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Happy October--Did you get your ticket to the Carnival? (Upcoming IP Teaser)

Happy October! It’s the best month of the year, and I’m not just saying that because my birthday is in a couple more days. This month kicks the MOST ass because spooky season is upon us! The time for horror movies, pumpkin spice everything, and blissfully cool weather is NOW! On top of all that seasonal fun, I hope to see some of you guys at Youmacon this year, too. It’s not being held over Halloween weekend this time, but November 3-6. Keep an eye out on my twitter and website for more information on where to find me and what sorts of goodies I’ll be carrying with me during my meet-and-greets. It’s going to be so much fun, and I can’t wait to see all of you Youma regulars at my last scheduled convention for the year.

Also, while we’re on the topic, be sure to check out my calendar of events as well as we near the end of 2022. I’ve already got one scheduled convention on the docket and several more will announce their AA’s within the next few months. I’m gunning for a pretty full docket in 2023, so cross your fingers that the lottery and jury gods work in my favor—and if you’ve got any convention around the Midwest that you’d like to see me attend, hit me up in my contact form or through Twitter. If it’s drivable and the AA applications are open, I’ll give it a shot!

But wait, there’s more! Man, October really is just chock-full of fun things, isn’t it? This month is also home to a really special event I run every year for my patrons over on Patreon. For this month’s blog, I figured I’d do some shameless promotion by going into detail on the awesome novella I wrote. Maybe it’ll inspire a few of you to head over to Patreon to check it out! The first chapter is up now, and the next ones go live every Saturday of this month, so if the thought of demons, goths, sexualized damnation, and 2008-era levels of Edge aren't enough to entice you, stick around and read a bit more. I think I’ll convince you in the end >:3

Let’s get to it!

Carnival, the working title for this project, began over a decade ago. I was sixteen, goth as all get-out, and prone to sneaking out of the house at 2am to walk to the nearby cemetery about two miles from my parents’ house, and to say that influenced my writing at the time would be an understatement. I enjoyed taking in the quiet that only seems to come out when everyone and everything is asleep, and given I grew up in the middle of a cornfield, there really wasn’t much danger to it—though I’m sure my parents wouldn’t agree had they ever found out XD A lot of my early years were spent soaking in my aesthetics and figuring out what inspired me. Gothic literature and the works of Oscar Wilde were huge inspirations for me back then, and when I realized I wanted to turn my nighttime wanderings into a story, I leaned on them both heavily.

Originally, Carnival was an eighteen-page scrap of fiction involving Damian Walker and a demon named Avery. They were both nothing-characters, just stand-ins for my own developing narrative voice in different skins, and the story itself went nowhere. There was no real plot, no real purpose. It told the story of Damian walking to a graveyard, meeting with the demon he’d met a while back, and flirting his way into a free trip to Hell. There were masks and masquerades, ballroom dancing, underage drinking, and brief, pointless encounters with other demons that went nowhere and did nothing in terms of furthering the story, deepening the characters, or, ultimately, enriching the narrative in any way.

You may think I’m being hard on myself, but honestly, it’s just the truth. I didn’t know how to write a proper story back then, and that included proper characters, proper character voice, plot progression, and everything in between. When I was young, I was almost criminally guilty of only “writing what I knew,” and when you’re sixteen and as green as they come, that meant I barely knew anything at all.

Every protagonist was me. All the other characters were caricatures of friends, enemies, and adults in my life at the time. It made for poorly written stories and empty, bland characters, but we all have to start somewhere, and Carnival, for all its flaws and juvenile aspects, was the first piece of creative fiction I’d ever tried writing outside of school, and was the longest thing I’d ever written for a good long while, too. It’s a bloated piece of fiction with an almost gratuitous amount of figurative language, little to no organic dialogue, and an almost aggressive level of disregard for proper story structure. It’s hard for me to read it now—though it's still published on Fictionpress, masochist that I am—but I owe it a lot for igniting my love of writing at an early age. The people who read it seemed to enjoy it, and their encouragement kept me on the writing path that I’m still on today.

Because of that, I decided to give it a second chance at life, and that brings us to where we are today. Carnival Redux, as I’ve taken to calling this version, is what I think Past Me would have wanted the story to be. If I’d had the skill level necessary to write it at that point in my life, it would have panned out like this. It still involves Damian and a demon—now named Adam since I like the name Avery too much and already have it earmarked for a different character in a different, much more impactful IP—and a trip to Hell where the demons dance with masks and everything feels like Carnivale. This time, however, Damian and Adam feel like very different characters, each with distinct personalities and contrasting desires that cause just as many problems as they solve. There’s an actual throughline of risk and danger, adversaries and false friends who do more than just chat for a moment and disappear into the ether, and the sort of mutual corruption and shared damnation you’d expect from a demonic-flavored queer novella—and hey, this time it actually has smut!

Our official summary is thus: Anyone who has ever lived in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere knows the infinite boredom endemic to such places: no mall, no movie theater, no hope. Damian Walker has lived his entire life in the middle of a cornfield with nothing but his imagination and penchant for the dark and dismal to keep him company. As the Village Goth, he’s ostracized enough to make socializing difficult at best, a chore at worst, and even the local community college fails to do much but remind him of how little he relates to those around him.

It’s probably because of those reasons that he keeps visiting the demon haunting the local cemetery each night—and why he's so eager to see actual Hell when offered a taste of the other side. And if the demon, Adam, never lets him leave? Well, that just adds to the fun, doesn't it?

But the story is, in general, the culmination of over a decade of me blue-balling myself from my first ever original IP, and the satisfactory resolution of all that tension in one ~70 page story.

Our story begins as it always does: in a graveyard and with a college-aged goth standing morosely among the tombstones. Life isn’t easy for a rural goth trapped in cornfield hell. Damian is disillusioned with life in general, disillusioned with the classes he’s expected to go to, and disillusioned with the idea that this is all life has to offer him. The fact that he knows a bonafide demon doesn’t help dissuade those impressions either. Adam exists. Hell exists. And yet nothing has come from any of that. Demons always want something, that’s pretty much a fact, but as far as Damian can tell, Adam seems content to just waste the nights talking and drinking magicked booze instead of corrupting Damian or stealing his soul away.

It’s annoying, to be honest, and Damian has enough. He puts his foot down and dares Adam to do something. Before he can say it twice, Adam ponies up and serves him a ticket straight to Hell.

It’s a simple story with more internal conflict than external and it serves up corruption of the protagonist in a pretty unique way. A big theme in this story revolves around the concept of Hell, both as a place and as an idea. The idea of “Hell is what you make it” comes up several times, both in the presentation of Hell through Damian’s perspective, and the eternal fear living within Adam over what his own personal idea of Hell could be, and how he might create it if he yields to certain temptations. Hell isn’t normally a Carnival. The demons aren’t all dressed in fancy clothing and donned with ornate masks. For Damian, his mortal mind can only comprehend so much. Hell is a masquerade and all of its trimmings are likewise disguised. It’s only in the cracks that he glimpses what Hell truly is, and he’s never left unscathed when he witnesses them. Compound all of those Hellish revelations with the subtle corruption Adam’s been dealing him over the course of their friendship and you’ve got a recipe for a very tasty relationship dynamic.

For all its simplicity, though, I’ve really tried to indulge along the way. This was a story I dreamt up when I was just a teenager so full of edge and angst that I didn’t know how else to handle it than create. For as much as I find my original word embarrassing, I can’t help but be proud of myself for being so enamored with my self-made environment that I spawned a work that big. I imagine most of my readers aren’t writers themselves, so I hope you can understand just how moved I was to spend months writing something that long. I never expected anyone to read it but me. I didn’t have an audience back then. I had no platform upon which I intended to publish it—fictionpress wasn’t a common haunt of mine, and I only posted my story onto it months later when I stumbled over the platform and decided hey, let’s try sharing this. I just—created for the sake of creating. I had a story in my head I couldn’t stand to let wither away inside my imagination.

Despite how easy I make it seem for myself now, writing is fucking hard. No matter how experienced you are, it’s always difficult. I was proud of myself for managing 150 words a night back then. That struggle isn’t invalidated by my ability to now write 5,000 in a day if I put my mind to it. It shows how far I’ve come, but I never would’ve gone anywhere if I hadn’t sat down and committed to putting my edgy musings into words over a decade ago. So, yeah. I’m really happy I got to rewrite this story and give it the modern face lift Past Me never would’ve expected to be capable of. It’s been a nice little love letter to myself, and it’s really made me proud of myself in ways I don’t normally feel when working on my current projects.

I’m sure I’ll cover more of my writer’s journey in future blog posts, so I won’t get into all of that much more here. Just know that this IP started me on the path you see me on now, and that if you feel the cringe or the 2008-era edge in this story as you read it, just know it’s dedicated to the rebellious teenage version of myself who pulled a lot of the shit Damian did and would have given anything—probably even her soul—to have someone like Adam appear from the darkness with promises of something far more decadent than any rural Indiana life could offer her.

Given this is a new story that no one has had the chance to read yet—beyond perhaps a really speedy patron or two—I’ve decided to eschew the normal Q&A segment that would typically be dedicated to questions on the story in favor of opening up the floor to general questions on anything and everything. People seem to be fairly curious about me, my work, and my methods, and this is a good time to address all of that before we dive into future blogs.

Questions come from Instagram, Twitter, and private messages this time!

Do you have any scents that remind you of your characters? I need some new candles for fall.

Hmm, that's an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve thought too much about how everyone smells in any great detail, though I do recall making it canonical that Khouri smells really good. I always figured he smells like spiced musk. It’s not a supremely masculine scent but not fragrant in the way most perfumes are. Like the best natural scent a person can have but with a hint of like, frankincense to it, or cardamom. Does that make sense? If you’ve ever been into incense, he’s like Dragon’s Blood.

I don’t have anything specific for the others, so I’ll just do them rapid-fire with my gut reactions.

Navidae: Navi is 100% scented like a box of potpourri. The man is all about imported spices, herbs, and fancy oils, so he’d smell exotic and head-turning. There’s a hint of something sharp in all that softness though, something almost metallic. It’s a good smell but might go straight to your head if you’re immersed in it for too long.

Sorin: Definitely musky, all those masculine scents like sandalwood and what not, but with sea salt and something crisp to cut through the heaviness. Wild yet open, I’d call it. It’s a regular, mundane sort of smell, but it’s comforting in its simplicity.

Ruari: Oh, he’s all about that “fragrant rot” scent I describe every time dead leaves are the topic du jour. He smells like pure wilderness, earthy tones, very grounding. He’s what you smell when you take up a handful of brown, crinkly leaves and bury your face in your palms and chilly Autumn air. If you find a candle like that, link me.

Corbet: Vellum, old, yellowed book pages, and cold-sweat. If you want something a little more pleasant/potentially a candle fragrance, he’d be mulled wine and dark berries.

Nines: Cologne and spearmint. He smells cold and it stings the nose a little. It’s sharp and a little intense but once you get used to it you’ll find it’s actually a very cleansing, stimulating smell. Keeps you focused.

Gabriel: Warm, freshly baked bread. He smells like a well-used kitchen in the middle of being well-used. Smells like home.

Louis: Flannel and campfire smoke. Herbal tea, homey and warm. He smells pretty good in my opinion, sorta like you know he’d give good hugs that you would want to prolong just to bury your nose in his shoulder to smell him for a bit.

O’Rinn: Sharp citrus, zippy and nose-tingling like when you drink Sunny-D. It puts a pep in your step and might elicit a sneeze or two if you’re not careful.

I hope you found that helpful XD I’m the sort of person who only buys candles that smell like cranberries and apples, so I did the best I could.

Did you have any other animal in mind in regards to Corbet and Tailan?

I’m not sure I entirely follow. Tailan was always going to be a hedgehog because Yougei, my partner, loves them and I always try to incorporate things I know he likes because I’m adorable like that. But if we’re going off vibes alone, Tailan should be a goddamn honey badger given how much attitude he’s got. Corbet… I’ve always had corvid thoughts in regards to him (Ruari is obviously a fox and has some outside-of-canon anecdotes related to one), but my friends and I have made jokes about Corbet being one of those fanged deer. He looks very harmless but you know that boy has teeth XD

What’s your favorite type of vampire in media?

What if I said Twilight? XD But no, I’d say my favorite type of vampire is probably a cross between the shit you see in Vampire: The Masquerade and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. I love the romantic portrayal—though I can get down and dirty with the monstrous types too, 100%, just read Ossuary—and I adore the inherent eroticism that’s existed in them since Stoker’s Dracula. What I don’t like about those specific media portrayals of vampires is when the powers and special abilities they’re given get a bit too Much. Specifically, gangrels being werewolf!lite types of vampires doesn’t sit well with me. Just be a werewolf? And I’m not overly fond of how Rice’s vampires do magic and read minds. At some point, things get to be too Much for me, and I’d rather have something more restrained.

We’ll get into specifics on my DVerse vampires and all their abilities in future blog posts, but I think if you look at them you’ll see that all of their abilities and traits are fairly restrained with only one specific clan being capable of weird gifts, and those ones are few and far between for a reason. I think I like vampires best when they are humans-made-inhuman but with gifts that are curses when viewed in the right light. Minor pre-cognizance that bleeds into massive distrust and constant anxiety; high status and supreme beauty but with the lack of self-control that comes from inhuman greed and indulgence. I like double-edged swords and vampires that have to pay for their bad habits even after they stop breathing. Rice’s vampires definitely fall into that (I’m looking at you, Lestat), and then V:tM has the uniqueness and fun, almost personality-test sort of bloodlines to keep things fun and create interesting characters who are capable of interesting things.

How do you manage while writing multiple ongoing projects?

It varies, to be honest. Sometimes I find it very easy to hop around between projects—it’s not that dissimilar to my writing process when writing one singular thing, since I don’t always write linearly and will jump between chapters as the fancy comes to me, or within the same chapter as sections come into my head. I think that jumping between projects can help me maintain a constant stream of motivation to work since if one thing begins to bore me I can swap over to something more exciting, write on it until I’m bored, and then swap back, but a lot of that depends on me finding the current assortment of projects interesting for extended stretches of time. I keep very detailed chapter notes, so setting down and then picking back up a project after an extended absence isn’t very difficult, and I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing, so I don’t conflate the tones while writing.

But again, it’s boredom that’s the biggest difficulty for me. I can write a full novel within a few weeks if I only let myself work on it and nothing else, but that’s not a very common thing for me anymore. I think I write as fast as I do because I know I’ll get bored and want to work on the next idea if I don’t churn out the current thing as quickly as I possibly can. You guys probably can’t see it on your end, but the patreon offerings I’ve got going on right now trip me up a lot with this. I’ll write a chapter of Apotheosis, and the first few pages will be like pulling teeth until I’m excited and enjoying the project once more, but after the chapter’s done, I have to immediately switch to Carnival or whatever other thing I’m writing that month, when all I really want to do is work on the next Apotheosis chapter. Then it’s rinse and repeat with that next project. I get the job done, but it’s not always the best thing for my creative process.

It varies though, like I said before. Sometimes it’s a lot easier than all that, and that’s usually the case. It’s how I maintain my steady output and keep things fresh, even if I do get caught up in the weeds every now and again.

Would you like to someday write a really long novel? What would it be about?

Currently, the longest novel I have planned is the penultimate installment to the DVerse, Mortigena. I already released a chapter excerpt from it last month on patreon, since it was actually the first book in the series I began working on before I intended to make it a whole series. It’s slated right now to be 36 chapters long—a good 16 chapters longer than any other book I’ve ever published before—and while I got 100 or so pages into the book before realizing almost all of it will need rewriting to fit the newly created larger canon, those 100 pages didn’t even cover ⅓ of the book’s length. It’s going to be a 300-400k book once I get around to dedicating my full attention to it, and that’s likely the longest novel I can imagine writing right now.

For context, the longest work I’ve put out so far was Letifer which was 160k.

Now, as for what that book is about? Well, I’m sure I’ll cover more of the DVerse specifics in future blog posts, but the long and short of it is that Mortigena is the Charlatan installment of the series outlining the experiences of Cesare di Cambio, a Renaissance-turned vampire artist who is the epitome of his beleaguered bloodline. His sire was actually the first Charlatan, and the story itself outlines a lot of early DVerse history that is referenced throughout the earlier books. It’s a horror-mystery-romance full of murder, forgotten history, and the systematic onslaught of one city’s vampiric leadership structure.

Sharp-eyed readers and fans of the DVerse will have likely noticed that there are only 7 named vampire bloodlines and yet 8 books. Mortigena introduces us to the secret topic of the 8th book and lines everything up for the final installment, Dakethumos.

But back to your question: I don’t have the brain power currently to imagine future projects outside of my current workload of an 8-book series and all these random patreon standalones, so any other super long novel aspirations will likely come to me once I’ve put more of these vampire books behind me.

Which historical topics would you like to write about next?

Hmm, well, I currently have chapter notes written up for a future book about pirates that I’m really excited about! I’m a huge fan of the Golden Age of Piracy and went through a phase during quarantine where I researched that period of history as much as I could. That book project is 20+ chapters and therefore has been put on the back burner until I’ve got more free time under my belt. These vampire books really do eat up a lot of my long-form content slots.

The vampire books in general also deal with a lot of my favorite periods in history. I’ve got one planned that takes place in Prohibition Chicago, 1970s New Orleans, a French ship bound for Louisiana in the mid-1700s (research the myth of the Casket Girls, you’ll have a nice teaser of what I’m playing off of then), Post-Renaissance Italy, and even a story that takes place prior to the year 1000 B.C.E.

I think outside of all the planned stuff, I’d like to someday write something set in the 1800s around a lighthouse, maybe something to do with selkie? Once I have more brain power to spare, I’d also like to revisit an old project I teased a while back that was essentially my attempt at playing around with classic noir tropes and settings. There’s also the current story notes I’m poking around with in my spare time utilizing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters—I’m going to make the world regret putting them in the public domain—and so far, I am planning the story as if it is time period accurate to the original Holmes universe, even if I’m writing it from the perspective of Sebastian Moran.

To be honest, I’d actually love to hear what sort of books/stories/concepts/themes/settings you guys would like to see me tackle in the future. My goal is always to write the sorts of things no one else is writing, in ways that no one else seems to approach them, so if it’s within my power or tickles my fancy, I’m always happy to think it over and add it to my list if it makes my imagination run wild. That was how I began writing Aubade, after all.

Why is Megle the best?

Adorably enough, this one is from Yougei himself! He’s very cute and all I can say to answer this question is that I’m only as good as the people I surround myself, the amazingly creative artists and editors and test readers who lend me their skills, and Yougei, specifically, for the support he’s given me since the day we first took up together back in 2016. Everything I do has always been for him, and the skills I’ve learned along the way have only been learned in hopes of bettering my stories so I can give him the sort of books he most loves reading.

So, if I’m the best, it’s only because you’re the best, Yogle <3 That’s all there is to it!

I do want to take a moment here to thank everyone for the questions. It’s probably the thing I look forward to most about these blog posts. I really love getting to engage with you guys and answer questions that otherwise wouldn’t get answered. My whole goal of starting this blog was to give everyone another avenue to engage with me, and it just makes me happy that it’s working out. I hope you all get just as much out of this as I do, and that hopefully it gets you excited for more of my stuff as I make my way through publication hell.

And I am in publication hell. I know I mentioned a couple months back that there might be a publication announcement coming soon. It’s taken a bit longer to finalize than anticipated—it always does, though, so I’m past being surprised by it at this point—but we’re nearly ready to set a date on the release of Infaust. I’m hoping to do something a little special with this release involving custom merch and special pre-order bundles, so get hyped! It’s going to be lit <3

I think that’s going to be all for this month—though really, the month has only just started, and there’s still so much on the way that it’d be a shame to frame it as a conclusion when this is clearly the beginning. If you haven’t yet, please hit up my Patreon to join us for the release of Carnival this Saturday and every Saturday in October. All tiers get to join in on the fun, and even just a $1 pledge helps out a ton in supporting me as I keep writing the stories you want to read. So, check it out, join in on the fun, and be sure to keep an eye out for all the other fun things happening this month. Youmacon is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to see some of you there!

Until next time,

T.D. Cloud

P.S. Check out Carnival's first chapter now on patreon:

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Léto Le Gaosaure
Léto Le Gaosaure
Oct 01, 2022

It's super neat that you got to rewrite a story with such impact on your writing journey! And these readers questions are top tier x') Very interesting insights =)

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