Pittsburgh filmmaker Jonathan R. Skocik talks about Mornnovin as an allegory for coming of age on the autism spectrum.
|Today in the howling dystopian wasteland that is America of 2019, it is the day after Black Friday, also known as Small Business Saturday.
The idea was, ironically, originally conceived of by credit card giant American Express as a way to encourage people to support their local businesses during the holiday season. A good idea, even if the source and their motives are questionable.
This year I find myself in the position of, well, being a small business on Small Business Saturday.
I am also, as you might imagine given my last post, sort of drowning in medical bills. I’d like to call your attention to this little page detailing how you can support this indie author on SBS, and point out that there is almost definitely someone in your life who would love to be gifted a fresh new fantasy novel for the holidays.
Okay, yeah, I dropped the countdown ball. It’s because 1.) I am bad at this, and 2.) there has been a lot to do as far as actually getting ready for launch. I spent an entire evening this week signing book copies, and then spent the next two days getting shipments packed up and sent out. Not all of them, I’m afraid, but many. As many as I could do in the time I’ve had. I will continue to chip away at it as I can.
But I mean. Check this out.
So, I do actually have some more work today, finishing the special hardcover edition for the two people who will be receiving it. But before I turn my attention to that, and because I am a nerd, I want to spend a little time talking about conlangs with you.
What is a conlang? some might ask. Boy do I have your back.
“Conlang” is an abbreviation of “constructed language,” a term used to refer to a language that was deliberately invented and planned rather than developing naturally. The most widely-spoken conlang is Esperanto, but other examples include Klingon (Star Trek,) Dothraki (Game of Thrones,) and, of course, all of the languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
It has become more common, especially in the age of moving media, for storytellers to create languages — or at least just enough of one — to lend their work a greater element of verisimilitude. But in fact, Tolkien is on record as having stated that rather than inventing languages for his stories, he invented stories to explain and lend context to his languages. “The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows.” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)
As a lifelong word-nerd and language fan, I have always been utterly charmed and delighted by this approach. I actually think this is one of the things that first drew me to Middle Earth when I was very young. It is completely unsurprising, then, that within minutes of having drawn a map of Asrellion, I was already thinking about my languages.
Obviously, I was very young then. What has eventually evolved into my Elven language bears nearly no resemblance to those early scribblings. (Neither do my names, although the places and people are the same places and people they’ve always been.) Honestly, what really kicked my language-development into high gear was when I began to study French in the eighth grade and, at the same time, my extremely exacting English teacher was having us memorize our Greek and Latin roots.
Oh, that’s not to say that the Elven of Asrellion is Fantasy French — not at all. Just that, for the first time, I was really starting to peek behind the curtain of grammar construction and the relationships between vocabulary elements. It made me realize how small I’d been thinking. From that point onward, I wasn’t just pulling a word here and there out of thin air. I was building a coherent linguistic structure, thinking about how words related to each other and what roots they might have come from, and the sort of sounds the culture I’d created would use to express itself.
And doing that, organically, led to me thinking more about the philosophies of the culture I’d made. How those philosophies would manifest in the language, how they would have shaped its development. The language grew from the civilization, but the civilization also grew from the language.
I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say, like Tolkien, that the language comes first and the story is secondary. I am after all my own writer with my own voice, my own process, and my own stories to tell. But I do very much feel him when he says, “To me a name comes first and the story follows.”
All of this is to say that in two days, when Mornnovin officially launches, it will bring a brand new conlang into the world with it. I hope my fellow word-nerds and language fans are just as excited by that as I am.
We are six days to launch and I was expecting the first shipment of my books for distribution to my Kickstarter backers this morning. They still hadn’t come by the time I had to leave for my day job (dog walking), so I left a note for UPS and hoped for the best.
Naturally, when I got the delivery ping as I was driving between jobs, I had to do the whole steering wheel-throwing, tire-screeching course change and stop home to check.
There are now dozens of books with my name on them sitting in my living room, and they look gorgeous, and I am so excited to share them with you.
When I was running the Kickstarter campaign to fund this publication, I shared several updates about my fantasy setting and the characters who appear in this first installment of The Way of the Falling Star. This seems like a good moment to bring those introductions off of the Kickstarter page and into wider circulation.
As the day draws near for Mornnovin to permanently enter the world we live in, I thought I’d start to build a little excitement by talking about another world:
I was ten years old when I drew the very first version of this map to impress a cool new girl at school who I wanted to make friends with. At the time, I was OBSESSED with Tolkien to the point where I could actually draw the full detailed map of Middle Earth from memory. It should come as no shock that my first stories of the adventures in Asrellion pretty closely mimicked the tales and faces from Tolkien’s world.
That was a long time ago, and my stuff is now my own stuff after taking a meandering detour through a lot of Shakespeare, various fantasy greats (Roger Zelazny, Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Susan Cooper, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Lloyd Alexander among others,) a smattering of sci-fi, and a loooooooooot of fanfiction over the years.
Now, the world of Asrellion has become the world I’ve needed to see in fantasy and haven’t until creating it myself. I guess you’ll see what I mean if you read the book.
“Don’t like it, make your own!” the jerks like to say.
Okay. I did.
Strap in for Ye Olde Creation Legend.
Confession time, internet: I’m a writer.
That is to say, what I am is a writer not a typesetter, a publisher, a business manager, a publicist, a social media coordinator, or any of the numerous roles I’ve taken on in order to get Mornnovin published and out in circulation. I absolutely respect the work that publishing houses do in order to fill the world with books. I’m just a storyteller, a painter-with-words.
In short, I really don’t know what I’m doing.
AND YET. Somehow, despite my ineptitude, physical copies of my book are being printed as we speak and will shortly be on their way to me, and I think they look pretty damn good. I’ve completed all but one last reward for my Kickstarter backers (and that one is only still incomplete because I was working on it and it broke and I had to start over.) I’ve set up my author profile on Goodreads. I’ve done the necessary official business with the copyright and my publishing imprint. I’ve set up an ad for the book in the upcoming Ingram Advance catalog that bookstores and libraries do their ordering from. I’ve already made contact with my local library about scheduling an author event. I’ve set up global distribution for the eBook through the following (rather extensive) selection of online retailers:
The paperback book release is currently set for April 9th — just in time to be the best birthday present I’ve ever had. I was pretty damn excited when I checked on a couple of those sites to see if they’ve already gotten the listing memo and I saw this:
So… this is happening. I’m publishing a book.
But because I’m just a writer and all of those other things are way, way out of my wheelhouse, I’ve been so consumed by the one primary task of making the physical book (and the eBook) happen that it has only just now entered my sphere of awareness just how profoundly I’ve neglected to do any of the sort of pre-launch publicity I ought to have been doing. Like. To the point where I don’t even know what pre-launch publicity I would even do. I just haven’t had the focus to spare for any thoughts of what would happen once I’d made the book become real.
Hey, I’m just a fantasy author, okay?
Holy shit, I’m an author!
I guess I’d better wander off and try to figure out how to promote this book in the little time I have left.
But not without a final squee.
Having shared this first with my backers on my Kickstarter page, and then having taken a moment to finish screaming, I’d like to announce that my debut novel, Mornnovin, has a (tentative) release date of April 2nd, 2019.
This is obviously tremendously exciting. There’s still a lot to be done and shockingly little time left in which to do it, but let’s just all scream together for a moment, yeah?
HOLY SHIT, I’M PUBLISHING A NOVEL! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL, REAL COVER!
So, yeah. Stay tuned for more about this VERY EXCITING thing that is happening. Like, I’d actually like to do a post about the backer rewards I’ve made, because I’m pretty proud of them and I want to share, but for right now it’s all about the fact that at this very moment, somewhere in the world, a physical copy of my novel actually exists and is in the mail on its way to me for my final approval, and how that’s so surreal and wonderful that I can hardly breathe.