Random Town People

It’s been a long time since I last shared snippets of my writing on characters and I’m feeling slack today so I’ve dug out portions of my contributions towards an article called Town People which details characters that can be dropped into any medieval town. 

Matron Maranisha Hopsham of St. Margaret’s chapel

Appearance:
Matron Maranisha is a woman in her middle ages who has aged gracefully. Of small slim build, she exudes an air of refinement, intelligence and quiet confidence. She is a figure that can easily melt into the background if she so desires.

Family and Life:
Matron Maranisha was the second of 3 daughters born to Frederick Hopsham and Heather Mayfair, who are both deceased now. Her sisters are Satrina who is married to the local baker Terry and Triasha who runs the apothecary along with her husband Philander. Maranisha also has an elder brother, Winelo Hopsham, who is father to the shrewd Finnea, Ferdinand Lenders’s wife.

From modest beginnings, St. Margaret’s chapel has grown somewhat under the direction of Matron Maranisha and is relatively well-off nowadays. It currently houses 8-9 nuns, several kitchen hands and a resident healer. While Matron Maranisha heads the service every morning, most of her time is spent outside helping the poor and outcasts. In addition, she has the confidence of many townspeople and often mediate in disputes. Most of the administration work at the chapel is now in the hands of the capable Sister Veronica. The two have become steadfast friends over the years. 


Daunton Sedgewick, retired court advisor/mage

Appearance: 

Although once a magician by profession, Daunton is broad shouldered and has a warrior’s physique. Currently in his early 50s, Daunton has blond hair that is just turning to light ash. To most, he might appear grim at first glance, which is partly due to the fact that he is hardly ever seen to ‘smile’. Yet, those who knew him well would notice the slight upturned corner of the mouth that is his signature smile and the glint in his eyes that betrays the warmth hidden behind the stern ‘façade’.


Family and Life: 

Although bearing the title of Court Mage, Daunton showed more capability at military tactics and hence was in effect more akin to an advisor on defence. Tired of court intrigues, Daunton has retired early to lead a quiet and idyllic life. 

Daunton currently lives with 3 apprentices: his niece Yilmina, a free spirited girl on the verge of womanhood; Erik Tinton, a young man with a serious disposition; and a shy boy still in his teens who is only known as Tainu. 

Having come into contact with Sir Midian of Ranulphens during Daunton’s court days, the two have acquired a somewhat uneasy friendship. Daunton now sits on the town council and together with Gavin oversees the defence of the town. Being a capable swordsman, he also closely supervises the training of the local militia and youngsters showing promise at a military career. 

And this is it for May. With June comes my Book Discoveries, a Writing Update and other goodies. So stay tuned. 

What Moves Me (1): Rewinding Time

In general, I don’t tend to display my emotions openly. In fact, it was my wont to suppress tears. But there are some exceptions so I thought it would be a worthwhile pursuit for me to record the sources behind such rare moments. 

I’ve previously blogged about the fast food consumption aspect of my reading. And yet surprisingly, there was an online novel author whose work had brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions when I couldn’t really remember a single published work that had done so (I think this is more of an artifact of the fact that I read more widely for online novels and perhaps the specific life situation I was under when I read them). So in this post, I want to dig a little into what was it about the author that moved me such. 

Let me start by summarising/recapitulating my life situation when I first came upon this author. Basically, this was after I broke off my phD and became unemployed. I became a little lost as to career direction and all that. And to be honest, before that point I was always envisioning life as a linear path and also lived life that way. But then, suddenly my status quo went up in flames and I think at that time I had a deep yearning for having it back for comfort and security. And that’s when I chanced on a body of Chinese online novels where the main characters were given a second chance to live, specifically the opportunity of having their lives rewinded to their youth and basically take another go at it. So due to empathy with the main characters, I had a spell where I was devouring such novels and I think I still maintain a taste for similar themed novels to a certain degree now. 

Now amidst such work, the one that really stuck in my mind was about a main character who had originally died in poverty after her husband who went from a nobody to a best actor award winner ditched her for another woman in his fame. The actual story was about how after finding that she had gone back to her teenage years, she made entirely different choices and eventually became a famous actress who won a best actress award for herself. I think one of the reasons this story really stood out for me was I felt a bit of empathy for the main character with regards to her situation with her mother. The main character was basically estranged from her mother in the previous life when she married that actor but in the second life the estrangement never happened because she avoided that actor like the plague. In reality, I was on the verge of becoming estranged from my Mum after I broke off my phD- well, we had a bit of a Cold War going on. But now it’s all water under the bridge between us and we are much more open about many things, including the large extent that we both love each other. 

Evolution of Moonlake’s Writing Pile

This post is prompted by my whimsical exploration of the statistics to do with this blog. Specifically, I was looking at which of my posts had been shared and one of the top ones was Moonlake’s Work Pile (3) back in 2015.  

So in that post I had talked of 4 different writing projects and the top 3 are pretty much all in the back pile aka rubbish heap/RIP territory now. Why? The top one was this Genghis Khan story that I’ve talked of multiple times and I just don’t feel like it, the Mongolian research is getting too much and the basic idea… it’s a bit unique but it’s also a bit out of the left field for me. At various times, I’ve thought of or attempted resurrecting the project but I really don’t think so, at least not in the short term. The other two all came of an abandoned online novel I read and a mock fan-fiction project I started to dip my toes into novel writing. And I don’t know, I’ve never quite gotten comfortable with the idea of ‘stealing’ someone else’s setting for my own project if I want to commericalise it. 

Under such circumstances, the fourth rose up to be my WIP and it was the one series that I had always wanted to do, based on my fictional ancient China setting that I’ve been calling the Dragon Empire setting. I’ve blogged about it before so I won’t repeat myself here. 

I’ve also blogged about the tentative next project after that, a story about three generations of women from the same direct lineage. And now have a tentative third lined up. But don’t worry, I’m not doing any queue jumping of writing projects anymore so I won’t even talk about the third project. And with that, I better draw this post to a close.

Remarkable Women in Ancient China (5)- Fu Hao

Who is she:

  • A woman whose surname or first name was Hao (Fu is some kind of prestigious title) who was one of the sixty-odd wives to Wu Ding, the Emperor of the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC)
  • The first known female military commander in Chinese history, also a politician and overseer of rites/fortune telling ceremonies (a very important aspect of the Shang era, all big decisions were made in consultation with fortune telling)
  • Has one son and one daughter surviving her 

Notable Life Events:

  • Commanded the first recorded ambush in Chinese history
  • Was married to three of her husbands’ ancestors in death to fulfill his wish for her to be taken care well in the nether realms
  • Cause of death unknown: might have been due to the difficult birth of her daughter or during battle or due to a battle wound

Why is she remarkable:

  • Other than being the first female military commander, Fu Hao is potentially the one with most power amongst all well-known ancient Chinese female generals. To my not-quite-extensive knowledge, she was the only one with her own claims to territory. That was partly her era, when power was not yet centralised in the hands of the Emperor, when it was common that nobles or feudal lords were granted separate territory that they largely ran autonomically. 
  • Amongst the well-known Court women passed down in Chinese history (i.e wives and concubines to emperors), I believe she is the only one with a claim for military prowess. My sources seem to indicate that is not true of her particular era though since one of the other wives to her husband apparently also led armies but seemed to be less capable or not completed as key victories as Fu Hao. 

Moonlake’s thoughts on her: 

With the scant information on her (which is understandable given the era she came from), I’m not getting much of a sense on her personality. All I can say is that she certainly seemed to have a lot of initiative both from the particular era she came from and her own capabilities. She also seemed to have a harmonious relation with her husband given the importance of the roles she was given when she was alive and how she was treated after her death. Overall, she seems like a good protagonist to drop into a historical fiction/fantasy story. 

Lockdown, Reading Promotion and Time Usage

The week before last, I blogged about how the lockdown and working from home is having an adverse effect on my writing. But surprisingly, it’s promoting my Kindle reading. Specifically, I’ve been able to consistently read one Kindle chapter per day on one of my broadening horizon reads for this year (they are both Kindles). Contrast that with before the lockdown when I spend 3 hours every day on the train and I tend to turn to reading Chinese online novels on the train instead of books I borrow from my local library, not just Kindle reading but reading comes out ahead at home compared to before. 

And that makes me put in light of time usage in April. So yes, I did whittle away some time from actual processes to do with writing. But as I was talking with one of my FB writer friends today, writing is so much more than the explicit processes to craft a particular piece of story (outlining, drafting, editing etc.). Instead, it’s everything that allows me to write including filling up my creative well with life experiences, stories I read/watch/learn through gaming even. So in that perspective, I think my April is actually spent well in a sense. 

And my writing is also getting back on track. After about a week’s inactivity, I’ve gotten back into free-writing for a protagonist. I’m not good with free-writing in the sense that it does not come easily to me to do (I somehow have a writing block that’s specific to free-writing that I find it hard to conquer unless I find the right prompt). So for a whole week that did not happen but I’ve hit it this week and I have some left to spare. My new short term goal is to finish sorting out what to work on for my next decimal draft- draft 0.8 by June and I will finish draft 0.8 by the end of this year. So wish me luck and I will keep you updated on my progress.