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A Web of Goblins

October 23, 2011

Bit by bit, this year’s NaNoWriMo story is coming together.

There seem to be patterns that determine what I’ll write each year.

For NaNo, I alternate between none-too-serious Fantasy and Kivailo world stories.

Year one was “Quest of the Midget Knight”, about a boy who wants to become a knight despite being half as tall as everyone else.

Year two was “Daughters of Shaomay”, set in the Kivailo world, but in a different country from the one I usually write about.

Year three, “The Knight with the Red Umbrella”, about the electoral campaign in Fairyland.

And this year, year four, back to the Kivailo world with “Goblins”.

And with the Kivailo world stories, I seem to switch between Kivailo and Ternin point of view.

“The Road Is All There Is” was a story about Kivailo. “Masks” main character Emma is a Terne (although there are lots of Kivailo characters as well). With “Tell Me, Sister”, I returned to a Kivailo POV (giving me the chance to use Kivailo expressions such as “he has sleeves” or “they’ve got dogs in the house” without having to explain them).

And with “Goblins”, I’m back in Ternin society. That they’re the white, privileged majority doesn’t always mean their lives are easy, after all. And wanting to do the right thing makes it even less easy.

I decided to write “Goblins” this year (and to use this title) when I found a connection between two old “plotbunnies”. I’d been thinking about writing one of them this year, but didn’t think I could milk either of them for 50.000 words – but together, that should be easy enough.

There is Annabell, a little girl whose mother was killed by Kivailo terrorists (though Annabell doesn’t yet know how she died), and who spends all her school holidays with her grandfather. One Christmas, her grandfather tells her there is a goblin living on his attic. Annabell is young enough to believe him for a while, but eventually she discovers the “goblin” is really a Kivailo who has escaped from an internment camp…

Julius also lives with his grandparents (for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me yet), but that’s where the similarities end. He’s not only about ten years older than Annabell, he’s also the biggest bastard of a main character I’ve ever had – manipulative, calculating, egoistic to the point of cruelty, treating his grandparents’ Kivailo staff as his personal property… his story is only worth telling because he feels he’s quite entitled to rape Sanna, the housemaid, and, when she becomes pregnant, to claim the child as “his”, as if her giving birth to it is worth nothing. And yet… raising his son – who he thinks looks like a little goblin – he grows up a little, too, and when the Kivailo are rounded up and sent to internment camps, he tries to hide Sanna.

The two storylines intersect when, forced to hunt escaped Kivailo during his military duty, Julius searches Annabell’s grandfather’s house… and chooses to keep their secret.

Then, a few weeks ago, a third story butted in. Theresa has always been something of a rebel. Her very religious family would much rather see her married, but instead, she’s made her way to Förhäf, Tokre’s capital, and to university. Life is already challenging enough, juggling university, a job, visits to her family, an awkward relationship with a boyfriend her family can’t know about, and illegal demonstrations for Kivailo rights. And it gets more complicated when she meets Sophie (who owns two rats by the names of Pixie and Goblin), and begins to figure out she feels more than friendship for her… under the radically Catholic KNP government, homosexuality is hardly ever even spoken about, and coming out to her family would be unthinkable anyway.

My inspiration picture for this year, glued onto my handwriting folder - (garbage) goblins and a little girl who could be Annabell (taken at Castlefest 2010)

Slowly, I’m finding the connections between the three stories.

There’s the long-planned meeting between Julius and Annabell, the one that made me think, “oh, yes, I can write that for NaNo!”

There’s Julius, trying to blackmail Sophie’s brother’s girlfriend into helping him hide Sanna – making me think, “well, OK, if Sophie and Theresa really want to be included, I can include them.”

There’s Theresa’s brother helping Annabell’s grandfather, who ends up talking some sense into him when Theresa’s family has cut off all contact to her after finally finding out about Theresa and Sophie – making me think, “yes, Theresa, you really belong in this story.”

All just chance meetings, just a few moments in some cases, and yet they matter.

How many strangers do we meet every day, how many lives do we touch, and yet we never know how that brief meeting might have changed the course of their life?

Spinning a spider web of stories.

“Goblins” touches “Masks” in more ways than one. Theresa and Sophie know Emma, the main character of “Masks”. The man Annabell’s grandfather hides knows Emma’s boyfriend.

“Goblins” might touch “Tell Me, Sister”. Someone – Julius? One of Theresa’s brothers? – might meet Jolymella, Arowan and Tarlan.

“Tell Me, Sister” definitely touches “Masks” – they share many characters.

All of them involve an event from the original Kivailo world story, “The Road Is All There Is”. Without that, without the day known as “100th 11th”, none of them would be worth telling.

In the middle of writing this post, I glanced at the plant standing at the end of my couch, where I'll be doing most of my writing - and who's sitting there? Blobby the goblin (bought at Castlefest 2011... second NaNo story in a row to have a Castlefest connection!)

Up to now, “Goblins” has been a loose web of stories, with the individual stories only touching three times.

But slowly, the stories continue to grow, and they touch again. The connection between Annabell’s grandfather and Theresa’s family is strengthening. I realized I’ll have to kill the grandfather, and this set things in motion. As we know, death threats work!

And eventually, all three stories are now coming together. It’s how it should be in a story – no matter how many strands you’ve got, you’ve got to pull them together at the end. I wasn’t planning to, or rather didn’t know khow to without making it feel forced – but today the scene just popped into my head.

I don’t know precisely what will happen, but I can see them, at one of those illegal demonstrations Theresa and Sophie faithfully attend – those two, of course, calling themselves Fox and Raven as they always do, Julius with his son, and little Annabell, who has no idea what has become of her “goblin” after her grandfather’s death…

I’m beginning to feel excited about this story – can’t wait to start! Only nine days to go!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2011 22:51

    Julius ist mir irgendwie sympathisch. Charaktere, die gemein und schwierig sind, schreiben sich doch viel interessanter als nette. 😛

    Und du hast schon so viel geschrieben, dass ich am liebsten so schnell wie möglich nachziehen will!

    • November 1, 2011 23:01

      Er wird auf jeden Fall interessant zu schreiben – die Entwicklung von komplettem Arsch zu doch halbwegs anständigem Mensch… und die Schuldgefühle, die der Mensch mal haben wird *böse händereib*

      Deutsch schreiben ist komisch!

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