Posts Tagged ‘Daughter of Flame’

I hate to make all these “I haven’t been a very good blogger lately” posts off, but here we go:

Sing it with me:

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. 

A lot of this has to do with internet problems I’ve been having (the Coyote Crossing cohousing web server was haxx0red recently, as the damn kids say, and because of that my internet connection has been… spotty, at best). But much of it has to do with where my creative energy has been going. I’ve got all these ideas for blog posts that I want to write, but about 60% of my creative energy is going into Lotus, and the other 40% is going into Daughter of Flame. Which means that I don’t write the blog posts that I want to write, when I have the time to write. And then there’s classes, and homework, and San Francisco Giants games, and sleep. Beautiful sleep.

I’m sorry about this. Here: as a token of reconciliation, here’s the first draft of the prologue to Daughter of Flame. It might be very different in the end. But it is here anyway.

~ Ian

(Queens of the Stone Age, “Song for the Dead”)

 

Daughter of Flame: Loki 1

He walked across the desert, naked in the burning sun.

It didn’t burn his skin. He was a being of fire, after all, and a little heat wouldn’t be enough to burn him. In ages long past, he had danced in the hydrogen-fusion flames of the sun, done the backstroke in magma chambers at the earth’s heart, raised his mouth to the sky and laughed as lightning burned vast northern forests to the ground.

It wasn’t the heat that bothered him. It was the light.

His eyes were accustomed to the darkness of Niflheim. Twelve hundred years in the freezing cold beneath the earth (with only a meager break of a month, nearly eighteen years ago, and what a break that had been), and his eyes were light-sensitive. Even moreso, because of the snake’s venom, constantly dripping into his eyes.

Step after step, over the hard-baked, griddle-hot ground, he walked.

The man was tall. Eight feet tall, and thin. When he’d been young, he’d reminded those who saw him of a bundle of sticks hastily cobbled together into the shape of a man. He walked hunched over, but even that couldn’t conceal the fact of his height. (Even so, he was considered a runt among his kind…) The skin on his arms and chest and back was ghost-pale and freckled, with pale tan patches the size of thumbprints dappling his body, and covered in fine blonde hairs almost too light to be seen.

His hair was the bright red-orange color of a wildfire.

His eyes were the dark yellow of topazes.

Around his mouth, like a ring of mushrooms or standing stones, were a series of tiny piercings, as regular and evenly spaced as if they’d been sewn there.

He had many names, and gathered them like a dragon gathers jewels. In days of old, men called him the Skywalker, the Smith of Lies, the Mother of Serpents, Baldur’s Bane, the Betrayer.

He was Loki, god of chaos and flame.

And he was free.

***

Eventually, as Loki walked, the sun began to die in the west. Just before it sank below the horizon, he came to a road that cut arrow-straight across the desert, from east to west. Not much of a road, just a two-lane highway, lined by a barbed-wire fence and a row of telephone poles, wire strung between them like a clothesline.

There were two ravens sitting on the barbed-wire fence, watching him. They were as big as dogs, and as black as the void of space.

Loki smiled when he saw them.

“I see you there,” he said. “Don’t think you two can hide.”

The ravens just watched him impassively, as only ravens can.

“Now, I’m going to give a warning to you,” he said. “You’re gonna go back to old Glad-of-War and tell him. I’m off to Jotunheim. I mean to end it now. I’m just passing through at the moment, but when I do return, you better believe it’s gonna be at the helm of a ship built of dead men’s nails.

“And, just to be clear that I mean business…”

He reached out, as quick as an eyeblink, and grabbed one of the ravens by the neck. It kawed in protest, almost more annoyed than afraid.

Loki brought the raven to his mouth, and opened it wide. His jaw distended as if it were made of rubber. His mouth was full of sharp, sharp teeth.

He casually tossed the raven in. There was the sickening crunch of gristle and bone as he chewed, and then swallowed in one gulp.

“That’s what the All-father will get, when I’m done with him,” said Loki. “Just to make things more interesting, tell you what: I’ll be in the land of ice and fire. Gathering my power. Tell Odin that he’ll find me there, if he can’t resist a challenge. If I know him at all, and I do, he’ll come galloping into battle.”

And Loki turned away from the raven. “Well, what are you waiting for? Fly away, little bird.”

There was the sound of wings behind him. Loki didn’t turn around to watch the raven leave.

Far off on the highway, there was the roar of an engine, and a cloud of dust. Loki stuck out his thumb.

A white sports car with the top down came roaring up at ninety miles an hour, and pulled to a stop in front of Loki. The driver was a man in a black leather jacket, with mirrored sunglasses.

“Damn,” he said, whistling. “How’d you lose your clothes?”

“Long story,” Loki said. “Nice car.”

The man grinned. Not particularly bright, thought Loki. Good. “Yeah. Good eye.”

“Fuel-injected V10 engine, molded aluminum chassis, seven hundred brake horsepower, can go from zero to sixty in just four-point-six seconds.”

“Yeah. She’s a beautiful machine.”

“She is indeed,” Loki murmured. “Give her to me.”

“Wh-what?”

“Your car. And your clothes.”

The man threw up his hands. “Hey, man, if you think I’m gonna give you my car, you must be out of your mind.”

“Yes,” said Loki. “I am.”

And he snapped his fingers.

The man burst into flame.

Loki watched as the man slowly burned, screaming, fat and muscle going up in flames, bones cracking with heat, hair sending clouds of noxious black smoke into the evening desert sky. Strangely enough, his clothing didn’t burn.

Loki waited until the man was nothing but a pile of gray ash, and then opened the car door, took out the man’s clothes, and put them on.

The man had been tall, but he’d still been a couple feet shorter than Loki. No matter. Loki took hold of the force of Chaos, and stretched the clothes until they fit him perfectly.

Loki put on the sunglasses, and sat behind the wheel of the convertible. It was now matte-black, with red-orange flames curling along the sides.

“It’s been a while,” said Loki.

He put his foot down on the exhaust. The car’s tires squealed, and the exhaust blasted gouts of blue fire.

He was free now. The world had been without him for too long.

Time for a little chaos.

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So. I thought that I’d talk to you guys some about what’s been going on with my book.

Or, rather, books. Because I have two of them now.

That’s right. I’m working the first draft of a second novel, entitled Daughter of Flame, which is the book that I mentioned in this post. It’s a YA fantasy novel set in sort of semi-quasi-modern times. It’s basically the story of Fiona Lyesmith (American Gods reference intentional), who is the half-mortal bastard daughter of Loki. It’s got a lot of stuff in it. I’m only at the beginning now, but I’m planning on including lots and lots of things: Kitsune assassins, and elves, and dungeon crawling, and chaos magick, and the Fates, and flying goats, and all kinds of other awesome stuff.

And there’s music. Fiona Lyesmith is a singer, and music is a key part of her life, just like writing is a key part of mine. So I’ve sprinkled liberal references to Fiona’s favorite bands throughout the book, which include some of my favorites as well. Of course, I’m not a musician, so I’m mostly making stuff up here, but in the case of fiction, verisimilitude beats realism nearly every time. Besides, I feel like all creative people have the same feelings about their work, whether they’re writers or musicians, game designers or bakers.

In any case: Daughter of Flame is coming along. I’m still at the stage where I’m getting to know the characters, but I like them, and I’m getting to know them better. The novel is YA (young adult), so I have to have a different mindset when it comes to writing it. I’m not as comfortable with including explicit violence or sexual content as I am with some of my other work. In addition, I can’t swear, which feels kind of uncomfortable. I’m a sailor-mouth. I prefer it when I’m able to cuss. The fact that I’m pretty much reduced to using “crap” and “damn” when it comes to swearing feels like a weight around my neck sometimes. (Even so, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the phrase “Jesus Christ on a stick!” which my characters use, and which I’ve found myself saying sometimes.

I’ve also come to realize that Daughter of Flame is sharply different from most YA these days, which I dignify with the term “smoldering magical teen boy with abs abstinence porn”, or SMTBWAAP, for short. (It’s pronounced sumtubwhap, so you know.) You know the kind. It’s the kind of chaste paranormal high-school romance that has been burning up the charts because of Twilight and its ilk. Daughter of Flame is not that. It’s kind of the opposite. It’s heavy-action, slightly intellectual mythological portal fantasy with a kickass soundtrack. I could never imagine Fiona Lyesmith listening to Linkin Park, Maroon 5, or Justin Bieber. She likes to rock out to Lacuna Coil blasting a hole through her eardrums. If she met Justin Bieber, she’d probably pants him.

So, yes. Good music, Norse gods, and cool characters: that’s how I think of Daughter of Flame.

As for Baby #1? It’s coming along nicely. I’ve written six chapters of Draft 2, with a total wordcount of around 25,000 words (basically, this means that it’s a fifth of the length of d1). I’m not looking forward to the massive cuts that I’m going to have to make. I’m probably going to have to get rid of around 50,000 words before I sent Lotus out to agents and publishers. Line edits won’t be enough. I’m going to have to cut whole scenes. Which is bad, because I love what I’ve written. I love the characters and the world that I’ve created. It’s going to be hard to lose some of that.

Oh well. I can put some of the deleted scenes up on Axolotl Ceviche when that happens. (By the way, this summer I’m probably going to migrate everything over to axolotlceviche.com, which I own. Just a heads up.) There’s a lot of work to be done before Lotus is going to be of publication quality, but I can get it done. Finishing d1 has given me a huge burst of confidence when it comes to writing.

Speaking of which: Remember “Cassandra”, that story I wrote WAY back in April of 2012? Well, it’s going to be a screenplay.

More on that soon.

~ Ian