I’m sick as a dog here, but a little good news goes a long way. Last summer, I was busy at work writing Wothwood, a weird fantasy novella for Falstaff Books. The idea came about in conversation with two members of my writing group (and dear friends) Jaym Gates and Michelle Muenzler. What about a shared world novella series? We liked the idea of “broken cities” — abandoned, forgotten, sundered cities — with a good dash of the Weird thrown in.
Wothwood is the product of that idea. Michelle’s novella, The Hills of Meat, the Forest of Bone, just released last week. And while, on first glance, you’d think these novels couldn’t possibly be connected, you’ll find that there are certain… places of overlap.
For me, Wothwood marks a return to my fantasy roots. It had been a very long time since I’d delved into the genre, having been mostly focused on dark fantasy, magical realism, weird westerns, and the like.
And it. Was. A. Blast.
The setting is between Theria — think Mesopotamia if it had reached the levels of Rome–and Brezhia, the neighboring large island recently incorporated into Theria, that’s similar to Gaul in the Roman period. Our three main characters, Glannon, Braig, and Aoda, tell the story of the Therian army’s attempt to pillage Wothwood, the forbidden forest on the island, where the goddess Noduuoret may or may not sleep.
My favorite character is likely Aoda, a half-Brezhian, half-Therian, who grew up in the great city of Yereva, using her mind to rise above her station. But it isn’t always easy for her. Traveling with the army means, well, some serious challenges.
Professor Aoda Kanna was tired of being mistaken for a whore. As part of the Therian company assembled for the purpose of establishing the first settlement inside the borders of Wothwood, the endless forest in the Brezhian territory, she had been selected for her keen intelligence, general knowhow, and excellent survival skills. She had not one, but three university degrees: History, Geology, and Practical Physics. But as she was the lone woman among a throng of men, the assumption of her occupation persisted, regardless of what little village they came across during the trek south. From Muline to West Coru, it was always the same.
It wouldn’t have been so bad save that the assumption was continually showered with adjectives and commentary. It was always the ugly whore. Or the well-used whore. Or the deformed whore.
It was hardest to be reminded of her physical deformities day in and day out. In all truth, being called a whore was no concern to her. Her mother was a whore, after all.
If you want to talk to me more about the novella, be sure to drop by Illogicon next weekend! Hopefully the wretched stomach flu will be gone by then…
Stay tuned for more details about Wothwood and other upcoming publications for 2017. I have a whole post brewing about my newfound love for the novella…
Top image: By rachel_thecat (Beech Wood IV) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons