Sunday, November 3, 2019

#95 Inside the Emotion of Fiction: "DEATH & DUST: THE PALE SAND ADVENTURES" by Jay Requard

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****Jay Requard’s DEATH & DUST: THE PALE SAND ADVENTURES is #95 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece.  (Right:  Jay Requard in September of 2019)

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The work is entitled Death & Dust: The Pale Sand Adventures, though originally the book was simply going to be titled The Pale Sand Adventures before I realized the name itself was a bit flat for what I’m trying to present.

Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long? I primarily write Fantasy, though I will be releasing my first Urban Fantasy series through Falstaff Books within the next year. For this release I would classify it as Dark Fantasy/Horror, as it takes bleaker edge when it comes to the characters.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? The first two parts of this book, The Chase and Ghosts and Sands, were originally released as individual short stories appearing in two paired anthologies, and the third was written with the idea from the publisher that a third anthology might be produced. When that didn’t happen, which happens in publishing and the creative business, I decided to build an arc for the last three parts and release it through Lookfar, which is my independent Fantasy publisher.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? That’s a story. I came up with Conjer, the revenant anti-hero (undead bounty hunter, for those at home) sometime in the summer of 2010 and produced a few drafts that captured the character but had little in the way of story. It was not until I was prompted by an open call to write a story “from the villain’s perspective” that I found a plot and narrative to fit my main character. That story was published in 2014, and I finished the last story in December of 2018.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? This is my “corner office” in my home in New York. It triples as both my writing space, a mini-sacred space (which is mostly packed away in this photo), and my art station (I paint—I won’t say if I paint well or not, but I do paint.) The desk I bought off Amazon for while I was living in Colorado, and I think I got the picnic table/art-stand from there, too. I spend a lot of time in this corner when I’m doing the actual work of writing, though most of my outlining takes place away from this space.

        I put some posters on the walls from two of my favorite artists, Justin Gerard ( and Tom Fleming ( The photos are from my first trip to Ireland which I was lucky to keep as the others were lost in a fire. The two pieces of paper with the scratches on them are the 150 works I have ideas for. I’m happy to say I’m making good headway.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I write directly on a laptop, and many years ago I transitioned to doing most of my rough drafting and initial editing on Scrivener, which is a good app to write on if it suits you. Outside of writing the manuscript directly on my laptop, I use a lot of digital sticky notes and I write in three different notebooks where I do most of my outlining, sketching, and catalogue certain ideas or topics I want to revisit later in other stories.

Death & Dust is hugely influenced by the heavy metal band DevilDriver ( Pray for Villains was the album that inspired Conjer and Emma, and I don’t think this saga would have been discovered if that band wasn’t as important to my storytelling as they are.

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? Death rides on her order and follows his swing…

From the deserts of Hell’s Skin rises two of the greatest evils, staining the sand with blood and fear.

Conjer, a revenant born of sin and spells, is cursed to swing his machete for the dark forces that stitched his horrid body together. Emma, a vampire of insatiable hunger, prowls the night in search of power. Together they are corruption embodied.

But what happens when terrors come out of the desert that are worse than them?

Walk the line between passion and depravity as two of the darkest villains ever to oppress the wastes hunt down insane sorcerers, bloodsucking barons, violent knights, and powerful necromancers in a love story made under crimson skies!

Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference. This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.

This selection is taken from Among His Spirits, Chapter 3:

The darkness of the days, the brightness of the nights, warped together the higher he went. Shorn of the inhuman mask he once wore, he ascended to the apex of the obelisk far, far above the earth.
Where the sun shone forever and the moon seemed to never lose its face, he found Bartie Black in the center of his cacophonies and hells, busy weaving his magic. His arms thrust out while gripping orbs of pulsating power, he stood at the northern edge which overlooked the first canopy of storm clouds his will had summoned.
The miasma had disappeared from vision, replaced by a wand of long, straight bone he waved over the earth.
Thunder and lightning crashed, and born on the gales, death howled in dreadful glee.
Conjer waited for his father, standing like a gravestone in the background.
The man moved with a grace that Conjer could not believe he had been birthed from. He tried to study Bartie's hands when he caught glimpses of them. There came a point where he had a perfect view of his thumb, its girth and definition.
Conjer looked down at his skeletal hands, wondering if his thumbs looked like his father’s. Stripped of skin, nerves, and old tendons, he had no way of knowing. He couldn't remember.
Bartie ended his quiet, mournful spells, and turned with a broad smile. "Ah, my boy! Just in time."
"I..." Conjer's vision blurred for a moment. "I can't find her. I can't find Emma."
His father's glad expression dimmed like a guttering candle. "You couldn't, could you?"
The question stung. "I keep seeing her. At the edge of my vision."
That guttering candle smoothed into a small, steady flame in Bartie's eyes. "At the edge of your—" His thin, handsome lips pursed in thought. "How utterly fascinating." His lime gaze widened in a sudden, realized sadness. "How...oh, my boy."
"What? What did I do?"
Bartie met the revenant where he stood, taking him around the shoulders with his long, limber arm.
"How long have I been gone?" Conjer asked as his father led them to the obelisk's northern parapet.
"I'm afraid I didn't count those days."
They looked out upon the clouds below for long minutes, both vexed on the points of black light Bartie cast into reality with the flick of his bone wand.
"What is that?" Conjer asked.
"A tool of some great import. We all have need of good tools to get by in this world, Conjer," said Bartie. "This tool will allow me to create pockets of energy that I can use against those that would rise against me. Maybe something greater."
"Why are there those against us in the first place?" Conjer asked out of honest curiosity.
"Such questions plague all great men. You've such potential..." Bartie laid the wand atop the wall, his smooth, flawless hand preventing it from rolling away. "Conjer, do you know why you came out here?"
"No," Conjer said after a few moments, shamed by the answer.
His father did not hold him any closer. "Now, boy, we know the way of this world. It isn't a kind world. Was never meant to be."
Conjer wanted to lean away, but he didn't dare. "I don't understand."
"It seems my spell worked just fine," said Bartie, his tone taking an edge. "I really had plans for you."
"Daddy, I don't know what I did."
"Oh, Conjer..."
Bartie drew him close, finally, for the first time.
Conjer felt a peace, an instant of solace and acceptance he had never known himself to yearn for. He wished, even for a moment, that he had the heart to feel as a mortal might in that blessed instant.
A quick shove pushed him forward, off balance. His machete banged against the wall to his surprise. Unable to grip firmly with his skeletal fingers, it slid to the floor with a clang.
His father dumped him over the parapet.
The last moment Conjer remembered of his plummet involved the nothingness on his father's face as he tried to grab for him.
Bartie Black did not reach back.
Air buffeted against his body as he dropped down along the smooth side of the obelisk.
Near enough he could reach out, grab hold of a ledge, he did not. The force of gravity and wind tearing at his body deafened him.
Conjer hadn't found what he wanted to find.
He wished he had found Emma.
The sky drew red and black above, below, at every corner he saw the obelisk tower. How long would he fall?
How quickly would he die?
The thought of dying terrified Conjer. He did not want to be alone, to die alone.
A hand closed on the bones of his wrist. His weight a burden suddenly halted, he smacked the obelisk so hard every single bit of ligament holding his bones together rattled. Groaning hard, heavy, he almost wondered how his foulness did not shatter into pieces.
Hauled up, one hand clawing him by a gory handhold in his leftover back tissue, the other in his pelvis bone, he crashed, pitiless upon a black landing.
Conjer looked right upon her, unable to miss what—who—knelt in front of him.
The years had made her gaunt for the lack of blood, but beneath the drawn flesh, the grime of the desert that had left her powdered in splotches of red and brown dust, shone a beauty that had once terrified an entire empire.
He had found her.
They stared at each other for long minutes before either spoke.
She did first. "You alright?"
"No," he said. "No, I'm not."
"Are you hurt?" she asked, her voice dry and hoarse.
He had not the ducts to weep. "Where am I, Emma?"
For the first time in his life, or at least as far as he could remember, someone smiled over him.
       "Right where you ought to be," she said without a bit of sadness

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? This is the scene where Conjer the revenant realizes his father, the necromancer Bartie Black, is not the father he had hoped him to be, and the necromancer tries to kill his son. He is rescued at the last moment by his vampiric partner, Emma, reunited after a period apart.
Writing this scene, of which the excerpt is a small part, took four days and a lot of stops to gather myself. Conjer and Emma’s story, in many ways, is the story we all sometimes walk in letting go of the things we carry over from our parents. Children unfortunately sometimes inherit depressions, their anxieties, lusts, greed, and grudges from their parents that they have no choice in carrying. For Conjer and Emma, that source of pain is ultimately what makes them choose to be what they are.
They also have a choice not to let that pain dictate who they are. This is the scene where Conjer realizes how important Emma is to him, and far more important that carrying around the pain of a parent who never loved him. She does, and in this moment, he learns to value what matters in her.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. Not from this excerpt.

Other works you have published? In 2017 I published WAR PIGS through Falstaff Books as well as the Fantasy saga Thief of Destiny, and in 2020-2022, I will be continuing to publish through them a Fantasy novella series, The Salt Songs, and my first Urban Fantasy series, The Trials of St. Patrick!

Anything you would like to add? No, I’ve had a wonderful time getting to share with you and your readers a little bit of my day!
          Jay Requard is a wanderer and fantasy author currently in New York. Fed on equal amounts of Socrates, Vyasa, and Ursula K. Le Guin, he has spent time in North Carolina, Colorado, Ireland, and London, as well other parts of the world. While his interests vary from swordsmanship to space to sacred studies, he is a constant practitioner of meditation and has been known to enjoy most books handed to him. In his spare time he brews, tries to practice better habits, and of course, writes fantasy.


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