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DVerse Lore - Luminaries and Charlatans

I feel like I’ve reached May in a dead sprint, racing towards a finish line only I know exists. Good lord, was April a busy month! Even without conventions to eat up my weekends, so much had to happen in what felt like such a short month. But we’re here now, enjoying May and all it brings. Let’s get down to things and on to our next author blog.

I’ll start off things again with some updates: This year’s October Novella Event poll is still up and will be ending in just a few days, so if you haven’t voted yet, get to it! It may come down to the wire on what will end up winning, so if you haven’t read over last month’s blog post that goes into depth on each of these options, take a look, cast your vote, and be sure to pledge to Patreon if you haven’t yet to join us for the main event. The more, the merrier, and the support really does help make my birth month awesome.

Secondly, at the tail end of this month I’ll be setting out for Colossalcon in Sandusky, OH and tabling at the usual Thursday Craft Fair sale. I’ve only got half a table and I’ll be selling some of Sun’s new A Little Rain Oracle Deck bundles, some of her beautiful art in the form of mini prints, as well as my usual assortment of books. Given the size of table constraints, I don’t intend on bringing my full collection. If you are lacking copies of Deluge, Petrichor, or Apricity from The Tempest Series, please email me through my contact form on my website or DM me on any of my socials to reserve a copy before the convention. I’ll essentially be holding it behind the table for you to pick up/meet up with you later in the weekend to deliver it by hand. Payment will need to be upfront, but you’ll at least be sure to complete your collection at my normal con rates now that I’m beginning to phase out older titles from my convention rotation.

Thirdly, this is the month that my new Patreon serialized story begins! Aubade is a Norse fantasy about a male magic user forced to help a kingdom dying of plague under the hand of a Jarl struggling to keep his head above water. I’ve spoken about it at length in previous blog entries, so if it sounded like a good time then, now’s your cue to pledge to join us as I release a new chapter for this work every month for the next year or so. There’s going to be a lot of really beautiful art included in the updates of this book as well! It’s going to be a very emotional, bittersweet experience, but I think one that’s worth experiencing. Chapter one launches 5/15!

I’m sure there are more things to update you all on, but those are the main things for the moment. I’m hopeful that starting next month I’ll be able to get something akin to a timeline in order for when to expect Infaust. No promises—just cross your fingers for me!

For this month’s blog, I figured we’d cycle back around to the DVerse clans and finish up that aspect of things. We’ve only got two clans left: the high-blood Luminaries and the doomed Charlatans. Both are almost diametrically opposed when it comes to inherent blood and status privilege, but there’s still something almost cosmically similar in terms of power. While Luminaries are the top of the food chain from their claim to worldly power structures, Charlatans are the epitome of what makes a vampire better than a human—even if vampiric society doesn’t see it that way or grant them deference for it.

These two make for great foils to one another for that reason. Let’s kick things off with the Luminaries, shall we?

Where to start? Luminaries are the highest of highs and experience some pretty low lows as well. They’re really the quintessential movie vampire—the eloquent, rich, highborn Draculas with the lavish homes, opulent clothing, and expensive tastes. They’re charming, well-spoken, wealthy elites who occupy high positions in government, politics, and corporations in modernity and dictated laws and societal progress in antiquity. But behind those shiny, polished exteriors, they’re utterly depraved. Luminaries are frightening not only for the power and prestige they wield, but for the deplorable habits they indulge in. They’re marked by a lack of self-control, self-restraint, and are instant gratification personified.

You see this sort of behavior echoed throughout the bloodline and throughout history as well. They’ve always occupied high positions within the vampiric hierarchy, their claims to the land and gentry too strong to break in death. Their desire to rule and govern, however, waned and waxed over time. We’ve discussed Marcu’s ascent to power in previous blog posts, so I won’t bore you with rehashing old history. Just know that prior to the Dark Ages, Luminaries tended to hold absolute control over their territories—usually the land they personally owned—and after consolidation happened with Marcu’s rise, they gave over a lot of the active day-to-day reins to Marcu in favor of enjoying themselves without worrying about who was flying the plane, so to speak. So long as Marcu kowtowed and let them do as they pleased, they had no problem lending him their names as legitimizing factors to keep the Triarii in power and fronting the bulk of the managerial aspects a position like that demands. After The Fall, Luminaries took back control entirely, using the sudden end of their extended vampiric Spring Break Vamps Gone Wild party as an excuse to reassert that only nobility had the right to rule and the skills to maintain order.

As far as origin stories, I’m sure one exists—sorting through the chaff of generations upon generations of ego-stroking hearsay, though, would make it hard to suss out, even for the most dedicated Loremaster. Luminaries have existed for as long as the nobility and aristocracy have. They maintain strict control over their own narratives and genealogies for their own purposes, and the topic of lineage is especially important when it comes to deciding matters of inheritance, fledgling stock, and territory disputes. They are simultaneously the most hands off yet high maintenance clan out there, fixated on the tiniest things so long as it satisfies some part of their egos. Great power and influence comes at a cost, as you can see, and that price tends to be inner control.

Luminaries are prone to fixations. These can be on specific people, ideas, or actions. A lot of this is rooted in the old folktales that the way to deter a vampire is to throw a handful of rice or beans or grain on your doorstep at sunset. Any vampire intent on getting in will feel compelled to count every single grain before coming inside, and if you’ve thrown down enough, the morning dawn will catch the vampire before they’ve finished their task. Luminaries have racing thoughts and low attention spans if they aren’t adequately engaged. They’re worse than amoral children when they feel “bored” and have little regard for those they view as expendable entertainment.

It takes a lot of effort for a Luminary to rise above the bad habits of their bloodline. Age can help. Going into the blood with good habits already instilled is even better, but as many Luminaries (especially Old World-leaning ones) are raised as humans knowing or aspiring towards becoming a vampire within the clan, good habits can be hard to learn in an environment that already caters to excess, indulgence, and a lack of accountability. More and more Luminaries are learning to at least contain these impulses behind closed doors, and as New World Luminaries become more prevalent, better self-control has slowly begun to enter the bloodline, one new self-made fledgling at a time.

That’s one of my favorite things to play with when it comes to this bloodline: New World vs Old World traditions. Luminaries are THE clan based on tradition. Very, very rarely will there ever be someone of low status brought into the Luminary fold. If it happens, it’s almost always illegal poaching—one of the few crimes even other Luminaries will view as something that demands punishment. The same way a royal would never dare marry a peasant, a Luminary would never bring someone of low status into the fold. But that begs the question: we don’t have landed gentry the way we did in the past, so where do Luminaries find new stock?

This is where genealogies come into play, and where Loremasters make the bulk of their living. In the Old World, Luminaries took their stock from any established lines of succession grounded and rooted to the land. When America rose to power, New World Luminaries sprung up from the families who became barons and kings in their own rights—enterprise, Capitalists, and self-made scions. Self-made families have become the common stock in modernity, and as we’ve experienced in Apotheosis, rising through the ranks of Capitalism can draw prospective Luminary eyes towards you long before you’ve realized there’s anything lurking in the dark.

We’ll get into a lot of the minutiae of Luminary lines of succession, bloodlines, and fledgling stock in the next duology of books since that’s a main conflict connecting the two standalones. It’s pretty cool stuff, honestly, and I hope you’re eager to see just how tangled these webs get when you’ve got familial bloodlines up against vampiric blood ties competing for the same things.

As for the clan-specific traits, Luminaries do have several beyond just the finances and social clout.

  • Enhanced compulsion, mesmerization, and presence. They can draw every eye to them just by entering a room and end every conversation in an area at will

  • Low self-control/impulse control

  • If Nicciave have OCD/Anxiety disorders, Luminaries have ADHD

  • Easily forged fixations with obsessive personalities

  • Strong defenses against vampiric compulsions from others (practically impossible to compel or mesmerize a Luminary unless you’re another Luminary, and even then it’ll be dicey)

Again, age and pre-vampiric habit formation is a big determinate in how deplorable a Luminary’s behavior will be. In Apotheosis, we see an almost four hundred year old Elijah behave fairly well. He’s got his quirks, but he’s composed, contained, and respectful. He wasn’t always like that, and he’ll explain that in his own words within the story itself, and that’s pretty indicative of most Luminary experiences—at least, it is for those who have the desire to change and improve for the better. Many don’t. Many don’t see anything wrong with how they behave. After all, they’re the elite. It’s their right to live freely, kill freely, and indulge in every vice to excess. We’ll see the full spectrum as we go.

What do you guys think? Is it worth being at the top of the pecking order when your self-control is the cost? I think no matter the clan, there’s always a trade off for the perks. It’s important to give things balance, and at the root of it all, no matter how sexy or cool we find vampires, they’re still creatures damned to live forever and consume blood to survive. Any connections they’re able to form come at a risk and for every impressive, super human power, there’s a cost.

Charlatans, especially, display that in spades. Charlatans are fascinating characters. No matter who they are, what their ability is, or how ungodly powerful they are, they’re always just… so pitiful, or conversely, fucking terrifying to behold. A lot of how I built these different clans was in terms of how things might exist if the DVerse were closer in nature to something like VtM. How would each clan work as a tabletop rpg character class? Is everything balanced? What are the downsides to each clan? Is any one clan too overpowered so as to break the game?

If anyone was going to break a game, it’d be a Charlatan. Any gamer knows that if someone or some weapon is too overpowered, it’s going to be nerfed in an update, and boy howdy, are Charlatans OP but also nerfed out the ass. From their very earliest days, they were on the outs with every other clan. Unlike many bloodlines, there is a known root for them. Their original name from before they became blacklisted pariahs during Marcu’s Dark Age was Children of Lycus. Lycus is, as you can likely infer, the progenitor of this clan. He is immeasurably old, for sure the oldest vampire I’ve got in this universe (or as my editor says, Lycus went to school with the dinosaurs). On my grand whiteboard timeline of characters, his sticky note takes up occupancy at the far leftmost edge of the board, so far left that he’d be on the wall if this whiteboard didn’t take up the entire length of my office as it is. He’s just that old.

There’s so much about Charlatans tied up with this one singular character. Not many bloodlines can say the same. Most don’t know who their sire was, let alone the progenitor of their entire clan. While a lot don’t know Lycus’s name these days, those of his bloodline—the few, at least, who have managed to stumble upon another Charlatan old and kind enough to take a moment to speak with them about such things—just might. There’s a marked lack of cohesion and clan bond with Charlys (as I like to call them). What roots they’re able to find, be it through physical connection to other Charlys or merely just the notion of genealogy or shared clan history, they grasp it with both hands. Stories of the halcyon days of their bloodline, of Lycus and his students… It’s a balm during the darkest, loneliest nights. It’s a dream of better, long-gone days, and for those who have nothing, sometimes less than nothing, it’s something. Painful as it is, it’s something.

So, who was Lycus? Lycus was an artist. A creative. A seeker and appreciator of beauty in all the myriad forms it comes in, as well as the hands of those who create it. A philosophe, aesthete, and mentor, Lycus traveled Europe in pursuit of the things he valued most in the world: creations that stirred his dormant heart. When he found the people responsible for such creations, he’d offer them the gift, or merely offer to join them or they him as they mutually taught one another new skills or means of appreciation. If he fledged, his fledglings received more than just immortality and an indelible connection to him. Every Charlatan has a unique blood gift: Lycus’s gift was that mutability. Through it he made artists, and through it, he made monsters, too.

At its core, Charlatans are based on the premise of mutability. Their blood is inherently unstable, the powers it yields forming from the core of the recipient to become a gift or curse depending on what self-preservation or instinct determined they needed most at the moment of inception. Every gift, no matter the presentation, has a spectrum to it. At its most innocuous, it may seem to be nothing more than a cheap parlor trick, but when pressed… There’s no such thing as a harmless Charlatan, and that, my friends, is the crux of what makes them so damnably sad.

Lycus had no desire for power or prestige. He never wanted to rule. He just wanted to create. His fledglings, however, didn’t always share his pacifism—or if they did, they did so in ways that screamed “armed neutrality” but with the armament in question being a nuclear bomb. It scared people, and scared people lash out. When Marcu instigated his massive cullings, it stood to reason that Charlatans would be one of the first to go, and with them, the recognition of them as a bloodline. The name change happened, almost akin to a damnatio memoriae. Lycus exchanged his life for the protection and further subjugation of his remaining kin, and the rest, as it’s said, is history.

Life for Charlatans hasn’t changed much between the Dark Ages and modernity. They’re few in number, are prevented from congregating in cities, and are loners by forced necessity, never design. If they sire, they do so while on the run or out of desperation. Very few Charlatans have any sort of relationship with their sire. It’s simply too dangerous for two Charlatans to be near each other for any length of time, and because of that, they tend to have a high rate of fledgling mortality. Most are forced to masquerade as other bloodlines in order to fly under the radar, but others… Well, there’s a reason why other bloodlines fear Charlatans and their gifts so much.

We’re going to experience a lot of the Charlatan struggle firsthand in the Mortigena book as we go through the motions with Cesare, Lycus’s final fledgling before his execution. In many ways, Cesare is the prototypical pitiful Charlatan. He was an artist who attracted Lycus’s attention, trained under him, loved him, and had everything taken from him by Marcu and his cullings. His own blood gift, the ability to sense when someone is lying, was then weaponized politically by Marcu and his cohort as he was forced to exist as a political prisoner/tool. Stripped of his clan emblem, ties, and ability to be around his kin, Cesare lived in hell. If he tried to fight back, what few remaining Charlatans in the city would be culled in response, and if he tried to kill himself, the same would likely also happen.

Lycus’s blood is mutable. It’s chaotic. With Cesare as his last, it almost seems poetic that Lycus’s first fledgling would be the root of the terrible reputation the clan has for being dangerous, volatile, and worth so much outright fear and loathing. Those of you who read my ao3 oneshot about Charon, another Charlatan, may remember his burning curiosity over someone named Mercurio. Mercurio is one of the most terrifying and fascinating vampires I’ve made for this universe, and while I think it’s a shame he’ll never show himself in canon, it’s for the best of everyone involved that he doesn’t. He’s the nuclear bomb that’s got everyone worried about fallout becoming reality, and while I think it’s awful how Charly’s are persecuted… The fact that Mercurio exists, the way he exists… It makes sense to be that wary of this bloodline. It makes perfect sense, and honestly, if I were a vampire and lived in this world, I’d be wary as fuck, too.

If there’s a vampire capable of doing what Mercurio can do, you’d bet your ass I’d want nothing to do with the whole bloodline, too. I think my character profile listing on him says it best, so I’ll just cut and paste here:

Lycus’s first fledgling. Ancient but so fey that the years don’t touch him at all. Capable of subsuming the will of his fledglings and controlling them like puppets on a string. Only able to maintain this hold while they are within his radius. If a Flower in his garden leaves, they’ll snap and exist in a hollow state. Is capable of performing this ability on others outside his immediate blood-family, but not as quickly. Feared by every vampire with a self-preservation instinct and therefore single-handedly changed the CoL’s reputation as one to be reviled and feared. Has no desire to turn his attention to dominating the world at large; that’s the only thing keeping the rest of vampiric life from ending as we know it.

  • Is able to independently control his Flower’s blood gifts which makes him the most powerful man on the planet, easily

  • Doesn’t cavort in public often, but when the mood strikes he’ll show up at gatherings to see the sights and hear different voices. Most ignore him outright, afraid to make eye contact in case he looks back. If you attract his attention, you’re already lost

  • Charming and incredibly insincere—but what we think of as insincerity is his absolute truth for as long as it remains interesting to him. He’s a man of absolutes that change at the drop of a hat.

  • There’s only one known Flower to have left his garden. Chartreuse (Char) was left behind at the manor of a Luminary who took a shine to Mercurio’s gentle clown. Char behaved normally for a few days before the tenuous connection to Mercurio went silent, and, when left alone with their own thoughts for the first time in ages, found they could no longer function. They snapped. Blind as they were in life, they did what they knew how to do; they made those around them laugh, and laugh, and laugh. By morning, the whole manor was dead, their throats shredded and lungs pulverized from laughing themselves to oblivion. At the center of it all was Char, nonverbal and listening desperately for some shred of Mercurio’s influence to come back to them.

He’s the sole reason Charlys have as terrible a reputation as they’ve got, but really, just like with the story of Chartreuse, any Charly is capable of some pretty insane things when their blood gift reaches the maximum setting on the dial. Things like that aren’t typically consciously activated—they’re stress responses, sort of akin to a mother lifting a car off her trapped child. But due to his proximity to Lycus, his age, and the fact that his personality already has few safety restraints to begin with, his blood gift isn’t easily controlled.

If you haven’t read my ao3 oneshot yet, I suggest popping over there and checking it out. Charon is a very interesting Charlatan, one we’ll encounter more of in future books, but he gives a good overview of the sort of reputation Charlys have as a whole. His own blood gift offers him more protection than many other Charlys can boast. It makes him cocky, but he’s protected. Most Charlys would kill to have the same sort of freedom he’s got to flaunt it as openly as he does.

What sort of gifts are common, though? Well, almost every Charly has a unique gift. They’re very fun to create, these powers, but also very difficult at the same time. As I said before, the gifts are a spectrum. Most will only ever operate them at their lower-end settings, but they have to have the capacity to be cranked to eleven and wreak some real, earth-shattering levels of damage if properly targeted. Cesare’s bottom-end ability is serving as a lie detector. Charon’s power, something he can control fairly well given his practice and confidence, is akin to a love-potion or roofie-aura. No one can harbor ill feelings towards him, wish him harm, or do anything but adore him, even love him, when he’s turned it on. I’ve got one Charly with something sort of similar, but his gift lowers inhibitions, more like playing with adrenaline and self-control until the logic center of the brain goes silent and lets sloppier impulses out to play. Another has a vocally-induced compulsion ability that’s far, far stronger than the usual vampire mesmerization. While vampire mesmerization is a soft, velvety urge to do what will make the vampire happy, Blair’s hurts if you refuse it. A vocal iron maiden that won’t ease off until you do as you’re told, and the commands they can give… Boy howdy, let’s just say don’t back Blair into a corner. You won’t be the same afterwards.

As you can see, a lot of these gifts are largely defensive in nature until they’re weaponized. They tie into the characters’ needs, many of them centered around the sort of defenses they needed most when they were turned/in the process of dying or are off-shoots of honed skills they already had in life that manifested more thoroughly after the fact. It’s a fun game to build a Charlatan, so if you guys want, definitely spitball one for yourself and leave them in a comment! I’d love to see what y’all come up with.

Now it’s time for questions! Everything comes from Instagram, Twitter, and private messages this go around.

What’s your favorite and/or most memorable con experience?

Okay, so for starters, favorite and memorable are very two different things when it comes to convention experiences and I love that you made that distinction. I don’t think I’ve talked much about it on here yet, but I’ve had a lot of really questionable moments when tabling. If you sell any sort of nsfw content, you open yourself up to people who have zero boundaries, zero understanding of proper ways to engage with other human beings, and just outright awful moments of people saying the most out of pocket shit to you when you did not ask. In that regard, the most negatively memorable experience I’ve probably had is every time my mother has tagged along to a con with me to help me sell and a stranger saying something completely out of line to me with her within earshot. No one wants to explain to their mother what “futanari” is. Seriously.

Let this be a reminder right now that the person seated behind a convention table is working a job. If you wouldn’t say it to your waitress, accountant, or cashier, why the hell would you say it to a tabling artist/author?

I could go on for 5k words alone on all the cursed ass experiences I’ve had while tabling, ranging from homophobic assholes to offensive comments to people seriously not understanding that just because I’m talking about my smut works doesn’t mean I want to hear about all the graphic ways they have sex with their partners. I live and operate largely in the midwest. The good definitely outweighs the bad in terms of my usual reception, but boy howdy do the bad experiences stick in my head a hell of a lot longer than the good ones, no matter how good those good ones get.

Anyway—on the other side of things, I’ve had so many wonderful experiences as well. My favorite moments have got to be when someone stops by my table and they’re cosplaying from a fandom I’ve written fanfiction for, and upon me mentioning that, they learn that I’m actually the author of their favorite fic in the fandom. That’s happened several times with HxH and DBH and I never tire of finding fans like that. One actually pulled out their phone to show me the mock cover they’d made in a college class for one of my fanfictions! It was so sweet and made my entire convention.

My favorite con experience from when I wasn’t tabling would be during my first ever Youmacon meet-and-greet. Someone showed up cosplaying Khouri ;-; I just about cried.

How do you work through writer’s block?

I get this question quite a lot when I’m out and about. Usually writer’s block hits me when I’m bored with whatever project I’m working on. That boredom manifests via different avenues. Sometimes it hits me when the section I’m on is very low action or worse—a dreaded travel scene. I fucking HATE writing travel scenes. Other times, I’ll get bad writer’s block when the project I’m working on doesn’t align with the current mood I’m in. When I’m writing something soft, gentle, and rom-com, I will inevitably get hit with crippling writer’s block because all I want to do instead is write insane survival horror. That disconnect will lock me up and keep me from proceeding on anything because while something is on the to-do list, it has to be worked on. I can’t move on until it’s done, so if I’m not making progress on it it’ll back up every other project until I do.

Now, all of that is to say that I’m self aware about what trips me up. The best way to get out of writer’s block is to know how you write, how you work, and to know yourself. Identify what is causing the block, and then you’ll have an easier time getting out of it. If you’re bored, work on something else, skip ahead to a more entertaining section, or look at your outline and revamp it to make it exciting. Find someone to talk to about the section you’re stuck on and I guarantee you’ll feel a lot more invigorated afterwards since you’ve likely just talked your way through the issue. If you’re like me and stuck with a to-do list of things that have to be worked on at certain points in the month… It’s harder then, because you have to commit to your schedule and finish things regardless of what you actually want to do. When I’m feeling bored or locked up on something that HAS TO BE DONE, HAS TO!!! I’ll do my best to muscle through it despite my lack of interest. Finished is always better than perfect, and knowing that you can come back to it in the editing phase and fix it will usually give just enough motivation to get over the hump and over the finish line, even if it’s like pulling teeth every step of the way.

Time, though, is always the best answer. It’s a luxury I don’t always have these days, but if I don’t feel like working on something, leaving it until I do will almost always be the correct answer. There’s always other things I could be working on even if I’m not writing. I could be editing something else, working on cover mock-ups, updating my website, or even handling the physical aspects of my business by adding labels onto my purchase bags, signing all of my book copies to speed up things at conventions, or just organizing the office space so I don’t get overrun with my own product.

So… long story short, I just try to focus on other things and work through shit if necessary to meet deadlines. My patrons and editor are used to me tacking on disclaimers about how certain chapters were more difficult than others and to prepare their expectations accordingly, but it’s always going to sound worse to me than it does to them, and when I go back to edit it three months later, it’ll likely not be that bad to me at that point either. Occupational hazards, I guess. I’m such an old hand at this entire process that I just roll with it when it happens.

What kind of things do you do to replenish your creativity? Ie: where do you go for inspiration, how do you sort it/save it, and what kind of stuff makes you want to create?

Lots of banger questions this month! When I need to replenish my creativity the number one thing I tend to do is consume other people’s work. I read books, watch movies, anime, shows, or go down a research rabbit hole to plumb the depths for more concepts, philosophies, or interesting dynamics that might add depth to shape whatever project I’m currently working on or wanting to flesh out.

It may surprise you guys to learn that I have to be careful about timing my intake of external content. I can become so easily inspired by good stories and art that it can completely distract me from my current projects and lead to additional ips thrown onto my already overflowing stack. But other times, I really need to just let loose and consume freely. I’ll pick up books that I’ve heard mention of or have been meaning to read over the years, find manga or doujin with interesting premises that might promise some inspiration, or pull up a new tv show on netflix recommended by a friend. Inspiration can be found anywhere, to be honest, and all I really need from it is something that gets my mind buzzing with new thoughts and different ideas than the stuff I come up with organically in my own little echo chamber.

As for where I save stuff, I’m a big proponent of buying things that serve as massive sources of inspiration for me, so if there are manga, doujins, or books that fit that, I’ll buy them and keep them on hand. If I can’t get physical copies, I save the links and create folders on my desktop to house them instead. I use my Tumblr likes as a repository of inspiration bait as well, and on there you can find decade’s old comics that have stuck with me after all this time, snapshots of long-passed zines that lit a fire in my brain, and long chains of obscure word glossaries that serve as reference for future book titles.

As for what kinds of stuff make me want to create… It can literally be anything. I can watch a bad movie with a decent premise (or even a bad premise) and come out of it with a new book idea of how I’d execute it better. Fanfiction can lead to the same exact thing, and even partial themes from an existing piece of media can spawn a huge series concept behind my eyes. I’ve even gotten inspired by terrible indie horror games that had concepts buried within their shoddily executed foundations that made me want to do it better, make it worse, make it gayer.

For example, I watched my favorite youtuber/streamer John Wolfe play a terrible indie horror game called Dinner with Strangers. Long story short, you’re trying to escape a murderous dinner party after learning that you are a clone of your “father’s” dead wife who was created solely to become his new bride. It’s terrible, shlocky, and broken af, but while discussing the concept of how entirely stupid it is to clone your dead wife and then raise the clone from infancy to become your bride (like the pseudo-incest vibes aside, why the hell would you want to marry someone you literally saw in diapers/who will never be your lost wife as her personality came from her own upbringing and such and this wife-daughter won’t ever have that same experience), came up with a better concept of how to be a possessive yandere bastard in the wake of losing your true love. It involves dimension-hopping and stealing from an alternative version of yourself. Never intended to write a story like that before watching John’s thirty minute let’s play and bitching to my editor about how bad it was, but there you go. That’s how my brain works and as I’ve said before, I’ve written books for stupider reasons.

I’m also hugely inspired by academia and the scholarship behind different tropes and concepts. I’m a huge fan of exploring how things affect readers and why certain concepts and ideas are so effective in terms of scaring or resonating with an audience. A lot of my current work has to do with horror and always has, to some extent, but as I begin writing more and more outright horror-based concepts, I’ve been delving more and more into the rich scholarship of horror as a genre and driving force behind the human psyche. I absolutely love deconstructing tropes within the genre to explore them at their base levels. Ossuary and Reliquary are really deeply inspired by that research and just my general interest in the horror genre at large, and, on the flipside, something like Courtly Love also comes from my fascination with chivalry as a philosophy and romantic device alongside the codified records we have of the edicts of courtly love as recorded by troubadours and courtiers throughout the middle ages.

I always say academia still has me in a strangle grip and I mean that in the most loving way possible. I love scholarship and basing my own work on those foundations, and I’m just as likely to find inspiration in a thesis paper as I am something like Hannibal or (more recently) Trigun. So… yeah. I get inspired by horror, history, subverted tropes, the subversive and transgressive, and roving thoughts that follow the conclusion of an external piece of media or a random daydream amounting to “How could I make this worse? How could I make this gay? How could I make this better?” and things in that vein.

If you guys are curious at all about what inspired certain works of mine, that’d probably make for a fun blog in the future, too. Chime off in the comments if there’s anything specific you’ve wanted to know the thought process behind, be it a scene, character, or story (book or fanfic alike). I’m excited to see what’s stuck with you guys and whether you’ve ever been inspired by my work the way I’m inspired by other people’s stuff!

But that’s enough for right now. -leans back in my chair with a groan- I’ve got a bit of a buffer made up now that I’ve finished rewriting the first eight chapters of Aubade, so for the next eight or so months I’ll be putting the pedal to the metal on Hiraeth, largely, and in another month or so to the winner of the October poll, too. I’m really hopeful that Hiraeth’s first draft will be completed before we hit September. The second it is, expect to see me screaming that to the rooftops on every social media I’ve got.

Please send me all the good luck you’ve got to spare as well as some prayers that I survive the crunch of these next few months—I’m going to be pulling double duty once more as I try to power through the five remaining chapters as quickly as I can. If you see me at Colossalcon this month or Jafax the second weekend of June, tell me in person as well. I’ll need it, and I always appreciate knowing people are excited for what’s yet to come.

Until next time,

T.D. Cloud

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