This is a guest post to promote the fact that the first book in the Legends of Windemere series has been made permanently free.
So grab yourself a copy, and curl up to this delightful treat! I will let Charles take it away from here.
Thank you to Cyrus for helping to spread the word that Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero is now free. Back when I started publishing this fantasy series in 2013, it was the only genre I was working in. Now, I’ve branched out into Rated-R dystopian adventures with a lot of action and humor. That book is called Crossing Bedlam and I’ve been asked to talk about what it’s like to write such different types of stories.
First, you need to know what each one is about. Beginning of a Hero follows Luke Callindor, a young warrior from a famous family who is out to prove he is worthy of his surname. He lies to get his first adventure and finds himself facing a demonic assassin while trying to protect a royal heir in a military academy. It doesn’t help that he has no idea who he is supposed to be guarding from the creature. Needless to say, Luke stumbles a lot and has to depend on several new friends as well as learn what it really means to be a hero in Windemere.
Crossing Bedlam takes place in the Shattered States, which is the USA after it has been isolated by the world. Impenetrable walls are along its northern and southern borders while a global navy prevents anyone from escaping. Soon after the initial attack, Washington DC was nuked and the rest of the country fell into chaos. None of that really matters because Cassidy is more concerned with staying alive and fulfilling her mother’s last wish. A decade after the country collapsed, she is attempting to travel from New York City to San Francisco to toss her mother’s ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a dangerous journey filled with dangerous locals and disturbing obstacles. On the plus side, her companion is Lloyd Tenay, a serial killer she broke out of Riker’s Island. She had more people, but Lloyd killed them when her back was turned.
The differences between the two are actually rather cosmetic. Both of these stories have a lot of action, are written in the same style, and look into the concept of identity. Lloyd is trying to find his place in a new world, Cassidy is still in her mother’s shadow, and Luke Callindor is determined to earn the identity he craves. That’s really where the similarities end because Windemere and the Shattered States have very little in common. Leaving out genres, the worlds require different answers for the same problem. An injury or obstacle in Windemere can be solved with magic while the same one in the Shattered States needs a more realistic, possibly technology-based solution. That alone causes a different type of thinking for me. I guess I have less of an imaginary cushion when working within the real world than one of my own design.
Something I had to alter was how I did research when it came to Crossing Bedlam. When it comes to Windemere, I mostly have to create stuff and make sure it remains consistent. There are times when I look into monsters to see if they’ll work in my world or research animals to put a creature together. Small things pop up here and there in fantasy writing, but it really comes down to remembering your own world. Now when it comes to the Shattered States, Google Earth and Wikipedia were my friends. I had to see where Interestate-80 went and check out each stop for real world locations. I needed to research tasers, vehicles, rhinos, communication devices that could work in this world, heavy artillery, pop culture references, and whatever else came up while I was writing. I couldn’t wing it like I do with Windemere, especially since people love to catch authors with wrong information.
Another big difference is the tone of the stories and characters. Luke Callindor is a hero and acts the part in a world with a history of such things. Noble deeds are common and there isn’t a deep level of cynicism in Windemere when compared to the real world. It’s also not a setting that stems from the collapse of a society. That fact is why Shattered States has a more vicious edge to it. Cassidy and Lloyd are survivor types who will do things that a ‘pure hero’ wouldn’t ever consider. They’ll kill, threaten, and maim to get to the next part of their adventure. Making a deal with gangs and warlords is perfectly fine to them even if it means innocents that they’ve never met will suffer. It’s the way to survive their world, which darkens the tone. Not to say that you can’t have some humor in it, which a central part of Lloyd’s insane personality. It’s only that the jokes are going to be different in such a world. Windemere can have some lighthearted bantering while Shattered States is more likely to have dark and perverted jokes made at the expense of someone else. Being an author who can’t stop himself from putting humor into his stories, this can be a big challenge because the two schools can cross a bit and then I have to rethink the joke during an edit.
I’d say working with fantasy and dystopian genres is like mixing apples and oranges. I can’t because I’ve had fruit salad with both in there. So I have to say that it requires a different focus and mental track for each one. Windemere has actually become the heavier of the two as it progresses because I’m working on battering characters. Shattered States might never reach that and remain my ‘relaxed and fun’ series as I add more adventures. Part of that is because Cassidy and Lloyd are already pretty broken, so they shrug a lot more off than Luke Callindor and his friends. The difference results in a change in tension and stress when I’m working. While Windemere requires less research, I feel more pressure to make sure the story is epic. Shattered States requires a lot of research, but I can go with the flow a lot more and its feels organic. It’s going to be very interesting when I step into another genre after one of these two ends.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and check out Beginning of a Hero for free. Thanks for listening to this wild ramble.