in what will hopefully be a lot more about Ash Dancer and since it is the first I thought we would take a little time and explain what this podcast is about, what we're going to be doing and where all this came from.
[00:00:54] So a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, at least really feels like that, the idea for what would become Ash Dancer originally came into my head.
[00:01:07] It was very different from the story that I have right now and that's one of the things that I really love about this world. When it originally kind of popped into my head a couple years ago I started kind of poking and prodding it and it didn't really do much. It just kind of laid there and was like well what do we do this. And it was like well what about this. And so nothing really came of it.
[00:01:41] But I kept working on various projects and continued kind of in the back of my head always coming back to it and it went through about three or four different lead characters over the years and different ideas kept popping in and out and it just never came to life. It never really made a name for itself. It never stood out to me as something that I could spend the inordinate amount of time that it takes to write a novel in this world. So I just kind of laid it aside and thought OK well that's that.
[00:02:25] Eventually maybe something will come to me and I'll figure it out and will start working on it then and and then last year happened. I've always believed that in the back of your mind there's a little part that's trying to put things together for you. And I was working on an outline because I decided to do National Novel Writing Month because I really enjoyed doing those things because writing is a very lonely project. If you've never done it, sitting alone writing it's a lot of work. It's a lot of effort and it's very isolating because it's just you and your laptop and really nothing else because all the characters are springing out of your head all the dialogue, all the imagery, and being able to work at the same time as other writers gives you this wonderful community. People that are going through some of the same stuff that you are. And so I like to do those events just to have that camaraderie that comes about from them. So last year, I spent a lot of time working on the outline for a book and I really like the characters. I really like the story. I thought it was going to be the story I wrote in November. And then come October 31st, I'm in bed dreaming the night away. I had a really, really, really bizarre dream. It was so vivid. Touch it you know what I'm saying.
[00:04:18] It was so real when I woke up and I thought that was a really weird dream I'm going to just kind of jot that down so I don't forget it because that might be something.
[00:04:29] And it continued to work so that I would be able to start the novel I'd been planning that November. That but that dream wouldn't leave me alone. Those characters would leave me alone. That story, that idea wouldn't leave me alone. So I had a moment of frustration and I thought to myself, "OK, so you're not going to leave me alone. Well I've pretty much got my outline done for the thing I'm going to start writing tomorrow, I'll poke at you for a little bit and see if there's any there there. You know maybe I can get started on another outline for what will come next.".
[00:05:12] I kind of poked at it a little bit. I loaded up Dramatica which is some writing software that I really like when you're trying to pull an idea out because it asks really good questions and gets you thinking about things, about how stories should evolve and develop and whatnot. Who the characters are and what they want. I started kind of poking around in there. And the more I poked around with it, the more I felt like there was something here. There was something special in this story and Xiomara would not leave me alone. She was a very forceful character in my mind. She really had a story that wanted to be told and I couldn't stop thinking about her. And so at about midnight we had some friends over and I looked at them and I was like I'm sorry but I'm going to go back to my office for a little bit and just kind of hit this story idea that just won't leave me alone. So I can just prove to myself that there's no there there right now that needs spends more time with it to bake a little bit more and that way when I get up tomorrow I can get into the story that that I intended to write. So I went back to my office and blew up my laptop and I started typing, and kept typing, and kept typing, and kept typing and
[00:06:42] I am a slow writer. I want to be faster but I am a slow writer.
[00:06:48] And in a couple of hours I had written a couple of thousand words. And that's not like me, that's not like me at all. I don't do that. I mean I want to be able to do that. You know my kind of goal for myself is to get to about a thousand words an hour. But you know that's a goal.
[00:07:09] It's a life goal.
[00:07:12] But this story did that. And so I had written kind of the opening scene of the book and the scene immediately immediately after it. I really liked what was going on. And so I thought well maybe there is some there there. And I got up the next day and I wrote more. I got up the next day and I wrote more. I kept writing. And unlike anything that I've done you know in a very, very long time. This story just kept coming out and I realized there was a there there. This is something that's really pressing on me and it's a story I need to tell. And that's really where Ash Dancer came from.
[00:07:55] It kind of spring forth fully formed in so many ways. I knew the characters. I knew the setting. I knew the world that they lived in. I knew how everything worked. And I've spent the last couple months, well, you know, of course, I didn't finish the book in November, because I never finish a book in November.
[00:08:17] Even when I try my books are never 50000 words lomg. So I didn't finish the book then and I started writing all this backstory down because I didn't want to forget it and collecting that up. And that's when I realized that there were so much more here than I knew what to do with. And that's partially where this podcast comes in and everything else that I'm doing.
[00:08:44] So if you haven't visited yet, I highly recommend that you hand over to AshDancer.com. And there you will find some of the stuff that I have written up there. There's a couple of short stories. There's some background on the world. You can find the first three chapters of the book. There the first book which will be titled The Dragon in the Snow.
[00:09:12] I got ready to write a scene and there were two characters that we were going to be meeting in the book for the first time and they started telling me their backstory and their backstory was very detailed and it was very intricate and how they met and how they first became friends. And I started realizing that I really do need to understand that to be able to write them better.
[00:09:33] And that's where the novella came from. And so I've taken a little side jaunt. I'm working on a novella right now called, Labyrinth of Souls, which is their kind of how they got together how they became friends and the world that they inhabit.
[00:09:52] It's fleshing out more of the world and I'm really enjoying all this. I really am and I'm hoping that I can share some of that love with you. And I'm hoping that I can share some of the ups and downs because there are inevitably downs when you write.
[00:10:10] That's something no writer likes to talk about but there's a point that comes in every book where you're like this is crap. This is the worst thing I've ever done. Why am I working on this. But you push on.
[00:10:23] And so that's what we're going to be doing here on this podcast is kind of talking about the process of writing and going into the background on the setting and the characters. This really is going to be a behind the scenes look at what's going on. I've never done anything like this before. I've wanted to I've thought about it. I've tried with other books. When I wrote, The Chain, I actually tried to do a podcast like this and I didn't really know what I wanted to say. And it was a hard thing to do. But this story this world just keeps me talking to the point where I'm boring people in my regular life because I'm as much a fan of this as students or world as I am of Star Wars or Star Trek or any of those other things that I just absolutely love and I can't get enough of. And that says something right there.
[00:11:33] I have loved my previous fiction. I've liked some of it. I absolutely hated the first draft of one book because the editor that I had was the first book that I ever did. The editor that I had really didn't understand what I was trying to do and I think butchered the book and me being an idiot. I went alone with them. But. You know. I really love this world. There's something special about it.
[00:12:05] It is taking all of those things that I love. All of those things that are so close to my heart and bringing them together in a way that while I would never say that is fresh and original and different. I feel like it is.
[00:12:25] But given the preponderance of books that are out there I'm sure that anybody at any time can point to a story and say see there that's that's what everything looks like. That's you know everything is there. And so I don't like to make the claim that what I'm doing is original. But for me it really feels... I don't know.
[00:12:53] This is my ideal story in so many ways. I really, really like it and I'm hoping to find ways to express that you guys via this podcast. And so I wanted to start by kind of ruining the story by Rumi and explain where well actually most of that for another podcast. There you go a teaser as we talk more about Dragon in the Snow. That's related to a Rheumy story and I actually share the story with you. And where that inspiration comes from.
[00:13:37] But this setting this world the world of the Ash Dancer is kind of the culmination of so many things that I love from the wuxia fiction that I grew up loving. If you're not sure what that is. Wuxia is a Chinese martial arts fantasy fiction, that is... The reason I call the work that I do wuxia even though it's not set in China, you know period. China, is there are certain elements such as the sects in traditional wuxia pian you have things like you know the Wudan, the Shaolin, and the Emei and what have you.
[00:14:21] And you have this kind of underworld where the martial arts Heroes live, and villains live, and it operates by its own rules and it operates by its own code. And that world in wuxia is called The Jhianghu. And there is there are elements of that that I love I love the martial arts combat if you've read any of my other books other than The Chain which is a book that I specifically wrote hoping to have no fight scenes in it because that's something that I write a lot of and I really enjoy writing. And that was one of my challenges with that book is not to have a fight scene in the book.
[00:15:09] I really enjoy that kind of violent dance that you find in wuxia fiction and all of the secrets, and the little intrigues, and the 18 weapons, and the code of honor of the you know wuxia hero. That is so alike and different from the western knight errant. And I just there's something about that style of fiction that I really really enjoy. And if you haven't seen anything like that, or you're not sure if you've seen anything like that some of the biggest movies that you'd probably know is like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, was a really big movie Iron Monkey, Hero starring Jet Li.
[00:16:07] When I think of this setting I'm almost more in the realm of something like The Duel, though I don't have as good a sense of humor as the writers of The Duel, so I don't expect it to be as funny as that movie is in some parts. The Dragon Gate Inn, a little bit of the Zu Warriors, kind of thing here a bit more of like The Legend of the Condor Heroes, stuff like that. That's more the kind of fiction that I'm looking at. I believe even the last couple of those have all been yeah all of those of them turned into movies or Chinese series so you should be able to find some of those if you want to watch some of those to get an idea of where I'm coming from.
[00:17:07] There's something about that world, there's a characteristic to that world that I just absolutely love. And seeing that kind of get born into this fiction really makes me happy. There are elements in here that for me are clearly inspired by my love of like the Final Fantasy stories and the world that you meet there. And so much of the various types of fiction that I've grown up loving.
[00:17:39] In so many ways like I feel like this story is individuating itself to me in a way that is different than my previous work which is one of the reasons why I'm so excited about it. You know in my previous work I think you can look at it and kind of tweeze out: Well that's the Star Trek moment. That's the Star Wars moment or that's this or That's that. I'm sure people are going to say I'm wrong when I say that that's not as easy to do here in this world. But I don't feel like it is because the elements of my love of the work of Lewis Carroll bleeds over, my love for Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft, and the fiction kind of has elements of them. And you know Robert E Howard and you know so many of the other writers that I just love and admire that I don't think they are separable in the same way.
[00:18:54] I mean it feels weird to say this but I feel like this is the first book that I'm working on that is really truly written in my voice. I think The Chain was well and it's kind of where I found my voice. But this book, these stories, this world feels so mine. That's a weird way to say it, a weird thing to say. I get that but it really does feel mine.
[00:19:28] And I want to share it with all of you. And I hope you guys like it as much as I do.
[00:19:38] So yeah. I feel really nervous about doing this podcast, mainly because I'm really putting myself out there. You know I had originally wanted to blog a lot of the stuff. And the problem with that is when you blog something you get to go back over and revise and edit and rethink what you're doing. And I wanted this to be extemporaneous. I wanted to just come out the way it comes out. And so I may say things that are wrong. I may say things that are inaccurate, but I will do my best to share with you what I'm going through working on this book and this series.
[00:20:25] So today, I'm going to be working more on Labyrinth of Souls, which you can sign up over at Ash Dancer dot com to be notified about how that's coming along because of the nature of that story. It's not really broken up into chapters some not going to be posting it as I write. Which I'm not a big fan of. We would like to post as I write so I can get feedback on it, but I will be posting drafts as soon as I can. And of course I will be giving out a free copy of the finished novella to everybody on the newsletter. So if you're interested definitely go over to Ash Dancer and check that out. You can follow me on Twitter. I have two Twitter accounts that I use for this. Well my main one to CEDorsett on Twitter and that's me. That's everything. So when I'm going off about Star Wars, or Marvel movies, or Game of Thrones, or whatever is on my mind, everything goes in there as well as what I'm working on and my fiction and everything. If you don't want all of me, and you just want the stuff related to this setting. This podcast the world I set up a second Twitter account at TheAshDancer that you can find and follow and learn everything you need to there.
[00:21:55] So I am really excited about this.
[00:21:59] I'm going to try to keep these episodes short and by keeping them short I'm also hoping to be able to make them more frequently as I think this might be a good way to either start or end to my writing day is talking to you guys.
[00:22:14] So definitely hit me up over there.
[00:22:15] You can like the fan page over Facebook, The Ash Dancer over there. You can find links to all of these accounts over and Ash Dancer dot com. You can follow the Medium publication where publishing some short stories as I write them. When I say short stories they really like, right now, mostly prose poems which is this genre that I like and sometimes when I'm trying to get up and writing I'll write a poem real quick or a flash fiction story and I'm posting those over there.
[00:22:47] And yeah. I think I'll have less nervous in the next up so I'm really excited to have you guys alone on this journey and I hope you will take it with me.
[00:23:02] So until next time, have the fun, and I can't wait to hear from you and find out what you think about everything that's going on right now and that would actually really help me is if you guys are reading the novel, which is up on Wattpad. And it's on Ash Dancer dot com. You'll find links to both of those at the Web site. If you have any questions those questions would really help I can either answer them on the podcast. I can answer you back via social media or you know might actually trigger a little story or something with a feature that the site. I really want to make this a world that you guys can get in as deeply as I am. I've got a lot of stuff kind of written that I'm trying to figure out how to post and make it accessible to everyone, so there'll be more of that soon.
[00:24:09] I love this. I love this book so much and I hope you guys do too. Anyway I've rambled on long enough. Thank you guys for listening.
[00:24:16] Next episode will be a bit less bubbly probably because I won't be as giddy that I finally did an episode. I finally started this. So anyway. Talk to you guys later. Have the fun. Bye.