For reasons, that have never been explained to me, at Pudsey (the small town between Leeds and Bradford and somewhat merged into both these days), in the large park behind the swimming pool, just up past the aviary, this is, and has been since my childhood and probably before, a old traction engine.
Not a working one, I should explain, it’s fire box has long been welded shut, the many levers disconnected from such interesting things as breaks and gear boxes. The wheel doesn’t turn the cumbersome front axil. The great steam whistle to warn people ahead that this great lumbering beast of the industrial revolution is ponderous heading towards them has long been detach. But then the great lumbering beast hasn’t moved for over fifty years or more.
Instead of its original intended purpose it has been a climbing frame, and well of possibilities the imagination of children can…
The last of the autumn colour, torn down by storms. Green amidst the turning tones, because autumn was late this year.
A bright, sharp, wintery day with the sky an intense blue.
I tried taking a selfie, but I look so tired, my eyes shadowed, my nose red from the cold air. Sometimes I am ok with myself as a scruffy goblin, sometimes my face makes me sad. The day I took this photo was a sad-face day. My shadow makes me look as though I am wearing a long, fabulous dress under my bulky winter coat. I wasn’t, but the illusion is charming.
Welcome to Steampunk’d Lancaster. My name is Nimue Brown. I herd eldritch, tentacular creatures and soothe dustcats professionally. I’m here having learned about the flesh eating birds and the Sugar-Zombies. I know the general intention is to keep the flame burning, bring comfort in the darkness, and resist the terrifying monsters.
But, terrifying monsters? Excuse me while I rub my hands together in wild and abandoned glee. Would I lick a Sugar-Zombie? Yes. Yes I would.
While others are armed for the fight, I’m primarily going to protect you through the medium of distraction. It’s surprising how many unspeakable entities like to pose for a camera and a quick bit of portraiture. I’m hoping for interviews as well. Everyone gets bored with tearing the living limb from limb sooner or later, and hopefully I’m late enough to the party for that moment to have arrived! Failing that…
I first met Connie Reed as a Druid blogger many years ago. So, when I heard she’d started writing fiction, I asked her if she’d like to do a guest blog here. If you like your fiction with a dash of Druidry, this may well be for you!
Over to Connie…
In the beginning there was the world, and it gave me nightmares. It wasn’t a nightmarish world although it was a dangerous one, on the contrary it was a very wonderful world. The nightmares came from how we arrived there. This world I dreamt of was our future and the trip was brutal.
The idea for this world stayed with me and I wanted to write stories about it but I was never sure which story to tell first – past, present, or future? Who should I focus on? Which characters should I highlight? Eventually I did what all authors must do and nailed down the Who, What, Where, When, and How. I had my story. I outlined it. I began to write. I broke my tale into five parts. Four are written, one is in progress. Each part is two novels. I’ve accomplished a lot, have more to go, and I’m enjoying the whole process. I’m pleased with how the stories have turned out, those who’ve read them keep asking for more. I consider this excellent progress.
It’s also been a wonderful learning experience about how a story can take you to completely unexpected places whether you are reading or writing. I had intended to merely create a fun read. Action and adventure. Swords and sorcery. Friends and lovers plus good guys versus a variety of bad guys, you know, the normal stuff: cue dramatic action movie music! We all win and go away feeling happy, etc. Basic story. And yet, although I was aiming for a simple adventure, the harsh realities of the world I was creating insisted there be more depth. A number of my characters brought their faith into the equation, the local military got more involved as events progressed, love and family complicated things. I even created a religion – a nature based, elemental religion. It’s only part of the background noise, but I was surprised at how easily it wove itself into my story telling, making itself an important part of events without my actually planning for it.
Without giving too many spoilers, the tale I’ve chosen to tell is of a modern woman who is tossed into a drastically evolved future and what she learns there will help her survive her own swiftly changing present. In the first part of the series she is lost and unaware of what is happening, as the series progresses, she gains more awareness. As Lori struggles to make her way in Eaglefall, she gains friends and allies who help her try to find herself. She becomes embroiled in misadventure in the capital city of Riverton as local mafia and dark mages plot nefarious deeds against the kingdom.
Crime done in the name of greed – for money and power – threatens to disrupt human civilization as well as upset the very balance of nature itself, something which has attracted the attention of the mysterious Live Oaks. Lori, of course, finds herself tangled up in all of it. Her quest to save herself becomes a matter of life and death for many of the non-human tribes of the kingdom as well as the well-being of the intelligent Trees. Saving herself takes a backseat to protecting her friends and the people she grows to love, and she becomes aware of how the actions of a few can upset the balance of nature and threaten everyone.
My first two novels, parts 1 & 2 of Book 1, are now available on Kindle, ebook and paperback. Both are currently available free to read via kindle unlimited. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of bringing this series to life and I hope readers will like the characters and adventure. And for those worried about human impact on the future of our planet? Well, I’m sorry. I went ahead and destroyed the world later in the series, but this is a tale of bringing it all back to life again too, better and balanced. I hope you approve of my vision of a re-evolved Earth.
We can now reveal that Hopeless, Maine is returning to North America with Outland Entertainment! The first two volumes will be printed and released soon, along with illustrated prose novels by Nimue Brown and Keith Errington and the Hopeless, Maine RPG is in development and may well be out at the same time. Here is the press release!
Cover art – collaboration between Nimue and myself.
One of the best tests of any information source is how well it predicts the future. This might seem obvious when thinking about divination, but it applies to all forms of knowledge. I think this is highly relevant at the moment as we have so many beliefs and opinions dominating conversations. I remember when the idea of the UK leaving the Single Market and Kent becoming a lorry park were labelled ‘project fear’ only now that seems to be happening…
Predicting the future is of course a tricksy business, and the future is full of surprises. No one really predicted this virus malarkey. However, the international vulnerability to a pandemic was known – the way we travel, the lack of joined up thinking between countries and the way we invade wild spaces where new diseases are lurking, were all known factors suggesting a particular trajectory.
The thing to watch for is how close your knowledge gets you to being able to make useful predictions. If your knowledge source doesn’t take you in roughly the right direction, what you’ve got isn’t knowledge, it’s a belief, an opinion, a fantasy. When you’re really invested in something that doesn’t match up with reality, putting it down can be really hard.
When it comes to prayer, and magic there may be other factors to consider. Are you getting what you asked for, or are you getting what you need? What time frames are you working on? Do you need more practice? In fact that practice question is pertinent across all areas – if you’re trying to study the world in a rational way to predict what will happen, that also requires skills and knowledge and it may take you time to get it right. Knowing where to push to make the changes you want is a big part of getting anything done, and that might not be apparent at first.
There’s a lot to be said for cross-referencing between different kinds of knowledge. Intuition certainly isn’t an irrational source – we take in far more information than we can consciously process, so what rises up from intuition can be a consequence of processing information. The trick is telling between intuition, wishful thinking and fear. Here again the cross referencing helps because information from other sources can clarify which is which, and over time you can build a better sense of what is emotional reaction and what is processed information.
Misguided beliefs and opinions don’t allow us to make good predictions. The longer we hold on to them, the more distorted our relationship with reality becomes. That means having to create ever more complicated stories to explain why what we ‘know’ and perceived reality aren’t matching up. That way lies madness. However unsettling it is to put down a belief, it can be far better to do so than to build layer upon layer of cognitive dissonance. There should be no shame in making mistakes or trying things that don’t work – the important bit is knowing when to give up on an experiment in light of the evidence it generates.
My hope with any piece of writing is that will touch someone else, help, or lift or encourage them in some way. getting reviews like this is, quite simply, what keeps me creating and feeling there is a point to what I do.
CM Rosens is a fantastic author who writes about monstrosity in a way that I find deeply resonant. There is comfort in not being the only monster, in knowing there are others who are also too much and too difficult and whose scales, teeth and claws are not socially acceptable. So, here is a review of How To Unpeel a Monster, and a recommendation to hop over and look at the blog as a whole, there’s wonderful stuff there.
A brilliant anthology that deeply resonates with me. I just got this and spent yesterday curled up crying with it for a while because some of the poems here really connected and expressed things I have been trying to get at within myself, and isn’t that what poetry and art is for?
Nimue Brown has a strong, relatable voice with a lot to say that’s worth saying. The anthology goes through facets of life and personality, covering mental health, politics, community, spirituality, relationships and the essence of interpersonal connection, ageing and more. I think this is one I’ll be returning to a lot.