For almost the first time, I had the whole novella outlined from the get-go. Wow, I can see why people do things this way. Wish my brain would cooperate more often.
Names still come from fantasynamegenerators.com, except for Berry, which was stolen from my last D&D character; and “Two-Fingers” Featherington and Henry Rocksmasher, which were randomly made up. (“Burleigh” did come from the generator, however.) Delstar the Summoner was just made up to fit into the right spot in the alphabet, and I picked out Kraken because it’s half past foreshadowing o’clock on the “sea voyage” bit (see also: pirates)
As per uzhe, I started with a silly idea (D&D meets isekai) and made it weird and sad. Trauma avoidance was a theme in book 1 as well, but I wanted to mess with a different flavor this time.
This installment made me realize how much I’ve been subconsciously influenced by Discworld in the “goofy idea turns heartfelt and/or allegorical” department.
This installment also veers further toward a Western fantasy style and away from the anime aesthetic, in part because our most anime-trope-influenced characters spend most or all of this volume offstage.
Credits to my spouse: “land pirate”, the escort mission joke, and tapping into the fighter/mage/rogue combo generally. Since Berry uses ranger-esque magic, my brain kept getting stuck.
Chapter 3’s title is of course a line from “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, which basically turned into the Adventurer Party’s theme song.
Berry was originally conceived as a character who thought they were in a farming sim game, handing out gifts to make people like them. As such, they were introduced in a draft of book 2 as a fresh Visitor who landed in anxious blacksmith’s apprentice Lysanthir’s cousin’s barn. But that all took up too much space in the story without an immediate function in the mechanism of the plot, and since these are novellas, I just didn’t have space for that. In the process of moving over to book 3, the character got more world-weary, and this turned into more of a “second/third chance / adventurer retirement” subplot vs. a “naive new Visitor” subplot. Which is still a bit of a sidetrack, but I felt like I needed a B-plot and another character to bounce off on the way back home.
Burleigh and Henry were partly inspired by a meme post where the poster rants about queer representation, and says something like “give me a story about a mage and his himbo barbarian boyfriend.” Well, not a mage, sorry, the mage is an agender goth who swears a lot; you get a rogue/barbarian “too afraid of real emotions to admit it” duo instead because my brand is Goofy, Awkward and Sad™.
It was far too fun to write a character who speaks in an entirely different genre than everyone else in the story. Burleigh is committing to the bit, to his own detriment.
There are a few allusions to Henry’s original life (he seems surprised that Lavender is nice and LGBT+ friendly as a therapist, which is a hell of a loaded and sad statement), but nothing that adds up to a full picture. So you’re not missing anything. Maybe I’ll circle back to these two boneheads someday, who knows.
Chapter 4’s title is a passing homage to cozy fantasy staple Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea. It bears no resemblance otherwise. Yes, I had too much fun with an anagram generator.
I had no intention of making Greta a focus character when we started out. Her jealousy was just a comedy bit, and then it got Weird and Sad™, and then I wanted to give her an interest outside Francesca as a hook for her showdown in book 1, aaaaaand here we are. I like having a character around who thinks the narrator is annoying. It doesn’t actually help the Mary Sue problem, but I feel better with those sorts around. Plus, her leaving is going to play into Francesca’s story from here on out.
“Long Road” by the Gothard Sisters – My spouse introduced me to this album (Dragonfly) a few months before I started part 3, and it became a staple on my writing-music rotation. This song is autumnal, but still.
“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats – I mean, this song is a stone cold classic, shut up. But while the Adventurer Party subplot was cooking in my head, I happened to hear it again, and it just became the crystallizing factor for… everything about them. Yes, it’s extremely on the nose.
“Sleep Alone” by Two Door Cinema Club – This has been on my Therapist playlist for a long time because of Solan (“they can’t hurt him if he can’t see them” etc.), but I think it fits the Adventurers better, especially Burleigh.
“Wonderwall” by Oasis – I mean, if there’s another song that draws that reaction out of people, I respect your headcanon. But for me, Henry’s campfire song was “Wonderwall.” (Hey, I know it’s a meme now, but I owned this album in 1996. I’ll admit it.)
“In the Meantime” by Spacehog – This could have gone in book 3 or 4, but I’ll put it at 3. Because it’s a song about (I think) aliens who, rather than being warlike or supercilious or disaffected, marvel at the place where they landed, and the people in it. I like that vibe a lot.