Today, I am pleased to welcome an author I’ve been trying to get to come over to our tribal grounds for a while. A fellow Fantasy author, William L. Hahn has always offered a kind ear, and some intriguing stories. So when I saw he had a new release, I couldn’t help extending the invitation once again. Here’s here to talk about how he conceived his latest sprawling tale, the Tales of Hope, so do lend a kind ear while I give Will the floor. 🙂
Some of my author colleagues —I think most—are pretty good at outlining their tales. In certain genres I know it’s almost a matter of formula to have a hero, a sidekick, an antagonist, and I enjoy reading those stories very much. My inability to do this is not a virtue. But it’s also not optional. I am a chronicler. Helpless, really, to do anything about what I see except to take it down.
And part of the reason I didn’t try to tell the Tales of Hope for so long is that I couldn’t see where the breaks were. If you woke up one morning after someone had read H.G. Wells’ A Short History of the World to you as you slept that might be something like it. Where to begin? Where to stop?
This week, part four of the story I call Judgement’s Tale comes out, putting roughly half the epic before my readers. It is my first and probably greatest opus, beginning the Age of Adventure in the Lands of Hope after centuries of Peace (or Emptiness, as the stubborn few refer to the previous age). So much changes there in just over a year.
And this book is only half the tale.
But I originally thought it was two.
One side of Judgement’s Tale was well known to me almost from the beginning, and chronicling it brought the same feeling as slipping on those broken-in jeans. Treaman the Woodsman and his party rattled around inside the Percentalion until destiny fell out. Simply seeking adventure, with whatever fame or fortune that brought, was their only goal. The cursed kingdom at the center of the Lands, where the rules of space and time seemed increasingly suspended, formed the perfect excuse to risk their lives and to outrage right-thinking folk in Trainertown on its border with their stubborn propensity for survival.
Treaman learns, a bit, how to navigate the chaos-laden wastelands, and touches wonder when he meets Hallah and becomes her protector. At the end of this current installment Clash of Wills, the outdoorsman from Novar will find himself in more peril than he can handle, and catches a first glimpse of the destiny he’s facing along with his comrades.
All well and good. A great tale if I do say so. Why mess it up?
Problem is, paths entwine in a story as large as this: we’re seating kings, dispelling demons (I should Hope!), in fact ushering in a new age as I said. Everybody is affected (and people being what they are in every world, few of them are pleased). After many years of watching and taking notes, I had to admit that for all the exploits of Treaman and his band, this is Judgement’s Tale.
So back up, rewind and look at the first day this remarkable youth stepped onto the Lands at age fifteen, when he was simply:
- Games of Chance page 1
Solemn Judgement, known and disliked around the Lands as The Man in Grey, is hundreds of miles away, alone, orphaned, and studying as the adventurers are pursuing their craft. The driven, serious fellow bears a terrible sense of purpose as he tries to unlock the reason he is here, what he should do in his adopted country. His powers remain unknown to everyone and most of all himself, but what he does learn in the Sages Guild of the City of Wonders carries him to the heart of the threat facing people he has never met, and indeed all the Children of Hope.
Neither hero sees himself as one; Judgement and Treaman simply work hard at the job before them. Each comes with a supporting roster of friends, rivals, acquaintances, not only doubling the size of the cast but in many cases refusing to stay where they were put. Natasha is a motherly tutor to start, a powerful healer with an adventurous past, and finally reveals herself as one of the most important persons born in the century. Haltar is the party leader who never quite fits the role. And Cedrith: what will history make of this kind, fearful but so solidly decent Elf in years to come? A noble knight who refuses to marry, a scribe’s assistant who cannot stay at home. Everywhere I looked I saw the outline-writer’s equivalent of a giant mess. Like my room in high school, nothing was where it belonged. As I turned to this tale, step one was to admit it was twice the size it “should” be. And to chronicle it anyway.
Step two was to ignore the “you can’t” voices, which in the end all came from inside my head. As my lovely wife put it so eloquently, “what do you mean, in high school?”. I’ll be a hundred and thirty-seven years old before the mess takes care of itself. I admitted what the tale was, took in both heroes, and started to show readers what I was seeing back in 2009. The tale is lovingly polished, grows to a good climax, and most importantly, it continues.
I wouldn’t flatter myself that I have any great advice for other, real authors out there. It’s another case for the Never Give Up files, I suppose: writing Judgement’s Tale got me started in my vocation to chronicle the Lands of Hope, and knowing this novel was in the trunk carried me through the other tales, in the southern empire at a later date, which have also been published since. In them, you hear of how much the world has altered, and Treaman is still adventuring, Judgement still wandering. Now you’ll see why. More often than not, they make a mess. But they never give up. And the tale continues.
(Judgement’s Tale part 4) is available for preorder and comes out May 1st 2015.
Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.
Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.
Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). His current epic is Judgement’s Tale; parts one and two, Games of Chance and Strength of Conviction came out in 2014 and part three, Reunion of Souls is available starting December 26th.
Will’s Weirdly Whimsical Website is where he posts news about upcoming releases and blogs about writing, classic fantasy works you’ve never read and the unique photo-based series “It Figures”.
The Lands of Hope Facebook page contains a chronology of the Lands.
Will’s Tales of Hope are available at many online retailers:
Thank you for that glimpse into Judgement and Treaman’s lives, Will! I hope our readers will find the story intriguing. I know I’ve enjoyed it. My review (s) will be coming soon. Until then, folks, do check out Clash of Wills.