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Dear readers (both of you!! ha ha),

Tomorrow I shall start posting sections of what is currently titled Daisy and the Thing of Dread.

As I’ve said, I teach math at the University of Maine at Farmington, but I also get to teach an English Comp class (we call it a First Year Writing Seminar) centered on H. P. Lovecraft. The second formal paper my students do in class is a comparison of Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, or a similar Lovecraft novella, with a novel they’ve read of someone else’s. A common choice is one of the Harry Potters: Joseph Curwen and Lord Voldemort are an interesting couple. Last year, one of my students used a fantasy novel that was basically set in a dungeons and dragons world. I remarked that it sounded interesting; he said, essentially, that it would be better if the writer was any good.

Ever since then, I’ve thought about using what might be termed a “pure D&D setting.” And this is my chance.

I have two other inspirations, or, two other great reasons for doing the thing I’m doing. (1) My friends and I, of thirty years ago or so, started a D&D campaign in a dungeon I made up, and we soon discovered that warriors tended to live mayfly-like lives. I began, about 30 years ago, writing a Story (that was the actual title) about the early careers of our characters, and in the first few chapters, these mayfly careers were a running joke. (2) Like everyone else on Earth, I read The Hunger Games. I haven’t seen any of the movies, and I only read the first two novels, but the first one hit me like a ton of something produced in District 12. It’s bumpy and unfinished and its great catch phrase (“May the odds be ever in your favor”) makes zero sense. But that first book is overwhelming.

Much of the credit must be due to the first person present tense narration. I was already an accomplished amateur novelist (“a rumor in his own time, a legend in his own mind”)  and I wondered if I could try something like that. I’ve never strayed from third person omniscient, except for the occasional fourth-wall-breaking, which doesn’t count anyway. And this new story seemed… er… seems to be a chance for a change.

So, among other things, please point out to me when I slip into past tense. But in general, do read and like and comment.

I also plan to throw off one more rant about science fiction writing. In particular, in the next week, I have planned a blog post about what sci fi writers really need to know about the way astronomy really works. (For instance, asteroid belts aren’t very dense, every planet orbits a star or it can’t have sunrise and sunset, and those graphics of our solar system, the ones that show all eight planets lined up next to the Sun, don’t make any sense.)

But this post, the one you’re reading, is about Daisy. She lives in Insmoor, on the edge of the Kingdom of Carleu, and she throws magic spells, and you don’t need to know any science to understand her world. At the same time, I’m not going to bury you in D&D geekiness. You don’t need to know anything from the Monster Manual—it’s probably for the best if you don’t.

Daisy starts talking to you tomorrow. Please give her the love and respect she deserves, or she might turn you into a newt. If she lives long enough to learn that spell.