East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Meet Garr the Cunning

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unnamedThis post was published three days ago for my Patrons, who got to see it first.
They also got a full preview of the first scene of the forthcoming 12.000-words story I’m writing, and that they will get for free.
It’s good to be a Patron of mine.
Just saying.

I have been working on the 12.000-words “caveman fantasy” story I have promised my patrons as a celebration for reaching the 100-bucks-per-month tier.
As I usually do, I planned this story as a first in a series. I grew up on series and serial fiction, and I like exploring and expanding my characters and my worlds. So there. And once I started, it’s been a highly educative experience.
So, here is a preview AND a look at my process – hoping you are interested.

Let’s start with the learning side.

First, lost in translation…
The stories in this series will be published in both Italian and English, both to make my Patrons happy, and to reach as far and wide as possible on the market.
This more than doubles the work, and poses a number of problems, because my English writing has a totally different rhythm compared to my Italian writing. This means the stories will have to be rewritten, not translated.
And that takes time.

Second, it’s just a fantasy…
Well, OK, it’s science-fantasy really, but you see, I am a palaeontologist. And when it comes to prehistoric times, Ice Ages, cavemen and Quaternary faunas, I tend to get technical by default. Stuff like “… but this creature was extinct by then! Damn!”
Primitive man is a very complicated business, really – and while Manly Wade Wellman could play fast and loose with Cro Magnon and Neanderthals and still maintain a patina of anthropological credibility, in the seventy-five years that have passed since the last Hok the Mighty story was published, our knowledge of those people has vastly increased.
But this is fantasy, so I had to go back to the drawing board, and start actually jot down the worldbuilding notes, in order to decide what to keep and what to ditch from science, in order to write a fun ripping yarn while still maintaining a modicum of realistic elements.


Third, a little less conversation, a little more action…
Let’s admit it – my characters tend to talk a lot. They tend to talk rather than fight, and while they can hold their own in a violent confrontation, they’d rather talk it out. Which is all good and fun, but here we are dealing with cavemen. Not exactly great conversationalists.
So I had to design a main character that is really very different from my usual types – which is good, because moving out of our comfort zone is good for us, and all that. But being good doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
In the end I struck a sort of compromise – a character that’s still more inclined to think his way out of a bind rather than fight is way out, but in a more primitive, down-to-earth way.

So I imagined Garr the Cunning.
He found his animal totem to be the Crow, and therefore he is smart and world-wise, curious and careful, but not a big fighter. In a society that values strength and bravery, he’s the odd man out – which gives me a good reason to have him out on his own adventuring in a time in which safety was in numbers, and men and women huddled together at night for fear of what was out there.

And to get my measure of Garr, I wrote a scene, that became the first scene in the first story, that still needs a title. Just to see Garr react when placed in a bad situation.
A very bad situation.
But to learn more, you’ll have to wait for the actual story.


Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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