Laika, a werewolf, lives in an old manor house that is either sentient or haunted, along with a debonair dwarf, a recalcitrant selkie, a shy orc, and a grubby cryptid of an elf. That's a lot of personalities for one house—and then one night she stumbles on a miserable vampire named Kyle, who's just been kicked out of his nest by his sire.
Laika might have a bite just as bad as her bark, but she's not so heartless as to let a vampire face sunrise with only his snapback for protection...so she invites him over.
These are their (mis)adventures.
Laika | a female werewolf, named unironically after the famous dog. Grumpy, tall, could bench-press a truck. Secretly as sweet as her sweet tooth.
Kyle | a vampire, disturbingly and sincerely committed to the fratboy aesthetic. Scared of the dark. Turns into a bat when startled. A Disaster™.
Aurelius | a dwarf and a prolific author of poetry. Extremely and genuinely charming. Equally handsome. A veritable font of patience.
Orla | a selkie, transformed half the sunroom she lives in into an underwater habitat perfect for her seal form. Will bite you. Will not warn you about it. A silversmith, runs an online store selling her jewellery and knives.
Mogdur | goes by Mog, an orc, very shy, very large, very gentle. An artist who likes working on his webcomic and gifting people with his sketches of them.
Thistle | an elf, though he's often mistaken for a very pretty gnome. Never formally moved in; they found him in the back garden digging a hole and he just stuck around after that. His actual government name is Ben. He won't answer to it.
I've been calling this WIP 5 for literal years and as per usual with my story ideas, I had only characters and a vibe and no plot in sight. But today a friend asked me about it and in the course of talking to them, I realized...I don't actually need a plot? I can just write a series of interconnected stories featuring this cast of characters? So that's what I'll be doing and I'm excited for it!
Technically this is more of a concept than a WIP, so that's where you'll find reference to it, because I don't really feel ready to work on it. Still, I wanted to put this intro post together and see what happens with it!
Reflective of my headspace of late, I've taken to writing short excerpts for Glitch wip and [mostly] out of order bits for Oracle wip. I've also done some brainstorming for my Reaper wip and written odds and ends for wips that don't exist yet. Here's everything so far, in case you missed it.
in which there is a cyborg named sacha and a shapeshifter named cipher
[[ cw: cyborg slavery and related issues of agency ]]
.01 -- sacha’s jerked rudely and abruptly out of stasis, which immediately puts her on the alert because fitz may treat her like a thing, mostly, but he wakes her like he would anyone, with a nudge to the shoulder and not a zap to her temple port.
her eyes fly open and she’s met with a figure dressed in and masked by glitch-wear, which only heightens her alarm. her arm whirs as it calibrates, the pump in her heart picking up speed and filling her with adrenaline. she doesn’t swing immediately only because she doesn’t have enough intel on what’s happening to know if that’s the right move.
the stranger raises his hands palm outward in that universal sign that means ‘i’m harmless’ and also ‘don’t attack’.
I received an email inquiry from a reader and fellow author about how to best to go about incorporating Muslim characters into a fantasy world (specifically, Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V), and the sender gave me permission to post his message and my response to it, since I thought it would be a neat discussion to share.
Found your online essay about Samirah al-Abbas--it was very incisive and I am grateful for having found it, especially since you're another Muslim Canadian who's a bit into the deep end of nerdiness. It gets a bit lonely when my sister is the only other Muslim I know who orbits any of the same interests as me.
Thanks for reaching out to me! I'm glad you enjoyed my essay, and I'm thrilled you found me and then reached out to me as a fellow nerd. Before I get into everything, I do wanna make it clear that I'm not a scholar but I'm answering you with the best of intentions and with my (limited) knowledge and understanding, and Allah knows best.
So I don't really know anything about Yu-Gi-Oh! or Arc-V, but I did a quick perusal through wiki about it and I think your fanfiction should be fine? When I talked about Samirah and the issue of her being Muslim in the context of her world, it was because she lived in a universe where there is a real and existing pantheon which necessarily makes it impossible for there to be God as Muslims believe Him to be.
You said there isn't any 'god problem' in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V universe, so I should think having Muslim characters should be fine. If there are beings that people in the universe of Yu-Gi-Oh! believe are gods, but aren't actually—are instead some sort of magical being with powers etc.—that's also totally fine.
(For example, if in the Magnus Chase universe, the Asgard gods were revealed to be...I don't know, a magical race of superhumans that 'regular' humans believed were gods and worshipped them as such, Samirah could quite happily and easily be a Muslim still believing in truth, and I wouldn't have an issue with it).
It's excellent that you're concerned about this, and I have a couple of suggestions for you, if you want them, for anything you might write in the future that might deal with this. In which case, I'd advise you to do one or all of the following, as you need!
As for magic (because you mentioned there were paganist/occultist stuff in other Yu-Gi-Oh! arcs)...hm. Magic in real life is evil, has to do with djinn, and is haram for Muslims to take part in. But when it comes to fiction...people might disagree with me, but I think fictional magic is not a problem. I think it's fine to have Muslim characters who practice fictional magic or have magical powers, as long as it's not anything like real magic, has nothing to do with djinn, doesn't require them renouncing their beliefs or not fulfilling some tenet of Islam.
For example, I wouldn't think it would be a good idea to have a Muslim who practices human sacrifice, or does spells relating to blood or possession, or something like that, unless the author wanted to point out some corruption or hypocrisy in this character, because Muslims are people and people are flawed etc etc. However, I can easily imagine a Muslim character in the world of, say, Harry Potter being a witch or wizard, because that magic is nothing like real magic and doesn't infringe on Muslim beliefs.
Again, I'm not a scholar, so I could be wrong or missing something.
As for your characters being in the process of an arranged marriage: that's totally up to you! I absolutely get wanting them to be in a halal relationship, and so setting up an arranged marriage for them allows for that. I know some people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, may be uncomfortable with that, out of concern for your characters being so young, or having a choice in who they marry, and being able to fall in love or out of love etc, so it's up to you how you wanna depict it. This is, I think, more of a personal preference than a theological issue, so feel free to explore the whole idea the way you want to.
I hope this (very long) message helped and answered your questions! Tawfeeq with your writing and I hope you find more fellow nerdy Muslims to connect with! If there's anything else you wanted to talk about, or if you wanted more clarity on something I said, do let me know! I'm always happy to chat.
Happy reading and writing!
I made a post like this for 2021 and I thought it would be nice to do the same this year too. I have a hard time remembering and/or focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, and an overview is usually pretty uplifting. So let's get into it!
So! November is over! Last post I said I hoped to have a whole--if rough--draft of LofM completed by now, and I really have to laugh and wonder what in the heckity heck I was thinking. A whole draft? A whole draft????
Needless to say that did not end up happening (a whole draft! which would've been between 50 and 70k?!). But I did write, and enjoyed writing, even though it wasn't every day. After all, I went from having nothing at all to having something that I am, crucially, pretty happy with.
I also didn't end up posting excerpts weekly here, though I did share a few on tumblr. I've gathered them all here for your perusal. I also made two posts corresponding with some entries in my worldbuilding encyclopedia, featured below! I love them and am excited to create and share more!
Once, in the oldest of days and times, there were four kingdoms: the kingdom of Men, the kingdom of the Djinn, the kingdom of the Elyoud, and the kingdom of Beasts. I say once, but they are kingdoms still. They are not, nor have they ever been, united, though only two are sworn enemies: the Djinn and the Elyoud, who will have no alliance or consortium with each other.
It's November, known to some as National Novel Writing month and I...will be participating, albeit in my own way. Rather than aim to write 50k this month, my goal is to write for 15-20 minutes a day at minimum, and to write specifically for Legends of Mourra, and hopefully have a whole (if undoubtedly raw) draft completed by December!
Writing sprints have always worked well for me, and this way I'll be relieved of the pressure of trying to meet a word count. Sometimes, writing 1000 words is as easy as breathing, and sometimes it's a laborious and disheartening undertaking that inspires temper tantrums and dramatic declarations of hating writing, myself, and the world.
But I'm excited about this! LofM feels ready to be told, and I feel ready to tell it, and I got started this morning on the way to work, scribbling away in my notebook. I have no concrete plans; I wasn't even sure who's perspective to begin with, or where in the plot to start, but what ended up flowing from my pen was something folktale-esque, something you might expect from Arabian Nights and other legends, and I'm thrilled about it. It's already showcasing some of my world building and I can already visualize a neat little segue from 'legend' into Plot Happenings™.
You can expect excerpts from me at least once a week.
Are you doing NaNo this year? How are you making it your own, if you are? What other project are you doing/doing instead? I'd love to hear.
Oh, and before I close this, I wanted to mention a couple of things.
Firstly, I've restarted my writing tumblr, and you can find me here, where I collect inspirational posts, writerly advice, fellow writers' works, and talk in a more shorthand and informal way about myself and my writing. There will be some cross-posting but for the most part my tumblr and my site will remain distinct spaces.
Secondly...I sort of failed at Fictober this year, obviously. I don't like the word 'failed' but I did not end up writing every day this month, as was the goal. However, I did write for half the month, and wrote more original work than I had all year, and had fun doing it, and refused to pressure myself with it or get down on myself about it when life events and my health served as barriers to writing, so I will say all in all it was a good, solid effort, and I'm proud of myself.
I hope you're doing well! Happy reading and writing!
❝The key around uncle’s neck is black with age. He says the door it unlocks is hiding.
“From what?” I ask. He sighs.
I examine the key with curiosity. It’s on a very long chain, the links so thin I have to peer closely at it to even make them out. It must be quite strong, despite its apparent delicacy, to bear the key which is so heavy.
The key itself is a strange thing. The head is rounded, with a hole in the middle for the chain to go through. The blade is long and rounded too, and there are unsettling engravings on it, hardly legible, that shift and waver when I try and study them. And the teeth of the key…the teeth all curve into points, so that they look a little like horns or fangs.
“What do you think the door it belongs to is like?” I ask my uncle.
He hums, gently pulling the key from my hands and tucking it beneath his shirt to hang on its quicksilver chain, out of sight, but not out of mind.
“Well,” he says slowly. “Make a key, and its door will be called into existence. Make it wrong, and you might just summon a black door. Or worse, no door at all. I don’t think this is the case of the latter, but the former…”
❝We form our own sort of twisted community, those of us desperate enough to fish in the River Styx.❞
It’s the gold we want, the coin placed in the mouth or upon the eyes of the dead to pay the ferryman. He takes the gold and takes the dead too, but he does not keep the gold. It glitters at the bottom of the River, untouched and unused. Hades does not need it and does not miss it, lord of all the wealth beneath the earth (including our precious dead) as he is.
We, who for one reason or another cannot earn our gold any other way, who are willing to risk traversing the paths to the underworld, we make our way to the River and hope, with every dip into the water, not to rouse the nymph it is named for, for her fury at our transgression is cold and implacable and all consuming.
Sometimes, the water is truly as calm and quiet as it always appears. Other times, one of us will venture in and be swept away by its invisible, indomitable current, never to be seen again except as a shade. But with every wading into those waters, we gain another treasure, as precious as the coins in its own way—a strengthening invulnerability to harm by mortal weapons and mortal fire.
We, who are largely outcasts, constrained to the fringes of society, value such protection as much as we value the bread and meat, garments and shelter, that the gold we fish for provides us.
Fictober is a challenge where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
This year's prompts are from Deep Water Prompts on tumblr.
❝There is something in her chest cavity, pulsing, glowing through her skin. It moves like a frightened animal. It is definitely not her heart. ❞
Her heart is in her hands, porcelain and perfect and utterly still, just as it should be.
Alyss is quietly pleased. She had no idea if the spell would work for herself; the old queen only ever cast it on other people, to own their hearts and command them as she would, a punishment and a service all at once.
There’d been a chance this spell would’ve killed her, but Alyss was--had been—destined to die anyway, so what did she care about the risk?
But she’s not dead after all. She’s holding her own heart, and she’s breathing and living and thinking, no empty shell like the Queen’s Cards. And now she’s unkillable.
Unless, of course, someone gets a hold of her heart. But they won’t. She’ll bury it, out in the garden of poisonous blood red roses, right in the (hah!) heart of the maze where nobody will go and where no one will find it. She’ll bury it in soil and spells and a chest, and she’ll live forever.
Alyss is the author of her own fate, and nobody else is.
The thing in her chest flutters and shifts where her heart used to be, settling into its space. Alyss wonders if it’s her soul. If, without the burden, the foible, of her heart, she can feel it now. She wonders if it’s at all affected by what she’s done.
She decides she doesn’t care if it is, nor how.
Fictober is a challenge where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
This year's prompts are from Deep Water Prompts on tumblr.
This prompt fill is also a glimpse into the backstory of one of my characters in Oracle.
❝My mother’s study was full of porcelain hearts, thousands of them, crafted in stunning anatomical detail.❞
I used to study them all, as a child, in their careful placements on little velvet cushions on the shelves, shining sleekly in the sunlight that poured through the tall windows. They were so beautiful, all unique somehow, and all looking so real. I was entranced by them, by their delicacy as much as by their forbidden nature. I was never allowed to touch any of them.
“Once broken, they can’t be mended,” my mother would say. “No matter how skilled the craftsman, how cleverly sealed or joined or glued the fragments, there would always be a fault in them.”
“Even with magic?” I’d ask.
“Magic can’t fix a broken heart. It can only unmake it, or change it, but then it wouldn’t be the same heart, you understand? And it would always have once been broken.”
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.