Mingling the Real and Unreal

Plus an update on Book 5 at the end.

There is one attribute about writers that may not be obvious. Depending on your chain of thought, it might seem to be a contradition. Writer are big readers. (No, they don’t need big letters or big words!) Writers like to read almost as much as they like to write. I, for one, enjoy seeing the way another writer develops his or her story, what they put into it and how they get themselves out of trouble.

And we do incorporate, into our own skillset, the techniques of other writers.

I picked up one from, of all writers, H. P. Lovecraft.

Of course, the Raven of Iskandar saga does not incorporate any elements of horror. However, Lovecraft was an accomplished writer and wove his stories in particular ways. He had his style.

One element of his storytelling that I ‘fell’ for was his use of mingling real books with imaginary ones. Of course I did stop short of going to the library asking for a copy of the Necronomicon (by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred) but there apparently were quite a few people who did. The book never existed (except for some modern authors trying to write it!), but people were misled by Lovecraft’s mingling of real books & stories with his made-up ones. For example, in the same paragraph he would mention the Necronomicon and then The King in Yellow (by a madman names Chambers). The former is imagination but The King in Yellow was a actual book of short stories by one of Lovecraft’s contemporaries and friends, Robert W. Chambers.

In the first book, Chaoschick plays the viola and the piece she plays is ‘Terms of My Life’ by Haliton Messenger. Despite the detailed description of the piece, it is total invention as is its composer. Then in book five (no spoilers), Raven will have the wallmon play the ‘Blumine’ version of Mahler’s First Symphony by the New Haven Symphony, which was an actual vinyl album (unfortunately never updated to CD).

Similarly, when the team goes to a mall on AC3 and visits Book Beast, which was the name of an actual bookstore in Milford, CT, Raven buys a book named ‘When the Sax Man Plays’ by Yvonne Marrs, which also actually exists.

A more blatant example is at Book Beast where Tristaner says he would like to paint like Van Gogh or Athenagoras. The former, of course, is real, the latter, invention.

The reference to existing people, music and other things encourages the reader to accept the inventions as also real, activating their suspension of disbelief. This makes the characters and incidents seem more real and apparently more familiar. It may even make the reader think that the invented book or artist is something that the reader needs to find out more about.

Book 5, tentatively named ‘The New Season’, has now surpassed 90,000 words. I do have some chapters to fill out, so it’s a good bet to go over 100,000 words. I found a good breaking point, so some material has been pushed back to book 6. That will give me a good start on the following book.

So, bottom line, the book should be into the editing cycle in two to three weeks.


Published by ravenofiskandarseries

Electronic Design Engineer, Electronic Music Composer and Author.

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