A few years ago, I was trying to come up with story ideas that would fit into a good sword and sorcery setting. I wanted to world-build my very own Hyboria, Narnia, or Tolkien-esque Middle Earth. I mostly wanted a sandbox in which to play, to write material I would have wanted to read, and to enjoy my growth as a writer.
I came up with the idea of Kol…a distant planet not unlike our own, and frankly not very different from many others, but being uniquely graced with the setting for my stories and the adventures of my characters. I figured, if only for that, it was something very special.
Kol turned out to be more closely aligned with Howard’s Hyboria; a relatively low-fantasy world, where elements of grimdark and familiar creatures and fauna still existed, but where amazing, magical, and preposterous things were still firmly in play.
I more or less ran with it, drawing maps, taking notes on the varied political structures, cities, timelines, etc… Most of this is all still a work in progress.
The first story I wrote in this setting was published in Sword and Sorcery Magazine, in 2017. The Sword over the River Thar was more or less a retrospective tale of a man lamenting aspects of his life, and his relationship with his dad. It wasn’t the kind of swashbuckling adventure that the Mau-Keefe material would be.
As for Kol, I’ve written or began to write a dozen different tales; a few that starred a Barbarian and his Ranger buddy, others with a Jack Vance-vibe that focused on wizards in towers. I’ve never gotten these finalized or in any shape fit to print, but I do revisit them nowadays, and hope to one day have something worth a lick from them. Some of the material got a bit dungeons and dragons-ish, which I like to read, but is not the easiest to sell or get published.
Rest assured, I hope and plan for more stories of Kol, Mau-Keefe, and a host of other characters to someday see the light of day. I’m just hoping somebody likes them and enjoys them, because I do love writing them.
Then I came up with the idea of Mau-Keefe the Pirate, who started off as a villain in a straight up Conan pastiche I was working on several years ago. (I’ve thought about re-writing that story with Mau-Keefe as hero as well). He has now morphed and switched to a more heroic figure, and I began to pen tales about him, and the material seemed to flow. I believe now I have three or four written, one other of which has been purchased for publication but yet to be published. (It’s a much longer piece, and has a Fritz Leiber vibe)
The Mau-Keefe tales are based off of the old Harryhousen films, monster adventures and pure escapist fun. I wish it were otherwise, but this is the meat of what I want to do. The tales are also based off Robert Howard, a dash of Lovecraft, and other sources, like the old Forgotten Realms DC Comic that was written in the 1980s and early 1990s. That comic was pure gold (Most of them were written by Jeff Grubb).
Much of the crew of Mau-Keefe’s Crawling Chaos are unexplored in this particular tale, but I expand upon several of their stories in other works, and the mage Lucrutious is given a full origin in a different tale that I hope someday to get printed.
I know some folks have issue with pastiche, but I subscribe to the notion that everything has been more or less done already, and that pastiche is not something horrible. In fact it’s fun, and sometimes I prefer to come to a familiar setting and table to eat the same old meat and potatoes.
It’s mostly about fun, and I hope that any reader who checks out “The Treasure of the Wind-Walker” enjoys the ride.
Thanks again to Transmundane Press for digging the story.
Bryan Dyke is flying blind on a rocket cycle in the clouds above Vermont, USA. He also lives there with his wife, Corinne, two children, Mayve and Owen, and a naughty dog named Lucy. He is a U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the University of Florida. An avid fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Jack Kirby, he has several published short stories in various anthologies.
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