Jonny Nexus

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Category: The Sleeping Dragon (page 2 of 2)

The Cast of Sleeping Dragon: The Storm

The cast of the Sleeping Dragon is an ensemble one, featuring five misfits bought together by circumstances beyond their understanding, who swiftly realise that only by working together can they work out just what the hell’s going on and, more importantly, just how the hell they can get out of it.

In this post we look at the man who like the bards of old, supplies this particular group of adventurers with their musical heart.

* * * * *

As lead lutist of Northern Fire, the biggest rock band on the planet, the Storm might appear to have it all: fame, money, and the adulation of fans. But a decade spent touring the Empire in a battered wagon to reach those heights, and then a further decade and a half trying to stay there, takes a toll on a man’s spirit. The music still makes sense. But little else does.

Gekk looked over at him, a sneering smile on his face. “What? Trying to say you can write the songs instead of me? Dream on, mate. You’ve either got it, or you ain’t; and you ain’t.” He didn’t wait for the Storm to answer, but instead tapped out a line of herb on the dressing room counter and carefully snorted it up one nostril. He sniffed twice, and then smiled. “Stick to lead lute, mate. It’s what you’re passably good at.” He looked around at the others, an unnatural shine in his eyes. “We going on then, or what?”

One by one, the band rose and walked through the dressing room’s open door. It was only a short walk down a bare corridor to the stage; much shorter than some nightmarishly maze-like arenas they’d played at – although contrary to legend, and a few close calls aside, they’d never actually got lost on the way.

Then they were there, on stage, plugging in their instruments and launching straight into the first song, “Warriors of the East”. The Storm crashed into the intro with Eddie’s drums backing him up and Gekk coming in on the aurabox; all of them feeling more than hearing, sensing the change in the crowd. As always, the Storm found himself in awe at the effect music could have: uplifting, transforming, empowering. Fifty thousand faces were lifted towards them, a hundred thousand entranced eyes. A sea of waving hands that soothed nerves and fired the soul.

Arguments. Addictions. Money. None of it mattered when they were together on stage. This was what they did, and damn they were good.

The rock star isn’t the most active member of the team; he is after all, inhabiting a mid-forties body that’s suffered a couple of decades of hard living, and is nursing a pretty big herb addiction, as well as suffering from doubts about his place in all of this. But he does offer the team a pragmatic, if cynical, view that can often prove useful:

The Storm thought for a moment as he zipped up his flies. “Didn’t the god-prophet Muna once steal a loaf of bread from a tax collector?”

“Well, I think you’re drastically simplifying the theology behind–”

“Muna’s the patron-god of grifters,” interrupted Dani.

“Yeah?” replied the Storm. “Never knew that.”

And as events progress, the Storm forges a friendship with Blade, the two men united by the shared experience of a life lived in the floodlight of publicity.

The Storm nodded. “Family’s the thing you miss, once you haven’t got it anymore.”

Blade gave him a “go on” type of nod. The musician paused for a moment, and then continued.

“I never really knew my dad. It was my mum who bought me up. She scrimped and saved to get me lute lessons because she was convinced I had some sort of talent.”

“Well, she was right!” said Laliana, who was sitting on the sofa next to Blade with her feet curled up beneath her. “Look at what you achieved with Northern Fire.”

The Storm gave her a wan smile. “I don’t think Northern Fire was what she had in mind. Anyhow, she never lived long enough to see it, so I guess it doesn’t matter.”

She leaned over and gave his knee a quick pat and him a quick smile. “At least you got to know her. I don’t remember either of my parents.”

“Yeah. Dani told us. Sorry.”

She shrugged. “It’s okay. Never miss what you never had and all that.” She paused for a moment. “What about you, Blade?”

This wasn’t something Blade normally dwelled upon. Serious A-Sport fans generally knew his family history anyway, and made sure not to ask. “My dad was in the game,” he told them. “Pretty good, but not great. So he decided that what he couldn’t do, I would. Drills, practice, and games from when I was four years old.”

“Is that so bad?” the Storm asked. “Look where he got you.”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t a son to him, I was a project. And my mum just left him to it. Only real family I ever had was Toozie and the kids, and I sure screwed that up.”

Laliana gave him a reassuring smile. “Maybe when this is all over, you might get a chance to try and make that better?”

“You think this is going to get better?”

Laliana fixed Blade with a stern look. “Well, if this Toozie was so great, why’d you screw it up?”

It was a question Blade had asked himself a thousand times, but one he’d never had the guts to actually answer. He looked at the Storm for support, but only got a not-so-helpful shrug in return. “I was eighteen when we got together, she was seventeen. Things were different then.”

“How so?”

The Storm answered while Blade was still thinking. “That was before you were famous, right?”

“Yeah. I was just an apprentice; a trainee on a youth feeder team trying to prove that I was more than just my father’s son. I think most people figured I was only there because he’d pulled strings. No one thought I’d amount to much, including him. Then I met Toozie, and she didn’t care who my dad was, or what I could do in an A-Sport arena.”

“So what went wrong?”

What had gone wrong? They’d been an item within a day, soul mates within a week, and living together in a one-room hovel within two months. By his nineteenth birthday Blade had graduated to the junior warrior’s slot on a senior team and they’d moved into their first proper home, a two bedroomed apartment on the edge of the canal district. Blade had once heard it said that life was wasted on the young, and he now knew that to be true. Those years in that apartment had been the best years of his life, but he’d let them slip through his fingers like sand in the surf. Too young to appreciate what he’d had; too stupid to realise that he’d never have it again.

“So what went wrong?” Laliana asked again.

“What he said,” Blade told her. “I got famous.”

As the story progresses, the Storm finds himself tested in ways he would never envisaged, and a truth will be revealed: that there is more to this rock star than a gaudy costume and a rollocking riff.

* * * * *

Just for fun, I created some mocked up RPG-style character sheets for Sleeping Dragon’s five protagonists. Here’s the Storm’s:

* * * * *

Click here to read the other posts in the “Countdown to Sleeping Dragon” series.

* * * * *

The Sleeping Dragon is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US (it’s also available in all the various international Amazons at the equivalent price in local currency). If you like what you’ve read here, then please consider pre-ordering it.

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

The Sleeping Dragon will be published in February next year, in both Kindle and paperback formats.

* * * * *

Sleeping Dragon’s Phonetic Alphabet

Like our world, the world of Sleeping Dragon has a phonetic alphabet. However, given that world’s history, the words chosen are rather different.

A – Amulet B – Bard C – Candle
D – Dagger E – Elven F – Flame
G – Griffin H – Hammer I – Ice
J – Jade K – Kraken L – Lamp
M – Mace N – Net O – Opal
P – Paladin Q – Quill R – Ruby
S – Sword T – Torch U – Unicorn
V – Viper W – Wand X – Xavier
Y – Yaeger Z – Zombie

In the story of the Sleeping Dragon, the phonetic alphabet is seen being used to identify carpets and skyships, using the last two letters[1] of the vehicles’ unique four-letter registrations, as in the following conversation between Blade and Sky Traffic Control.

In the driver’s seat, Blade was talking into his headset. “Craagon Control, this is carpet Candle Dagger requesting vector approach.”

The reply came back within seconds, blaring out of speakers set around the carpet’s cabin.

Carpet Candle Dagger, this is Craagon Control. You are cleared for visual approach on vector fiver-niner.

Blade punched a few buttons on the crystal screen in front of him. “Craagon Control, this is carpet Candle Dagger beginning approach on vector fiver-niner.”

Happy landings carpet Candle Dagger.

The voice paused for a moment, and then continued, presumably talking to someone else now.

Skyship Sword Griffin, please descend to flight level two-three…

The carpet swung through a graceful turn and then began a slow descent.

[1] This is the way it’s done in our world. A former boss once took me for a flight in his helicopter, which had the registration “[letter][letter]DX” painted on its boom, and which was referred to by air traffic control as “Helicopter Delta X-Ray”. What struck me about the whole thing was the need to constantly multitask, in that you were simultaneously flying the helicopter while conversing with air traffic control (admittedly we were flying across Heathrow airport at the time). I couldn’t do it. Imagine if it was this way for driving a car? A car journey would consist of you having to commentate your entire journey. If, say, you were approaching a roundabout you’d have to thumb your transmit button and announce, “This is car Whiskey Lima requesting a the right turn at the Clockhouse roundabout”, then wait until given permission to enter the roundabout, before navigating across the roundabout without crashing, only to then launch straight into the next bit of commentary. All the while changing lanes if requested by road traffic control, and changing your speed when requested by road traffic control. And always being aware that if you sound flustered, the controller might report you. Me? I’d hand my license back in.

* * * * *

The Sleeping Dragon is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US (it’s also available in all the various international Amazons at the equivalent price in local currency). If you like what you’ve read here, then please consider pre-ordering it.

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

The Sleeping Dragon will be published in February next year, in both Kindle and paperback formats.

* * * * *

The Cast of Sleeping Dragon: Darick

The cast of the Sleeping Dragon is an ensemble one, featuring five misfits bought together by circumstances beyond their understanding, who swiftly realise that only by working together can they work out just what the hell’s going on and, more importantly, just how the hell they can get out of it.

In this post we look at the man who gives the group its spiritual heart.

* * * * *

Darick is an ordained priest in the Church of the Holy SkyFather. His religious faith, whilst beset by fear and doubts, is both deep and sincere, which is where his problems begin, because in this new modern age, the Church and its leaders don’t feel it appropriate to be seen to “do religion”.

Men said many things of the Great Cathedral of the SkyFather. Some declared that the scale of its architecture taught an individual humility, and that the glory of its finish taught them awe. Some called it a place of spiritual cleansing in which life-damaged souls could shine once more. The Central Tourist Board of Empire City’s municipal council described it as “an indispensable visit” that was “the perfect preliminary to lunch in the Cathedral District’s many and varied high-quality eating establishments.”

Right now, Father Darick would have described it as the last place in the universe he’d ever want to be. The man sitting on the other side of the large and impressive desk – Archbishop Ulfred, priest of the Great Cathedral, leader of the Empire City diocese, ultimate controller of a number of extremely wealthy investment portfolios, and Darick’s boss – leaned back, stroked his chin, and finally spoke. “Darick, Darick, Darick. What are we going to do with you?”

As the story progresses, Darick finds his faith tested by events more real, and more terrible, than ever he could have imagined.

It was a scene beyond any horror Darick could ever have imagined. He would have closed his eyes were it not for the certainty that the scenes would continue to play on the insides of his eyelids. There was nothing good in a place like this. Nothing of worth. Nothing that any decent person could possibly hold dear. He took another look at the plate held by one of the sneering waiters as it glided past him. Gluttonous sins aside, the food did look awfully good, and he was quite hungry.

He reached out to grab a canapé, muttering a silent prayer of forgiveness to the SkyFather as he did so.

But in this modern age, priests do have other skills.

Back in the seminary, when he was training to be a priest, Darick had attended a course in conflict resolution. It was part of a new package of training for what the church described as “the challenges of the modern age”, and which also included public relations, relationship counselling, and a whole bunch of psychological screening tests that had a fancy name but basically amounted to “Dear gods, we can’t afford any more scandals with small boys.” He thought perhaps he should put that conflict resolution training into practice. “Let’s just say that we were to decide to do something,” he said.

“We haven’t agreed that,” said Dani.

“No, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that we did.”

“Okay.”

“If we did decide that, what would we do?” He looked at Blade.

The sportsman thought for a moment, then shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. I just figure we need to do something.”

Darick often feels himself to be superfluous, a prisoner of doubts that tell him that faith is futile in this harsh modern world. But beneath the bumbling exterior, there is steel in this priest. Faith will prove its purpose.

* * * * *

Just for fun, I created some mocked up RPG-style character sheets for Sleeping Dragon’s five protagonists. Here’s Darick’s:

* * * * *

Click here to read the other posts in the “Countdown to Sleeping Dragon” series.

* * * * *

The Sleeping Dragon is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US (it’s also available in all the various international Amazons at the equivalent price in local currency). If you like what you’ve read here, then please consider pre-ordering it.

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

The Sleeping Dragon will be published in February next year, in both Kindle and paperback formats.

* * * * *

Launch Day Has Arrived!

Today is Sunday 24th February 2019, and that means that after what seems like a very, very long wait, the Sleeping Dragon is finally being published, worldwide, in paperback and in Amazon Kindle. The paperback is priced at $9.99 / £6.99, and for the time being, the Kindle version is at a special launch price of $0.99 / £0.99.

Last night, I, my family, my friends, and a few members of the public held a launch party, Jonnycon II. I’ll do a follow up post for that.

I first outlined the basic plot of the novel in early 2008; I think I finished that outline whilst on a flight to San Francisco with my wife.  I wrote half of it back then, then abandoned it to write an (as yet) unpublished time travel novel, and then wrote If Pigs Could Fly, before finally returning to it in 2016. Even then, going through the structural edit and then the copy edit has taken a long time.

But I’m really hoping it’s all worth it. I think it’s a good book, I’m very proud of it, and I really hope you all like it.

* * * * *

In the run up to the launch day, I did a series of “Countdown to Sleeping Dragon” blog posts. Click here to read them.

* * * * *

The Sleeping Dragon is now available for order worldwide in paperback at $9.99 / £6.99 and on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US:

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

(Those are the Kindle links, but with one click form those you can switch to the paperback version).

Jonnycon II: Full Story With Pics

Today is the morning after the night before, where the night before was Jonnycon II, the launch party for my latest novel, the Sleeping Dragon. That actually makes it sounds a tad more debauched than it was; it was actually a quite sober though still enjoyable occasion, and we’re all fine the next day with the possible exception of my daughter, who stayed up way, way past her bedtime and is just a little tired today as a result.

It was a great occasion. I should say that if you’re looking to host an event in the Rochdale / Littleborough / Todmorden area, I can strongly recommend the Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club. It’s a lovely venue, and in the summer, when it isn’t pitch-blank, the views must be superb.

I’ve made the short video above giving some of the highlights, but I do just want to say that I was very pleased that people turned up. I have to give thanks to all my family, including my mum and dad, but very special thanks must go to my wife Jules and my sister-in-law Angela, for helping to organise the event, and inviting a lot of their friends, and to my niece Emily for organising the brilliant brass band who played after my reading. Also, I cannot not mention my very good friend Gregor Hutton who came all the way from Edinburgh for just this one night.

Finally, my daughter Violet turned out to be an excellent and enthusiastic sales-person. It appears that when a six year old hands you your goodie bag containing your free copy of the Sleeping Dragon, and then asks you if you would like to purchase her daddy’s previous two novels at a price of £6 for one, or just £10 for two, that’s an offer you just don’t feel able to refuse.

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