FROM THE AUTHOR - The Wizard’s Conscript
What’s a writer to do when one morning she wakes up with inspiration for the writing of a fantasy adventure novel? She starts working on it, of course. First, lots of notes before the characters and situations she’s dreamt up can disappear. Then the plotting, picturing the flow of the story. That’s how The Wizard’s Conscript began.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Let me assure you, it wasn’t. So many characters, on the side of good and evil, jostling for attention. Castles, medieval clothing, an ancient wizard, giants. A vaguely parallel Europe, with magic, adventure, and of course, a heroine. Lots to sort out.
As I began the writing, one thing was certain. At the heart of the story would be a young woman. One who pushed boundaries, was outspoken, and involved in all the action. Not the type to sit around waiting to be rescued. Instead, she was a rescuer. I’ve come to realise that at the heart of most of my stories, there’s a strong female. Perhaps it’s to compensate for the restrictions on females still in place when I was growing up. Perhaps I’d read one too many fairytale where a beautiful princess sat around waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince. That’s probably why I so enjoy stories like Tony Robinson’s Maid Marian and Her Merry Men on television, with Robin a gormless narcissist, his men seriously lacking in many areas, and Marian more intelligent and capable than the lot of them put together.
The men my heroine Caeri encounters are not stupid. Nor are they useless. Indeed, a certain wizard and a diminuitive king both teach her magic. But many of the male characters, despite their heroism and competency, are sometimes a little juvenile. Despite this, they’re good companions to Caeri in her adventures.
Last year I was in Melbourne, and in the National Gallery of Victoria encountered a medieval wooden statue of Saint Barbara. She epitomises my heroine so well, looking as though she could kick ass without too much encouragement. She clutches a large book (Caeri is somewhat of a bookworm), and she has a determined, slightly sneering expression. My heroine exactly!
I’m still trying to work out how I dreamed her up, where her motley crew came from, and what was the inspiration for her adventures. I don’t watch fantasy adventure movies (still haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings films), don’t read them (the world-building and multitude of characters do my head in), so it’s a mystery. The only thing I’ll allow is that I’ve read most of the Harry Potter books and seen two of the films, but those stories are grounded firmly in the present day, not in the medieval era.
The inspiration for my fantasy novel The Wizard’s Conscript will remain a mystery. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to analyse its source, but just go with the flow. Despite it being handed to me almost fully formed, it’s not been easy to write. The original manuscript I aimed at adults. A “fairytale for grownups”. By the third rewrite, it had decided for me that it should be for children, but that didn’t really work, either.
So now, several years and many versions later, The Wizard’s Conscript is aimed at readers around twelve years plus. That doesn’t cancel out those who are younger. Nor adults. My writing group have been with me on this writing journey, and they all seemed entertained by the story. My heroine is almost fourteen. Back in medieval days, she would have been considered an adult.
I’ve enjoyed researching a different era from that of the present day and from my usual historical writing, which is usually based in the 18th or 19th centuries. I’ve also loved not being constrained by getting things exactly right. This is, after all, an imaginary world. True, it has rough parallels with medieval Europe, but there it ends. I enjoyed having my heroine originating from somewhere like the Iberian Peninsula, though the society is vaguely Welsh (go figure!). The hero and his cohorts live in a (very) imaginary France, the hero’s sister in an over-decorated Venice. And so it goes.
It’s been easy to love writing this fantasy adventure novel, despite its many incarnations. So much so, The Wizard’s Conscript is destined to be the first of a series under the overarching title, All the Corners of the World. Stay tuned!