The King's Thief

I have snow to thank for the fact that I’m aspiring to be a writer at all. In my second year of teaching, we lived opposite a Starbucks that was never very busy at the best of times. It was a great place to go and write; quiet conversation, background music, first-name-terms with the manager and the benefits of having a ‘regular’ drink. (Venti hazelnut latte, extra shot – not my favourite any more, sadly!)

The first week of January, I was ready to go back to work. My first term had been one of dizzying highs and hellish lows, but I’d rested and planned and resourced, and I was ready to go back. And then it snowed. We’re not great at snow in the United Kingdom; I saw headlines today in the newspapers that said things like ‘SIX INCHES OF SNOW MAY PLUNGE UK INTO CHAOS’. Now, there’s all sorts of jokes I could make about six inches of cold, hard chaos, but let’s suffice to say that in 2008 it snowed enough to close the school at which I was working.

I was totally ready to be creative, flexible, all that stuff... and all that energy just kind of backfired. Most shops didn’t really open. I’d got some games to play, but even that palled after a while. It was a brief window in my life when I wasn’t playing an MMO, so I didn’t even have Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft to fall back on. So I started writing.

It had some good world-elements. There was a race of people who were part-tree, with glowing green orbs instead of eyes, called Sylvans. There was a race of centaurs, called centaari, and a steampunk pedipulator that I’d actually forgotten about until I looked it up just now. In an homage to Metal Gear Solid 4, there were some awesome Banshees, women with emotional connections to Kaliss who were magically programmed to hunt him down and kill him. They had brass domes that completely covered their heads and rang like a bell with their constant screaming. There was a convoluted plot that involved the main character, Kaliss, pretending to be something he wasn’t in order to steal a fabulous gem, but secretly he was working for the king so that he didn’t get hanged. That influenced the title: The King’s Thief.

Trouble is, it was a bit crap. Kaliss had no character of which to speak. He was docile; people took him captive, or knocked him unconscious, meaning that he was lead around from place to place. He was boring and predictable, and completely devoid of use. Just recently, though, I think I’ve found a way to resurrect The King’s Thief, so I’m sorely tempted to plot it out and use it as my next novel. It’s cringeworthy to look back over old stuff – did I really write that? – but it will be useful in the long run.