RSS Feed

Tag Archives: johannesburg

Death of a King: Steampunk Joburg Comes To Life

Yes you read that right. Remember my idea of turning Johannesburg into a city of literal gold, powered by steam engines? Well I’ve finally come up with a concept that will bring this envisioned idea to life. The book(s) will be titled Death of a King and will involve… well, kings, in a less traditional format.

Books and Art

I’m always referring to myself as an “artist” when self-promoting but I have done very little to show this side of myself. Which is one of the reasons why Death of a King will take on a different kind of format. Similar to the Japanese light novel, I will be adding images into the book to enhance the story further. That way there’s the epic story happening and visuals to augment the experience.

The Story

As I stated before, the story will focus on Kings, but with an added twist to the whole element. The story will also be mainly based in South Africa, Johannesburg, but will incorporate a lot of Africa too. It will also be very dark, and fall under the genre of grim dark which Adam Roberts describes as:

“fiction ‘where nobody is honourable and Might is Right’, and as ‘the standard way of referring to fantasies that turn their backs on the more uplifting, Pre-Raphaelite visions of idealized medievaliana, and instead stress how nasty, brutish, short and, dark life back then really was’.  he noted that grimdark has little to do with re-imagining an actual historic reality and more with conveying the sense that our own world is a “cynical, disillusioned, ultraviolent place”. ~ Wiki-Grimdark

Release Date?

Ha, if only I knew. The concept itself requires a lot of world building and character development. Of course there’s the art aspect of it too so drawing images to that fine detail and style will also take some time. Then of course it’s writing the book itself and that whole editing process. It’s going to take a while.

However, I just wanted to let you know of what is coming and you will probably see all of this coming together on this blog. Once the ball is rolling, you’ll be sure to see my other sites bring it all together such as Patreon-only artwork, concept art, short stories from the created world and much more.

So that’s my writing update for May. Apologies for my silence, and hoping to hear from you all as I continue this writing journey.

Advertisements

Two Types of Story Crafting I Discovered (Again)

Some time back I submitted an unnamed novel to my editor for a look-see. It’s a horror story set in two different time-zones, intermingled with time-travel and wax sculptures that bleed maggots. It was an idea borne from two prompts and co-joined into one grisly story. It also required a ton of both research and thumb-sucking.

At the same time, or at least close enough to it, I had that mind-blowing concept of a Steampunk version of my city, Johannesburg, which you can read in my last article: New Inspiration – Steampunk Johannesburg.

I came to realise, though it’s nothing new, that there are two main ways I go about writing a story:

Story Built Around A World

When I came up with a steampunk version of Joburg, I didn’t have a story. It was merely a city of literal gold, with gears built into the rising towers, slowly cranking at each turn, controlling various parts of the city. Some of it controlled the mining for gold. Others, the changing of traffic lights, the control of water, the generating of electricity. A great idea in my head. What then did it need?

  1. A Fitting Story: Of course every great world needs a story. A compelling story that fits the time, location, and people of the created world. In my head, as I saw this city unfold in front of my mind’s eye, I spotted a figure running along the roof tops of this fabricated city. Who was he? Why was he running? What was that clutched under his arm? As the world is set in a steampunk era, the story could have a feeling of being old but with an air modern lifestyle. There are plenty of stories that can be created from this amazing golden era!
  2. Compelling Characters: Right so I have the first character sorted – the guy running on roof tops. Maybe he’s being chased by Federation airships and Commander van nie Kerk is hot on his trail. Maybe he’s running to a secret organisation with documents tucked under his arm. Was the character part of political intrigue or perhaps inside the package he carried the still warm heart of his latest victim? Each of these story ideas can be spun around me new world, creating characters varying from inventors, to pilots, alchemists, mad-scientist, and who knows what from the story I hope to tell.
  3. Intriguing Plot: It’s all well and good to have a diverse world coupled with a brewing story and compelling characters, but what it really needs as well is an intriguing plot. Maybe the gears that everyone thinks merely run various aspects of the city, are actually pieces of a bigger cog. A gear slowly winding down to the destruction of the planet like a giant clock at the center of the earth. Maybe they control the opening and closing to the gates of hell? Maybe its alien technology and below ground in the mines, they have enslaved humanity to use them for powering the cogs. Our character on the rooftop may  figured out what’s happening down there and is on a quest to save us all from certain doom. Or they be an advocate for the villains, escaping with plans that will ensure our destruction. Who knows…

A World Built Around The Story

Five years ago I found an image on the internet. A beautiful drawing of a girl with white hair and black vest, grey sweatpants falling down to bare feet. She had white wings. Above her head was a halo… made of barbwire. It’s title: Junk Angel. Once I saw her and the title, a story began to form in my head. The story of a girl who was the Junk Yard Angel.

The first iteration of Junk Yard Angel was about a woman who killed people and turned them into her own mechanical monstrosities.

Later on I began to expand on this story, building the persona of this mysterious woman and trying to find out where exactly she fit in. Thus I had to build a world for herin. I saw junk yards, broken cities, old-school bars and taverns; places where she could find her victims… and they wouldn’t be missed.

What then did it need?

  1. A Kick-ass World: When you have a crazy maybe-half-robot-totally-human-looking girl with a razor wire halo, then her world has to at least reflect that fact. So much so that most of the JYA world has been built around her. When you read the story you will understand just how much.
  2. An Amazing Backstory: Knowing where your character (and sub-characters) come from, help define the places within the world of your story. You consider the environments around the characters and ask how the world would look around them. For instance, I have a character from a country similar to Russia/Serbia where snowfall is a constant. What kind of technology or tools would they use in this environment, and how would it reflect in the story.
  3. Mysterious Magic/Tech System:  On the topic of technology, perhaps your characters have an occupation that requires them to use machinery. Aviator. Solider. Taxi Driver. Doctor. Engineer… and so on. Or perhaps they have a particular ability such as magic or some form of “kinesis”. Perhaps there’s a supernatural element to them.
    Each of these help define the progression and history of the world, affecting how everything looks and works from buildings to locations to attire to religion. The world-building aspect of your story built from both story and characters.

 

What is your writing process when it comes to story-telling. Does your world affect your story or does your story affect your world? Perhaps both? What techniques do you use to define what kind of story you’re going to tell?

New Inspiration: Steampunk Johannesburg

I’ve made a new observation: I’m not observant enough. I spend at least two hours in traffic and apart from the massive billboards vying from my attention, I don’t really look around much. Or I may look at a car but never really my surroundings.

As one who loves nature, I’m far more fascinated with drives down to Durban or Drakensberg, where the concrete towers and varying high walls and buzz of incessant traffic give way to sprawling greenery against a backdrop of harsh, grey mountain dipping its feet in deep-blue tranquil waters. I can watch that all day. How I love that scene. That image.

image of Drakensberg mountain

Image courtesy of: Go Self-Drive Tours

It was only quite recently, following a trip back to the city from nature’s beauty, that I became aware of landscapes around my home-city too. Then during the walk through the Joburg Central Business District (CBD), I started to notice the little things about it. The varying trees growing within the city. The modern buildings directly across their older, derelict kin. The repaired roads running parallel to the new public transport lane of the Rea-Vaya and its co-joined Bus lane. The uneven, mud-caked site populated by squatters and hawkers right beside the refurbished pavement leading towards the Mandela Bridge.

I noticed the cluttered, and varying shops with displays just outside their glass facades, with the door man calling out to us passing by. The street vendors cooking seemingly shady meat on equally-shady grills. Then I noticed the people. Like really noticed the people. All shapes and colours and fashions and styles. A marriage of cultures, languages, people, nations. Truly a rainbow nation.

image: Johannesburg CBD, Mandela Bridge

Johannesburg CBD and the Mandela Bridge

 

Same City. But Different: Egoli – City of Gold

So this new idea I’m rolling with (amongst others, I know, I know) came to me as a series of intermingled thoughts finding connections I hadn’t seen before. They are:

  1. Johannesburg is nicknamed, the City of Gold by miners who worked in the gold mines. e’Goli – where there is gold. I spend a lot of time in these streets. In a car, but… still.
  2. Many of you know I have a love for all things Steampunk. I even started a steampunk tumblr account at one point and I’m still (still) working on my steampunk novel Junk Yard Angel – 5 years strong.
  3. Worldbuilding is one of my favourite activities while I’m driving. Spending too much time in my head thinking of different scenarios. Concepts as trivial as what my first speech will be when I publish my book, to creating whole worlds where the species is telepathic which means we would not be able to hide our thoughts and someone just created a device that stops that from happening and its implications. You know. The usual drivel.

Then came that truly mind-blowing thought: Steampunk Johannesburg made with real gold buildings and political leaders broadcasting their campaigns on airships crossing the city skyline. The air has a constant buzz, not only from the passing pedestrians of every ethnicity, but from the gears that run the city, and the continuing mines constantly searching for the precious metal. Yes. I can see it now.

It’s so beautiful.

image: Johannesburg skyline sunrise

Poetry Update: Word ‘n Sound

We Are Poets?

As you all know, Tuesdays are poetry days. As a surprise I was going to upload a video of Ole from Ole’s Truth performing his poem Hold My Nigga Moment at the Market Theatre this past Saturday. Alas I did not have time to work on the video and fix a sound issue. Instead of doing that, I’ve decided to share with you the experience.

Poetry has always been one of those weird writing styles that I have a love/hate for. I used to do quite a lot of poetry back in the day, performing at Constitutional Hill and Johannesurg Art Gallery. We had a poetry club, printed an anthology, and had meetings. I was part of the “founding” partners of the poetry club. At that point in my life I thought I was a poet, standing up with confidence and a slight ego. I’ve learned now that young Nthato wasn’t a poet – he was a good rhymer with a big head.

image: Dominican Convent School poetry evening. 2015

School poetry evening back in 2005

I stepped back from the scene after that, focusing on writing fiction. I dabbled a bit in poetry but it was only until recently, when fellow writer and good friend Olerato told me he wanted to get involved in poetry, that I dived back in. It was also part of a side writing project I’m working on, and with that in mind I decided to help him. Hence the return of Tuesday poetry as well as all the guest posts.

Part of getting involved included going to poetry sessions and performing poetry in public spaces. So this past Saturday, 3 February 2018, Ole and I went into the heart of Johannesburg. We experienced the crowds. The taxis. The stench. The dichotomy of beautiful skyscrapers and decrepit buildings. The gorgeous Mandela Bridge overlooking the old-but-functioning train track, congested-filthy taxi ranks and the revamped buildings beside the highway.

Our first stop was registering Ole for a Poetry Slam at the Market Theatre. An elegant, revamped building that smelled and shouted “art” and the potential for our city. After that we met other poets who were going to an audition at the Joburg Theatre. Thus began our track through the bustling Joburg streets.

image: view from Joburg Theatre

A view from Joburg Theatre

The audition was part of a poetry programme that would run for the year. Selected poets will attend workshops run by prolific South African poets, will perform poems, and other really amazing opportunities to better their poetry.

This wasn’t something Ole and I were going to do but I convinced him that if I auditioned then he has to, too. Motivation right? So without any preparation, I went into the audition room. It was dark, walls and seats painted black. Spotlights shining onto the stage as an invitation. Three judges sat on a table clothed in black. Two women, one man. Intimidating. I climbed onto the platform and answered the usual drabble “Who are you? Where you from? What do you do?” spiel. Then I performed my poem “Hypocritical”. I think they liked it but they didn’t necessarily like me – something about being too nonchalant. At the same time they seemed persuaded in giving me a chance as I had potential. I’ll only find out at the end of February.

Ole then went in to perform his poetry. They loved him and his performance, though they were a bit apprehensive of his poems (which I think are amazing). He may also be considered for the programme.

Word ‘n Sound

Following our track back, we stepped into the Market Theatre auditorium for Ole’s actual performance. I’d listened to him recite it to me but this was it. The main event. The big stage. Word ‘n Sound is an organisation that hosts poetry sessions, and runs the Poetry League. The event runs on the first Saturday of every month and this year will be its eighth season. There were returning poets and champions, newcomers of every age and location. Pretoria poets even came down.

Not to be biased but I loved Ole’s performance. So dramatic. And the crowd did too. Every time they saw him they would say “That’s a nigga moment.” as reference to his poem. A really enjoyable experience. Of course there were other really amazing poets there to, and some not so great. It was the first show of the year after all, setting the scene for what was to come.

image: Ole performing at the Word 'n Sound poetry league

Ole performing at the Word ‘n Sound poetry league

We even had a surprise guest performance by singer Samthing Soweto who has an incredible voice: https://www.facebook.com/SamthingSoweto/

Where To From Here

On Sunday we went to The Orbit, a jazz lounge. It was open mic session where we were expecting poetry but instead were serenaded by amazing voices and great music. Nonetheless, it was one of those things we will be doing more often. Every first Saturday of the month we’ll be at Word ‘n Sound. We’ll be looking for poetry spots and being intentional about performing our poetry. It’s going to be amazing.

NaNo Kick-Off Party Feedback

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

So this past Saturday, the NaNoWriMo Kick-Off party took place at a chilled cafe in Craighall known as the Cnr Cafe…which is on a corner…and serves caffeinated drinks amongst other things; in other words, the right kind of place to do some writing. Oh and they also have WiFi.

As my first NaNo meet, I was not sure what to expect in terms of the place, the people, the event itself and about myself as a writer. I mean this event is bringing together a tumble of writers from across Joburg to discuss writing. It was a pleasant surprise when everyone was so open and friendly, genuinely interested in each other and what we have to offer. What a wonderful environment to be in!

Chatting books, authors, genre and sharing ideas with fellow writers has a very different feel than when speaking to someone who’s life isn’t defined by those things. It’s a completely different kind of energy that I look forward to feeding off when we start doing the write ins

imageSo this years NaNo theme is Steam Punk and I felt every inch of my nerves freak out at once when realizing that this time my novel was not a Steam Punk novel. Well I still have 11 days to change that but in the mean time I still got lots to plot out. My close friend and fellow writer Tyron from Life In Light of Eternity (we are doing the Auburn series together…remember that? Check the Auburn tag on the side) has been running some ideas to me which I appreciate greatly – he inspires me…literally.

Anyway in the little Goodie bag we received at the Kick-Off party we all received neat little items. A cool little Steam Punk object with square gears! As well as a bronzed key, a notice to warn non-NaNo’s why I’ve suddenly become scarce, other little things.

The best part of the whole experience was the meeting of authors. Such a wide variety of people, personalities and insights. I am truly looking forward to sharing ideas and typing away along side my fellow NaNos.

 

NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

Hey Look! A Community!

Oh but not just any community my friends, a Writers community. No story today, just a heads up for fellow NaNo writers in Joburg, we having a meet up and you will need to RSVP here: http://nanowrimo.org/forums/africa-south-africa-johannesburg/threads/171537

You will, obviously, have to be a NaNo member and participant so why not hit up the community, sign up and crack your knuckles in anticipation of writing a novel in just 30 days.

Details:

Kick Off Party

Saturday October 18th from 17:00 to 21:00 or later

Corner Cafe, cnr Buckingham and Rothesay Avenues, Craighall Park

Please RSVP for this event to confirm space with the venue.

Write-Ins

November 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th also at Corner Cafe. Remember plugs and adaptors in case. There is wifi to back up your precious word count.

Contact Santacruzrulz for details here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/santacruzrulz

 

See ya there!

xolisilesite

Personal blog

The Parisshian Legacy... And other things

Anything my little heart desires

Young Author

With new Ink.

A.A. Frias

Author of fantasy and young adult fiction

Write for the King

The writings of a Christian teen and her publishing journey

The Ruon Chronicles

Website of fantasy author Carin Marais

Trebles On My Mind

A blog about crochet, knitting, and other stuff

Danger Kit

- Poetry -

Thoughts of a Bored Writer

My writing. Mostly.

lou rasmus

DEAD RED FISH - debut novel on Amazon

Melody Chen

Word-Experimentalist

Life

LITERATURE & LIFESTYLE

The tears of chained words

The words left unsaid, pouring out as poetry.

The Official Blog of Horror and Fantasy Writer Lionel Ray Green

"Life is horror and fantasy, not necessarily in that order."

The girl and death

exploring the deep thoughts of my mind

the retrograde blog

a different kind of evolution