Expanding the World of Reverie – the first ‘Sidequel’

Been a bit of a break since my last post, due to entirely pleasant reasons like holidays and birthdays, but now my head is back (at least partially) in Reverie. The revisit is mainly due to a question someone asked about one of the minor characters from the books, specifically “whatever happened to…”

Although I obviously had a pretty good idea (after all, what responsible author wouldn’t… cough… cough…) I decided to write up their story as a short ‘sidequel’ to the main books. At the moment their tale is somewhere a bit over 5,000 words, but it turns out they had a more interesting back story than I realised, so I will see where things go from here.

PS. I was very disappointed to find out that ‘sidequel’ already existed as a term, having almost convinced myself that I had invented it.

Bella (Clockwork Cyborg, Sea Captain and Explorer)

“I thought that the Deep Sleeper was a myth,” Lucid said, eyebrows raised about as far as they could go on his high forehead.

“She is,” replied Bella, not in the least perturbed. “She is a myth… a legend… a monster to scare children, telling them tales of the big bad creature that swims deep in the Dwam.” She leant forward, resting her elbows on the table. “And she is also the single most real thing in the whole of Reverie. The greatest adventure of my life has been searching for her. I have caught up with her twice in all those years.” She paused, flexing the brass fingers of her right hand. “One of those times cost me my arm, the other my leg.”

“And also your eye I suppose?” Grimble cut in tersely.

“No,” Bella smiled back at him, apparently quite used to her comments being met with disbelief. “That was the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding with a bar full of rather rowdy Sornette traders, who seemed to think I owed them money… which I did as it happens. Their mistake was thinking that I was going to pay them back.”

“Why do you keep looking?” Adam asked her. “Sooner or later you’re going to run out of bits you can spare.”

“Sadly, I can’t really help myself.” Bella turned her attention back to Adam as she spoke. “I have always looked for adventure, generally on my own. No offence to you and your friends but most of the time I can’t really be doing with other people. They are always so… disappointing.”

(Excerpt from ‘Where Dreams End’)

Lucid (loyal friend with a shady past)

“What was it… what happened when you came to Nocturne?” he asked, the words tripping over themselves in his hurry to get them all out before he lost his nerve. “Whatever it was Tremello and the others miss you… Tremello especially I think.”

Lucid’s hat was still over his eyes, so it was impossible to read his emotions, but Adam thought he could see a slight flush of colour on his cheeks. When he spoke again it wasn’t a direct answer to Adam’s question.

“I have heard about a creature in your world,” he began, “that lives in a shell all of its life, deep in your oceans. Occasionally something small and painful, like a piece of grit, gets inside that shell and the creature protects itself by wrapping that painful little intruder in layer after layer until that piece of grit is completely covered.”

Adam nodded, although Lucid couldn’t see him. He was pretty sure he could remember a biology lesson where they had been taught about how pearls were formed, something beautiful and valuable created from a fragment of unwanted dirt.

“It takes a long time, or so I am told,” Lucid continued, “until eventually there is nothing to see but a smooth, shining treasure. But somewhere, deep and unseen within it, that original little piece of grit, the irritant that caused it all, is still there right in the centre… and it always will be.”

Adam waited to see if Lucid was going to explain any further, but it seemed that was all he was willing to share, leaving Adam to interpret the meaning of his words as well as he was able.

(Excerpt from ‘Where Dreams End’)

Nora (and the ‘friendly’ nightmare)

Adam found himself dragged along in Nora’s wake as she strode past him and straight up the stairs to Adam’s room. “Right,” she said purposefully as soon as they were both in his room.

“Right what?” Adam asked, still feeling unbalanced by the combination of Nora’s sudden arrival and Mittens’ rather forceful approach to things.

“Do you trust me?” she asked, darkness coiling from the edge of her pupils. “Would you be insulted if I said… not completely?” Adam managed, backing away slightly as he watched the oily blackness cover her eyes completely and start to spill out from her fingertips. He was feeling increasingly nervous about the way things were going, but as it turned out he didn’t have the chance to say anything further before the coils of darkness sprang out from her hands, lightning fast, and hit him squarely in the face.

(Excerpt from ‘Welcome to Moonshine’)

Grimble (the eternal pessimist)

“It’s her, the Deep Sleeper!” Bella shouted back, “she must have passed near the ship.” As she spoke the deck tipped violently once again, although this time Adam had the foresight to grab tight to the ship’s rails and he managed to stay standing.

Bella was almost erupting with obvious excitement. “I can’t believe that we have run across her, the chances are tiny.”

“Honestly, from experience, I am amazed that it’s taken this long,” Grimble growled as he got back to his feet, brushing himself down. “Every time I go anywhere with these two idiots if there is anything big or dangerous… or most often both anywhere nearby, that’s where we end up.”

“That’s not completely true,” Lucid said, giving Bella an apologetic grin.

“And if there isn’t anything big and dangerous nearby,” Grimble added, “then we just keep moving around until we do manage to find something… and then we prod it.”

(Excerpt from ‘Where Dreams End’)

Adam (the Daydreamer…)

“Bit late for breakfast mate,” Charlie said, briefly pausing his determined munching of his eighth (or possibly even ninth) slice of post-breakfast toast, when Adam finally made it into the kitchen. “To be honest you’re nearly too late for dinner as well. Mum was starting to worry that you were ill, but I set her straight and said you were fine… just really lazy.”

“Thanks,” Adam grunted, letting his head slump down onto the breakfast table. “Still… so… tired… this is ridiculous.”

“Literally zero sympathy. If you will spend all the time when you should be sleeping whooshing around a dream world and fighting evil or whatever it is you keep doing, then you only have yourself to blame.” Charlie walked across to the radio and clicked it on, filling the room with a particularly loud and catchy pop song that grated on Adam’s exhausted brain like a cat scratching a blackboard.

“I hate you,” Adam managed, wiggling his fingers in the direction of the radio and wishing that he could use his Daydreaming in the Waking World. He wasn’t sure if it was considered an acceptable use of his powers to destroy radios, but at the moment he didn’t care. It didn’t make any difference anyway, with the tiny speaker continuing to pump out its agonizingly chirpy tune.

Taking pity on his friend, Charlie turned the radio back off. “Fine, I’ll be nice this time. You do look pretty rough, perhaps you need a day… or night off. You won’t be any good to anyone if your brain implodes from lack of sleep.”

“Can that happen?” Adam asked. “At the moment I kind of hope it could, at least it would get rid of my headache.” He grimaced and smacked his lips a couple of times, “plus my mouth tastes like I’ve tried to chew a camel to death… a really, really ill camel.”

(Excerpt from ‘Where Dreams End’)

A (very) short story

Nothing particularly to do with Reverie. Just a quick fun meander through fairy tales, if they took place in a world slightly closer to reality…

Imagine a world, very close to those you probably read about in fairy tales, or at least that was in stories you had read to you by optimistic parents when you were young, keen to pass on the moral in the story.

You know the kind of thing, good overcomes evil, true love conquers all, honesty is the best policy and most importantly of all… always be the third person (or animal or whatever), to try something. You could be the third (and always youngest) of three siblings to attempt a quest, the third pig to try building a house or the third and the biggest… and the beardiest of three goats crossing a bridge. Just make sure you are the third one and everything would be fine.

Of course, that means if you are the first or second to do something, then it is often the case that the story chews you up and spits you out without a thought, but parents have a habit of glossing over these details. The happy ending justifying the rather grizzly means.

But this world is a bit different. If we pause for a minute and take in a short scene, playing out as we speak, then I think you will see what I mean…

Tristan was the youngest of three brothers, and also a prince. This meant he had been brought up in luxurious surroundings and had never wanted for anything, which is often the way for youngest siblings and also, to a lesser extent, royal princes. Despite this he now found himself in an extremely un-luxurious position.

He was soaked to the bone, running short on food and currently facing a wide moat surrounding a dark and ominous looking castle. He wasn’t entirely sure how he had got himself in this position, one minute he was back at the palace, eating peeled grapes, tiny chickens and other princely food, the next he was here. It had just taken one message, saying that his older brother, Justin, had sadly failed in his quest to rescue some princess or other, (who had himself been following in the unsuccessful footsteps of the oldest of the three brothers, Keith), and Tristan had immediately felt the overwhelming need to go questing himself.

Now he was stood on the edge of an extremely sinister looking moat, which appeared to be filled with some sort of unpleasantly boiling lava rather than water. As he stared, steely eyed into the middle distance the drawbridge came crashing down, which he presumed was probably a good sign. This revealed the shadowy form of a large dragon, which was perhaps less good. The dragon then laboriously stalked across the thick planks of the drawbridge until it was within a few meters of him, staring down with a slightly cross-eyed expression as it tried to focus on the tiny (and surprisingly unafraid looking) human.

The fact that he had no experience of fighting dragons, or indeed anything, didn’t bother Tristan in the least, (although a voice at the back of his head kept nagging at him that it probably should be something to worry about… at least a little bit). Instead he was confident in the fact that he was a third brother, following in the footsteps of two older, more experienced siblings, one of whom had also been a master swordsman, the other a famous dragon slayer. He also had a good heart, (or so he was often told by various lackeys and servants), was of at least average intelligence and was wearing a particularly shiny breastplate with a picture of a rose emblazoned across it.

He was pretty sure that any moment now an ingenious scheme would occur to him and he would defeat the dragon, (possibly by solving some sort of riddle), save the princess and then live happily ever after.

It is true that he did live happily ever after. Or at least that the rest of his life, which was about the time it took for the dragon to breath in and then out, was happy. He spent it thinking about what a hero’s welcome he would get when he returned to the kingdom and was already mentally making a list of possible names for his third child (the names of child one and two seeming unimportant) when the white hot heat of the dragons breath turned him immediately, and fortunately for Tristan, completely painlessly into a pile of ash. Moments later and even that was gone, picked up in the breeze and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

And the moral of this first story? If you are attempting a quest which has previously been tried by two more experienced adventurers, who have both failed, the most likely outcome is that you also will fail.

In fact you are more likely to fail, as the attempts of the first two will have encouraged the evil king, necromancer or dragon to seriously reconsider their defences and generally up their game.

What a difference a day (or year) makes

Newly arrived, paper copies of Book 3!!

Just over a year ago I published the first book in the Daydreamer Chronicles series. It had a self-made cover and zero budget but this was balanced out by the optimism, encouragement and generous support received from friends and family.

Since then the second and now third book in the series have been published, and the first book has been revised and updated a couple of times, (including the new cover, and with the benefit of hindsight, some further editing & housekeeping), receiving some lovely reviews along the way.

So with all this going on, it has been a very busy year one way or another, culminating with the arrival of the hard copies of book three yesterday.

I wanted to say a big thanks to everyone that has supported the series, (whether through reviews, facebook post likes / shares, or just generally being nice!) and will be running a giveaway or two in the coming weeks to show my appreciation, so keep your eyes peeled.

New faces in Reverie (#2)

Introducing another of the new characters, Isabella. Steam powered adventurer and all round troublemaker.

By now Bella had joined the others, standing alongside Adam and looking amazingly unconcerned. “Wind me up…” Bella hissed out the side of her mouth, as the menacing, although still very odd, strongman strode towards them.

“What?”

“Wind… me… up, quickly!” This time Bella gestured with her thumb back to the spot where her brass arm was locked into place just below her right shoulder. To his surprise, (although he was increasingly wondering why anything surprised him anymore), Adam saw a handle. Other than the fact it was stuck out of someone’s back, it reminded him of the key used to wind the old clock that had taken pride of place on his mother’s bedside table for years.

New faces in Reverie

In the run up to Book 3 in the series I thought I’d take the chance to introduce a couple of the new characters that pop up. The first of these is the rather unpleasant underworld figure known only as ‘Granny’, with an extract from ‘Where Dreams End’ below giving a brief glimpse.

Rather hesitantly Adam walked across to stand in front of her, caught in the glare of the lamps hanging around the desk and the small oasis of clear space that surrounded it. Up close Granny was even more ancient than Adam had first thought and considerably grubbier. The fine clothes didn’t appear to have been washed for some time and there was an unpleasant smell that he tried not to react to.

“It’s a very rare thing you’re asking for,” she began. “There are only two captains that I would trust on the Dwam, and unfortunately for you one of them is quite mad.”

“So, who is the other one?” Adam asked. She smiled back at him, not particularly pleasantly, revealing what remained of her teeth. A series of alternating black and brown tombstones in remembrance of long lost and sadly missed oral hygiene.

“Oh my…” she giggled, “…you don’t understand at all do you? It’s the mad one that you need to find. The other one is much, much worse.”

“Where then, where do we find this captain?” Adam asked her, trying not to breathe in too heavily, her last exhalation having made him slightly woozy.

At his question she held out a wrinkled hand, the skin on her fingers hanging loose, like oversized jumpers on skinny children, waiting to grow into their clothes. Despite her lack of words, her intention was transparent enough.