I am sometimes an idiot. Last time I was talking about how I came to the solution of how the Elves of Ulthuan figure out N’Kari’s plan. I fully intended to discuss that in this post then I realised it was, in fact, something of a huge spoiler so, apologies if I got your hopes up. I won’t be doing that today. Instead I shall talk some more about the process of writing Blood of Aenarion. Hopefully I will get to the end of this saga before this series of posts becomes longer than War and Peace.
Having solved most of the technical problems of plotting and structure, the actual writing of the books was a pure pleasure. I am sorry to disappoint those of you who feel that writing should be like opening a vein and bleeding on the page (a la Hemingway) but I confess that most of the time, I find writing to be an absolute pleasure. It was even more so this time because I was combining writing with another of my life’s great pleasures, travel.
I moved on from Kuala Lumpur back to Georgetown, a place that has always been very fond of. I have written several Warhammer books there over the years. If my itinerary seems pretty random that’s because it was. I tend just to move on when the mood takes me. While I was there, I pushed on with the tale. I was aiming to get to 75000 words before my family arrived in Singapore to join me for the next phase of my trip.
I was alternating between staying in hostels and writing mostly in cafes. This gave me the advantage of being able to think about what I was going to write for the day when walking to them, and then ruminating on any problems that had arisen when walking back. I am someone who finds walking very helpful when I need to think things over.The Romans had an expression for this solvitur ambulando. (Writing in cafes also gave me access to an endless stream of coffee.)
In quick succession the twins entered the deadly social whirl of Lothern, and the reader was introduced to some major characters including Malekith and his principle agent in Ulthuan, Urian.
I was pleased by the way this pair turned out. Malekith, in particular, was not quite what I was expecting. He was every bit the terrifying Dark Lord but he had a sinister sense of humour which I rather liked. I managed to to foreshadow his encounter with N’Kari in Book 2 and hint at the reasons as to why it happened. While all this was going on the Keeper of Secrets itself was slaughtering its way across Ulthuan in a spectacular series of set-pieces which showed quite how depraved it and the followers of Slaanesh really were.
While all this was going on I was sketching in Lothern, it’s politics and streets, and it’s general atmosphere. I showed the way the human trading colony was starting to expand as Finubar (at this point we are very early in his reign) started to encourage global trade. I had realised that one of the advantages of the century-long gap between the action of book one and book two, was that it gave me a chance to do some interesting stuff. By book two I wanted to show the Elves really looking outward, Lothern becoming fantastically rich from trade and in some ways becoming a very atypical Elvish city-state. Here was a chance to show the city before the process really started so the reader could really see the contrast. By book two Lothern is a city on a scale and of a type comparable to Elizabethan London. In book one it is an altogether sleepier place, becoming important because it is the home city of a new Phoenix King.
I filtered a lot of my memories of Rome, it’s hills and warmth and omnipresent ruins and statues into my descriptions of Lothern. Rome was on my mind for a lot of reasons. One of the influences on my ideas of the politics of the High Elves was the late Roman Republic, a place where a number of Patrician houses competed for influence in a state where the consent of the ruled was still seen as necessary. I was starting to think of Malekith and Morathi as in some ways like Tiberias and Livia. I talked more about this in my essay on Morathi.
As an aside, I just realised that in many ways the weather patterns of the book reflect my trip. As I was travelling from winter in Northern Europe to tropical South East Asia, our heroes were travelling from cold mountainous Cothique to the Mediterranean warmth of Lothern.
In any case, I was reaching the home stretch on my first draft. The book was heading towards its climax with our heroes about to be sent for their own safety to the sacred precincts of the Temple of Asuryan and N’Kari coming right for them. Me, I was heading back to Singapore.
Hopefully, I will conclude this next time!