For some time now, I’ve wanted to write a pure sword and sorcery style of tale. Nothing original or ground-breaking, no wordplay, no postmodernism or experimental styles of fiction, just plain blood and iron hack ‘n slash, in the best Robert E Howard or Lin Carter traditions. So I’ve come up with the character of Jes, a strapping female adventurer who lives life to the fullest and dirtiest. She’s a wanderer, pillaging old tombs, fighting and dodging the law, romancing men and women who probably shouldn’t be romanced and having a cracking good time doing it. Good, cheap, entertaining fun, in other words.
Again, it’ll be nothing that hasn’t been written before genre-wise, perhaps thousands of times, but it’s a type of tale I’ve wanted to delve into for ages now, just letting the imagination run free. Her world is a strange one and I’ll put a precis of it here soon.
Oh, and I’ve managed to get my oldest daughter to illustrate her.
Jes, courtesy of Hotaru
A short exercise for uni
There’s a country house far from the ocean, with statues of nymphs and maenads at the gate. You walk down that gate through an overhanging avenue of old trees. The house debouches before you, a large edifice made from stone and repressed memories. Does anyone live in this rambling – wait stop there. How can houses ramble? They don’t even move, let alone speak. Perhaps this one does. If you go inside the house and sit down on the dusty floor of the floor, can you hear it? Does it know the master’s secrets, or the screams of the madwoman in the attic? Does it remember the day that guy in the leftmost bedroom gave the house elf a sock?
Is there an old man in the kitchen? Men cook the food in this old house, and if you go upstairs the east wing is blocked off – boarded up. Why? Listen to the house, maybe it knows. Look, regardez! That painting on the wall resembles the maenads out the front. Who was the bohemian muse of the artist? Did she luxuriate her svelte self in front of a fire, a glass of cognac in hand? Or did she sub-luxate? Disjoint herself? Was time out of joint in the house that night? What’s past the boarded up door in the east wing? A beast hiding a rose? Does he have a magic mirror and a crazy old Frenchman in the basement?
Ariel, Belle, rama lama ding dong. Get up from the dusty floor, and go chase your bliss in the heights and lofts of the old house. Ignore the overgrown gardens, the worn statues, the scum in the pond, the verdigris on the cupolas. Maybe one of those statues is of Weena? Or is it Fuchsia Groan? Or is it Ophelia pre-suicide? Is it a mystery or an incidence of tragicomedy? It’s life during wartime, that’s what it is. An old house with a womanless kitchen. As it should be. Women have transcended the kitchen, even in old ossified monuments to Old Europe like this venerable house. So Bob the Gardener does the cooking now though there’s not a living soul to eat it. That’s Bob the Gardener, not Bob the Builder culture jamming, and rocking the free world.