Now that the days grow colder, the nights lengthen, and the Earth grays my creative impulses grow great indeed.
Not only have I recently done some superb research that should further enrich the plot to my High Fantasy novels (The Other World) considerably, but today while at the library I decided to do something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid (teenager actually) – I am going to write a Conan story. Based upon Robert E Howard’s Conan character.
When I was a teen every year, during the Autumn and Winter, I would read certain material, such as Conan stories and the horror stories of HP Lovecraft. Today while searching for my typical Autumn fare of Howard and Lovecraft stories (and long ago I had read them all, still I re-read them most every year for the atmosphere they evoke in my mind and imagination during these seasons) I said to myself, “Well, hell, you’ve read them all, why not just finally write one?”
Not having a decent counterargument I told myself I would finally do just that. So all afternoon I have been devising a plot, a very good one in my opinion, for this story. I have it fairly well sketched out already in my imagination and I shall call it, The Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha. I have not yet decided however whether to write it as a straight forward Howard-type Conan story, or, whether to write it as if it were part of a Nordic prose saga. I may even write it as if it were a Skaldic poem recounting Conan’s encounter with Tôl Karuţha during his “War against the Ancient Dead” (the Cold-Ghost War). In that case I will call it Tôl Karuţha Edá.
This is told during a time period when Conan is in his early thirties and soon to be a tribal chieftain but before he ever becomes a king.
I am currently toying with all three versions of the tale, maybe even writing one prose version (of whatever kind) and one Skaldic version (for retelling at court).
In either case I will post the story here, to Wyrdwend, in its entirety when completed. Though I may have to serialize it in part depending upon how lengthy it becomes.
I shall also soon (within the next couple of weeks, or possibly earlier) start to serialize my Ancient of Days fantasy stories (similar in some ways to what might be called Swords and Sorcery fantasy tales, but more mythological in nature). These will be the tales that revolve around the character Solimar.
Also while at the library today I coincidentally (if you believe in that kind of thing) ran across several books on Fairy Tales and Folk Tales and Fables. Adjacent to a section I was browsing on history. One was a thick old book on Russian Fairy Tales (mostly weird and horrific ones) collected by Aleksander Afanasev. I got it immediately because it had several stories about Baba Yaga (or Babayaga if you prefer).
I have also been fascinated by Baba Yaga since I was a teen. For those who are unfamiliar with Baba Yaga she was an apparently ancient, cannibalistic witch, perhaps of Russian origin, perhaps of non-Russian or Slavic origins, who was possessed of weird powers, lived in an enchanted, mobile home (her home could magically move about if she wished), was terrifying in appearance and was greatly feared by the Russians and Russian children.
Back then I read stories of Baba Yaga (being first introduced to her by a set of obscure references in Gary Gygax’s Advanced D&D books) as I could find them. They fascinated me, though at first I couldn’t say why.
Only later, in my twenties, did I begin to realize that she was, in fact, one of the first modern-era references in Folk literature to what was obviously a serial killer. In this specific case primarily a cannibalistic pedophilic serial killer who liked to keep trophies from her victims and eat them after she had used them for whatever purposes pleased her best at the moment. As a matter of fact only after I began to hunt killers myself did I fully realize just how much of a true pre-cursor Baba Yaga was to many modern serial killers, or at least to the most depraved of modern serial killers. She was in fact a sort archetypal Folk Lore version profile of a typical highly-organized, trophy-keeping, cannibalistic serial killer. For that reason alone (although she was possessed of many other odd and unusual capabilities and traits) she has fascinated me ever since I read my first tale of her.
She would lure her victims, primarily children, to an isolated locale with which she was familiar and in which she could operate easily and without fear of being either discovered or interfered with, enchant or drug or incapacitate her victims, abduct them, and then use them as she pleased (usually involving some type of torture or imprisonment) until she murdered them and ate the corpses. Thereafter she would often keep trophies of her victims.
Those who wrote these tales would not have described her in those terms obviously (as a serial killer – though I seriously doubt that I am the first modern person to develop the theory that Baba Yaga was a serial killer) but in fact that was what she was. Or that is what these tales of her were describing at least. And I suspect that these tales were in fact nothing but a very early recounting of one or more individuals (probably female, but maybe a male disguising himself as female, or even possibly a team of killers – the Three Sisters) who were so crafty and so good at their murderous work that their killings seemed almost supernatural to those recounting their exploits. (And they were maliciously exploiting others.)
To tell you the truth I have myself long considered writing my own set of Baba Yaga stories aimed at youth (say between the ages of 8 and 14 to perhaps even 16 years old) which would contain a twist. Yes, Baba Yaga would still be a supernatural witch, she would have a male assistant or slave to help her lure, abduct, and try to kill and cannibalize her victims, yes her victims would still be exposed to horrific and bizarre events and dangers (some natural, some supernatural) but in each story the intended victims would either defeat her plans, thwart their own murders, rescue others, or escape to tell their tale.
The reason being that each tale will be a coded-story designed to train children against the typical lures and tactics employed by serial killers and other criminals who like to trick and abduct children (extortionists, hostage takers, those involved in the sex slave, child gang runners, warlords, etc.). At the end of each story I will review how the children escaped or avoided capture by the witch and what any child could do to successfully augment and practice their own personal security awareness and to increase their odds of survival and escape if they were to ever be abducted.
So yes, I will approach the tales as children’s folk and horror fiction tales but each tale will have encoded in it avoidance, escape, and evasion security and survival methods embedded within the plot.
After reading these new Russian folk tales I may then start writing my Baba Yaga stories.
For now though I will continue to work on my novel and short stories and preparing one of my non-fiction books for publication.
But I am very much looking forward to writing the things I just discussed in the post above. Starting tomorrow.
Good night folks.