I don’t know Ed McDonald. I’ve briefly met him at a Con, share an agent with him and haven’t yet read his work (though I heard it is damn good), but I agree with so much of this.
I’m handing over this blog entry to a very talented writer whose work I would urge you all to check out. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the winner of the 2017 Drunken Druid Book Award, Mr Jesse Teller.
The Timeless Enemy
by Jesse Teller
When I was a boy, my parents took me to the movies. This was back when we had no money. No money at all. We had to fight to get food on the table and we were always strapped. Well somehow, my parents found the money and the time to take us to the movies, and I saw Sleeping Beauty.
I don’t remember much at all. Colors, I think, is all I could take away from it. I was about six and I had no recollection of the story or the images really, but I do remember very distinctly the dragon. I remember the colors, the breath, and the black. I remember this tiny man striving to fight it, and the way it seemed impossible. I remember thinking no force in the world could rival a dragon, and that is all I took from it.
Years later, I was watching TV in the morning on a Saturday, and I saw Bilbo Baggins take the first steps of his journey. The artistry of it consumed me, the way those particular animation artists moved the characters across the screen. They were the same animators that did The Last Unicorn and I will never forget the way they drew the line. The movie The Hobbit was fun until Bilbo and I found ourselves at the feet of Smaug.
So huge that dragon was, nothing Bilbo could do could ever stack up. There was no weapon to grasp to bring death to that monster. No hope, however slight, could be held when the idea of fighting that beast was at hand.
I do not accept the death Tolkien gave to his god of dragons. It is too convenient, too simple. No one arrow ever made could take down the beast I saw in that cavern, no matter how well shot, no matter the target.
I remember thinking if ever a power could exist that could rival a being that great, it would have to be me who found it. No other creator could reach within and pluck out the shred of hope that stood up to a creature so mighty.
Well, of course, I was wrong. Writers and artists have been killing dragons as long as dragons have been around. St. George cast one down centuries before I was born, and people have been doing it ever since. But Smaug stayed supreme in my mind, a creature of such immense power that no one dare stand before him had they not a ring of power.
So then I set to work. I began, time after time, crafting a hero or heroine strong enough to crush the monumental monsters of my mind. Soon wizards. Then warriors. Then one after the next, I began to put together an army of people and beings so invincible that they could stand up to Smaug. They could face the Nefarious, the Tempest and the Wrath of the greatest forces of darkness that any mind could find. Any mind anywhere. With this devotion to craft and heart of a creator, I plumbed the darkness within my mind to find magic.
When I hit teenage years, I wanted warriors. Arislan, Aragorn. Caramon Majere. I found Mycenae Kark and Sai Sibbius Summerstone. One after the next, I sought and found one swords smith, then another, to battle the monoliths of my mind. Twenties found assassins. Thirties, barbarians. One great hero after the next filled my mind, always with one goal in sight.
Pulverize the immense. Bring down the invincible. I write high fantasy. If that means I am not grimdark, then so be it.
There is a boy in here, deep where no one can find him. He is fighting a monster, a monster deeply rooted in the fiber of his mind. That little boy will not let me go small. He has a nemesis. He has a nightmare, and one after the other, he will pump out the mighty and the brave to bring it down. I have never killed Smaug. He is, as far as, I know unkillable.
But Rayph Ivoryfist would get close. Smear Kond could sneak up on him. Dreark would make Smaug tremble. I fear that somehow the mighty, world-moving powers within my books will make me less grim, that I might lose some street cred. I might have readers who shrug and drop me, thinking they want lower fantasy than I am prepared to give them.
To them I say, please forgive. There is a monster in here. He scares me. I must fight him the best I can. Smaug is watching. Smaug is waiting.
Find out more about Jesse’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Jesse-Teller/e/B01G0ZB7JG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1526242642&sr=1-2-ent
Finally the audiobook of ‘Exile’ narrated by John Pirhalla is available
Also ‘Exile’ is on sale for 99p/99c from now until April 14th along with a load of other excellent books. Get in there! More details here: http://mlspencerfiction.com/grimdarklings.html
Just a brief update.
I was able to stop the Filgastrim shots after last week’s blood result which was the first marker of progress. This week’s result confirms further progress – my platelet levels are now in normal range (just) and the other blood markers are all moving the right way. Still no side effects.
I’ve now been on the full therapeutic dose of Venetoclax for 1 week and I still feel fine – no side effects. The lymph nodes in my groin and neck have gone down, and the blood test I took this morning shows the beginning of an improvement with my neutrophil levels above 1; for comparison 4 weeks ago they were 0.6. I hope this is real and will continue. The first real marker is being able to stop the daily Filgastrim injections (bone marrow stimulant).
I also hope there will be good news about the audiobook of Exile soon.
So I’m coming to the end of my second week on Venetoclax, which means I’m now taking 50mg/day and heading for 100mg/day on Wednesday. So far so good, no side effects other than many more trips to the toilet because of the extra fluids I’m drinking to ward off Tumour Lysis Syndrome (look it up, it’s not nice).
I took part in the annual Lighwater Village Quiz on Friday with my usual team. I haven’t been able to take part for the last 3 or 4 years, though my team did win without me one year. As usual we won the very demanding 100 question table quiz, and I was able to hear most of the questions as they were read out. We then lost in the semi-final up on stage in the ‘fastest finger first’ buzzer round. Was I restricted by my hearing in answering the questions quickly? Yes, I think so. Would we have beaten the team that defeated us if I was 100%? I doubt it, they were very good and went on to win the title.
I’m due to start on Venetoclax next week and escalating the dose up to the full 400mg/day will take 5 weeks. Venetoclax is new, so new that I’m the first patient at Frimley Park to take it. So they’re being ultra cautious, and I have to be admitted to be monitored for the first doses and the early escalations. Tumour Lysis Syndrome is one of the major side-effects and that is nasty. Hopefully when I’m stabilised on a suitable dose the other side effects will be tolerable because I’ve got used to feeling good in the past 7 weeks since I stopped Ibrutinib. I’ve been propped up by daily injections of a synthetic bone marrow stimulant which is effective but can’t be used long-term.
So I apologise if I disappear for a month or so while I’m getting used to this new stuff. I hope to reappear in March and get to Eastercon and maybe a Southampton match or two (though given their current form I’m not sure I want to see them).
The current work-in-progress is trundling along and I hope to have a finished first draft this year.