"We are such stuff as dreams are made on:"
Last night I woke from an incredibly sad dream, about loss and loneliness. I’ll spare you the depressive details, but the impact of dreams in our lives for me has to translate into the lives and experiences of characters whose stories I tell. In fact, I insert dreams in stories to give readers greater insight into the subconscious matters affecting and influencing characters for deeper understanding of those characters.
In the current project, Jaysin is challenged on several matters as the story draws to a conclusion. He wants power and identity. He wants to become his ‘best self’, to stand apart and be recognised for who he can be. He feels his siblings overshadow him and hold him back, while his new mentor offers him opportunities to grow. But there is a double cost involved.
First, there are ethical dilemmas for Jaysin in serving the Empire – the determined will of the rulers to subjugate those who do not want to be ruled. The parallels with protest marchers over COVID restrictions is a prime current example of how the ruling class have to use ‘force’ to keep the population safe against a population that believes it is being oppressed by the ruling class. Who is morally right? Is there any ‘right’ in the clash? In order to stay with his mentor and grow in his magical prowess, Jaysin must be willing to become involved in politics and social order imposed by the Imperial laws and leaders, and that means dealing harshly with ordinary people who fight for their version of freedom. In almost every scenario in life, choosing to follow a mentor means changing your perspective of the world and human behaviours. When I was mentored to become a better teacher, I had to alter my perspective of the classroom, my practices, and my understanding of the nature of what teachers and students are in that environment. When my volleyball mentor set a goal for our team to enter National competitions, I had to change my perspective of what playing a game meant and my practices to be a better contributor in a team role. To become something different, you cannot remain the same.
Second, to accept his mentor and the law of the Empire, Jaysin must become increasingly estranged from his family. This is partly a physical separation – Tam and Chasse are hiding in the western mountains, Jaysin is in the Imperial capital. It is partly a political separation – Jaysin must choose between serving the Empire or rebelling against it, and his family are outlaws by default. It is also partly an emotional separation because they are family and the siblings struggled together to survive the collapse of their home village and loss of its culture. Jaysin was nurtured into beginning his journey into magic by Tamesan, and he admires his brother’s physical prowess even though he, personally, was never destined to become a Harbin dragonwarrior.
To draw Jaysin away from his family, his mentor offers growth in magical knowledge and power. She offers comfort and status. She offers a broader understanding of the wider world – at least from her point of view. Every day, worldwide, people leave families behind to pursue careers and passions – children leaving parents, spouses leaving partners and families. We must acknowledge and remember and reflect upon the fact that some of the most revered and successful individuals in human history only achieved success by severing ties with family or abandoning family to chase their dreams.
And so to dreams. The complex psychology that makes us dream of the things deeply concerning us – sense of loss, abandonment, injustice, confusion, loneliness, fear, frustration and anger – is a valuable vehicle in opening and explaining characters in stories. In itself, a creative story is a form of dreaming because it allows readers to journey with characters and share their experiences and wake from the end perhaps wiser or more confused, but awake nevertheless. Revealing character’s dreams reveals the character’s deepest struggles that cannot be easily revealed in waking action and interaction.
Jaysin’s Song is at 90,000 words – just over – with approximately four chapters to write. Today, having finished this blog, I enter one of Jaysin’s dreams to start a new chapter.
The Source of Magic
Jaysin’s Song is at 80,000 words – roughly with nine chapters remaining to write. I can see the end – it’s just within my grasp, though I’m not entirely sure what it will look like when I reach it. So, let’s talk a little about magic.
I have, from the outset, way back in 1990 when Guardians was barely ten chapters in draft and a concept proposal on its way to Roxarne Burns at Pan MacMillan, wrestled with the ‘science’ of the magic that would permeate my fantasy novels. I was caught between magic emerging from certain beings understanding and manipulating the auras and energies at the core of all things, and an alien intervention – a source of magic that falls from the stars. In the end I combined both, allowing a character I named A Ahmud Ki to explore and become adept at what were called the five Kis – each school of magic understood, and misunderstood, by some but not by others. The oldest form of magic was born from the Elvenaar and the Aelendyell who learned how to manipulate the energies residual in all matter. To warm a rock, the secret was to learn the phrases that would cause the rock to resonate, its energy being released as warmth. To that, they added the ability to affect and control the mind, allowing illusion and similar magic to be applied. But then I introduced to the world history of my works a cataclysmic event – a meteor shower that brought with it the alien magic of amber – not amber as we know it, but a material that could amplify the energies and illusions of the older magic and make it many times more powerful. In the Andrakis trilogy, the power of amber is mentioned, but not truly understood by all. However, in the Ashuak Chronicles, amber is recognised as the conduit for and source of powerful magic, and by the Dreaming in Amber quatrology it is understood for what it is.
The Last Wizard novels slowly embrace the amber and energy magics because they are set in a separate part of the same world as Andrakis, Ashua and Amber, though at a different time. The Herbal Man and his dragon companion, Claryssa, from the first book, were survivors of a past age when wizards and dragons made their powerful but flawed pact and infused their beings with the amber in the same way as dragons were infused with it millennia before by the Elvenaar. Tam inherits this ancient legacy through her union with the dragon, Harmi. I will unfold the dragon evolution in another blog because it is the background of the fourth (unwritten) book in The Last Wizard series.
The Last Wizard novels are ‘coming of age’ tales for the four characters – Tamesan, Chasse, Jaysin and Harmi the dragon – and the Harbin community from which they originate had little understanding of the wider world beyond the mountains and the ocean surrounding it. Each book takes our characters further and deeper into a world where politics and social fabrics are increasingly more complex and fraught. So it is with the magic that they discover, especially Jaysin. The section I’m writing now in Jaysin’s Song has Jaysin stumbling upon the oldest forms of magic from the Elvenaar and Aelendyell, the ones who eventually transformed large forest lizards into dragons using the alien amber and became the Dragonlords. I write in circles along a background and history planned thirty years ago. It’s fun.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...