Goblins: The Beginning
From the mind of the girl who wanted to abandon the real world, and run away with the goblin king…
Hello, readers! Melanie here on The Armchair Reader. I’m going to talk a little about the inspiration that kick-started my Goblins series.
I’ve always loved fantasy, and history. Unfortunately my dry and British self-deprecating humour never led me to take my own work seriously. I thought high fantasy should contain a level of seriousness, but I couldn’t actually write that way.
After writing in contemporary for a while, and using a lot of humour, I decided to take another stab at fantasy, but this time I’d make it different. What if I brought modern humour and concepts into a historical, fantasy setting? And thank goodness, that style works for me.
I’d say that Goblins has one foot in contemporary, another in fantasy, and a third foot in historical. (I’ll stop talking about appendages now, before I get carried away!)
The concept behind the first story, Wulfren and the Warlock, which spawned the Goblins series, can be boiled down to three main inspiration elements.
I love big, knobbly, spooky-looking trees. I spent a lot of time in the woods (still do) and was always hoping that magical creatures would reveal themselves–pah ha ha!–to me, and invite me to live in their secret forest realm. (Still hope for that, too!)
So, a forest, and a magical one at that. When I opened my ye olde book of English folklore, I kept reading about Epping forest, which was absolutely humungous back in the day. Epping forest once stretched from Bow in London up to Cambridge and Colchester. Within the forest, dark glades of oak, elm and beech trees sheltered who knew what; hermits, vagrants, gypsies, outlaws, highwaymen, and…
Magical creatures? Why not?
The film A Company of Wolves is a classic, a romantic horror, a coming of age Red Riding Hood tale. As anyone who’s read my other works knows, I’m a huge fan of androgyny, especially fey men with long hair. When I first saw the little wolf girl (pictured above, played by 80s popstar, Danielle Dax) I knew that was exactly how my Goblins would look.
Lithe, pale figures in the forest, with long, dark 80s hair. So, a bunch of goths dressed in leaves, basically. My Goblins are the rockstars of their forest.
And why not? Don’t rockstars work well as goblins?
Since gazing wide eyed at Jareth the goblin king as a child, I’ve always been baffled by the silly girl’s choice to reject him and live in the real world instead. Is she mad? I adore Labyrinth, and have always been drawn to baddies with big hair. (What? Sue me.)
Faery courts and royalty are another weakness of mine. I love everything, all the folklore, all the legends. Usually I’d be swooning over the baddies most. I decided, in my stories, I’d focus on the ‘baddies’, on the dark and dangerous creatures. They’re the ones I’d want to know more about.
And I could have my own goblin king!
Then I thought, what if my goblin king had sons? What if one of those sons got into mischief, and unwittingly fell in love with a human? It’d be taboo. Severely frowned upon. What would happen if he disobeyed the goblin king?
And thus began my first story! Except I had so much fun creating and writing the characters that suddenly I wanted to tell their stories, too. Before I knew it, the whole set of tales had evolved into a series. (I can’t help myself!)
There was just too much goodness from the era that I couldn’t fit into one story; witches and witchcraft, princes and royalty, cavaliers, the new model army (no, not the goth band!) not to mention elves and highwaymen.
The stories are relatively light-hearted and fun, despite having a themes of mild horror (noose and gibbet, anyone?) throughout, as the goblins discover more about humans than they’d been prepared for.
Catch up with me on my Goblins blog tour for more about the series and its history, and a special giveaway.
In the 17th Century, the ancient sprawl of Epping forest is bursting with magic and those who go unseen by human eyes: the elves who rule the summer court, and the goblins who rule the winter court. It is said that if a human catches the eye of one of the fey, they are either doomed or blessed.
Wulfren & the Warlock
When Wulfren wakes from a strange dream of a human captor with long silver hair, and grey eyes, his brothers tell him they rescued him from a warlock, and take Wulfren back home to the goblin king’s palace. But Wulfren isn’t so sure the matter is that simple. Why was he missing so long? What are the strange dreams of the beautiful man with the silver hair? Dalliances with humans are severely frowned upon, especially by Wulfren’s father, but Wulfren is willing to risk the scorn of his family to find the human who haunts his dreams.
Quiller & the Runaway Prince
After a hard winter, Quiller is sent deep into the forest on a family errand, and is surprised when a human stumbles into his path. Quiller swoops in to pester him, perhaps even eat him, but there is something special about the human: his scent is royal, though he protests that he is not, and soon Quiller finds himself agreeing to help the human with his troubles—in exchange for a kiss.
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.
~Robert Burns, ‘To a Mouse’, 1786.
Excuse me while I have a little swoon at the language… *swoon*
Ok, I’m done. So, in Crucifox, singer Brandon is Scottish. Why is this, then? Well, I am rather drawn to most things Scottish. (You can keep the haggis, though; I’m vegetarian!)
The British side of my family originally came from Fife, in Scotland. We have a whole family tree, it’s rather interesting. Later, some of them moved south, where my family now resides. (The relatives still in Scotland now reside in Edinburgh.)
When I was little, my Grandfather liked to watch a TV program called “Rab C. Nesbitt”, and it was one of the few things that made him laugh out loud. Most people can’t even understand what Glaswegians are saying; maybe I got a head start in deciphering this accent through subliminal ways.
See if you can keep up:
‘Rab C. Nesbitt’ episode: ‘Fast’
Even if you agree with me and like listening to a Scottish accent, a character like Rab C. Nesbitt isn’t really drool-worthy material. (Well, he’d probably drool on himself, but that’s not the same!)
Fast-forward to age twenty, when I was in higher education in Brighton, by the coast. I’d moved in with some hometown mates, a couple of lads, and together we shared a rather grotty ‘Young Ones’ style student house. One lad was – still is – a musician, and back then was also a promoter. He used to put on gigs at local Brighton venues like The Freebutt (sadly now defunct, thanks to Brighton council).
After gigs, we often had bands crashing at our house. While this could be a giggle, none of the bands were my type. The guys I lived with were really into their anarchist punk rock, or ‘indie-schmindie’ music, while I was into cock rock or goth. So, even though I’d hang out with the guys and the passing-through bands, I was never that taken with any of them.
Until a rock band from Glasgow showed up.
These guys were a five-piece of cute young men in tight jeans, leather jackets, and dyed black hair. They were cool, dry-witted, hysterically funny, and even their manager was a hoot. Their singer had charisma and sex-appeal dripping from every pore, and this was the first time in my life when I totally fell in love with a Glaswegian accent.
Glaswegian accents can vary. Some are quite harsh sounding, and you need a windshield to save from being dowsed in spittle… While others can be softer, yet still retain that sexy edge. By far, Glaswegian is my favourite accent, though I am rather a fan of Celtic accents in general.
Fast-forward a few more years, and I got to visit Glasgow – hurruh! – and also am very lucky to have some fabulous Glaswegian friends, whom I can listen to talking all day and never get bored. While I’m pretty good at understanding a Scots accent, there was a whole plethora of research to be done on which particular sounds went where when someone spoke.
Yir = you are. Yer = your.
Here are some of my favourite words Brandon in my Crucifox books uses, and their translations:
- Eejit – Idiot
- Eh? – I beg your pardon?
- Houe you – Hey, you
- Nae borra – No bother
- Trewsers – Trousers
- Wee – Small
While I love Scots accents, I wasn’t about to give myself extra work by making a main character anything other than a cockney Londoner. But as I started writing Sky’s story back in 2011, and the band ended up in Dundee (because that’s how it had to be), I realised I needed a link to bring these guys to Scotland.
Someone had to be Scottish. It wasn’t going to be Sky, as he was already half Italian and a quarter Irish. Besides, if I was going to do this, I wanted to put a strong stamp on it, i.e. make them really Scottish. Cue research and lots of bothering my Scottish friends for their help. (Thanks for putting up with me!)
I know a lot of people don’t like Scots accents, or even Glaswegian particularly, but I love it, and once I started writing Brandon as Scottish, everything really gelled together. I pinched an amazing last name from a friend (I do that a lot), and then he was Brandon Cruikshank.
Something I’ll never do is write a whole block of text in an accent, ala ‘Trainspotting’. I tried to read that once, thought ‘bloody hell’, and sadly gave up. Listening is one thing, reading is another. I find too much text-written-in-accent really jarring to read. So I haven’t, and won’t, do that.
What I have chosen to do is scatter some choice words or phrases here and there, where they seemed most appropriate. If I were a reader, I’d find that much easier to read, and hopefully it still gives the overall feel for Brandon’s Scottish tongue.
(I was going to make a rude joke about tongues, but I’ll try to restrain myself…)
Crucifox #1: The Green-Eyed Monster is now available from Storm Moon Press for just $7.99 (ebook)! Go get your copy for some true rockstar fiction!
Sky Somers is an ex-traveller; the son of a folk musician and a new age hippy. Sky’s form of rebellion is electric guitars, and he wants his own band. His desire is to set the world to rights through music. Brandon Cruikshank is new to London, recently arrived from Glasgow. Charismatic, charming; a natural born performer. Brandon is openly bisexual, with a penchant for dressing in women’s clothes. His desire is to be adored.
From the moment Sky meets Brandon, he knows he has to have him. Brandon, in turn, wants Sky. But that’s when it becomes clear they both have very different desires in mind. Brandon wants Sky as a lover, yet Sky only wants Brandon as a singer in his band. Misunderstanding set aside—or apparently so—Brandon and Sky become firm friends. To escape equally troubled pasts and families, they change their names. Now, Brandon Fox and Sky St. Clair are ready to take over the world.
As the years roll on, Brandon’s desire for Sky still simmers, waiting. Then a chance night sharing a hotel room sparks the desire between them, and this time, Brandon wants it all. Sky has never explored his desires before. Now, the passion and jealousy Brandon has unleashed in him threatens to shake the whole band apart.