We’re not quite at the third week mark yet for Watermyth, but I need to re-evaluate the way in which I want to organize these blog posts . Also, I don’t want the posts with purchasing information to disappear while I give you a blow-by-blow of my intense emotional rollercoaster starting from December till these first few weeks of publication. I’m not one of those people who like to write super-clever and erudite blog posts with a ton of information simply because I am an academic and when I do researched non-fiction writing, most of that goes into academic articles or webinar/conference presentations. Because you know, publish or perish is an everyday reality and nightmare for academics even when we are in permanent positions. However, I would like to work my way towards writing posts with some sort of content. I hope to develop a better blogging groove this year and so this reset is necessary. I feel I need to fix that wall I put in my head vis-a-vis, “save these kinds of thoughts for academic articles”. Perhaps it’s possible to do both. Perhaps blogging better content here will help with my academic articles as well. At least I know it will stop me from obsessing about how my novel will be received!
Perhaps this reset of my blog posts can begin with this: the fact that Watermyth is a mosaic novel in more than one way. It has embedded narratives within a mise-en-abyme structure. There is one main narrator, that of Regya, the half-mermaid, half-siren who isn’t quite sure who she is. Memory loss is a trope I’ve played with before and I know it can be a cliche, so I decided to do something different this time around. I created a character who suspects that her memories are not real, who can feel that she’s been given false memories, but she’s never quite sure if what she believes is true or not. There’s no spoiler, no punchline here. You’re going to have to go on that journey to find out what happens next. But the most important mosaic is that of the mythologies that I weave and connect together from more than one of my cultural underpinnings as well as my Greco-Roman obsessions. Why Amor and Psyche? I write about that in my Afterword so THAT, I won’t spoil. But I wanted to do something with the myth. What if, I thought to myself, what if there was a race of Amors, not just one? Well, you will see where that thought leads me not just in this book but in the rest of the Cantata of the Fourfold Realms series.
Other elements you will find in Watermyth come from Malay superstition and folklore. If you’ve read When Hope Is Lost, Touch Remains, you may recognize the puaka air storyline I have there. Aila, the Guardian of Yrejveree (and the last Psyche) is actually Maria’s cousin. There are also the Indo-Chinese plinths and apertures that I have strewn about my Bunian Empire stories. Sadly, most of them feature in the stories that have not been published yet (I’m putting together a collection of my Bunian Empire short fiction as we speak). Which leads to the next question: is Yrejveree connected to the Bunian Empire, then? Yes, it is.
The Bunian Empire stories are science fiction or roughly science fantasy (I posited that the Bunian are an alien race, though and that is why I maintained it was science fiction), but the Yrejveree stories are mostly purely fantasy even with some cameos from the Large Hadron Collider etc. Hey, I’m indie, if I want to have intersecting mosaic universes which are science fictional in one instance and fantasy in others, I figure I’m entitled. Because this is how I roll. I guess the reward is for people who read all of these stories and find the fractals embedded in all of them. The little easter eggs strewn throughout.
I don’t have any neat or revolutionary answers in my books. I tend to leave those sorts of things to my academic research — and even there I often question if I am revolutionary enough or if I am making enough of an impact. Basically as an author, I want to tell a good story the way I like all good stories; embedded, twisty, employing the mise-en-abyme. Mise-en-abyme is a narrative strategy I’m so obsessed with as both an author and as a literary scholar. I’ve had two articles (one as book chapter and another in a bucket list academic journal, Marvels & Tales) published about it, and I’ve got a couple more articles related to the mise-en-abyme in the revision stage. But I’ve come to believe the strategy must fit the story and not the other way round. So, I spent a lot of time working with different story-threads and fractals in the novel, trying to make sure that they are all reflected well off each other.
When you’re an independent author, you work alone. Sure, I’ve had people giving blurbs and some crits along the way but mostly it was me, myself and I. So, I’m not quite sure if it worked or not. If it didn’t, I’ll try to make it work better in Rosemirror which is even more twisty and has even more fractals. As with Watermyth, so much of the ideas came from music. And I wanted those fractals, those different storytelling threads to connect to each other like an intimate counterpoint. Which leads us to Bach, which is why the whole series is called a Cantata. But, there are other literary and musical influences as well. I’ll talk more about those in future blog posts. Sure beats my whining about my sales figures! 😉