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Monday, 25 April 2011

Kicked while collecting trilobites

To mark the publication of two Mirabilis hardbacks in just a few weeks, here's an extract from the proceedings of the Royal Mythological Society that forms part of the backdrop to the Mirabilian universe. I've seen the first copy of the new books (FedExed to me from the printers in Bosnia) and traditionalists will be pleased to know that the quality is better than iPad. There, you never thought I'd say such a thing.
Dear Doctor Clattercut and Professor Bromfield

I would expect you to be familiar with our village, as it is famous in a small way for having a sunken twin a little way out to sea. When I was a girl, I could stand on the cliffs and, with the wind in the right direction, it was possible to hear the tolling of the submerged church bell coming up out of the waves.

Now that things are as they are, our submarine neighbours no longer content themselves with the occasional ringing of a bell. Walking my dog along the beach, as often as not I will encounter a group of mermaids riding there. Their manners are polite, but I think there is some teasing in their glance and their ponies are mean little beasts, all shaggy with kelp and very high and briny to the nose. You know the smell when the tide goes right out; it's like that.

My concern, however, is the mermaids’ effect on our village. Twice a week, or Wednesdays and Saturdays, they come and sit on the beach with trinkets to sell. And I know where they get those trinkets. One of them had an ivory pipe that I recognized. It belonged to my grandfather, who was drowned at sea on my first day at junior school.

Yours sincerely, Mabel Catchpole (Mrs), Dunwich

Dr Clattercut replies: An interesting case, Mrs Catchpole, and thank you for bringing it to our attention. I don’t know if I would consider what the mermaids are doing to be looting. Any knickknacks they find on the sea bed were, after all, irretrievably lost to us on dry land. One could argue they are performing a valuable service akin to marine salvage. Admittedly, however, there is a suggestion here of grave-robbing. What do you say, Bromfield?

Prof Bromfield: Hmm? Just thinking… Cabyll-ushteys, those sea ponies are called – that’s what they call them in the Isle of Man, anyway. They’re more than pesky. Get in trouble out swimming and they’ll drag you down and eat you up. All of you except the liver, funnily enough.

Dr Clattercut: I believe the Suffolk version is less outrightly murderous, though still a creature to be wary of. I was kicked by one while collecting trilobites at Aldeburgh two months ago and I still have a bruise. But just a moment – how do mermaids..?

Prof Bromfield: Side saddle, old chap.
You can get the complete Kindle book of Royal Mythological Society correspondence from Amazon or check out the Myebook preview here.


  1. Grave-robbing mermaids? Nice little idea there.

    Out of interest, is "The Great Dirk" on Twitter Jamie Thomson?

  2. He's merely The Great Dirk's lickspittle, Hamza. Jamie types on his behalf while Dirk pulls the wings off flies and plans world domination.

  3. I've been lurking on this blog for a good while, but following the interview Dave did on guyscanread, I decided I would like to post a few points.

    Firstly, from, a purely personal point of view, I'm delighted that Dave moved back to writing from computer games a couple of years back. I did notice more active participation from Dave with his blogs etc and wondered why this had occurred since he was previously fairly quiet on the DW forums etc.

    I first purchased the Dragon Warriors books in 1985 as a teenager and remember in particular the delight that book 6 Lands of Legend gave me. Indeed I had some correspondence with Dave at that time - when those letters arrived in the post they made my day. (And I still have them! - reading them now, it's to Dave's credit that he patiently answered a 14 year old geeky questions).

    So onto to today. I purchased all of the DW reissues from MOP. I've also purchased the 4 reissued fabled lands books (not sure how I missed them the first time round). And I've downloaded the Mirabilis app for my Ipad. As a comic fan I loved Mirabilis, so am looking forward to the hardback book (I've decided to wait for this rather than download all the comics onto my ipad).

    Obviously its disappointing that things like DW and fabled lands have become so niche that it seems (from reading previous posts) extremely difficult for someone like Dave to make a good living from making new material. Clearly DW is crying out for more new material - hopefully Serpent King can do something about this.

    Unfortunately Fabled Lands didn't get me very excited and I've thought about this a fair bit. The conclusion I've come to is that I love the Legend world and the FL world just wasn't to my liking as much.

    So from my perspective, what I would really like to see is Dave do some new stuff for Dragon Warriors. However, my perception is that virtually all of Dave's creative efforts at the moment are being put into Mirabilis (no bad thing!), rather than DW or FL.

    Am I wrong?


  4. Hi Gavin - since I'm even now mainly excited by the things I liked at 14 (same as the things I liked at age 9, really) I'm sure it was no hardship to me to reply to your correspondence back then. I'm glad we're both going strong all these years later.

    DW still exercises my creativity on a personal level, that is playing in or running our now bi-weekly roleplaying sessions. (We're not currently running a Legend campaign but it's only a matter of time.)

    You're right that Mirabilis takes the bulk of my time - other than work for Fabled Lands LLP, but that's usually only peripherally creative. For example, Jamie and I plotted the first Dirk Lloyd book together, but he did the actual writing and on the sequel my involvement was limited to just one conversation over beers about where the story could go next. I do some movie and videogame consultancy, but it's all with the goal of clearing time for, and pumping resources into, Mirabilis.

    I'm afraid it is unlikely there'll be any new DW material from me. Partly there's no need; Ian Sturrock and his team are more than capable of running with that ball. Also, my scenarios are mostly improvised from scrappy notes and the players' actions. Nothing that comes out of one of our sessions would be of much use to another group.

    Gazing ahead at Mirabilis, I have about 600 pages of the main storyline to write, plus a standalone graphic novel, a collection of one-off stories, a prose novel and an idea that could either be a novel or an interactive visual novel type game. So unless I get kidnapped by Annie Wilkes I'd say that's my next five years mapped out right there. I think - hope, anyway - that most DW and FL enthusiasts will enjoy Mirabilis too, however.