Since creation, humankind has promptly freaked out over three big truths: the existence of the omnipresent Writer, the World apparently being a massive hibernating lifeform, and the roving voice in the sky, known as the Narrator, solely existing to entertain the other gods at humanity’s expense.
Long after the acceptance of these big truths, the Narrator’s newest adventurer has incidentally altered fate.
It all begins with Horluf, a homeless man in a big city who has a chance at turning his life around. When the unexpected happens, the Narrator’s all-knowing knowledge falters, and more adventurers figuratively tie themselves into the tale at hand. There’s Dun, who owes a hefty sum to a mobster; Sinclair, the loyal mute with brave intentions; John Carl, a theatrically-merry debt collector; and an impossible “metal man,” who actually isn’t so much more absurd than the otherworldly servant with a slight memory problem.
Their quest: to reluctantly seek out a purportedly haunted treasure with a rather peculiar past. All the while, the Narrator must make do with a story that continuously strays further and further away from what was ever intended.
A Narrator’s Tale: The Dubious Efforts of Poor Men is the first comic fantasy novel in its series. If you’re a fan of grand adventures, absurd humor, and a consistently broken fourth wall, this is for you.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
There are a number of things that inspired this book, but the first of those many things was Terry Pratchett's absurd Discworld setting, which was the flint and tinder to my own absurd playground.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Before this book was anything at all, it was a list of extraordinarily different characters. I purposely devised the idea, right out of the gate, that the main protagonists would be bizarre and contrasting. (As for how each individual character was inspired, well, that would be a rather long explanation dipping into "spoiler" territory.)
I placed myself back on scene, just in time to see the lofty clouds in the east burn with a growing radiance. A distant wind pushed at their billowy forms, parting them for the sun’s sweet arrival. That heavenly light glistened on the horizon in the brief moment it spent there before it ascended in the graceful way it always did. Bright, happy rays were cast down onto the land, rising the heads of sleeping flowers and awaking the birds in the trees and the deer in the fields. Chipmunks climbed from their burrows and a rooster found his voice. All of nature began to sing its songs as the day began. It was like a renewal. Over grassy hills sparkling with dew, small pockets of ponds and shallow streams came alive, reflecting the light back up as a way of saying, “Thank you, o’ kind sun. But I do not need all of this light just yet. You may have some for yourself. We wouldn’t want you to get cold, you know.”
“That was corny as hell,” muttered a woman contemptuously. “Rubbish, all of it.”
The angered, tired voice belonged to our adventurer, Sheila, walking up the hillside below. It was a steep climb but one she took almost every day to reach the river from her village. In her arms was her wicker basket, filled with dirty clothes awaiting their much-needed wash. While the climb exhausted her in her old age, she tried not to think of—
“Can it!” yelled Sheila up to the sky in between breaths.
Sheila was ornery this morning. Perhaps it was because of her sick daughter she had tended to all night, or perhaps it was due to her negligent partner-of-a-husband, Ned. Ned never did help Sheila with much. All Ned was concerned with was his trusty whiskey bottle and—
“I mean it, you parasite! Bugger off and annoy someone else!”
Slightly hurt by Sheila’s rude comment, I decided to remind Sheila that she was breaking one of the most sacred of the Unwritten Laws by acknowledging me.
“Screw you, your worthless Laws, and the Writer!”
Well, then…Sheila was a bit more peeved than previously thought, wasn’t she? Insulting the Writer was really not the best thing for her to do. It was basically a step away from insulting the holy Readers. And that sort of insolence would assuredly—
“Screw the Readers too! ‘Holy’ my ass.”
Oh, my. That’s no good. So many Unwritten Laws had just been broken. In the past, such forms of unwarranted audacity had resulted in the Writer Himself heavily impairing adventurers to the point where they were thereafter strangely comparable to vegetables. I couldn’t image how such a fate couldn’t be avoided now that—
“You’re really just going to keep going? Seriously? You’re annoying the life out of me! Don’t you know that? I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve restarting this whole production just in this week.”
Eighteen, technically. However, considering how abrupt intros six through ten were, and how choppy twelve through fourteen turned out, I really didn’t care to count—
“Shut up, shut up, shut up! I can’t get a moment’s peace anymore. It’s utterly irritating! I wish you had a body and a face so I could slap some damn decency into you.”
Cursing under her breath, Sheila turned her attention back to the hill, unappreciative of the creative strain on my part in trying to develop the best possible introduction for her. I thought there was some real progress happening this time up until things had gone sour. I had even created a “Prologue.” I considered starting anew, yet again, but I figured that her emotions would only worsen. Perhaps it was only best to simply stick with what I had in an attempt to make the most of it.
So, that’s what I did.
Sheila’s breathing was now taking on a slight wheeze, very likely due to her swelling temper. Though she clearly loathed the day at hand already, she did not know that it was about to get much worse when a surprising encounter with a rather deep muddy puddle would—
“Honestly now!” Sheila threw the basket of clothes to her feet with no regard for the budding daisy caught beneath. “There’s a billion other people around! Get lost!”
Our adventurer stooped down and began to ferociously whip the fallen garments into her wicker basket, muttering phrases of such foulness as she did so. Most, if not all, were directed at me. Taking the hint once and for all, I left Sheila to do her work on that hill—and to worry about the muddy puddle yet to come. Although, considering her recent outbursts, mud was not likely to be the worst of what she’d soon face.
Near the base of the hill, the attention of Sheila’s neighbors and friends from the village had been gained, which wasn’t all that surprising considering that even the hard-of-hearing could have likely been drawn out by Sheila’s latest levels of volume. I decided to look for a more cheery companion amongst those faces in the village, preferably one filled with a great deal of humility. I needed someone to calm the rattled nerves of my great mind. Unfortunately, I quickly remembered that there was no such soul in the place before me. As the men and woman awoke, I began to remember that this particular village, with its dirt streets and tiny thatch-roofed homes, was filled with nothing but farmers akin to moderately clean vagabonds.
“Oi!” shouted a perturbed man from below with a furrowed brow.
My wondrous voice had apparently insulted the man. A small crowd gathered. None seemed too pleased by my divine presence.
“Divine?” A child peeked her head out from an open window. “You’re only a lesser god, you trashy louse!”
My, what a temper. There was no doubt that she must have been Sheila’s child. Only Sheila could’ve educated young minds so well on the art of unruly language and their verbally abusive uses. Even more shocking, everyone kept breaking the most sacred of the Unwritten Laws by directing their disdain at me.
After a minute of enduring the rude words and angered faces, I realized that I was to find no humility-filled adventurer in such a downtrodden town, so I decided I would leave the place entirely.
Ignoring the sudden cheers of vulgar tongues that came from below, all seemingly following my announcement with some degree of triumph, I focused my mind on what I needed. First of all, I needed the setting to be right. And what was “right” was not the small, dreary places I had occupied for the last several months. I needed a grand city, filled with the rich, the poor, the famous, the crestfallen, the honorable, and the loathed. Fortunately, with my sublime and vast knowledge of everything that was anything, I knew of just the place.
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