So, what have I been up to?

Time for a proper update and progress report, I feel.  Partly because I want to get into the habit of posting regularly again, but also because I have an interview for a job I really need to get in a couple of hours and I’m distracting myself.

So, what have I been doing, other than uni work, for the past five months?  In short, not a whole lot that’s tangible.  The War of Nations is now a good deal more fleshed out, that’s for sure.  I’ve sat and brainstormed a lot of different aspects of the world, it’s technologies (should my airships be propelled by pulse-jets, turbo-jets, or some kind of impeller?  Just one of the many questions I have asked myself that absolutely no-one is going to care about), and my characters, so they are much more real in my mind.  And also, I am just about to finish storyboarding my first book.
So what’s it about, I hear you cry (it was a very faint cry; you may not have heard yourself shout out in the first place).  Well, in terms of the larger picture it is the first book in the War of Nations world, and thus has certain obligations to reveal the core conceits of the world and it’s style and aesthetic.  It will reveal the opening blows of the war, from the perspective of a young captain of a French regiment, one Gerard Matrice (pictured left – once more, massive thanks to John Wigley for bringing him to life for me).
So what is it Monsieur Matrice will see and do?  Well really that’s for me to know and you to read about at some point in the semi-distant future.  But here’s a small glimmer of what I have in store for him.  Our young hero (of sorts) is an incredibly ambitious man, who manipulates his way into the war to seek glory and promotion on the battlefield (too trite?  Perhaps.  It works with him, though).  However, this war is not like the small House Wars that have been fought across France for a century.  This is a global war, a total war, war on a scale never before witnessed.  Matrice must fight not to win notoriety and command, but merely to survive, as the French force sent to aid the Germans is stormed by the might of the Turkish army.  It is in this cauldron of fire and metal, not the gentlemanly, ordered battlefield of France, that Matrice must make his name.
Wow, I surprised myself, that just came from nothing!  I think I’ll save that somewhere as evidence of what a truly cliched blurb can be.
You are probably thinking a number of things at this point, probably not all of them good.  There are a couple of preconceptions that I can see will be formed quite quickly upon reading that wee blurb, so let me lay them to rest.  Unfortunately, the best way I can do that is via comparison with other books, so please bear with me.
Is this going to be a gritty, nasty war book, intent on preaching about the “realities of war?”
No, absolutely not.  The reason for this, basically, is because that’s not fun to read.  This is my driving force with these books – I want them to be fun for me to write, and fun for you to read.  The War of Nations is a world of impossible machines, grand strategies and mighty armies…  I’m not going to weigh that down with a lecture on the morals of war-making.  I’m sure it will come up in good time, but in a manner of my choosing which is in keep with my rule of hand, theall-powerful Rule of Cool.
Is Matrice going to be Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker?
Again, no, definitely not.  Gerard Matrice is a believable, solid character, whose youth and drive to excel will be seen through the eyes of the narrator, who will watch (and influence) his growth as a man throughout the story arch I have planned for him.  It would be very easy to make him the petulant, arrogant little twerp Mr Lucas and Mr Christensen insisted on showing on screen, but personally I like a bit of depth from my characters.  Hopefully in the weeks and months that follow, as I write I will find myself with more, and better, words to describe him to you.  [By the way, that sort of thing will happen a lot.  I have a lot of gripes with a lot of films and actors – expect these to jump free of my brain and on to the page at the drop of my metaphorical hat].
Will Matrice be Sharpe as a Frenchman?
Ah, a better question.  Again, no, but for a good reason.  Namely, I could never, ever, write a Sharpe-like character better than, well, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe.  And so I’m not going to try. Cornwell has the market all to himself on grumpy heroes who get all the girls – I’m going to try and elbow myself a niche alongside him, with a different character and setting which will be fresh and interesting to both fans of Sharpe, and the myriad other, more fantastical, influences I have.  Or that’s the hope at least.
I know there will be further questions arising I’m sure, and I’ll endeavour to answer them once I’ve thought up what they are.  Feel free to put any you have in the comments box and I’ll do my best to either answer them, or dodge them artfully.  I’m writing a character introduction for Matrice at the moment which I may pop up here when its done; and I’ll certainly post again when I have a finished draft of my storyboard done and dusted.  Laters.