People reading Royal Scales are probably aggravated frequently. I know I am – yet I can’t explain how much I love this series, and how completely confusing it is to write. There are a million background factors going into the history which require way more thought than Continue Online does. (Weird, considering the book length differences).
We’re dropped into an alternate version of Earth where enough should feel familiar yet wholly strange at times. I can’t bring myself to sit down and write out 20 pages of exposition just to allow readers a solid anchor in the story. Info dumps are bad news. Any explanations I give have to be organic, concise, and not overwhelm the story. Anyone who’s written should be aware of how thin the line between eye glazing and interesting an exposition can be.
So, I’ll explain how this story came about first. I started writing Royal Scales in mid-2013 (Maybe 2014…time blurs). My prior series was I third person and I desperately wanted to try something new in order to both grow as an author and find something more comfortable. I am utter trash at third person (See Continue Online’s interludes, concludes, and commencements). First person sounded good (Who writes in 2nd person? You couldn’t handle an entire book of that! You’re freaking out now just thinking about it! And so am I…).
After I set myself a challenge of writing a new series; the next step became combining inspiration to find a setting I liked and enough overplot that I was comfortable moving forward. That portion takes a huge amount of time for me – over plot is what I write towards, a destination, and lets me move forward with minor arcs and characters towards completion.
This entire series started from a weird ass dream. I imagined myself as some super powerful face stomping dragon and I was being drained by a woman – who then used that power to beat up other people in a dream scape. At least that’s vaguely what the dream was – and I wanted to know if there was more to the idea.
I shoved the forming idea (dream) together with a short story I had written in fifth grade about a guy who turned into a half dragon and smashed things – but needed to be less ‘myself’ and less ‘brokenly overpowered’ because neither concept interested me. That meant creating elements that were nothing like me – dated a black woman, hung out in bars, loved to fight people, all these helped distance myself from the character enough to start inflicting terrible situations upon him. Not that I wanted to outright dump on a person – but I needed to be able to do it and have real consequences. Life isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows or days where everything comes out in the 120% best solution because of hard work and effort. Reality means we’re lucky to end up breaking even.
Moral lessons aside – I believe this story succeeded greatly in ‘not being me’. Except for my writing style still held far too much natural snark which ran a bit contrary to who Jay was. The first few people who read it had to put up with choppy writing styles, bad sentence structure, and so on. These things were smoothed out greatly since I had written nearly four books in the series, and was well into CO’s 2nd book before starting the rewrite process. What you see on my WordPress is actually the result of a ton of growth.
So – to recap my wandering ramble and get back on track – Dream + Partial Story written by Child Me – and add in one more factor.
Prior to writing this series I had been reading a metric ton of Urban Fantasy. The field is generally dominated by female characters. I wanted to see what one of the males in these stories felt like; and take some of the more common tropes I was seeing and break them into unique shapes. Elves all got compulsions. Vampires couldn’t be simply dead in sunlight so I wound in extra features (I’ll save this explanation for book 2’s ramble) – and were wolves wouldn’t stand being called ‘were’ anything. All of them are balanced between their ‘benefits’ and their ‘natures’. I imagined two thousand year sof bumbling around together – finding a safe balancing point – and moved forward to ‘modern’ times. So when we see the setting – that was the goal. None of this ‘vampires are being revealed in modern times!’ nonsense (I’m looking at you True Blood / Stackhouse)
Then of course we have Jay, who’s ‘unique’ in the world as all main characters typically are. Why? Because you can’t have a world with elves, vampires, and werewolves and not introduce all the cool creatures. Which made me ask ‘what happened to them?’ – and the answer became ‘genocide because they’re scary’.
This ties into ‘The Purge’ – an event I haven’t gone into a lot of detail about. The reason being is this fast forwarded world is simply burying the past mistakes under generations of obscured knowledge, history editing, and an ongoig secret war that still is happening.
Thus we have Jay. A man who’s trying to make sense of the world around him (At least that’s what I’m hoping) but factors are against him. His memory has been modified (Which he doesn’t know at this stage – and you might not either, surprise! Book 3 and 4 material spoiler! – you did read the warning right?) which makes Jay believe he’s just a special human, nothing more.
Only as time goes on, even a muddled Jay can’t believe he’s purely human. The Purge itself is a documented event – only the nature of all defeated races is hidden. They are the nameless monsters of the night, boogymen, shadowy overlords who were cast down from their thrones upon high and their dark nests uprooted. Humanity, with the help of derivative races (Vampires and werewolves both need humans to propagate – elves were once human thousands of years ago. It’s my world, I’ll do what I want.) – humanity stood on top in a stable world.
Now there’s more back story justifying this – which one day I plan on releasing. Probably as a side tidbit somewhere in the Royal Scales pages. God there’s so much shit in this universe that I’ll probably never get to with Jay alone (I have a side novel planned with Thomas….somewhere). Anyway; I had to set up more reasons for why reality turned out this way.
Only most of this I didn’t discover until well into the storyline with Jay. I was halfway through book 1 before ‘The Purge’ really hit me as a concept. Then I had to rewrite and add in a bit about it to make sure it existed from the get go. I can’t stand the idea of just dropping in ‘explanations’ as if a Dues Ex Machina struck to solve all the current obstacles – or add in new bullshit ones. Life – done right – has enough problems as it is.
God this Ramble is getting out of hand – if you’re still with me, kudos! Hopefully there’s interesting material in here somewhere. If not, thanks for clicking and attempting to understand the madness.
Anyway. Started with a dream, dropped in Jay as a character, made up the scene around him – started adding in side characters (Julianne, Candy, Daniel) and fleshed them out over the course of a book. They became real, then I went back and edited more – trying to make sure latter character traits were successfully carried throughout the entire novel. This review helped. By then – I had a story. I had people, a world, and a person moving through it. His reasons (Out of everything) are the shakiest in this entire book. Jay keeps trying to take action but it’s all reactionary.
Is it weird that I enjoy that? Characters react to what happens to them, they don’t plan out everything ahead of time while navigating unlikelihood with the skill of a trained international secret agent. Maybe if the story were 3rd person – I could give that impression – but in first we get all of Jay’s faults and confusions delivered on a personal level.
Which brings me to the last part of this ramble, Julianne’s death. Jesus I felt dirty and cried a lot writing this out. We barely knew here! Why should I do such a thing to such a nice woman! She served drinks!
There were three reasons – the first is consequences. This is a huge one to me, and by writing ‘not me’ (Jay the bar going thug) – I was able to make it work. There were bullets flying. Enemies died in droves. A lone human with no special powers and minimal training with firearms could not and should not survive in such a chaotic situation. Only the vehicle of her death (One of Kahina’s bodyguards) should be the questionable item here. Why did he kill Julianne? Probably because doing so would make Kahina more unable and less likely to complete her transition (A book 2 issue). Because this partial vampire was a plant to ensure Kahina didn’t make it; in short vampire politics in action.
The second reason was for character growth. Jay needed a sore point to regret from this book’s events. In a lot of ways I was looking at the Gwen Stacy effect. In addition I wanted to make sure this current version of Jay (even with messed up memories) – understood how far removed from normal humanity he was. How monstrous is he to survive what killed a normal person? This scene and situation were designed to drive that idea into his head.
The third reason was a challenge to myself. Could I kill a character that I painstakingly created from the first chapter? Yes I could. What would it do to the future storyline? Could I show that ripple effect as it hits everything else? Well – if you haven’t – check out book 2 and let me know. I think it worked out well.
I’ll end this one here. Thanks for reading.