Nymphs is still ongoing – yes I’m still puttering away on this even though I’d planned to complete during the Writer’s Retreat at Asthall Manor (8 – 12 October 2018 vintage run by Blue Pencil Agency). I’ve some notes from that time – the most important being this: then I was at 13k words expecting another 4k to finish it; now I’ve got to 20k words and there’s still no end in sight (it’s an epic!!!) – so anyway I will get round to blogging up the Writers’ Retreat stuff (after Sufis in Burnley, a retrospect of Brian Aldiss and a re-evaluation of Edgar rice Burroughs).
Nymphs is a collection of four short stories looking at, in turn, ice, storm, ocean and wood nymphs. Each story has a different setting; Ice Made is in present day Canada, the Nereid in present day Blackpool, the Storm Nymph in a church and the last piece is set in a fantasy world with a technological level of a C13th Earth. To be clear, the nymphs do not inhabit a shared world, what binds them together is they are nymphs. Returning to the latter piece, the fantasy world is something I’ve been working on for a while; in some ways it is similar to RE Howard’s Hyborian age however I have chosen to emphasise different parallels e.g. the Steppes of central Asia become the Northland Steppes, the Caliphate becomes the Land of the Khaif (plus there is a Khaif in exile), the Dutch becomes Lagelan, the British Isles had been largely subjugated by the augeruch. Magic works – otherwise why bother with fantasy?
Going back to the last piece – on wood nymphs – this was intended to come to between 10k and 15k words. It’s nearly complete but has overrun, currently standing at 20k words; I guess it’ll take another 2k words to say what I want to say. Lets’ give it a name: Dryads.
Dryads is pastoral and is set on the edge of human settlement, near the village of Tranby. Here’s an explanation of the title which may well appear in Dryads, in some form or other:
On Wood Fairies
Nymph, Dryad? These were definitely wood fairies. And not fae or faery. There were rules about that and the fae were very particular on whom they allowed the terms of greater elegance – fae for those not of this world, fairy for the outliers, stuck in the woods and field of man’s earth – naturally the most mundane spelling was reserved for those closest to cloddish man.
Why has Dryads grown big. It is bursting with life. There are two pregnancies (and thus two babes born), each takes its own telling and, rather than events thrown at random into the plot pot, grow from the circumstances of the tale. Also there is war. War is pernicious, breaking down the rule of law, and thus the expectation of civilised conduct from your fellow man. For reasons of the winner writes the tale and dark deeds are best dealt with by eulogies and myth-making, the reality of war and of the hero are touched on.
There is also romance, the threat of dark things (I’m torn between naming these either skrælling or darkling) and conflict in the world of fae. Then there’s the point that we’re destroying our planet through over breeding. I prefer to make this point through the idea of ‘no increase’ which naturally, I apply to the fae. Yet follow the consequences and readers continue to engage with the concept of over-population.
What was that – an idea going over the tops of our heads?
You can only say so much and it must be appropriate for the narrative. Slowly does it rumble on. Still unfinished.