The new Fantasy Saga from C.C. Hogan - Coming Soon
Johnson Farthing shifts Dirt for a living. That is his lot. The bottom of the pile with no future, no expectations and no reason to think anything is going to change.
And then, his sister is kidnapped and his world is turned on it's head.
Dirt is a new saga set on a world called Dirt where dragons are sophisticated people, magicians do not have wands, and those on the bottom of society have no real future. Spanning a thousand years and twelve books, the story tells of the battle not of princes and princesses battling to dominate their society, but of the common people, both human and dragon, as they desperately try to build a fairer world that they can share.
I have been working on these books for a year now and the first four are just about ready to be published. I have to say from the outset that I have written these for me. They are the fantasy that I have wanted to read for years and they are full of the things closest to my heart: love, humour, politics, conversation, need, passion, wonderful beer and, of course, dragons.
The characters are cheeky, occasionally irreverent, and strong. They fight hard, play hard, but they suffer losses and they know how to cry. I have not wanted to make this some dark, depressing book because over the years I have learned that even in the worst of times, people laugh and love and find hope and solace. In some ways my inspiration has been the Wipers Times, a magazine produced in the trenches in World War One that dared to laugh and joke and have fun, however desperate the fight. If our own people could do so in that terrible war, then surely my characters can have a laugh in theirs!
The books, great hefty tomes, are written chronologically. The first series is a trilogy and tells the story of the young and poor Johnson Farthing as he goes on a quest to rescue his sister and the daughter of the man who runs the small country of Redust. As the story develops, so their lives change dramatically and the story evolves to span two continents and becomes a bitter war for the very heart of the people.
We learn of the great dragons of Dirt; not cave-dwelling, fire breathing monsters, but beautiful winged people who, like birds, have little sense of territory and are often puzzled by the human desire to invade and conquer. They are the idealists who prefer to live in small communities, love flying more than anything else, and will gather together to sing and welcome the sun. Oh, and some of them brew the best beer!
We find that magic is a subtle, rare thing that cannot solve a problem with the wave of a wand. As one of my characters says, " I might be able to slow down someone’s urgent need for air so they can fly high on a dragon, but when they get hungry, I can only solve that by cooking them something to eat. I can’t click my fingers and magic up a four course meal complete with servants and silver cutlery."
For those who want a book full of wizards shouting, "you shall not pass," then this might be a disappointment. But if you want a book where despite being a dragon or a magician or just a cart pusher, you can still hurt, still cry, still laugh and still fall in love, then this is for you.
I have decided to tell the story almost uniquely from the point of view of my heros. There is a the odd contribution from the baddies, but mostly, we discover what they are up to at the same speed as do the goodies. I wanted to write in this style because I want my characters to seem as reactive as possible. They don't always win, their lives are full of twists and turns, successes and failures, and it has been much more interesting to see how they cope without knowing what is about to happen to them.
My central characters in the first series are young, just older teenagers, but they are in a world where many of the poor are working by the time they are ten years old, so they are not the innocents that we are. But however young or old they may be, I have allowed them to be as strong as they wish. Male or female, human or dragon, they all have the chance to shine or fail. My characters are, after all, fighting for a fairer, more equal society and though I have not included issues of race (there are different races, but I have decided not to make that an issue), they do have to fight sexism, homophobia, anti-dragon ideologies and the inequalities perpetuated through feudalism.
The most vital trait in my characters has been humour. As you will discover, drinking beer in taverns or sitting around huge breakfast tables is very much at the core of my people's lives, and it was important to me that most of my main characters were who I would personally enjoy being with, laughing with, drinking with or falling in love with.
I also wanted to be able to cry with them when their world comes crashing down and they are lost and lonely.
In consequence, even in battle, they are prone to quick humour and silly arguments, even if afterwards as they count the dead they feel wretched.
Behind the stories is a very complex world; well it would be really, it has been around for countless thousands of years! The background to the tale is very important. I used to work in news a little, just on the edges, and one of the things that always surprised me was how little people know of the world beyond their front gate. If that is so in this internet connected world, imagine what it must have been like for people living in a small village with just a few old horses a thousand or more years ago. You may know the name of the next town, but you probably do not know of the one after that. Not everyone knows the name of the US President now, even some living in the US, so what is the chances that in a fragmented world you would know the name of your king or Prelate? Or even care?
If then too most people cannot read and write, who is there to remember the histories? And of those who do and have recorded it, how many of those are even telling the truth? Or simply messing it up through ignorance.
As my story moves to the second series, so my characters reveal an every more complicated world, and yet, as they discover, so much of what they thought was right, isn't. The past, or what they thought was the past, is wrong. Humans have forgotten, dragons who live hundreds of years have forgotten. Time has moved on but in building a brave new world, understanding the past is vital.
And so, the world of Dirt is slowly exposed. The layers of society, the languages, the people, their history, their dynasties are all woven up with the day-to-day struggles of my characters.
What is coming next?
The first thing that will come out will be the opening trilogy, with the first book discounted heavily.
With this I will be publishing a new website: aworldcalleddirt.com. The site will not only have publicity material associated with the books but will also have a section called The Abbey, which will be a sort of Wiki. This will contain maps, character profiles, details about people, histories, all laid out in a way so you do not have to read anything that will spoil where you are in the books.
I will then be publishing a shorter fourth book. This tells the story of what happens after the events of the first trilogy and will also contain an additional short story that serves as a teaser to the second series. This smaller tome is around 70,000 words, so it is a little longer than a novella, but much shorter than the main books.
I am currently about to start book 3 of the second series and am planning another novella and more short stories. Some of the short stories may well be very much stand-alone; my world is now becoming so complete, so deep, that I really want to explore other people's lives, especially where they are removed from the Dirt-shattering events of the main story.
And then there will be the third series, which at the moment consists of about three paragraphs of ideas and a few stray notes. However, I have written the final page, so I know where I need to end up.
Will that be it?
Perhaps, but Dirt really is a wonderful world, and humans are so terribly deceitful at times. I am sure it will all go wrong again and they will need more young people to rush to their rescue...
So, there you go. A brief introduction to Dirt. There will be much more over the next few weeks as I finalise the drafts and publish the first books!