Seven Books in Seven Weeks – Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right
Part seven of a seven part series
Introduction to Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right
Well, here it is, the long awaited final to Seven Books in Seven Weeks. Okay, so it took a bit longer than seven weeks to complete but then you probably expected that from the start! Anyway, without further ado, here is the seventh book in the series, Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah Right, written by none other than me!
The Genesis of Drynwideon
The idea for Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right, also affectionately known as the world’s first anti-fantasy novel, first popped into my head in July of 2017. At the time, I was suffering from a fairly serious chest infection, which had developed into pneumonia and was spending most of my time lying in bed contemplating my navel and watching the world pass me by, while I waited for my white blood cells to do their job and banish the infection from the bounds of the pale, flabby thing that I call my body.
Around the same time, the latest season of Game of Thrones was fast approaching and every time that I ventured from my sickbed, there was something on the television or the radio, hyping up the much anticipated series and saying how utterly amazing and fantastic it was going to be. I have never read Game of Thrones or seen the television series, apart from a few snippets that left me wondering what the heck was going on, but I had discussed it with a number of George R. R. Martin fans in the bar, who regaled me with its wondrous depth and complexity, all of which, I have to say left me a little flat. Now, I have nothing against Game of Thrones, but well, you know me, I like my stories simple and Game of Thrones or GOT as it was commonly known made me feel as if it was a soap opera set in a fantasy world, a bit like ‘EastEnders in Mordor’ or ‘Coronation Street in Wonderland’.
So there I was, incapacitated by illness and slowly climbing the walls with my inability to escape the GOT-hype and it got me thinking. What if there was a traditional fantasy story where the hero got killed off in the first chapter and the rest of the story focused on the most unlikely hero imaginable, someone who had no heroic qualities and just wanted to be left alone to get on with their life? And that, dear reader, is where the idea for Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right came from.
The storyline of Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right is pretty simple. We start out with our hero, Gonald the Mighty scaling Mount Terror on a dark and stormy night, in order to slay Ka, the Dragon Princess, tyrant of the known world and the girl he had once called his daughter. Think Conan the Barbarian but better looking and a lot older and you’re on the right lines. He confronts her only to discover that Drynwideon, the mythical sword he stole from the king of the elves, is nothing more than a cheap replica of the ancient weapon and dies horribly when Ka incinerates him in a ball of searing flame. With me so far? Good!
Then we meet our protagonist, the anti-heroic, Drin. Sick to death of hearing about failed attempts to defeat the Dragon Princess, his main concerns are getting enough food to eat and avoiding winning the nightly ‘meat lottery’, which will mean he ends up on the dinner plate instead of one of the other villagers! His plans to flee the decrepit village he inhabits are thwarted by the village chief, but he escapes, as all good protagonists do and flees anyway, only to discover paradise just a few miles away! However, as with real life, things don’t always work out the way you planned and Drin’s stay is rudely cut short, whereupon he spends the rest of the book trying to find a substitute in which to spend the rest of his days.
Along the way, which inevitably involves arid savannahs, enchanted forests and countryside that wouldn’t be out of place in The Shire, he amasses a rag-tag assortment of unwanted companions, all of them with seriously disturbing personal problems and ends up on The Quest, a once in a decade Battle Royale, organised by the Dragon Princess, in which everyone apart from her dies in a most unpleasant manner.
Armed with only his trusty dagger, a thing called ‘Thing’ and his maladjusted friends, it is up to Drin to face Ka and win, if he wants a future longer than a few strangled breaths and a couple of mortal wounds that is!
I won’t tell you what happens, you’ll have to read the book, but it’s pretty darned good and a very welcome change from the usual run of the mill fantasy epic, I can assure you of that.
Drynwideon’s Main Characters
The main character in Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right is Drin. Half-starved, sarcastic and possessed of a natural cunning which saves his life on more than one occasion, as mentioned above, all he wants is a quiet life and being a hero is the last thing on his mind. When I was writing him, I couldn’t help but think of Michael Palin’s character, Dennis Cooper, in the brilliant Terry Gilliam film, Jabberwocky. Dennis, like Drin, is a reluctant hero, who has his own plans for his life but finds himself drawn into a far bigger adventure, despite his ongoing protestations to the contrary.
Tefal the Dwarf is the Sancho Panza to Drin’s Don Quixote. Level-headed and cautious where Drin is headstrong and opinionated, he is burdened by the terrible afflictions of both claustrophobia and agoraphobia (or Clagraphobia, as a good friend of mine put it). The idea for Tefal came, believe it or not, from a line written by one of my favourite bands, Half Man Half Biscuit. Check out the opening to their song, San Antonio Foam Party and you’ll see what I mean. Apart from being a much-needed counterpoint to Drin’s acerbic nature, Tefal is a fully formed, if half-sized character in his own right and possessed of a pretty unique way to deal with his bodily fluids… well, one of them at least.
Then we have Rioja (pr. Ree-Oh-Jar), Drin’s ill-matched love interest. A half-fairy with a malformed wing, she was cast out by her fellow fairies for not being pretty enough and subsequently developed a thirst for violence that borders on the psychotic. She is one of the driving forces behind Drin and Tefal’s reluctant entry into The Quest, and the poor thing perennially mistakes their attempts to wheedle out of it as acts of heroic bravery. To be honest, I can’t recall where I got the inspiration for Rioja from and even if I could, I wouldn’t tell you. After all, Hell hath no fury like a crazy fairy’s scorn!
The Rog was another of those characters that seemed to pop up from nowhere. Half rabbit, half dog, he becomes Drin’s most loyal companion, which is a good thing because, as an Andarian Harehound, the Rog is a terrifying killing machine by both day and by night. No one knows why The Rog chose to befriend Drin. Maybe it was abused as a pup, who knows?
Finally, we have Spasmodicus the Ridiculous. An ancient, battle scarred barbarian, most definitely cast from the Gonald the Mighty mould, he is the unfortunate owner of the Farting Phoenix, a mythical creature that blows itself up with a foul-smelling gas when frightened, only to reincarnate moments later. Poor old Spasmodicus. The day he took ownership of the Farting Phoenix, which bonds to its owner for life, was also the day that he said goodbye to most of his hair.
I could mention the myriad of other characters that litter the pages of Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right, such as Captain Colleston, Mad Anja and Chamberlain Rousseau, Governor of the fabled port of Naxxis, but then there wouldn’t be much point in you reading the book. Incidentally, you can buy it here if you are interested!
Influences on Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right
Here is where everything in Seven Books in Seven Weeks comes together, for in their own way, each of the books that I have covered previously had an influence on Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right. Whether it was the magical world-building in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and The Lightstone, the contemporary humour of The Pyrates and The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, the wonderful vocabulary used in The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm or the simple fact that The Book of Three inspired both Drynwideon the mythical sword and the magical bag summoned up by Drin, each of them evoked feelings and memories which I drew upon in order to create my own unique anti-fantasy adventure story.
Printing the Paperback of Drynwideon
Shortly after Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right had gone through its umpteenth edit, a friend of mine persuaded me to publish the book as a paperback. Now, I’m not a fan of the vanity press and abhor the idea of anyone paying for their work to be published by a company that exists only to take advantage of people’s desire to see their name in print. However, vanity is a strange mistress and I was so excited by the fact that I had written a ‘proper’ novel that I eventually capitulated. To say that it was another adventure entirely would be an understatement of epic proportions…
First of all, we approached a local publishing house and while their principal editor was very keen on the project and eager to expand the company’s portfolio, unfortunately, like many first-time authors, I fell foul of the Monday morning publishing meeting and the book was ultimately rejected because it was a seen as a stretch too far from their usual fare… academic books about Thailand!
Dismayed but not deterred, we then decided to do it ourselves, not realising quite how fickle and challenging the world of professional publishing can be. A friend of mine who had worked in the printing industry in England did a line by line edit of the manuscript, which then had to be reformatted, by me, to fit the 8”x5” book format that we had decided on. Getting the margins and paragraph breaks right was a task that still gives me nightmares to this day and was a far cry from my previous experience of self publishing in the digital domain, which, by comparison, was an absolute breeze.
While all of this was going on, the friend who had first suggested paperback printing was busy trying to find a reputable printer to do the actual physical work of making the book. Fortunately, we were extremely lucky in this regard and found a local outfit with heaps of experience and a Heidelberg press, don’t you know, to do the job for a very reasonable price.
Then it was just a matter of checking the proofs and giving the printers the okay. There was one small glitch when it turned out that two hundred copies of the cover had been misaligned during the trimming process and had come out wonky, but we weren’t in a hurry, so a few days later replacements had been printed and I was the proud owner of one thousand copies of my book!
Like any major publishing house, we subsequently embarked on a media and publicity campaign, and sent out press packs to over two hundred different publications around the globe. Unfortunately, this is where the reality of the modern publishing industry and our naivety came home to roost. There is simply so much stuff out there these days that media outlets and magazines are unwilling to give column inches to unknown authors. As one editor of a well known science fiction and fantasy publication told me: they get so many books from mainstream publishers to review each month that they can’t take the chance on the indies, it just isn’t worth the risk for them. So, to cut a long story short, after many months of getting stuck into the DIY publishing game, we didn’t get a single piece of publicity, other than the free stuff I did on Reddit and various Facebook pages, plus a couple of paid adverts on Amazon.
However, all was not lost and just over a year since Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny, Yeah, Right, was first released, I have managed to make a respectable number of sales and that number continues to grow each month as word gradually spreads about the world’s first anti-fantasy novel. So, what is the take home message? Simple. You’d better grab yourself a copy of the first edition paperback version before they are all sold out!
Mistakes in Drynwideon (Should I really be telling you this?)
Like any published work, Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right has its fair share of typos and grammatical mistakes, I am sure of that and it is an inevitable part of the writing process, so I am in good company — right up there with the best of them in fact! Furthermore, like any author, my writing style continues to evolve over time, so now when I look back on Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right, it sometimes seems as if someone else has written it.
However, there is another mistake that I want to discuss here and it is the mistake that many emerging authors make. I didn’t listen hard enough to my reviewers. If one reviewer makes a comment then conventional wisdom says ‘take it under consideration’. However, if two or more reviewers make the same comment then you’d better darned well pay attention before you dismiss it!
In my case, at least two people commented that the first chapter was, in their opinion, too long and that they felt put out by the fact that they had invested time in getting to know Gonald the Mighty, only to have to start again in chapter two with Drin, the real main character of the book.
In my defence, that was exactly what I had intended! I wanted readers to think that they were getting a piece of traditional heroic fantasy fiction, only to discover in chapter two that it was anything but traditional, by which time they would be compelled to carry on. As a result, I ignored my reviewers comments and went ahead with the version as I had written it. After all, that is the author’s prerogative and to be honest, at that time I was damned if was going to let anyone tell me how I should write my novel!
Looking back, however, I realise now that I made a mistake. Had I been more receptive to criticism, then I would have rewritten the first chapter to make it more snappy and clear that it was a story within a story, rather than the main feature. It was a lesson hard learnt but one that has been put to very good use in my subsequent writing.
The Impact of Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right on Myself
It is fair to say that Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right has had a huge impact on me. Not only was it the first full-length novel that I wrote, it has formed the basis for the rest of my writing career to date. It showed me that I did have the ability to write a compelling piece of original humorous fantasy, which was my primary aim and gave me the confidence to continue writing, even though the challenges have been significant.
Since then, I have penned two further novels covering different genres, with a third, more recent one returning to the world of Drin and his colleagues. A proper sequel to Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right is on the cards for next year and a series of prequels are planned to follow that. Suffice to say, I have a lot on my plate as far as writing is concerned and my world is a far brighter place for it!
Conclusion to Seven Books in Seven Weeks
So, there you have it. Seven books in a little over seven weeks. All of them have touched me greatly in some way or another during my life and I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my various interactions with them. Perhaps I have even convinced you to hunt them down for yourself, in which case I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have. All that remains for me to say is thank you for coming on this journey with me and please do stay tuned for more fascinating insights into my world through the medium of my blog.
Oh, and please do take a few minutes to have a look at my various written offerings, including Drynwideon, The Sword of Destiny – Yeah, Right. Quite a few of them are free and most of them should raise a smile or two!