Hello Jeremy Higley, author of My Darksome Thorn Series, Son of the Dark:
April 28, 2018
My Darksome Thorn series was originally just a thought experiment. I wanted to take some of the traditional elements of a fantasy world, then twist them until they were uniquely mine.
A race of goblins whose names are just strings of consonants? I can twist it further. What if they reproduce like clownfish, except in reverse? Just one male, and when he dies one of the females becomes male. How does that biology react with their culture? How does it influence their laws, their population dynamics, their relationships with each other?
Okay, that’s a good start.
Now, what if they used to be fairies, but are only goblins now because they’re cursed? That’s not that original of an idea, but if I twist it so that as a fallen race they’re actually holier and closer to the god they once defied than the humans and other races who didn’t rebel… that makes it more interesting. They have something to prove, or at least it started that way. After a couple millennia, they love the god who spared their lives and gave them a chance at redemption.
When you twist an idea around so far that it starts getting familiar again, that’s an idea you might benefit from exploring. What is this thing you’ve created? An abomination, or an apotheosis? I guess only time will tell.
I took this approach and reworked elves, nymphs, fairies, humans, and a few pet projects I’d always been curious about. Some were unrecognizable after I finished. Some I had to tone down a bit, because the result was too disturbing or too overpowering and threatened to take over the series.
I might return to those.
Then I built a world and a history around the different races. I had to develop a cataclysm worthy of a world built out of extremes, something my characters would actually find threatening after all the nightmares I’d worked into the history. I had to create a pantheon that wasn’t just a reworking of Greco-Roman and Egyptian mythologies. I wanted the world’s gods to reflect a bit of that complexity, though, the way that Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses picked up new powers and domains as time went by and cultures changed.
Then, and only then, was it time to come up with a story. Something that would offer more than just one motive, so that my characters would be in conflict with themselves and not just the world around them. Also, something big enough to take them across the continent, so they could visit more than just a few of the races and cultures I’d dreamed up. It was fine if I missed a few, so long as I touched on the most important ones (read: the ones I liked the most).
I took my three favorite ideas and meshed them, then threw out the pieces that didn’t fit. I wrote the beginning of the story about five times before I decided on the tone and the approach I liked best. It was hard to balance the story between the need to get characters across my extensive milieu, and the much more pressing need to focus on the characters and their needs and plans. The result was a storyline that would have to save a lot of my favorite locations and races for later, as the plot expanded to take in more characters.
As it stands with the first book, Tales of the Darksome Thorn is just a thimbleful of the ideas I came up with because I wanted to see where they would take me. It’s been an adventure so far, and I hope it continues to feel like an adventure for my readers as I continue to explore.
About the Author:
Jeremy Higley was born in California but now lives in Arizona. As of 2016 he’s a graduate student working on a master’s degree in English. He’s also an instructional aide at a local elementary school, a novelist, and a contributing editor for a nonprofit student success company called LifeBound.
Find out more about Jeremy at:
The Darksome Thorn, meanwhile, has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.
Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent…
…and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything…
Skel was running so fast as he went to warn Mynjar and Talon that the grass whipped at his bare legs like dull knife blades. As the tent loomed closer, he could already feel his movements slowing. His feet were starting to sink into the firm earth as if it were a sludgy bog.
The attack was beginning.
“Dun Ko,” Skel shouted, trying to rouse the Eltar in the circle of tents ahead of him. His voice sounded like a whisper to his own ears, but quickly he heard shouts in return. The tents went abuzz with the yelling of frustrated, terrified men and women struggling to rise from their own beds. Skel saw an Eltar woman leave her tent, scrambling with immense difficulty to get away from the camp with a
small child. Her child disappeared from her arms within moments, dissolving into a cloud of dandelion fluff that blew away on a nonexistent wind.
Skel tried to ignore her screams. There was only one child in any real danger tonight. The Dun Ko were simply trying to distract the rest of them, keep them occupied with nightmares and illusions while they sought out their true target. He spoke a few words to the wind. It pushed him faster with a strong gust, knocking over his foster family’s tent as he approached it and blowing it halfway over to the elephant herd. Mynjar, Talon, and their daughters stared at him in bewilderment as he ran past them to stand between the Dun Ko and their intended victim.
“Dun Ko,” he repeated, struggling to catch his breath.
“What’s going on, boy?” Mynjar shouted. “How would you know if the Dun Ko were coming?”
Lonmar and Konsa screamed as they watched their father’s arms suddenly melt off his body like grease in a fire, gathering in black pools at his feet. Talon ran to grab Pynme from his crib, but sank to her chin in the dirt.
“The Dun Ko want Pynme,” Skel tried to explain, but Mynjar was on his knees sobbing, and Lonmar and Konsa were crowding around him, aghast, trying to comfort him. Talon was screaming hysterically, calling for her baby, but Pynme wouldn’t wake up. Smyra was the only one who
seemed to still have her senses in spite of the Dun Ko’s psychic onslaught.
“Are you going to fight them?” she asked. She seemed surprised, but not impressed. She somehow managed to sound condescending, even now.
“I have to try—” Skel started.
“And fail,” Smyra interrupted, “but I’ll help you anyway.”