Creating the Weycliff Wayfarers

I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a little about one of the more prominent societies presented in The Beast Hunter, my steampunk monster hunter novel and the first installment of The Adventures of Keltin Moore series.

Their Name

Originally, Jaylocke and his people didn’t have an original name and I simply called them gypsies. However, it was never my intention to suggest that these people should be identified as Romanians, and I did a great deal of research to make sure that I avoided having too many similarities with them. My goal with using the word gypsy was to conjure up a fanciful, nonspecific image for the reader, similar to the way that people think of a corsair as merely an exotic pirate as opposed to a citizen of the Ottoman Empire.

I eventually decided to give these mystical, wandering performers a more specific name after talking with a good friend of mine who spent much of his childhood growing up in France. He told me that the term gypsy has a very negative stigma for many Europeans, and that even though he had nothing against Romanian people, he still had a hard time ignoring the prejudices that he had been raised with as he read my story. I decided that it would be better to avoid the risk of alienating any of my European readers while at the same time taking this as an opportunity to get creative and come up with something more original instead.

Their Ancestors

The close relationship between the Weycliff people and their ancestors was actually inspired by my own personal experiences in genealogical research. As a Mormon, I believe that families are eternal, and that it is important to not only know what the names of my ancestors are, but what they were like as well. I took that idea and contrasted it with the way helpful ancestors are often portrayed in other fantasy novels as being little more than a nameless group of spirits with no real personalities of their own.

I thought it might be more interesting if a wayfarer had to know his family history in order to choose which ancestor to call on in any given situation. The result was a magic system that was both straightforward and complex, with a lot of opportunity for unique subplots and conflicts along the way. The only downside to this approach is that I have to maintain an increasingly complex family tree and family history for Jaylocke as I write the series to avoid giving him one-too-many great-grandmothers, but I think it’s definitely worth it.

Their Place in the World of Keltin Moore

While I did avoid using the term gypsy to avoid possible reader prejudice, it was always my intention that the Weycliff wayfarers would be the victim of bigotry and stereotyping. Along with the Loopi, the wayfarers have to deal with hostility and distrust from their fellow hunters to such a degree that it eventually becomes one of the key dynamics in the novel’s second act.

Interestingly, when I had my Beta read for The Beast Hunter, one of my readers said that she felt that the hunters’ prejudice was unmotivated. In her eyes, there wasn’t anything in the behavior of the Weycliff that justified the level of animosity that they were faced with. While I appreciated her comments, I decided to leave the relationship between the hunters and wayfarers the way it was, as I believe that prejudice is, among other things, an unjustified reaction to someone else just because they are different.

Writing Update September 28, 2017

It’s been a couple of months since my last update, so here’s the latest on my current works-in-progress.

First though, a general update. Some of you may remember that earlier this year I announced that due to some significant life-changes I’d have to reevaluate my priorities in how I make a living and provide for my family. Luckily, since then I’ve had some new opportunities open up, the biggest one being my ongoing creative writing classes at South Puget Sound Community College. This steady work has allowed me to keep my family my first priority while still leaving time and energy for my writing career.

Speaking of my writing, here’s some specific updates:

The Next Keltin Moore Novel

After many false starts, this first-draft is finally in the groove. The instigating event is locked-in, and Keltin is firmly on his way to his next adventure. I’m also beginning the groundwork for establishing some new characters, as well as figuring out how to tie-in subplots from the first and second books. I have a feeling like this is going to be a good one for both new readers and fans of the Beast Hunter from Riltvin.

My Next Short Story Collection

I currently have four short stories for this collection, and half a dozen potential other pieces to add. Unfortunately, I’m not having any success with short fiction right now, so I’m taking a break from this project for now. Hopefully I’ll still be able to finish this one for 2018.

My Secret Project

I’m making very good headway on this project which has been in the works for more than a decade. This is definitely a passion-project, so I don’t mind taking the time to make sure it’s exactly what I want it to be.

 

Link to all of my books on Amazon

Link to my SPSCC classes

The Spell of the Yukon

As part of my research for Into the North, I read a lot of stories, poems, and songs penned about and by the prospectors of the Yukon Gold Rush in the late 19th century. Just for fun, here’s one of the shorter pieces that I found.

The Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy – I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it –
Came out with a fortune last fall, –
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made It;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on earth – and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o’ the world piled on top;

The summer – no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness –
O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ’em good-by – but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land – oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back – and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight – and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
It’s hell! – but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite –
So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

The Collected Poems of Robert Service

Copyright 1907, 1909, 1912 by Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc.

Fake Quotes from My Stories

Jaylocke inched closer to Keltin, doing his best to remain silent in the deep snow.
“Aren’t you going to take the shot?” he asked, nodding towards the beast moving along the far bank of the icy river.
“I can’t,” Keltin whispered.
“Why not?”
“I can’t pull the trigger while wearing these mittens.”
– (not from) Into the North

“Die, foul wizard!” screamed Eric as he launched himself into the room, only to be met by a young man in strange clothing with some sort of puppet on his knee.
“Err, I think you’re in the wrong story,” said the young man.
“Oops, sorry about that.”
“Try knocking next time!” said the puppet.
– (not from) Magic, Mystery and Mirth

Baron Rumsfeld turned to Keltin.
“Captain Moore, I need a brave volunteer for a dangerous mission.”
Keltin nodded somberly. “All right. Let me go look for one.”
– (not from) The Beast Hunter

This world is completely alien. the sky, the land, the moons. Two moons. How can that be? I must be on another world, as impossible as that sounds. Alone and stranded on an alien world. And before you ask, no, I don’t have any cell coverage here.
– (not from) Lost Under Two Moons