Kia ora koutou katoa, e hoa ma! After two+ years of simply being called 'NO MORE HEROES 2', I'm very happy to be finally bringing you both the title and cover of the second instalment to the Vigverse! So without further ado, as a reverse birthday present from me to you, may I present...
So far, the Kraken Collective Anniversary Event has been proving itself a great way for people to learn about some of the awesome independent queer writers out there! My experience has been no different, and recently I had the pleasure of being able to chat with the lovely B.R. Sanders, about their latest instalment in the Aerdhverse series, Extraction.
Check out the interview below, have a watch of the book trailer at the bottom of the post, and make sure to get yourself a copy of Extraction! Excellent queer high fantasy awaits you...
About EXTRACTION: A Tale of Rebellion #1
Hi BR! It's great to have you here today. Tell us about yourself and your work!
Hi! Thanks for having me! My name is B R Sanders, and I’m a genderqueer fantasy writer. I write sci-fi sometimes, too, but mostly fantasy. I live in Denver with my family and two cats. My stories and books tend to be very character focused. In my work, I try to create the kind of stories that I wish I’d had when I was coming to know myself—stories where being queer and trans is normal and ok, or if oppression still exists along those lines, stories where queer and trans people are surviving and thriving anyway.
Can you tell us a little bit about Extraction and where it fits into the Resistance universe?
Yes! I have three novels out in the Aerdh universe, and I have a handy reading guide up on my website here. The three novels are Extraction, Resistance, and Ariah. Chronologically, Resistance happens first, and Extraction broadens some of the threads that started in that book. A couple of the characters readers meet in Resistance get their own story in Extraction. Ariah takes place several decades after Extraction, and closes some of the loops in that story, but really Ariah is a completely different narrative.
What was it like working with a new cast of characters in a familiar world and setting?
By now, they don’t feel like a new cast. They feel like old friends. But it is something that I really love doing, because as much as I really enjoy worldbuilding, I find that it doesn’t really crystallize until you throw characters in the mix. They also help me find new corners of a familiar landscape.
You’ve chosen to highlight Rethnali for this event, but Extraction deals with a number of primary characters. Which character in the Extraction cast do you identify with the most?
Rethnali carries the main narrative thread in Extraction, and she is the POV character who stays consistent throughout the subsequent books. But you’re right that there are multiple POV characters in Extraction! The other two POV characters are also queer. There’s Sellior, the group’s medic, and there’s Vathorem, Rethnali’s second in command who learns some really important things about himself over the course of the book. I identify most with Vathorem. His struggles around others and his constant feelings of overwhelm are very much my own.
On the flipside, which character do you identify with the least/is the hardest to write?
That’s a hard one! I think Sellior might be the character who is least like me. He is just a very different person than me. My characters usually have a core element to their personalities that I can connect to. For Rethnali, who is way more of a go-getter than I am, its her righteous anger. For Vathorem, its his deep knowledge that something about the way his brain works is different than other people. For Sellior…it was not easy to establish that with Sellior. But he has a deep, if brittle, well of kindness I can relate to.
What are some of your strongest influences when it comes to writing epic fantasy?
RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin! She was a massive influence on me. Herman Melville is another really big influence on my writing—the way he created microcosms, like on ships, to really zero in on the dynamics od a small group of people shows up over and over again in my own writing. I also really love the fierce quietness of Sofia Samatar’s writing, and how her stories give voice to the voiceless.
Can you give us an idea of what’s in store for fans and future readers of your work?
Extraction is the first volume in the A Tale of Rebellion series. I’ve scoped out three more books after this one, and I’m really excited about them! Pirates are going to show up. A teaser chapter of the second book in the series, The Incoming Tide, will be available to my Patreon subscribers for those who are interested! Folks can check that out here.
Edited by Michelle Kan
Ka mau te wehi – the #KrakenFriends2018 event is finally here! Independent publishing alliance The Kraken Collective is nearly a year old – and to celebrate they're holding a weeklong festival on Twitter celebrating some queer books by indie authors! There'll be author and book features, excerpts galore, and even an online personality quiz!
As part of the event, I have the pleasure to announce that No More Heroes has been invited to join the likes of 18 other superb indie SFF titles, and will be on sale for 99c on Kindle and Gumroad. Brave new characters and bright new worlds await you, so make sure to nab yourself a title while you can!
You can also find out which of our queer heroes you are by taking part in the Kraken SFF Personality Quiz! If you prove yourself a likeminded character, one of the No More Heroes crew may even reveal themselves to you...!
For this event I'll also have the privilege of spotlighting BR Sanders and their latest Aerdhverse instalment, Extraction, released last November – so keep an eye out for some very cool and special features coming very soon!
Happy Birthday, Kraken Collective – congratulations on your one year anniversary, and may you continue to bring us even more excellent indie specfic for many years to come. 😊
Make sure you follow @KrakenColl and the #KrakenFriends2018 tag on Twitter for all the latest happenings. To find out more on the event, check out the official Kraken press release here!
Many of the characters I write tend to be ace/aro by unconscious default. This was true even before asexual and aromantic were words in my vocabulary! Although not yet explicitly stated in-text, No More Heroes follows in this same vein, with many of the cast being somewhere on the ace/aro spectrums – so for #AsexualAwarenessWeek I released a tweet+graphic each day specifying some of the orientations of the Ace VIgilantes amongst the crew. Check it out!
Clare, aka AURAE. Asexual/aromantic.
Quick wits & fast feet. bright & bubbly, Has a lot of love in her heart.
Linus, aka EIDOLON. Grey ace maybe/bi???romantic (a questioning boy).
Proud Samoan. Compassionate, sweet & intuitive.
Fang, aka RESONANCE. Asexual/greyromantic.
Cool & confident. Small but strong, a capable & adaptable Vigilante.
Joshua, aka REHUA. Grey ace/grey+panromantic.
Has a heart of gold. Gentle & warm, a strong & dependable guardian.
Shaan, aka ARTIFICE. Asexual/demi+homoromantic.
Calm & collected. Charismatic & intelligent, but difficult to read.
Faye, aka FARADAY. Demisexual/biromantic.
Sharp tongue & sweet laughter. Quick wit & charm, but deadly to oppose.
Find out more about the Vigilante universe
Get your copy of No More Heroes today!
Woohoo! As always, it's available for both Kindle and ePub and comes with some bonus digital wallpapers, just for you. Check it out!
For Māori Language Week this year, I decided to do something a little different and translate some of the key aspects of No More Heroes into Te Reo Māori. I shared one for every day of the week, focusing on some of the unique concepts, characters and locales of my little universe.
Big thanks to Kia and Indya for looking over my translations for me and generally being awesome human beings. Koia kei a kātoa!
Find out more about the Vigilante universe
Get your copy of No More Heroes today!
It was a cool night of a warm day in the heart of the City.
The breeze was light, the ever-present night fog swirling thinly along the footpath, carrying a diffused echo of the streetlamps and shop neons above in its ghostly cotton curls. The sky above was clear and cloudless, the Milky Way and its denizens bright and beautiful, and the sweet sound of crickets could be heard in the air.
In other words, it was a Perfect Night – but on this night of all nights it was especially perfect.
For a limited time, the NO MORE HEROES eBook is available on Kindle for only $0.99USD! If you've been waiting for an opportunity to get it, now's your chance! Come on and join the fray!
Since the start of the year I've been pretty consistently spending most of my evenings working on the draft of NO MORE HEROES 2. Technically this is my second pass at it – I initially started during NaNoWriMo 2015, but there were a lot of holes, I didn't finish it, and I was never super happy with what I had, even though I did hit 50K.
I took a well-needed break after NaNo ended before coming back to the basics in July 2016 and wrestling the entire outline into something more unique, interesting, and just generally solid – a process which I only really finished in January of this year, when I started writing again! Overall, things have been pretty good so far – I've made some good progress, as demonstrated below:
First three chapters of NO MORE HEROES: 12,905 words
First three chapters of NO MORE HEROES 2 draft v1 (so far): 17,239 words
Pretty exciting! NO MORE HEROES is technically classified as a short novel, but who knows, maybe I'll hit novel-novel length this time. I'm feeling so much better about the story since I took the time to rework everything, and I'm actually looking forward to everything I've got planned, which makes a nice change from the dread and despair I often experienced during my first attempt. I'm especially looking forward to introducing some new characters in this next instalment of the NO MORE HEROES saga, all of who will help make my character cast even more diverse!
NO MORE HEROES is the first long-form story that I've actually committed to, and the Vigilante universe is a place which I'm hoping I can make as colourful and inclusive as possible. Half of the cast in NO MORE HEROES are characters of colour and/or on the rainbow spectrum in some way*, and additionally (although, I admit, not all explicitly – I'm working on that part) several of the cast have disabilities such as ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety disorder or depression.
One character in particular holds an especially important place in my heart for many reasons. Fang (aka Resonance) is one of the secondary cast members of NO MORE HEROES – a quick-thinking, quick-footed Vigilante who is adept at parkour and more than skilled at holding her own in a fight. She also happens to be a character of Cantonese Chinese descent, is quite comfortably genderfluid, sits on the asexual/aromantic spectrums, and suffers from an anxiety disorder.
The fact that she exists as a real character in a real book now – even if she was my creation – makes me incredibly happy. She's the kind of character I wish I could have seen in books when I was growing up – I was a voracious reader as a kid, but I could count the number of books I read with Chinese characters in them on one hand. Fortunately, with the rise of indie authors and structures such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, it's possible for me now to see such characters in fiction, and that's rad!
With the writing of NO MORE HEROES 2 now well on its way, I'm very much looking forward to introducing a few more cool cats into the Vigilante family, some of whom have disabilities of either the auditory, visual or physical variety. Plans for the third instalment include the re-introduction of a character with depression, as well as the formal introduction of another non-binary character, and a hijabi Vigilante! As in NO MORE HEROES, many of these new cast members will be either characters of colour and/or sit on the rainbow spectrum in some way – but that goes without saying, really!
As always, all will have their time in the fighty spotlight, and I'm really looking forward to being able to write for these new characters. One of my absolute favourite parts of character creation (at least, for this series) is deciding how each character speaks, moves and/or fights, and how their background and/or physicality influences their style. Call it Diversity in Motion – it's an important concept to me, and something I'd love to see more of in visual martial-arts or action-based media, to be honest! Is the character defensive, offensive or deflective? Are they swift, tank or adaptive?
So far I've included characters who practice parkour and/or freerunning (each with their own flavours of flow), kickboxing, Muay Thai, capoeira and rope dart – as well as some good ol' fashioned street fighting and fake-it-'til-you-make-it gusto. Movement disciplines are a big part of what influences me in the continued creation of the Vigilante universe and its inhabitants (as well as music, graphic novels and video games), and the prospect of being able to expand on this is super exciting and rewarding for me.
Commitments pending, I'm hoping to be able to publish NO MORE HEROES 2 sometime later this year, or the beginning of next. Life as an independent/freelance filmmaker and videographer can be pretty wild though, so who knows! Stay tuned for more as it comes, folks.
If you haven't read NO MORE HEROES yet but would like to dive into the Vigilante universe before the next instalment is released, you can get physical or eBook editions either via the Gumroad or on Amazon. For those of you who have enjoyed my work so far and would like to help support me, I recently set up a Ko-Fi page where you can show your appreciation by buying me a coffee!
Now, it's back to writing for me. I'll chat to you all later! : )
*To name a few ethnicities – there are characters of Greek, Samoan and Dutch descent, as well as Chinese, Maori, Indian, Kazakh/Polish, and Cambodian/Vietnamese. Not all of these are explicit, but may become so in time with the establishing of surnames and/or revealing of backgrounds.
In terms of gender identity, there are non-binary/trans characters (one of whom has been formally established, the other who is yet to be established), and one questioning character whose questioning I haven't formally addressed yet, but am wanting to explore.
Regarding sexuality, I'll be honest – by unconscious/automatic default, every character I create ends up either asexual and/or aromantic unless otherwise suggested or specified. If you wanted to read through the entirety of NO MORE HEROES under that assumption, feel free! In a way, you wouldn't be wrong. Otherwise, there are several characters who are gay/lesbian or bi.
Hey, friends! Guess what? It's October, which means we're officially one month closer to National Novel Writing Month 2016 and it's time to start planning! Woo!
Some of you may or may not already know that No More Heroes started off as a pretty straightforward WriMo venture back in 2014. It was my first Nano and I was inspired to participate in part due to my friend Saf of Not Saf for Work – more specifically, I was spurred by my desire to write some more fun, action-oriented long-form fiction, following my experience doing a short, chaptered 'companion' story which was based off a superhero-themed WriMo Saf wrote way back in the day. Prior to No More Heroes I spent a great deal of time writing mostly one-off short stories which were stylistically very different to how No More Heroes ended up being!
For my first NaNo ever, I'm pleased to say I did pretty darn well! I was motivated and full of ideas and ended up hitting the quarter mark less than a week in, smashing the 50K goal in about 20 days, and finishing off the month with more than 62K under my belt. Sure puts the 8K postgrad thesis I took eight months to write into perspective, haha. Due to some of the rad winners' perks for that year I was encouraged to self-publish No More Heroes on CreateSpace, effectively making me the published author that I always wanted to be as a teenager.
However, even though I was brimming with inspiration, I definitely wouldn't have been as onto it as I was if I hadn't been prepared in advance. So for this blog post, I'm going to share three simple but helpful tricks that helped me get through my first (and second) NaNoWriMo/s. I know that planning is often a case of 'different strokes for different folks', but for those of you that do benefit from a little structure like myself (even though we might like to see ourselves as being improvisational and spontaneous), this list might be helpful for you! So without further ado...
1. Get To Know Your Characters
I wrote a blog post a while ago called Three Quick Ways to Establish and Flesh Out Your Characters, which was – you guessed it – a little list of my favourite three tricks on character creation and development. If you haven't checked it out, give it a read! You might find something useful to you. This might seem like a really basic and obvious first point, but it's worth reiterating, especially when it comes to writing your character/s into situations of conflict, or scenarios where their flaws or vulnerabilities might make themselves apparent.
Beyond just knowing things like their primary characteristics, friends/enemies, likes/dislikes or fears, ask yourself questions like: what fundamental 'rules' does this character follow (ie. moral code)? How does this character react to stress? How do they behave when faced with a task or situation they might not be equipped to or want to handle? Once you have a good grasp on a character's behaviour patterns, it becomes a lot easier to both know what obstacles to throw them, as well as understand how they might (or might not) overcome them.
2. Understand the Rules of your World
If you've ever been a DnD Dungeon Master or participated in a DnD campaign, you'll probably be familiar with this process. This will be a different experience for everyone. No More Heroes, an urban fantasy, was initially pretty close to the 'real world' as we know it, at least when it came to setting. As I continued to develop the lore behind my main mechanics though, the setting (and thus the rules) of the world shifted further and further into unknown territory, resulting in the substantially more unique universe that I ended up with in the final novel. I wrote a lot of notes on the "science" behind Abilities during my planning phase – science which I never really got into elucidating during the course of book, but which I'm hoping to be able to explore more in future stories in the Vigilante universe.
By the way, by 'rules' I mean questions like 'what kind of influence does the setting have over your characters' and 'what kind of influence do your characters wield over their environment'. Is the core conflict of your story Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Self, or something else entirely? I usually default to Man vs Man, but depending on where your novel sits on the reality/fantasy spectrum, you'll have your own particulars to consider in terms of what makes your setting work for your story. By understanding your world and the rules it follows, you can play with the challenges or advantages it presents your characters, and what kind of physical, mental or societal limitations exist.
3. Find Your Beats/The Three Act Narrative Structure
I'm going to admit up front that I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the ol' Three Act Narrative Structure. On the one hand, I hate the idea that all stories must follow a three act structure to be "good", because that's just not true. On the other hand, I really enjoy the substance that planning to the three act structure gives my long-form work, and knowing all my major turning points in advance really helps me pace out my story before November even starts. Gah!
But for real, the three act structure has been incredibly helpful for me. Being able to have a reference for which beats I should have where has allowed me to learn how to space out the events of my story and how to arrange them to work up to the pivotal climax of my novel. I have a specific fifteen-beat outline that I follow within the three act structure, which is a hybrid of an elaboration on the three act structure with a version of the Hero's Journey. After I've figured out what's happening and when, I separate my outline into chapters, which makes my workload a lot easier to parse. Also, it's really fun coming up with chapter titles.
And there they are. To be honest, these are all pretty simple points – not very groundbreaking or revolutionary at all! But all these plus ample advance planning time really do make a world of difference when it comes to a venture like NaNoWriMo. And of course, your story, your characters and your world rules may well change during the course of your writing – they certainly did for me, with some big ol' plot revelations and new ideas only dawning on me halfway during the month. But having a structure you can work off and pre-establishing even some of the above can really make for a much smoother ride all around, especially when time is not on your side.
If you have your own methods you like to employ when it comes to story planning, leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear about it. And as always, if you'd like to see the fruits of my labour, you can get your own physical or digital edition of No More Heroes from Amazon or Kobo. In the meantime, all the best to all your NaNo'ers, old-hands and novices alike, and I hope you all have a good October and a productive NaNoWriMo to come! : )
No More Heroes
An Action/Adventure YA novel. Vigilante action, rad fights & a mystery to be solved. Care to join the fray?
Michelle Kan is a filmmaker, videographer and writer based in Wellington, New Zealand.