Breaking dimensions with good intentions

During the last eighteen months we’ve been lashed to the mast in a Force Niner, the wind howling and rain soaking. An exaggeration … oh, sure. This geezer’s a fantasy writer. Suffice to say, it’s been a tad grim. 🙂

But bad storms, like gallstones, pass. We’re climbing back out into the sunshine like a blinking, yawning prairie dog who got lost in his own tunnels. It happens – ask my cat. All that dark soaking served as a neon flashing roadsign pointing to where my world––Ansu––and its warped dimensions, were heading, or evolving, and what the grubby occupants were up to.

We’ve had time to think, the guru, cat and I. About the journey, and the folk we’ve encountered along the way. Our mission––to create and neatly spread marmite through the chaos. Cut a track through the circles within circles––such is the frantic dance of life. Without help, it’s easy to get lost sometimes. Flail like a windmill sail, and ultimately fail. The important thing is not to waver. Be bold in your confusion. Let the Force come to you. It always does if you allow enough time. And are fluent in Jedi mind speak.

To chart a course ahead, you need a good map––right? So … quoting the movie Field of Dreams: ‘If You Build It He Will Come’ I asked the wonderful Cartographer and Gamer, Francesca Baerald, to ‘build’ me a map so the next stories will come. A beautiful bespoke world map watercolor of Ansu showing some of its gods and creatures. Pictured below.

Legends of Ansu by Francesca Baerald

Twenty years ago, the above world was much simpler. Just a forest and a village and a bad tempered, scruffy Celtic warrior type, trudging and grumbling with a big unwieldy sword slung over a sore shoulder. The plot was nonexistent. Dude was going home to Finnehalle, his village, to get drunk after a hectic and stressful few years braining bad guys. That was it. A future classic––yeah? His name was Corin an Fol. He crept out the back of a dingy pub in my trucking days. Could have been Suffolk, or maybe Wiltshire, England––I had a few gloomy boltholes back then. But no map – just a road.

The road widened, twisted and forked, and the world developed as more folk wandered in without invitations. Good Guys and Bad Guys but mostly confused messed up Guys. I wanted to shape people as I found them. No shiny-ass knights permitted here. In Ansu, even the good faeries sting and cuss. You don’t want to meet the bad ones.

The world grew bigger, breaking dimensions as the gods flexed their biceps and messed with time and space. We spanned three millennia with the blink of an eye. Corin’s saga ended and others took the descaled limelight. Sir Garland the Journeyman trudged further afield into pastures new. He’s still out there. Jaran Saerk the Berserker hewed a hole in the north with his shapeshifting lover, Savarna, while being spat at by the hellcat witch Sheega. And lately Gujun the Slayer and his nemesis, Arraleen––shiny boots––Caze (She’s my current favorite, btw) bit and chewed their way south and east, pushing the boundaries and creating the Slayer Trilogy.

Starring Arraleen Caze and Gujun the Slayer

What started out as a walk through tangled woods has led to a maze of carnage and mayhem. A journey which will conclude in a few years, unless one or two of Ansu’s more rebellious crew insists on not dying. It’s been twenty years of mostly doing things back to front and inside out. But thanks to Francesca’s map and the other folks mentioned below. I feel that we’re finally on course to wherever … In Jimmy Buffett’s words, ‘Forget that blind ambition and learn to trust your intuition. Plowin’ straight ahead, come what may.’

I’ve dedicated this rambling scribble to three marvelous people who have helped Ansu and its moving parts take shape:

First there’s Ravven, whose glorious cover designs and stalwart support have been a constant treasure.

Next there’s John Jarrold, whose substantial knowledge of the fantasy genre, constructive advice and ninja editing skills have proved invaluable to a headstrong ex-trucker.

Finally, Francesca – who has brought the world of Ansu to vivid life with her dazzling watercolor world map creation.

Thanks for reading.