Telling Time In A Fantasy World

“High Noon” and “7 o’clock” don’t exactly exude a fantasy feeling….

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Coming up with names for fantasy characters is a struggle all its own, but that’s only part of the battle when building a new world from scratch for a book series. Deities, countries, landmarks, seasons, and even days of the week all have to be taken into consideration.

Like with the main character naming conventions from Light Dawning, I knew I wanted the way in which people distinguish time to veer away from modern words and phrases, but at the same time I didn’t want it to go completely into the overblown high fantasy side of the equation. Light Dawning is a low fantasy novel with a strong horror flavor, so the names also needed to run towards the darker side.

The hours of the day needed to give a distinct feel so that you know this world is different from others, while still making sense at a glance without having to look up terms in a glossary. I want to draw the readers into the world more with little details like this that constantly remind them where they are, and that Cestia is very much not the same as their home on Earth.

Rather than using the standards like “8 AM” or “High Noon” or “Midnight,” I came up with my own system of daily time that gets included in each chapter heading, along with the location where the chapter takes place, to give a frame of reference to the reader.

The daily time segments from earliest to latest are:

  • Light Dawning
  • Morningtide
  • High Sun
  • Aurora
  • Radiantfall
  • Dimmet
  • Eventide
  • Twilight
  • Gloaming
  • True Night
  • Stars Fading

The time slots aren’t necessarily exact or consistent across the seasons (since water or mechanical clocks aren’t commonly available in Cestia during the occupation, and Radiantfall or Dimmet is likely to come earlier in the day during the winter season).

In general though, each time slot is roughly around and hour and a half, and has three versions: early, mid (marked just by the base name), and late. So for instance, it might be early Radiantfall, Radiantfall, or late Radiantfall as the time slot progresses. The TOC below shows you how the time progresses over the days in which Light Dawning takes place.

How do you feel about changing up the times, names of days, and seasons in fantasy and horror novels? Do you prefer something that sticks to the standard modern day systems, or like a little more originality for flavor?

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What’s In A Name: Coming Up With Words And Phrases For Fantasy Worlds

A look at how I picked the names for the main characters in Light Dawning.

For fantasy and sci-fi writers, a whole lot of time is usually spent on picking names for characters and locations. Has this word been overused in other worlds? Does it sound too modern? Does it go too far and sound too bizarre?

I’ve found that sometimes the more tongue twisting fantasy names tend to be distracting and really draw me out of a book if I have to look at it and try pronouncing it repeatedly (this really hit me when reading The Darkness That Comes Before with names like Anasûrimbor or Cnaiür) .

When writing Light Dawning I knew I didn’t want standard American sounding names (so no Richard, Jack, or Robert) but at the same time I didn’t want to go overboard into the fantasy side either (so no Blipdoolpoolp or Xanathar).

After coming up with a lot of odd sounding fantasy names I wasn’t altogether happy with, I decided to start throwing words based around character traits into a translator and seeing if I could find anything in random other languages that felt otherwordly while still not being ludicrous, and that’s how I landed on my protagonist names.

The main character is a woman infested with insane, sentient whispers from a place that the religious think of as heaven but is really more akin to hell. If she speaks her inner truth and lets those internal whispers out, the world could change drastically for the worse. To reflect this I picked the name Tala, which is both Swedish and Icelandic for “to speak or chatter.”

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Another character is a thief and a coward who is stuck somewhere he can’t escape. He’s literally mired down by a darkness in his soul that won’t let him go. I went through a lot of different ideas on this front, but eventually settled on Myrr, from the Swedish word myr, meaning “mire or morass,” reflecting both the unpleasant physical location and the concept of being stuck.

The third protagonist is a religious fanatic whose primary goal in life is to get through the darkness of the night, burn a city to the ground, and see the light of a new day dawn over the ashes. Because he is so focused on shifting the balance between light and dark, I settled on Erret (Albanian for “dusk”).

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I went through a lot of different languages and iterations on character names to try to come up with a cohesion in naming while building up a unique world with inhabitants who have different cultural practices that vary by region.

For instance, the characters from the main city in the book tend to have short, clipped names like Myrr, Otta (Icelandic for “fear”), Kina, Shan, and so on.

What sort of names do you prefer in fantasy and sci-fi stories? Something modern and normal, something outlandish and fantastic, or somewhere in-between?

For another look at how picking names can even impact something as simple as telling time in a fantasy world, head over here!

The Occupation Of Iraq Via Fantasy… Except Worse

New review up from author C.T. Phipps!

A killer new review just rolled in for Light Dawning from fellow author C.T. Phipps, who penned series like Wraith Knight, Lucifer’s Star, Agent G, and I Was A Teenager Weredeer.

According to Phipps, the grimdark backdrop of Light Dawning is like “the occupation of Iraq via fantasy, except even worse!” Read the full review at Goodreads here!

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New Year Of Fantasy And Sci-Fi

28 books from 18 authors all at 99 cents!

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2018 is here and its time to fill up your TBR pile! I had the distinct pleasure of teaming up with 18 killer authors for the New Year Of Fantasy & Sci-Fi promo running right now.

Until Sunday the 14th, we’re offering 28 of our collective books in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres at only 99 cents each.

For less than a cup of coffee pick up my Light Dawning or anything by these stellar authors in the lineup like Rob Hayes, M.L. Spencer, Damien Black, Frank Dorrian, Richard Nell, and many more! Check out the full lineup here.

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2017 Books You Should Be Checking Out

From horror to romance and sci-fi!

Now that Light Dawning fervor is dying down and work is underway on new material (stay tuned for info coming soon), let’s take a look at books from other authors you should be reading this year!

Grimdark Fantasy

darklandsM.L. Spencer’s Rhenwars series is getting a ton of praise lately, and the third and final book Darklands just came out earlier this summer.

Going a bit different direction is the highly-praised Kings Of The Wyld by Nicolas Eames, which interjects rock ‘n roll into the dark fantasy genre as a band of old mercenaries come back together for one last job.

If you like your fantasy to feature an orc invasion, don’t miss out on The Eighth God by Paul S. Lavender either!

 

Grimdark Sci-Fi

lucGrimdark is definitely focused on the fantasy lately, but don’t forget that it very much has roots in sci-fi, with the grand daddy of the genre of course being Warhammer 40,000.

Offering up a futuristic rendition of the dark fantasy style is C.T. Phipps and his space opera Lucifer’s Star.

 

 

 

Sci-Fi Romance

1861379684Now hold on a sec… romance you say? Yeah, it’s not my normal thing, but Wendie Nordgren’s Space Merchants series is actually some pretty legit action sci-fi that happens to have a lot of heavy breathing, beefcake princes, and will-they won’t-they going on.

Teagan starts from humble beginnings on earth but goes on to rule a galaxy-spanning empire. The Space Merchants series is now in its fifth iteration with the recently-released Spider Queen. The whole series just got some killer new covers as well.

 

How About Some Horror?

metalmagicBrian Barr has been pumping out some bizarre and wonderfully weird horror shorts this year, including the Three H trilogy (The Head, The House, and The Hell) along with some music themed stories, which of course always piques my interest.

This prolific author’s heavy metal / horror extravaganza Metal Magic is out now, with a punk themed follow-up also in the works and due out soon.

 

 

Speculative Fiction… With Dinosaur Races!

5120Vk0ivnLWe’ll cap this off with a fun anthology feature Stant Litore, a Facebook friend of mine since I read his biblical zombie epic Strangers In The Land a few years back.

The Jurassic Chronicles features 13 different authors all giving their take on everybody’s favorite extinct creatures brought to life!

Fantasy is missing the horror element

How often do eagles really swoop down and save you from certain doom?

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The epic MightyThorJrs blog was kind enough to host me for a new guest post, this time discussing the curious lack of horror in the fantasy genre. Some excerpts follow:

As much as I will always treasure those books and how they shaped my youth, that aspect of the genre doesn’t ring true for me. I can’t think of a single time that eagles ever swooped down – literally or metaphorically – to save me from certain doom. The local cleric has never brought a loved one back from the dead. Standing up for the oppressed very rarely results in recognition or reward, and can be actively dangerous.

When I was writing Light Dawning, I didn’t want to just surgically remove all those aspects of fantasy that felt like wish fulfillment or vicarious living through written characters – I wanted to viciously hack them apart, violently ripping them out with tooth and claw before throwing them into the uncaring fire. My take on the genre consists of forcibly colliding fantasy with an unpleasant dose of grim reality, then injecting some looming cosmic horror elements to take it all one step further into the abyss.

Check out the full article right here and be sure to check out the other recent posts there covering some killer new grimdark material!

Character Profile: Erret

Heaven or hell – it’s all a matter of perspective

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We’re getting very, very close to release now, but there’s still more coming before Friday! Following profiles on Myrr and Tala, today we look one of my favorite characters from upcoming grimdark novel “Light Dawning” – the unhinged Father Erret.

A missionary seeking to spread his northern religion that worships the light and focuses on reaching the limits of human potential, Erret sees the occupation not as something to fear, but rather as an opportunity to turn the city towards his god’s faith.

One of those delightfully obnoxious religious fanatics who is more devoted to his cause than even the higher ranking members of his order, Erret found himself exiled to convert unbelievers in a hostile environment far away from priests and bishops who were tired of his sermons.

If he’d had more followers, likely a religious schism would have occurred, as Erret finds the leadership of the clergy to be entirely derelict in their duties, wasting away on golden thrones when their religious text clearly commands them to spend their lives on the move in service to the light.

Unlike the vast majority of Cestia, which is in deep despair or numb indifference over the brutality of the occupation, Erret views the entire ordeal as something holy, existing in a state of religious rapture. In his view, pain is growth and a sign that you are on the right track.

In his twisted worldview, he’d happily watch the entire city burn to the ground if it meant the few remaining survivors would accept his god’s truth.