Verisimilitude & A Melody of Dragons

Today I have my partner, Alex, here to talk a bit about our collaboration on the Lunar Insurrection series. The first five novellas in the series are already available, and it was kind of an accident that we ended up working on this series together. I was supposed to write it, but then I didn’t have time, and I jokingly suggested that he should write it instead. Instead of him laughing off the idea (like I expected!) he said “okay!” and went on right ahead.

Now we’ve co-authored 5 novellas with the 6th on the way!

If you’re curious, here are the books so far:

Prequel: The Mists of Arathia

Book 1: Melody of Dragons

Book 2: Academy of Souls

Book 3: Forest of Corruption

Book 4: Colosseum of Imperium

Guinevere doesn’t know she’s dead.

Rey still doesn’t understand what it means to be an NPC.

And Myrina doesn’t get why everyone’s freaking out about her joining a cult.

What they do know is that the Dragonslayers stole an Ancient Bronze Dragon’s egg, and now they have a mysterious quest to return the egg to its mother. They’ll have much bigger problems to worry about than loot and EXP gains if the Dragonslayers make it to the dragon first.

Or if the forest, which is holding back an ageless darkness, is destroyed in the process.

Turns out (some) dragons aren’t so bad after all.

Lunar Insurrection is an experimental LitRPG/GameLit series, combining elements of fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons with a twist on the Isekai genre. Each novella-length installment builds on the larger story and world, but can also be enjoyed as individual tales out of order.

Book 5, Revolt of Vagrants will be released on Nov 25th!

The series is fun, a little dark at times, and a lot different from what I usually write. It’s typically a lot funnier and satirical, too. But that’s one of the joys of Alex’s work; even though we are working on this series together, it all comes from outside my imagination. There are quite a few times where he’s surprised me. In the end, while he takes the heavier burden in writing the stories, I’ve taken on a more editorial role. We’ll circle around another day to talk about that.

For now, here’s Alex with some thoughts about Melody of Dragons.

***

I like to think of my writing as very vanilla; it leaves much to the imagination. In some senses, this creative decision is a bad one, yet it is exactly what I want to go for. My purpose is not just to craft some captivating scene, but to create an adventure in which the reader’s imagination is as much a part of the storytelling as the narrative. I want to tell a story that does not preclude anyone’s verisimilitude.

That is a big, long word which I don’t expect many to know the definition of but I guarantee everyone has experienced the breaking of it while reading a book.

I do not doubt that many readers may find my own (rather novice) writing to be a bit jarring and hard to read compared to Erynn’s, which often paints rich descriptions of the setting for the benefit of the reader. I attempted to ensure that the descriptions of the world in Melody of Dragons, and the remainder of the Lunar Insurrection series, were only a framework in which people may impose their own imagery. If there are places where the world emerges or deeper questions are explored, it is either at Erynn’s prompting, or she is the source of that imagination.

My own style of writing comes from my experience playing Dungeons and Dragons, contrasted with my recent reading of Benedict Andersons’s book Imagined Communities. Anyone studying or working in the Humanities may be familiar with Anderson’s quintessential thesis, which is the presumption that we all share an experience when we read something. In that shared experience is the formation of a mutually conversable experience that brings together people. Yet, I had trouble with this idea because it presumed our rich, vivid, human imaginations are limited by the boundaries of the author’s rambling. Each individual has their own framework of imagination, a deep tradition of narrative and narrative-memory that come together in every mind to construct the mental imagery that might appear at any given moment.

Verisimilitude is the maintenance of that mental imagery. The continuance of believability within your own mental imagery. With Melody of Dragons, I pushed myself to try and pull through various themes—a focus on descriptions of the environment, trying to evoke primarily sound, but also smell, taste, and sight. My hope was to draw attention to the setting and pair it with the environmentalism that I wanted to embody with the new character introduced in this episode of Lunar Insurrection; a character who cares deeply about the destruction our modern habits cause the environment and the rippling consequences of those actions.

My partner and I, in both realms of business and of life, have hashed over this book, and this series as a whole, trying to push it to satisfy the genre expectations of LitRPG. That is, a narrative experience grounded in a connection with the experience of playing a video game. Unfortunately, although I am a gamer, I write this book leaning much more into my experience as a Dungeon Master. I want to pull the characters through a world with magic systems that have been given a new dimension of physical laws that must be uncovered.

I hope that a reader will enjoy Melody of Dragons for what it is—be that my intentions or your interpretations—and know that each book is centered around a simple story, a simple theme and/or quest. The world will unfold as the characters (and readers) move through it. What is not in this book may yet be revealed.

Similar to Melody of Dragons, I wrote The Mists of Arathia with the explicit intention of starting from the perspective of a Dungeons and Dragons character we might understand as a commoner.

Reynar, the Woodsman, is the first protagonist and is by all rights and reasons a mundane man. A widower, his wife taken him from the great sickness that precludes and is the namesake of the book. He live(d) a simple rehearsed life, early to rise late to fall, found a great fulfillment as the village’s forester following the death of his wife, but found no passion in life. He moved through life one day at a time. Doing whatever was needed of him, chopping firewood, gathering herbs from the forest, carving handles for tools… Rey eked a comfortable life.

Until Guinevere entered the picture.

He hadn’t wanted a new female counterpart, but in his own quest for freedom they stumbled into one another. Guen—as she is known by her companions who find the repetitive vowels exhausting to say—is an interloper in Rey’s home. She comes from another world, another reality to be specific. Guen is inadvertently (and unwittingly) connected to the transformation of Rey’s universe. Her entrance in this world is one among a steady stream of others like her coming from the heuristic form of our reality. Others knew that they were travelling to an entirely new universe when they arrived, but Guen has been under the assumption that this was all just a big game. It’s more than she can ever imagine.

Guen has lived in this world for months, killing monsters, doing quests, and leveling up solo. But with Rey, she starts her party and lay the foundations for Diana’s Lunar Insurrection. They’ll quickly find more members to fill out their ranks as the episodes of Lunar Insurrection progress.

As in most adventuring parties, their first goal is to find a healer… but instead, they find a rogue. Some sneakthief who spends too much time with the trees but definitely with no healing abilities or magic.

Melody of Dragons is the next step of our heroes’ journey, one of many in the great quest unfolding before them—one they aren’t aware of just yet. But a strange hero this group makes: A village’s Forester, a shut-in from another world, and some environmentalist who’s home has been lost in more than one way.

Their journey starts not with the expectation that our heroes are the chosen ones, but equal contenders among many for that title. While our heroes will grow to fill that acclaim, they will become heroes through their trials and tribulations.

So if you’ll please, join me, Rey, Guen, and Gawain as we bring find our place in this New World.

Miigwetch

Alex

***

Thank you Alex for your insightful look into the writing and thought process that went into writing the first two installments of Lunar Insurrection! Now if only I could get you to explain your thoughts that concisely for me when we’re actually working on the books together! (Kidding! Mostly, hehe.)

I do hope you’ll check out book 1 in the Lunar Insurrection series, Melody of Dragons! Just go here to view the book in stores.

—Erynn

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