Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat – Fortune Favours The Brave
“Mutato nominee de te fabula narratur” [The tale is about you, but the name is changed] – Horace.
“…godlike Shapes and Forms
Excelling Human; princely Dignities,
And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones,
Though of their names in
Heaven records now
Be no memorial…”
Lo, Brother Brad, the medieval scribe-monk who vowed to thwart the onslaught of wraithkynde on Earth hath returned. An irresistible urge to resurrect that accursed entity known as MY NOVEL made a most welcome appearance.
You may recall some time back, when faced with the option of either writing a cosmic adventure, or a medieval mystery, time – and (lack of) energy – might be saved if – yea, ’tis so! – both were combined into one intriguing entity. Initially, a two-part tale appeared on this blog during August 2015.
It became such an immersive joy to compile that the need to write even more of it compelled me to set up a separate blog-site: themedievil.wordpress.com where one could experiment with drafts and the layout of ancient language.
Now, this project is (tentatively) entitled: The Monastikon Chronicles.
“One of my ancestors” – a scribe-monk of no fixed abbey – must carry out the solitary and ungodly task of smiting members of “wraithkynde” – evil extra-terrestrial beings who have crash-landed in 12th century southern England. This dark, archaic science-fantasie, is light years different from the bright, frothy-mirth to be found in my Fartlighter Bradventures.
Is alternating between such diametrically opposed writing styles difficult to maintain?
Not at all! Variety is the spice of Bradscribe! 🙂
One thing is for sure: if and when the movie adaptation finally comes to fruition, the theme “tune” has already been selected: a lilting, evocative chant by Hildegard von Bingen, a German nun from the 12th century – contemporaneous with Brother Brad – whose considerable range of the most extraordinary 900+ year old musical compositions have helped set the tone, and directly influenced, a great deal of The Monastikon’s content.
Atmospheric, sonorous choirs have always had a profound effect on me. And my writing. In addition, dark ambient producer: Metatron Omega has provided me with some truly inspirational pieces, setting the right mood to help me create my own medieval world. These album notes struck a particular chord with me:
“The hermit travels beyond enlightenment, and deep into the perception of the Unknowable.”
Straight away, the parallels can be drawn: unmistakably, that “hermit” is Brother Brad, while his “Unknowable” oppoments are the wraiths: a malevolent race of shapeshifters from beyond the stars… “…and deep into the perception”? i.e. yea, they have been expecting him!
“The everlasting voices of monks lost in space and time, searching for knowledge as they echo through dimensions…”
This soaring masterpiece exceeds even my own stringent Bradtastic expectations:
“Faber est suae quisque fortunae” [Everyone is the architect of their own destiny] – Appius Claudius Caecus.
From the very beginning, it felt imperative that the narrative be related in the first person. As every good writing manual will tell you, the main advantage in selecting first person point of view, is that it provides a sense of immediacy. There is also a degree of intimacy as the reader feels like he/she has direct access to the narrator’s thoughts. And not to mention: a sense of authenticity.
Actually, this approach is a necessary one.
Of the numerous aspects of medieval life gleaned from my extensive research, especially notable was the fact that during the age of the large monastic houses – from the early 12th century (in which my novel is set) until the early 16th century – all brethren were actively encouraged to maintain a vow of silence, at all times, thus seriously hindering any chance of Brother Brad interacting with his fellow monks!
Only the highest echelons of that particular house: the Abbot, the Infirmarer; the Receptor et al offer the inclusion of dialogue in my story.
That is, dialogue with human characters…
Already, drafts of some feisty confrontations with wraithkynde have appeared on my other blog-site. And readers will be interested to know that these otherworldly antagonists are garrulous as well as ghoulish!
Encouragingly, the onset of this winter season presented a fresh chance to get back on track. Driven by the need to revive and rework the considerable backlog of unfinished fiction projects that clutter the draws and bureaus within Brad Manor, some encouraging sections have been developed during this past four months, compared to the last twelve months prior to that. Moreover, that blog platform is an ideal place from which to develop my novel, as each Post represents a passage from this venerable scribe-monk’s journal.
Part of my fascination with Marvel’s The Mighty Thor, stems from the intriguing way in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby accentuated the Lord – sorry! God – of Thunder’s legendary origins by making him speak in a faux-Middle English manner. In the 12th century, if and when anything had to be uttered in monasteries, it would hake been related in either Olde English or Latin. Did have the opportunity in my second year of university to actually study the latter, but, of course, there was no way of knowing back then that such a project as this would come to fruition.
It has been fascinating working Olde English – in particular its extremely antiquated approach to spelling – into my fiction. However, one recent (successful) author of historical fiction: Robyn Young – who concentrates on the Knights Templar during the 14th century – remarked how her anxious agent advised her that readers are generally put off by an overabundance of olde grammar.
Indeed, am very grateful that – a couple of years ago – one of my few readers sent a Comment to let me know that he’d had difficulty following my olde-style composition. Admittedly, this writer went overboard (and enjoyably so) with that particular draft. Despite being prepared to offer a Glossary of Olde English and Latin terms, to ensure publication some significant reductions in olde prose will, inevitably, have to be administered!
As the motto of Augustus – the first Emperor of Rome -advised: “Festina lente!” [Make haste slowly!]
“Try and get a sense of the whole world that you are writing about if there is one location… History [is not] all dates and facts and figures. There [are] all these incredible stories about people and narratives and things that inform us of our families past or our countries past” – Robyn Young.
Of the three simplistic stages of any novel: a beginning, a middle and an end, one is fairly confident to state that at least the first has been set!
Brother Brad witnesses what would, at that point in history, be described as a “falling star.” He realises that it is an “unearthlie vessel” – it changes course in the sky and its speed decreases during its descent…
Having traced its “occupants” (there were at least three wraiths to emerge from it – frustratingly, the exact number is unknown) to the nearest abbey, the course of the novel focuses on Brother Brad’s attempts to deduce which monks are not what they appear to be…
Naturally, the denouement will be determined by what takes place at the core of the novel. Unfortunately, the original premise did not seem credible or plausible; the alternative course of actions impressed me even less. Before you could say: “Carpe diem,” my creative momentum vanished, and although some further effort was put in (by providing more back-story and developing one or two minor characters) you may have noticed that work on my novel ceased completely.
There is another – but more telling – reason why my novel stalled during the middle of last year (and my enthusiasm to write/revise it has suddenly revived). The Monastikon is, essentially, a Winter’s tale. Very much like the infant 20th century Brad many moons ago – who lost count of the days away from school due to one winter snuffle after another – Brother Brad constantly bemoans the wretched weather blighting his sojourn at the abbey. This light relief is further accentuated by the realisation that none of the other monks are not the least bit troubled by the disagreeable climate!
As Ovid once said: “Perfer et obdura!” (Be patient and hold out!)
Know ye this, my blessed band o’ Bradficton buffs!
In addition to new instalments – posted at the end of each month – there are plenty of archived posts where a lack of energy or enthusiasm for creative writing meant that stand-ins consisting of no more than quotes and a music video had to suffice; over the next quarter, my aim is to revise these posts, and hopefully present something worth reading!
It would be very much appreciated if you could pay a visit to the latest instalment here:
Any feedback/criticisms would be most welcome!
Alas, ’tis my task to write these Chronicles.
For you see, the original manuscript, which Brother Brad had so painstakingly laboured over – like so much of the relics and other holy paraphernalia from the Middle Ages – was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries that swept through every region of Tudor England between 1536-1540… …
“I want knowledge! Not faith, not assumptions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand, uncover His face and speak to me” – Antonius Block.