In a world of magic that runs like lifeblood through the very earth, Ro is a rare outlier: a null. Magic doesn't affect her or work for her; she instead cancels it out. This comes in useful; as an assassin, Ro slips through all magical defences and snares easily.
When two different contracts come her way, requesting that she assassinate Queen Alyss of Miraré's oracle for a truly obscene amount of gold, Ro happily, eagerly accepts the assignment. For one, she's never killed an oracle before. For another, the reward is practically a king's ransom, and Ro loves nothing so much as she as gold.
It takes months, but eventually Ro gets herself into the perfect position to kill the mystical oracle...only she hesitates. Not out of any moral quandary, but out of curiosity.
And that single hesitation has far reaching consequences for an entire universe, because the oracle isn't an oracle. He is something else far more influential than that, whether he knows it or not...
Alyss | also called the Red Queen, ruler of Miraré through usurpation, one-time destined saviour of the world, currently attempting to forge an alliance with Teimor.
Ro | also known as Carrow, a null and assassin whose moral compass points to 'gold' or 'would be fun', depending on the situation.
Sage | an oracle who isn't, motivated by a dual desire for revenge and finding a way home, full of secrets.
Fintan | leader of the Order of the White Hare, a rebel organization dedicated to removing Alyss from the throne, also known as Fin.
Jac | Ro's one-time guardian and current liaison for assignments.
Remember how I said I'd be doing more subtle references to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland duology? Well...I changed my mind; it's much less subtle now. Still, I'm quite excited about this! All my characters are sort of awful but still sympathetic, which is a treat to write, and I have a very developed backstory for everything that I'm eager to slowly reveal. Speaking of which, the backstory is hefty enough and interesting enough to be its own story told in a more straightforward manner but...I don't want to write it like that so I simply shan't.
I am, however, already falling into the trap of trying to develop and implement a big, world-changing plot which is not my thing at all. It's a strange instinct to have when I don't want nor actually have the capacity to follow through on such a thing. I think I may have just gotten into the habit of thinking up Big Plots™ because I tend to read Big Plots™ and also almost all the writer peers I have or know of tend to write Big Plots™ too.
So I'm trying to simplify it, or at least, make it more character-oriented (which is the type of plot I enjoy and excel at writing to completion). Currently the synopsis is perfect as is, but you'll notice it's not really plot-focused.
The plan so far is to 1) have Ro and my oracle, Sage, on the run, being pursued by the villain, 2) slowly reveal Sage and the villain's secrets and entwined pasts, 3) have Ro and Sage trying to get sanctuary with a group of people who have their own agenda, because that group is the lesser of the two evils for Sage who 4) ultimately just wants to go home.
It's good enough for now! I shall just keep tinkering with it and see where I end up.
As for the cover: I absolutely adore it, and it has lots of symbolism, which I only realized after I'd settled on this design. Let me be a stereotypical English student for a second and dive into it:
Until next time, happy reading and writing!
Sirin's son has been kidnapped by the djinn, and she will stop at nothing to find him and bring him home, even if that means marching into the realm of the Unseen on what everyone insists is a hopeless mission. He's gone, she is told. Grieve him, for he is as good as dead. If he is returned to you, he will not be the same child you knew.
But he isn't dead, and Sirin refuses to wait around for an if. She doesn't care that no one has ever returned from such a venture. She's going to save her son, or die trying.
Enter Halah; the only person taken by the djinn who claims to have escaped them, rather than been returned. Only she knows the paths into the Unseen realm and the ways through the kingdom of the djinn, and when Sirin pleads for her help, she agrees.
She can't abandon a child, even one she doesn't know. Even if it does mean returning to the last place in all the realms she ever wants to see again...
Sirin | a desperate, determined mother, chief of her tribe after her husband's untimely death.
Qusaiy | Sirin's son, a six year old boy, renowned for his beautiful voice and excellent memory.
Raoul | Cousin to Sirin's husband and her childhood friend, secretly in love with her, utterly devoted to her.
Halah | escapee from the djinn, living as an outcast at the edge of a village with her best friend and a sootdragon for company.
Ilyas | Raoul's best friend and a fierce warrior of Sirin's tribe, Nilam's twin brother, and a former slave.
Nilam | A Ranger, Halah's best and only friend, Ilyas' twin sister, and a former slave.
I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS!
Welcome to Legends of Mourra, formally known as Chronicles of Mourra. And yup, you read that right: this is only volume one! The plan is to basically write a series of books that all take place in the same universe, and each will be a different 'legend'. Probably there will be some cameos from book to book, but they won't be direct sequels. As of yet, I only have two volumes in mind; the second will probably be the oft-mentioned gender-swapped retelling of Aladdin!
But oh, the plot of this one! It's new and fresh and pared down from the former too-grand scale of the old one, in which an entire kingdom succumbed to civil war and invasion after a coup, as seen from the perspective of four or five people. This revamped plot is both way more manageable and delicious, if I do say so myself.
There's some mystery, some magic, some wonder, some romance, a little bit of horror but nothing too bad, and a spicy sprinkling of complex relationships and tragic backstories.
Some things remain the same though; this is still a rescue mission for poor Qusaiy, there's still gonna be a road-trip of a quest, Raoul's still hopelessly in love with Sirin, (as is Ilyas with Halah), Nilam is still awesome, and Halah is still an outcast.
I'm also super excited to feature various mythical creatures pulled from various Arabian and African (and more!) traditions, as well as inspiration from different Muslim beliefs! I have a whole alphabetical compendium/encyclopedia ready to go and everything.
However, I am not, as of this moment, at the writing stage. I am at the planning and note-making stage though! Will keep y'all updated!
Also, sidenote: I'm not 100% sold on the cover I've whipped up, but it'll work until/if I get something I like better.
Until next time, happy reading and writing!
So remember how I said I wanted to write an isekai novel featuring an "oracle" figure on the run who doesn't actually have the gift of foresight? Well, it's rapidly developed since then into something Bigger™.
Many years ago, when I was still as obssessed with fairytales and folklore retellings as I am now, I dreamed up an Alice in Wonderland retelling that...never really got off the ground.
(Sidebar: it just occurred to me that retellings are the root of my love for fanfiction! I can't believe I didn't realize that until literally this moment!)
My last blog post on the isekai/portal genre naturally got me thinking about Lewis Carroll's story, which got me thinking about my retelling idea, and BAM! It occurred to me I could merge my old story concept with this new one!
I don't know how many of you remember, but I briefly posted about a new project of mine that was tentatively titled Chimken Tendies (based on a very silly inside joke). I talked a lot about it with two of my friends and this wip has since grown massively. I finally have a better working title for it too! It's now being called the Glitch wip, which is fitting for the direction I'm hoping to take the story in! Before I dive into that though, let me re-introduce it to you!
(I'll be posting a wip intro under my books once I have one ready!)
Set several hundred years into our future, body modifications are becoming more common for those who can afford them, and many of the diseases we're familiar with have been completely eradicated (including most forms of cancer) thanks to various corporations' efforts and research. The technology for prosthetics has also come a long way and become more affordable and advanced.
One of the biggest corporations involved with all that is the LeMarque Foundation, a family run organization hailed for their incredible medical breakthroughs, known for being leaders in the field of bio- and gene-modification. They are, of course, shady as hell.
This project of mine is not only my first attempt at writing cyberpunk (and sci-fi)! It'll be my first time writing something with aliens. They don't come from outer-space though. Instead, they're interdimensional beings from an entirely separate plane of existence. Ok, so not entirely separate, because they've often purposely (or accidentally) crossed over into our reality, and are the source of many fairytales and mythologies, especially those pertaining to any kind of shapeshifting or physical transformation!
Which brings me to the characters:
Sacha | A bodyguard for the LeMarque's son and heir, Etienne. She's a cyborg, and due to shenanigans, is technically the LeMarque's property (at least, the tech parts of her are, and she can't survive without those). Her service to them is in payment of her debt to them. She takes her job very seriously but has a secret fondness for her charge which she does an all-too-good job of hiding. When on duty, she often wears a mask to obscure the lower half of her face.
Etienne | The son and heir to the LeMarque's, he kicks off the story by running away the day Sacha's out for repairs (which is the only reason he managed to get away at all). A sweet if naive kid, he hates his parents and can't stomach being around them after he discovers the secret behind their company's success and the horror of the mantle they're planning to pass on to him.
Cipher | A shapeshifter and one of the most skilled of the very few shapeshifters that have been identified. He has the ability to change every part of his body down to his fingerprints (although not DNA, and he's limited to human forms). He's a direct descendant of the aforementioned aliens, though he has lived his whole life in our plane of existence, Ostensibly, he's a government agent. In reality, he's got no choice about it. He's on loan to the LeMarques to be Etienne's doppelgänger until Etienne is found and brought back.
So why is the working title Glitch? Well, because it's going to be dealing with the intersection of humanity and technology, and both Cipher and Sacha have bodies that in different ways...glitch. [Cue evil laughter here]. This story will also be exploring a lot of themes related to agency, family, identity, and class warfare. There will be no romance between the main characters! There may be a revolution, or the start of one, though it won't be the main focus. It will probably be a standalone.
But wait, there's more! Glitch is actually—drumroll please—the spiritual prequel to Rivener 2.0! Maybe even literal prequel, if I can manage to sprinkle references to Glitch into it. But basically, my plan is for Rivener 2.0 to take place in the same world, only much, muuuuuch later on. We're talking about a thousand years later!
So Glitch wip is actually me setting up the world to be what it is in Rivener. Initially, Rivener was supposed to be more of a fantasty post-apocalyptic story than a sci-fi one. I've moved away from that entirely though. Kai's shifter abilities are actually a result of the evolution of shapeshifter genes mixing with the bio-mods that happen during Glitch's time. And this does mean, unfortunately, that the world of Glitch is one barrelling towards an apocalypse. [Cue more evil laughter].
Now I'm not a science person, and though I will be doing a little research into these concepts, for the most part (or at least, in the first draft) I'm gonna just have fun and hand-wave away any big questions of how all this is possible. Hello, we've got aliens.
Anyway! I'm super excited for this wip! I haven't written any new content for it, I've just been thinking and talking about it, and waiting for the story to finish brewing in my head before I try and write it. But this is the last of my major updates, and I hope you enjoyed reading and following along with me on this. Check out the pinterest board I have for it, for more glimpses into the characters, world, and aesthetic.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this wip or anything I'm writing, please do not hesitate to hit me up. I'd be ecstatic to hear from you! Also I do my best story-building in conversations with people.
Until next time, happy reading and writing!
Many moons ago (lol), I was talking to my friend Trade about Rivener, and they asked me a fantastic question. I'm paraphrasing here because I don't have my old blog with the record of it, but essentially they asked me what the worst versions of my characters would look like. And I said with Wren, she'd be something like Cormac (my main antagonist). Brutal, unafraid of her own power or using it, and utterly devoid of empathy. I said she'd become like that in an alternate universe where she met Cormac while young and was raised by him and his ideals.
But then...as much as I like angst, I couldn't just leave it at that. I love happy endings! No matter how hard it is to get there! (Sometimes the harder, the better, you know?) Anyway, we ended up talking through what would happen if that version of Wren met Kai, how they'd meet, if he would help her change, and what their story would look like. Ultimately, the world would still be the same—post-apocalyptic, though leaning more towards sci-fi than urban fantasy—but certain events would change, impacting the characters and their development.
Several months passed where I stopped writing almost entirely but didn't stop thinking about this, and after some more recent chats with Trade and Hyba, I decided to scrap my first rewrite of Rivener (which, if you don't know, I'd been sort of attempting to do) and properly pick up this AU.
And now it's an actual thing! I've written 6k for it so far over the past couple days, planned a good chunk of it out, and have the writing bug again (such a good feeling, when you just wanna write and write and write, like an itch). It's going fantastically, if I do say so myself. However...
I was (am still? sorta?) a little nervous to share this version of my story (creatively titled Rivener 2.0) because...this Wren is awful. She does awful things and is complicit in awful things. Internet purity culture has me worried about what the response will be to this character who can lightly be described as ~problematic~. She changes, of course. This story is still about two very damaged people healing, the journey they go through together and because of each other. But it's also a lot darker. Or I delve into the darker aspects more.
Wren is not exactly a villain, but she's not a hero either, not for a long while. She is, in fact, closely aligned with the main villain. Not entirely of her own free will, but...well. Some may think she's irredeemable, which is valid. But I think it's rare that people are truly irredeemable. I do believe everyone has the capacity to change, if they want to, if they decided to, if they commit to it and keep trying and learning and unlearning, if they work hard to not repeat their mistakes or the way they've hurt people, if they apologize by word and action.
I don't think anyone is owed forgiveness, but I believe everyone can earn some sort of...grace? I don't know if that's the word I'm looking for, maybe redemption is closer to the mark. So yeah. Wren will have a pretty significant redemption arc. I hope I can do a good job conveying the complicated person she is, with pretty severe faults but equally admirable qualities and depth to her. Her journey is not easy. She can never erase the things she's done. But I hope you cheer her on as she grows to be a better person, even if she can never fully make up for who she was. I hope you understand where she's coming from, even if it doesn't excuse her actions or beliefs.
Now this AU is not all about Wren, and Kai too is changed from the original story. Firstly. we're meeting him in vastly different circumstances, when he's arguably a much rawer character? In the original, he'd been enslaved to Cormac for a while by the time he met Wren, and a few years before that he was "stock" on a "farm" (for spoiler reasons, I won't explain what that means).
In this AU, he meets Wren having just been removed from the farm. He's less docile, but at heart, still the same sweet, gentle, traumatized Kai of the original. They have a long way to go before they like each other, given who Wren is and how they meet in this AU. She treats him pretty terribly. Not as terribly as she could've, and not as terribly as others, but...oof. They have an uphill battle ahead of them.
Still! I'm really excited to write this story, difficult (in topics and tone) as it is! I get to explore the world a little bit more, flesh out Cormac a lot more, and write some scenes I always wanted to, which didn't end up having a place in the original! I hope you guys will come along with me on this journey!
Have you ever written or read a character who starts out as awful and slowly transforms for the better (or the reverse)? How did it go? Do you think they managed to become sympathetic or appealing to the reader, despite their faults? Do comment below, or drop me an email, and let me know! I'd love to talk about this!
In the meantime, have an excerpt:
Cormac listened quietly to this report, and the only indication of his rage was the wreaths of fog coiling around his feet like cats, which swelled and billowed behind him like a cloud before he hissed out a breath and it quieted to nothing more but tendrils of mist, cold and spreading across the floor. Wren braced herself against the reach and touch of it, felt a grim sort of perverse pleasure at the way Threader flinched, the way the others fidgeted, discomfited.
Stay tuned for P.3 of my writing updates, where I will talk about my Glitch wip! Happy reading and writing!
"The thing about being dead is that it's not you that stops feeling real and alive, it's everything else. The world goes ghostly, intangible, ephemeral. Faded and muted and unreachable.
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.