At the end of 2015, I decided I wanted to bring a different side of me as an author out in 2016. I was going to experiment, change things up, and I understood full well that there was a risk associated in doing that. I could grow my audience from what I’ve built already with The Yellow Hoods, my steampunk-meets-fairytale series, or I could lose a large part of that because for the first time in a year, I wouldn’t have released a single Yellow Hoods novel, never mind my usual two per year.
The Wizard Killer was an experiment on several fronts. One of them was the format. The Wizard Killer is written in an episodic style, with each of the 20 episodes of season one being a cliff-hanger into the next (some soft, some hard). I hadn’t written in that style in a long, long time. I also decided to use a TV series ‘season’ model for the way I told the story. Another part was the genre, and more specifically, me writing in that genre.
In 1988 when I came across the video game Wasteland, I was captivated. And despite it having glitches that stopped me from finishing it, I played it and replayed it until finally my discs didn’t work anymore.
When Fallout came out, I loved it. Played it to death. DEATH! Dirt naps and all. Then of course, Fallout 2 was very much loved.
Even though I wrote a wide variety of things over the twenty five years before I wrote Book 1 of The Yellow Hoods, I never wrote in this setting.
After I finished writing Beauties of the Beast (Book 4 of The Yellow Hoods), I needed a break. I started writing The Man of Cloud 9, and needed to do something with the visceral, action-loving side of me. I came up with the idea of a weekly serial, and I started to think about the story I could tell. More importantly, where would this story be told
When it comes to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, there are a lot of them. I didn’t want to tell another story about the modern world that’s broken and in shambles. I wanted something that would have its own unique feel and flavour from the moment you stepped into it.
My thoughts drifted back to a world I’d created for a D&D competition back in 2000. The world was called Mondus Fumus, the World of Steam. It was my first foray into what I would later learned was called steampunk. In this world, there were magical cars called levitating carriages. They had engines on the back that channeled magic into physical behaviors. I focused in on that, and started asking myself questions.
The first thing I asked myself was what was magic, and did mana exist? What’s their relationship? I kept pushing myself to look at these fantasy elements through the eyes of science fiction. The more I did, the more excited I got. I started then thinking through the structure of society, and how many fantasy elements I could bring in without making the world feel like a fantasy world.
Mondus Fumus may have been disqualified from entering the competition because of an error on the part of UPS, but its spirit had found new life 16 years later.
Floating cities mixed with a tight social structure that was directly connected to those with the ability to channel magic having the most power.
I decided to consciously take the friendly term wizard and twist it, bring some fear to it. The wizards are the rulers, often with terrifying power. Below them were the adepts, and others, until you had the masses who had no such power. This was more than just a power structure in terms of ability, it was also an allegory to those with high technology and education ruling over those who had the least tech and know how.
Then, I broke the world. Before I even wrote a single line of The Wizard Killer, I snapped that world. If I was going to think of magic like a magnetic field around their planet, then it was going to go from being constant, to fluctuating in and out. Mana, a state of energy, wouldn’t be able to be immediately absorbed or consumed. Floating cities might crash down or take desperate measures. What would those be? That got me thinking about batteries, and medical experiments, and all the other elements we associate with science fiction over fantasy. Now I had a world on my hands that I was really happy with.
The Wizard Killer is planned to be a five season episodic series, with potentially a book or two at the end, almost like the movies to the seasoned TV series. Season Two is due to start posting raw episodes at the end of August. You can read episodes 1-3 for free on my samples page.