There’s a problem with Callis. The problem is that, on a fundamental level, he is a truly awful person. He after all kills people for money, and he rather enjoys his work. This in of itself would not inherently be a problem if he was a supporting character or a bit part, but I had to go and make him the eponymous star of a series of short stories which I’ve been writing for the last two years. This means that I have to undertake the arduous task of some how making the reader connect with him. How you get a complete stranger to related to a cold-blooded murderer is not something easily done. I don’t even know if I’ve been successful in achieving this. I’d like to think that I have. I like Callis as a character, but that might just be speaking to the state of my diseased brain-meats.
One idea which occurred to me was that he have his own set of “rules,” not an entirely original idea I’ll admit. The way I see it, even bad people need to have rules they abide by. If they don’t then they’re hardly going to be able to function even on the fringes of society.
So that’s February done and dusted then. Today’s post is coming to you from that strange a magical leap day that tacks itself to the end of February every four years. A place of wonder, mystery and Gregorian convenience. For me, at least, February has not been a month conducive to much writing. I do most of my writing on lazy weekends, sitting in my jim-jams, in front of a computer, drinking tea and slowly tapping out the odd word here and there. There were scant few such weekends this month. I’ve been off on a series of mini-adventures, gallivanting off into London to sample the musical styling of a German metal band and then a jaunt back to my quaint former home of Nottingham for a good old dinner and booze-up. The latter left me a little drained. I took Monday off from work planning to finish off this month’s wordascope in a blizzard of frenzied activity. Instead I spent the whole day sprawled on the sofa trying to work out if I was feeling sick or just really hungry. I eventually concluded it was a bit of both, although it was not so much “gut-rot” as it was, perhaps “gut-mould.” Any time in the evenings over the last few weeks was rapidly devoured by odd bits and bobs like cooking, and more recently work. Specifically defining my goals for the coming year in the strange and alien language of Managerial Moonspeak.
Although I feel as if I’ve made very little progress writing-wise this month my computer seems to disagree. There’s a file sitting snugly on my hard-drive that seems to contain about 2000 words, I’m not entirely sure how that happened. Can’t really complain about something like that can I?
…Cometh the blind irrational panic.
It’s just over a week until the start of the slogfest that is NaNoWriMo and I must confess I’m slightly nervous. From a logical standpoint it seems easy enough. 1667 words a day you say? I know I’m easily capable of knocking out that many words in about half and hour. So logically I should be able to complete the entire thing in one 17 hour stint. The problem is however, that logic, is bullshit. Like many a perfect mathematical system constructed for scientific purposes it ignore several factors which twist and warp the result into something far, far different. In this instance it’s piddly little things like the need to sleep, eat, and occasionally re-equilibrate fluid levels. That and the ever threatening claws of The Funk, waiting to pounce on my unsuspecting creativity. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the glories of 55 words/minute, is the situation I frequently find myself in, where I have no idea where I’m heading, no idea what I want to write, or what words to use. A time where it can take as long as three hours just to force out 50 poxy words. This is what fuels my dread at the prospect of this undertaking.
Mr Tolkien has a lot to answer for when it comes to books and fantasy in general. He was very much a trope machine. Be it cementing already pre-existing notions fashioned by Fritz Leiber and Robot E Howard in the dark and grimy pulp novellas of the 30s, or birthing entirely new tropes, leaving them blinking in the cold light of an unforgiving world; forever sitting on the landscape of literature like either a fine statue or a festering turd (depending of course of your own personal outlook on the entire genre). Together these three men ultimately shaped and moulded the whole genre, it resisting with all the structural integrity of a particularly soggy sponge cake, such was the force of their words.
The Dons of the Fantasy Mafia
But words are not the really subject of my musings today; One of the primary tropes inflicted on us all for better or worse by Tolkien was that of the map. Whether it was something he alone started with the Hobbit in the crazy days of 1937 or not is somewhat moot, he certainly played a major part in its rise to its modern-day prevalence. These days it’s a rarity to open a fantasy book and not find a map on opening pages. I don’t have a problem with this for the most part, but maps are a serious business and there are some truly awful maps out there. Continue reading
And so ends another shockingly unproductive week as I vainly try to keep myself afloat in a sea of drudgery. The nine till five crusade and my ever continuing passive-aggressive war against my co-workers has left me somewhat drained. So in the absence of anything new I give you the last remaining story of Callis. Although I’ve stuck up an excerpt previously and posted a link to the Zine it was written for, I’ve yet to stick the whole thing here. The Baker’s Dozen was not an easy thing to write. Not because of writer’s block or a lack of motivation, but simply because it was so very visceral. Not so much dark, nor gritty. Just undiluted malice, and anger, and rage, and all the utterly horrible things that will make you do. It focuses on Callis’ youth and the events which shaped him and ultimately put him on the road to what he later became. Callis is and always will be, very much a product of the society that made him.
The weekend proper advances towards us with a lumbering inevitability born of a nation’s collective, desperate longing. The end of the week means another blog post, and the return of Mr Callis. Today I give you Smoking the Kipper, or as I sometimes call it Callis Goes to the Seaside. In this instalment I tried to develop Callis a bit more. By exploring his internal thoughts I hoped to make him seem a little bit more likeable and not just a horrible, murderous bastard.
I have waxed lyrical about Mr. Callis and his adventures; it’s true they hold a special place in my heart. They are probably some of the best things I’ve written, but considering how little I’ve written this is quite an easy achievement. It was, however, recently brought to my attention that despite this I haven’t actually made available all of his adventures on this blog. I have by no means been hoarding them, they have all made appearances in SFFS’ Zine. But that is of course something that not everyone will have access to. So in order to rectify this most heinous of crimes I shall be posting the rest of his adventures for your perusal. This has been made a lot easier now I seem to have overcome my abject terror of sharing the bulk of my works on the unforgiving shores of the internet.
If I am to maintain my flimsy pretence of being “a writer on the internet” as opposed to the shameless charlatan that I really am, I should probably get back to the business of writing.
I recently completed the fourth instalment of the Trials and Adventures of Mister Callis. This particular instalment, as you may now have guessed by now, is entitled “Seeing a Man About a Dog”. A delightful euphemistic colloquialism that can mean so many sly and terrible things. It fits rather nicely with the theme for Callis’ latest exploit, the rather laborious business of actually negotiating the price for a “hit”. This time the focus has shifted rather drastically from previous adventures. For a start no one actually dies.
Well Monday did not in fact see the release of SFFS’s Zine. It did not arrive on the shores of the internet until Wednesday. I felt slighted. I felt betrayed, stabbed in the back. Left behind to suffer at the hands of a monstrous horde. My rage was incandescent. And then I was given a biscuit for my efforts and the anger melted away on a breeze of chocolate and baked dough. That and I realised that being twos days late wasn’t all that bad and I was evidently over reacting. Sometimes the industrious little gnome in my head likes to throw on a pair of tights and a ruff; turn the drama all the way up eleven, start yelling “verily” and “forsooth” and act the ever loving shit out of a situation. His elocution could do with some work though.
Anyway, I advise you to hunt out this Zine about Mr Callis and his shenanigans. It’s also worth having a read of my friend Sam’s story called “Jeremy”. The last line is quite the stroke of genius. Or at the very least bad punning.
Now I’ll leave you with a link and bid you good night. For as much as one might want to wish otherwise, the dread Minecraft is no substitute for food and sleep.
The Zine: Edition 3
Tomorrow should see the release of the latest issue of SFFS’s termly e-zine. It’s called the Zine. It should also contain the third instalment of “The Trails and Adventures of Mister Callis”. For the uninitiated, which I suspect will be more or less everyone, they’re a series of short stories cornering the eponymous Mr Callis. I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy literature, the epic tales of high adventure from the likes of Eddings and more recently the dark and seedy world’s of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy story but my previous attempts have been somewhat lacklustre, dry and a bit boring to write. The difference with this is that writing about Callis is fun, it’s exciting and I continually want to do more. This does however concern me greatly. Not for the reason that I’m writing a lot for fun, that’s great. But because of specifically who and what Callis is.