Characters and monsters.

Every character’s existence, whether hero, villain or monstrosity, begins with a name. The moment I have their name they arrive complete in every detail. This includes not just their personalities and behavioural characteristics but also their physical appearance. It’s as if the names are a delivery system with all the details neatly packaged. And if the names are right then the characters will work. This does not mean that individuals are unchanging. Inevitably every character is going to transform as the story elements make demands on them. In fact you can bet good money that no one is what they first appear to be in The Shadow Histories. You need to watch your back.

As a writer I am constantly uncovering parts of my characters’ past histories, those secret moments that have made them what they are. It is an unending journey of discovery and it is repeatedly made clear to me that I’m not the one in charge. As an imaginative creator one of the major delights of writing is the way characters will ambush you with something unexpected. They will ignore your carefully laid plans and insist on heading off on their own missions because of things you haven’t yet learned about them. If allowed to, every character you write can, and probably will, leave you scrabbling to catch up as they try to hijack your story. And if your characters are not capable of these unexpected twists and revelations then you probably haven’t been paying attention. This is true of heroes and villains alike.

The villains of the Shadow Histories are not always as easy to identify as would at first appear. No one can be taken for granted. All the characters have complex and often damaged backgrounds, so the best advice is to trust no one until you have sufficient evidence – unless you have infallible instincts of course. But you have to ask yourself, does anyone have infallible instincts?

The monsters on the other hand…well, they are as gruesome, lethal and hideously featured as you could wish for and their appearances will generally confirm your worst fears about them. If something grotesque attacks you, don’t try conciliation or debate. Wisest to revert to fight or flight, flight being the safest option. If you are going to fight be sure you have the necessary weaponry and skills – and an overwhelming advantage of some kind.

Background to writing The Shadow Histories.

Developing and writing The Shadow Histories has taken twelve years so far and this epic effort has been the dynamo and focus of my creative life in all that time. Although there is a monumental amount of work involved there are distinct benefits to spending so long on a single life’s passion. Primarily the ideas have time to mature and evolve as they unfold. Creating a world that is convincing and coherent demands well researched foundation material that has depth and quality.

During the twelve years a vast amount of background material has been generated -

detailed biographies of characters, languages, glyphs, carefully plotted timelines, archaic symbols, multi-layered storylines, codes, innovative concepts and real world research into unique locations and the world of the mysterious. The entire background history of the world of The Shadow Histories is established and consistent. Both the material and the process continue to evolve.