NaNoMongering 19: Blog Hop - The Next Big Thing


I almost forgot about this. I know, right, bad Agent Double Oh Zero! Well, it's still November 21st in my time zone, so I guess I haven't technically missed the mark. Anyway, I volunteered for a blog hop. This one is called The Next Big Thing, in which the participants answer questions about their Works In Progress. I was tagged by fellow NaNoer NicoleT.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to my baby holy terror of the seven hells Plot Hydra novel series, Dark Arcana.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?

The title of the series is Dark Arcana. The current book, the first, is tentatively titled The Amber of Time. For the rest, I am throwing around possibilities, such as The Octodyne Inheritance, The Clockwork Monk, and The Wells of Acheron.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It is almost entirely the fault of Doctor Who that this idea exists. In October of 2010, I suddenly decided to do NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I immediately knew I wanted to play around with time travel. I started off with certain concepts from Doctor Who which piqued my imagination, and started expanding them. The idea of an agency that sat outside of time, where the members played with timelines, was fascinating. My initial plot bunny started off as a short historical science fiction time travel story with an element of romance. The main characters were an arrogant scientist and a spunky smart-mouthed heroine, and the enemy were a race of alien gargoyle-like beings who went around changing past events for their own ends. It was supposed to be a quick throwaway thing, but over the course of November, it developed into anything but. Now I have an entire hulking Plot Hydra on my hands.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Steampunk. Can anyone say genre patchwork quilt?

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ethan Brooke (MMC) - No clue. He has green eyes, and dark blond hair. I guess someone who looks like that, but not just anyone. I sort of have his face in mind already.
Aurana Lockhart (FMC) - No clue. She has medium toned skin and curly red hair. An actor who looks like that, I guess.
Oscar Tenebrous - Matt Smith
Jonas von Drachenmire - Tom Hiddleston
Madam Pulovski - Eva Green
Caliiry ren Tandoraen/Ante ark Helain - Milla Jovovich
Pergator - No clue. Maybe voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, maybe not.

There are a whole bunch of other characters, but the list is too long to include here, and I don't know who would play them anyway. Although...it is kind of sad that I have no idea who would play my main characters.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a sentence? Impossible. Well, here goes...

Everyone in the universe is after a maguffin called the Amber of Time that will allow them to have complete mastery of history.

Complete crap, I know.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am thinking of publishing this the traditional way. I want a paper copy, and I want to see this in actual bookstores!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh, am I supposed to have finished? ...I haven't. Two years and counting. Well...that is, if you include all my first drafts, most of which I have abandoned. The latest first draft... 21 days and counting.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

To my knowledge, there really is no other series which is exactly like this one. That is, there is nothing I could point to and definitively say 'if you like this, then you WILL like my series.' Mind you, I think this is a good thing! However...

In terms of certain subjects and recurring motifs, Dark Arcana reminds me of the His Dark Materials trilogy, by Phillip Pullman, most especially the last book, The Amber Spyglass. Dark Arcana has a similarly diverse cast of both human and non-human characters, all of whom are battling for dominion, some for survival. His Dark Materials also has multiple universes.

In terms of plot development, Dark Arcana subtly follows the Hero's Journey archetype. Certain characters go through a transformation from human to superhuman (sometimes metaphorically), as they gear up to face the Big Bad. In that respect, it's reminiscent of such stories as Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars.

In terms of conflict, I suppose... A Song of Ice and Fire. The genre is completely different, but like ASOIAF, none of the characters in Dark Arcana really fit into 'good guy' and 'bad guy' categories. Each person has their point of view, and their motive. Each is capable of being a great hero, but also a great villain. That's not to say that they are all equal. Some are more villainous than others, while others could almost be heroes...in different circumstances. Basically...there is no telling who will win. However, in terms of actual content/genre, Dark Arcana actually more steampunk/science fiction than high fantasy.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Doctor Who. I absolutely love that show. At the time I came up with the idea, I had just finished the 10th Doctor's episodes, and I absolutely loved the vast variety of worlds, ideas, cultures, and philosophical questions that came up. The things that struck me the most in this case were the parallel universe, the fact that the Doctor was the last Time Lord, and the Weeping Angels. In the show, time travel was mostly restricted to just the one universe. The Doctor was a lone god. The Weeping Angels were mere monsters.

I thought: What if, instead of just the one universe, there was a whole mess of universes with different laws linked together into one huge multiverse, and changes actually spawned a new timeline, rather than changing the old one? What if there were a whole group of beings (human or otherwise) with the power to mess with the multiverse like gods, and whose job it was to guard history from...harm? What if there was a race of sentient beings who were biological time travelers, and natural predators of the stream of causality, and thus needed time travel in order to survive?

From there, my imagination exploded, and...Dark Arcana was born.

I suppose, after that, my characters inspired me to continue writing. Dark Arcana, though born almost entirely out of Doctor Who concepts, was never Doctor Who fanfiction. Although I freely admit that I based my MMC, Ethan Brooke, on the 10th Doctor, he soon took on a personality of his own, and pretty much took over the entire series. The same happened with Aurana Lockhart, my FMC.

Now I have to tell their story.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is actually multiple genres, depending on whose point of view it is, and what world it is. To Oscar, a peasant child, everything appears as fantasy. To Ethan, who is familiar with science at least up to the 19th century, everything is steampunk. To Caliiry, a Time Agent from the far future who is familiar with advanced tech, everything is explained in almost hard science fiction. To Aurana, a slave with mental blocks installed, magic and tech don't exist. To still others, the use of magic and tech do exist, but are both gross blasphemy against their religion. In this sense, Clarke's law applies: that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

However, it goes beyond that. The story logic allows for different worlds to have different laws of physics...or not physics. In some worlds, magic exists, and science flops, and in others, science dominates, and magic is impossible...and every shade in between. The resulting discrepancies in perception fuel conflict between the characters.

I realize that in all this, I have mentioned precious little about what the series is actually about, so I will attempt that here. There are actually multiple levels of conflict.

The backdrop conflict is between the Time Agents and the Nocharen Sideas. The Time Agents make up a group called the Guardians. They are just regular humans, but they have been pulled out of their own natural history and placed in a facility outside regular time, in order to serve and protect the existence of all sentient species in the multiverse, as well as preserve all the scientific knowledge therein discovered. The Nocharen Sideas are a group of shapeshifting extra-universal aliens, who travel up and down the time streams of the multiverse, and who feed on the energy of temporal paradoxes. Being so at odds in their natures, the Guardians and the Nocharen Sideas are locked in a perpetual time war that has raged through all of known history. The repercussions are felt even within the worlds...

The mid-level conflict takes place in 19th century Terra, where both tech and magic coexist...if not quite peacefully. A few powerful nations have suddenly made striking advances in both. The exception is technophobic Engleter, where the use of both is strictly regulated by the Lord Protector. However, when a power-hungry diplomat from a hostile neighbor tries to overthrow the Lord Protector,
Suddenly, world war looms on the horizon, as nations battle for religious and political supremacy...

Ethan Brooke is a self-titled disciple of chaos and brilliant mad scientist, whose only quest is higher learning, and whose passion is for justice. In the midst of a superstitious society that censures the arts he loves most, and makes them downright illegal, Ethan secretly works on his pet project, a lens to reveal truth. When Ethan uses his invention to acquit a wrongfully accused criminal, the country erupts in chaos. Ethan has always longed to prove that not all those who seek knowledge are necessarily greedy for power. His powers fully exposed to the world, he finds he's unwittingly given the would-be world dominators the perfect weapon with which to quell the dogs of war: himself. Unless he agrees to help develop a superweapon that will protect Engleter's future, Ethan Brooke faces punishment for his unsanctioned practice of the sciences: death.

Aurana Lockhart is a slave of the diplomatic but dictatorial Lord Protector of Engleter II. Provided with wealth and comfort, she is still at the blind mercy of her master's whims. Subconsciously aware of the chains, she still fears to escape, for it means death. Then, a foreign diplomat attempts to overthrow the Lord Protector, and reestablish the forces of tech and magic in Engleter. Seizing her chance in the chaos, Aurana escapes by the skin of her teeth, unknowingly taking with her the AWESOME MAGUFFIN that is the source of all Engleter's blocked magical power. All she wants is to live quietly, but the price of freedom is dear when one's very existence threatens the balance of politics. Thus begins the Hunt...and she is the prey.

Sorry about the crappy vague summary. One day I will nail down just what this book is about, so that I can write an AWESOME synopsis without giving away the whole plot.

Unfortunately, regarding other blogs, I suppose this is a bit of a dead end. I'm not a huge blogger, and most of the ones I know have been linked already. I will update as and when I do come across some others.

Anyway, to those who actually made it through this giant block of text: thank you. To those who didn't...I apologize. I am far better at word vomit than I should be. XD


  1. This is a tremendously awesome story idea btw and I cannot wait for you to finish it so that I can read it!

    1. Thanks. I was afraid that my huge word vomit made no sense whatsoever. :-)