#SPFBO 2018 : Guest Post – Phil Williams, Under Ordshaw

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As you may be aware I’m taking part, as one of the judges, in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, details here.  I’ve invited all the authors from my selected books to pay a visit to my blog and today I’m very pleased to welcome Phil Williams, the author of Under Ordshaw.  Phil agreed to write a guest post about how the story came about involving a visit to New York, a few jaunts, getting lost, a labyrinthine hostel and possibly discovering a Minotaur under the city – well, just read the piece already.

The Origins of “Under Ordshaw”

Under Ordshaw takes readers to a UK city with more than a few dark secrets. It’s a city that’s at once familiar and unusual, and the core of a series intended to span dozens of books. It’s the result of years spent writing and rewriting interlinked stories, with a great deal of imagining what if…

It’s also the result of my own attempts to explore our world, and quite specifically the time we considered the possibility of a minotaur under New York.

Under Ordshaw has seen four major iterations – once as a novel, twice as a screenplay and finally the version you see today. Originally called Penguins and Seahorses, it had a plot inspired by my reading that penguins and seahorses are rare in nature as the male helps raise their offspring. The latest version has evolved from a simpler concept of an ordinary father facing the unnatural to protect his family, but the collision of ordinary and unnatural remains.

Recognising that collision was where the story really began.

At some point in life, I adopted a hobby of urban exploring. I placed myself in random places within cities and saw where it took me. What better way to come up with random and absurd stories than to visit places you don’t belong? I got a real taste at university, pottering around the graveyards and estates of Nottingham. I’ve fed it in every city I’ve been.

In the spirit of this mindset, in the Summer of 2006, myself, my brother and my closest friend took a holiday to New York City. We planned nothing, assuming that wandering the Five Boroughs with a travel card would take care of itself.

The holiday panned out in untypical ways, with highlights including narrowly avoiding a major crime scene in Queens and getting lost in the middle of Staten Island. As such explorative jaunts into the unknown stirred our collective imaginations, we happened upon the minotaur.

Theseus and the MinotaurWe were staying in a labyrinthine hostel with a kitchen in the basement. Down there, we heard great groans from the mechanics of the buildings. And we asked what if… In particular, what if the next time we heard that noise, someone ran past screaming, “Minotaur!”

In this city that had proved strange and threatening in our ignorance, such a thing seemed possible.

Over the fortnight that we viewed New York through the eyes of outsiders who knew anything was possible, the running joke revealed the minotaur’s lore and the characters that fought or defended it. There was the violent-minded homeless man, perpetually bent on a final showdown with his arch-nemesis: “Rattigan, we finish this now!” (His foe, naturally, the master of the ferocious rodents we’d encountered.) There was the sage Mantis, keeper of secrets. And there was the discovery of scratchitti – urban vandalism, or a way to communicate with the underworld?

This stimulation sowed the seeds that would become Under Ordshaw, after a decade of refining. Similar experiences in different cities added flesh to the tale; the minotaur and the underground fused in my mind, for instance, after watching weary people riding the Prague Metro.

The characters emerged from other moments of inspiration. Darren Barton belongs to the concept of penguins and seahorses; Rufaizu his carefree opposite. Cano Casaria was a necessarily creepy foil in my screenplay Brutal Tower (inspired by research into housing estates, which will live again in Ordshaw Book 5). The criminals of Ordshaw first found life in a school play.

Mid-2016, it clicked in my mind that a shared universe made it possible to connect the many disparate ideas of my contemporary fantasy work that I had never published. Ordshaw was the perfect place to realise it.

When I revisited these stories, and started drawing them together, Pax Kuranes emerged as the character necessary to endure this experience. An outsider to the madness she was about to encounter and, in many ways, an outsider within the city itself. Someone comfortably normal, but drawn to the stranger side of life, open to exploring alleyways at night.

And from this union came Under Ordshaw. A novel that lays the foundations for a lot of work to come, but a story that serves the sentiments of three ill-advised youths who holidayed in New York, intent on seeing it through a different lens.

underordshaw

***

Thank you Phil for writing this fantastic piece, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did – apart from the fact that I love discovering the inspiration behind the book – I think what really gave me a smile with this was the ‘what if’ – it’s a favourite phrase of my daughter and I suppose it’s a demonstration of curiosity and imagination at play together.

FYI : Phil can be found at:

www.phil-williams.co.uk  Goodreads page

The link for the book is:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CXYSZVN/

 

 

 

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14 Responses to “#SPFBO 2018 : Guest Post – Phil Williams, Under Ordshaw”

  1. Tammy

    I love hearing about Phil’s adventures in cities as story inspiration, thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know, me too – although I wouldn’t be daring enough to do the same.
      Lynn 😀

  2. waytoofantasy

    This was great, love reading about the creative process.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Me too and this is such a great story. Makes me intrigued about the book.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m always fascinated by the genesis of a book’s core concepts, and I found this one quite enthralling 🙂

  4. sjhigbee

    What a fascinating way of realising a complicated fantastic world…

  5. Carmen

    I have had a better experience in NY City than encountering “ferocious rodents”, but I’ve never ventured into “strange alleyways at night” either. His experiences sound out of the ordinary, hopefully fueling his imagination in intriguing ways. Enjoy this book, Lynn.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks Carmen – this little story has certainly piqued my interest about the book.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    That’s a great story! NYC is definitely a great city to get lost in – both literally and figuratively 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think I”d be scared to get lost there – I’m useless so no doubt would end up down a strange alley. I love this story though.
      Lynn 😀

  7. bkfrgr

    What a great story – this has made me even more interested in Under Ordshaw. 🙂
    And “what if?” should be part of the curriculum – everyone should be encouraged to play with ideas this way because who knows where “what if?” can take us. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – this is a great story, I really enjoyed it.
      Lynn 😀

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