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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Writing Wibbles (Conversation with Mik sim Mikhail)

It’s wibbling tiiiime!

Before White Pickups had ambitions of being a “real” novel, I posted episodes on Monday — and on occasion, side-episodes called “Conversations” on Tuesdays. They were, as you might expect by the title, conversations with various characters in the story. They provided a little backstory for the spotlighted characters, and helped me figure out their motivations.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been caught up in the world of Accidental Sorcerers lately. As I’ve been writing, Mik has told me a little more of his own backstory. I was planning to just do a data-dump, but that’s no fun to read. So… I have a little bonus treat for those of you who read these little status updates about my writing. I speak in italics in these things, for some reason.

Conversations: “Accidental Sorcerer” Mik sim Mikhail

Um… how do you greet each other here?

“Is this thing on?” is a popular greeting.

What does that mean?

Never mind. I was joking. Just talk about yourself.

Well, I’m Mik sim Mikhail. I come from Lacota, a little farming and ranching town near the Laughing River. We’re part of Stolevan, or the Stolevan Matriarchy if you want to be formal about it. I guess everyone knows about what happened with the ice dragon, right?

Right. Why not talk about your life before that?

Is there really that much to tell? My mother’s a baker, and my father’s a roustabout. That’s someone who does anything that’s needed on any of the local farms or ranches. I had a pretty normal life for a kid in Lacota. I went to school through the winter, and worked on my aunt's ranch during the summer.

What was school like?

They teach you to read and write, work numbers, some of our history. There’s lessons about gardening, cooking, and mending for people who don’t learn it at home. It was my last year of school, so I would have been apprenticed — well, I guess I was apprenticed. Just not where I expected.

Where did you expect to end up?

I was hoping to get apprenticed to Mattu, the local merchant. I would have had a chance to travel, maybe see Queensport some day. The kids all get to write down three choices, and the mentor — master — talks to the kids to see if they’re suited for the work. If I got passed by, I suppose I’d have ended up working for my aunt.

You worked a ranch. What was that like?

I spent five summers there. My aunt is… unique. Some of the folk who don’t like her say she’s part-goblin, but nobody dares say it where she can hear! She won’t read this, right?

She won’t.

Well, I can see where folk might get that idea about her being part-goblin. She’s almost as wide as she is tall, and she can out-wrestle and out-curse a blacksmith. I saw her do both, but she’d cuff me if she knew. I saw her take on an angry bull once, and that bull learned who was boss around the ranch right quick!

She sounds like a hard woman.

Only if you made her mad, and that took more than you might think. I mean, if she told you to do some chore, you’d be all right if you at least tried. She’d make you do it again, but she’d show you how to do it right. But if she thought you just walked off it, though, watch out!

One thing about the ranch: there wasn’t any “men’s work” or “women’s work.” There was just work, and whoever was around did it. I’d be peeling potatoes in the kitchen before breakfast, then pitch hay in the morning and herd cattle in the afternoon. Come evening, everyone was expected to mend and stitch. She said I wasn’t any good at sewing, but I could put a keen edge on a knife. So I’d sharpen the cutlery or fix broken handles, and she and the others would do the sewing. And she’d drink beer and tell dirty jokes too. I didn’t understand those for a long time. Now that I do, I can’t tell them to anyone.

Did you get any kind of special treatment, being her nephew?

No privileges, if that’s what you mean. She wouldn’t let me back down from anyone though, be it a ranch hand who thought he could boss a kid around or a cow who thought she could do the same. I got banged up some at first, but I learned how to get the better of them. Maybe that helped with the ice dragon.

Now that you’re an apprentice sorcerer, what’s next?

Well, I hope Sura and I stay together. I know being a sorcerer is dangerous, but so is being a rancher. Or a merchant, or a soldier. But it’s not so bad when you have someone to watch your back, eh?


  1. I have conversations like these, too. I promise it's no indication of sanity or insanity, just productivity.

  2. Loved this. I do hope this will be a book. I am really enjoying the world.

  3. Mik's aunt looks to be a very colorful - and highly developable - character. And, you forgot to ask Mik where he met Sura ;-).

  4. Hi all!

    JohnW, you mean it's perfectly normal to have conversations with the voices in your head, then transcribe them? Whew, that's a relief!

    Thanks Dina!

    Rachel, Mik met Sura about a year ago. ;-)

  5. What a great writing exercise to get to know your own character better and in the process we do too!

  6. Hey Larry what has happened to your email me with comments button?

  7. Hi Helen! Thanks much, it *is* an exercise that has served me well.

    I expect Blogger will put back the "email" link in the plain-jane comments page. Until then, I'll put the comment box inline, that brings it back too.


Comments are welcome, and they don't have to be complimentary. I delete spam on sight, but that's pretty much it for moderation. Long off-topic rants or unconstructive flamage are also candidates for deletion but I haven’t seen any of that so far.

I have comment moderation on for posts over a week old, but that’s so I’ll see them.

Include your Twitter handle if you want a shout-out.


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