Brief (happy!) post to say that all of Domus Exsulis has been uploaded to a new directory. It will be few weeks before I re-open it for public consumption, though. It’s been on the web since 1997, so it’s a little worst for wear. I’m trimming sentences, sandpapering paragraphs, and adding public domain or CC licensed images to accompany the text(s). When it relaunches, there may be a couple of new stories as well. And the return of a couple more that I took down.
I feel a sense of responsibility for Domus Exsulis, since it’s not just a website. It’s a hypertextual project and is a part of the history of the quiet revolutions that moved the WWW in the late `90s to where it is today. A small part but it is still an artifact of that period.
I’ve re-enabled my twitter but will remain dormant. I had a fear that I would forget to re-activate it. Heck, I’m so busy and absent-minded, it’s a wonder I remembered to do my taxes today.
My private blog will remain locked.
The last post is now old news! Suffice it to say my demise from SFF was premature, and no the previous post was not a drama queen “fake” genre-goodbye. I just happened to change my mind, because I realised that there was no way I could divorce myself from SFF because it IS my whole life. Anyway! News!
(1) I have two acceptances! Moult, a Gothic surreal and slipstream work of flash fiction set in Kuala Lumpur has been bought by Rose Lemberg for her wonderful and surreal anthology, The Alphabet of Embers. I am so thrilled by this! And this evening, Merlusine, a dark mythopoeic poem that is intensely personal, was bought by Shira Lipkin and Mat Joiner of Liminality Magazine! This is tremendous, tremendous!
(2) Truancy 1 will be out sometime this month! We’re well on our way towards being published, after some delays, and I have rescheduled an interview with the awesome and very gifted Malaysian artist that I am interviewing.
(3) My digital chapbook Tower of the Rosewater Goblet will also be released into the world towards the end of December.
(4) I will be using this blog more, I hope. I aim to move my writing process posts here rather than my “personal” blog because this will help other writers, fans etc who might want to link to the things I write but couldn’t before, because it is a “personal” blog. And I thank them for respecting my privacy, and now I want to do something for them, and for people who want to share these things.
(5) Once I clear all of the above projects, I will work on bringing Domus Exsulis back on the web.
Thanks and Good night 🙂
Writing is therapy for me, so Domus Exsulis has two new bits of what I like to call “virtual word-busking”.
(a) A Matter of Loose Translation (new short fiction featuring Ipede, and Aiceli the Court Scribe, from my Gaernic Exiles)
(b) All So These Roses May Dream (flash fictive dream)
But, while I was baking stuff to help with flood relief efforts today, I started musing about other things, so here’s another rambly bit of history:
I created this online, hypertextual world on the `net in 1997, because more than one of my stories and poems had intersecting themes and I wanted to see what would happen if I allowed them the freedom of intersecting with one another. The setting of a mythical island beyond the mists of Faerie was inspired by a long epic poem I wrote about Cupid and Psyche in `96, after I had what may best be called a lucid dream. I was also influenced by the eastern idea that the world we live in is like an onion, full of layers, Celtic mythology (the Mabinogion for one, the stories of Tir nAn Og, for another) as well as various myths and fairytales. I wanted to weave together things that inspired me as a child – grand mythic and historical epics, along with a literary style of writing.
I’ve been musing today about my literary influences for that first iteration of Domus Exsulis, bearing the rather kitsch name of StormLight’s Realm (The StormLight was the initial name of the poem).
I knew I didn’t want it to be Tolkienesque. Which is funny, because one of the biggest awards my site got (ha, it was the `90s, we thrived on receiving awards, but some of them I actually valued!) called me a successor to both Tolkien and Frank Herbert. Such a hyperbolic compliment, but so sweet! I laughed my silly head off. No, none of the above.
So. Apart from various epics and sagas – my influences are: James Joyce, Angela Carter (even more so after I started working on my M.A. in Literature thesis on her), Dante Aliegheri, who was responsible for my strange waking dream poems of 1995-1996, Jack Vance, whose alternate vision of fantasy in the Lyonesse Trilogy haunted and enchanted me so much that I wanted to create my very own Manse. I’d like to cite Guy Gavriel Kay but I think he was more an influence for what would become The Gaernic Exiles than Domus Exsulis. The Exiles have made it to Yrejveree, but eventually, after my PhD days are done, they will be featured in a separate webproject. George Macdonald’s another, because his adult fairytale visions in Phantastes was an inspiration, Peter S Beagle as well as was Virginia Woolf! My vision of fantasy is one that includes stream-of-consciousness, and includes the literary. If pressed, I’d even admit to the influence of a certain Chekhov. Also, Jack Zipes’s translations of the French salon fairytales, especially The Green Serpent by Madame d’Aulnoy, which, if you look carefully enough, you’ll find nods to her here and there in these stories. That’s just one layer. There are also influences from Malay folk and fairytales, the Indian Vedas, various Asian superstitions, and the works of Malay poets and writers such as Muhammad Haji Salleh and Keris Mas. So yes. Influence is inevitable, but when you drink from many streams, the direction these influences take can be a schizophrenic, synaesthetic intoxicating blend for the writer. I can’t speak for the reader, you’ll have to decide for yourself. 😉
These are but a few. When you’ve read voraciously from a mixture of genres and subgenres, this bleeding into each other of sometimes, conflicting influences is bound to happen. I think that is why I sometimes have a dim view of imposed genre rules and prescriptiveness as a whole. I think fiction should flow, and I get excited by textures in narrative and storytelling.
The three main novellas have been removed off Domus Exsulis, ie: Kieran’s story (The Assassin’s Novella), the Festival of Songs and The Gaeirnic Exiles. This has been part of this site’s plan for over a year now, perhaps two, but I kept the stories on out of nostalgia. Lately, I’ve been concerned with various things, i.e; readability as well as the fact that these tales are pretty much belonging to the body of work that can be considered juvenilia. Wince. Cautiously, I may note that I’ve matured as a writer. Sure, my spates of writing are not as exuberant. One cannot be a literary academic postgraduate scholar without a great measure of caution and scepticism, after all. But one hopes this does not lead to a decrease in the quality of words or in the devotion for the craft of storytelling.
The sad news above is coupled with (hopefully) good news. I have – for quite some time now – been thinking of having a separate chapbook, whether print or digital, featuring the first two novellas. Both Kieran and Erna’s tale *do* provide the back-story for my novel in progress based in Domus Exsulis, but also, I want to move this hypertextual experiment to a more traditional form. I want to say “print” form, but since I envision it primarily as an e-text, it’s more sensible to say a more “linear” and traditional form. To that effect, I’m happy to announce another storytelling project for The Mythogenetic Grove:
The Caretaker’s Tale & The Dragon Who Thought She Was a Tree: Two Novellas
It makes sense to have them within the same digital chapbook, particularly since the events, to a certain extent, run concurrently. Kieran, a hybrid Australian of Chinese-Eurasian descent and Erna, a Himalayan dragon, have always been central to the many-threaded narration of Domus Exsulis. I started it in `97 based on my love for the classics, mythology and all things gothic, creepy and strange in folklore and fairytales. It was set on an island, the very same island to which Cupid had Zephyrus bring Psyche. I mused about the function of the island in folklore, fairytales and mythology and my love for The Green Serpent was partially because it hybridized that very same island with the Pagodes. It was also based on my love for Maurice Ravel’s musical visions. But wait, is that all? No! I had various locales, with stories which straddled indo-chinese, celtic, Indian and African mythologies as well as South East Asian and Malay. I did not make it explicit because, being a hybrid, mixed-raced and mixed-culture writer, I had hoped that the complexities of the connections between races would be sufficiently implicit. However, I’ve realised recently that perhaps I do need to fully flesh out this world, perhaps I do need to be more direct about what I’m doing here.
This will be my self-publication experiment; the stories have been on the web for over 13 years. It’s not a dramatic risk, but it’s not risk-free, either. It’s a leap, but one I am willing to take, as I need to start revolutionising the way I’ve been distributing my stories online, outside of my plans for traditional publishing. My goals as a writer have always been both the traditional AND indie routes – I think for my more experimental pieces of writing, I would prefer to have more autonomy. This doesn’t mean I’m planning on sacrificing on quality – the stories will be substantially different once in an ebook format. They’ve been placed on the daunting “to be re-written” list but since the raw material and storytelling framework is there, it shouldn’t take as long as completing a frigging novel! My plan is to provide a more concrete closure for both stories, making the narration richer and with more atmosphere. Both Kieran and Erna’s tale deserve more depth, I believe, and the framework has already been laid out. There is still a decent amount of fiction left on Domus Exsulis. Newer pieces and fragments that cross-refer with each other. I suspect more fictive pieces will be posted, now that there’s a lacunae of opportunity left. Right now, Millah, the mother of one of the protagonists of Watermaidens is having a fine day over at Domus Exsulis. Read her account in Better than Mathematicians. Anyway. My aim is to write more spontaneous fictive pieces in the name of virtual word-busking. They won’t be perfect, but they’ll fit within the grand scheme of the stories I’ve been telling since Day One.
Dear Readers of Domus Exsulis.
I don’t know who you are, apart from those who have contacted me and those who have become friends. However, over the past thirteen years of working on this web of interconnected stories, I’ve always thought of you. I thought of you when I decided I was going to create an online, hypertextual playground for my fairytales and poems. I thought of you when, most gratifyingly, the first few of you started leaving feedback, telling me of what these tales meant to you. They made me want to be a better writer. They made me realise that there were other people like me out there, to whom my words were actually meaning something. It got a little heady at first. Within my very tiny corner of a very huge world, I began to feel a little more important, a little more relevant. The world shifted, the stories grew, and grew. Then the web-space in which the world was in was too small for it. So we all moved here in 2002. Then the names did not fit the world, and I searched different lexicons for the right names. It took me a long while, but sometime in 2004, I decided that using Latin would be a smart choice, for after all, was everything not set on that same isle to which Cupid had Zephyrus bring Psyche?
But then, in the process of writing, and unearthing, I discovered different things about the world I was writing about. The web was not enough. Being loose and self-published was not enough. A novel had to be written. And because I can never do things in halves, now we have short stories that connect to the novel and novellas that connect as well. Now, I don’t know when most of these will be done, when they’ll be submitted, and when they’ll finally be published. But Domus Exsulis will always remain independent and free, even if some stories will be taken down, and others written to keep the flow going.
I grew up as a writer on the internet, and while some of you – who are long gone, so I write to the memory of those of you who wrote to me, rather than to actual persons – felt these texts meant something to you, I also knew that my skills as a writer were not good enough. When I reread some of these tales, today, I cringe. They weren’t altogether bad, but they are not representative of who I am as a writer, anymore. In the same way, the isle has grown along with me, and my process of writing these stories has been a process of unearthing things about it.
To come straight to the point – I have finally unearthed a name, which is no longer a hokey portmanteau, no longer latin. And I’d like to share it with you. My plan was to write a story about how the Caretaker discovers this name. It’s fresh in my head, but I have deadlines to keep, and the changes have already been made on the website. So I’ll just, with minimum fanfare, share the name for what used to be StormLight’s Realm, and then Lumen Procellae:
Yrejveree – (ee-REJ-vuh-rEE)
I like it. For years I’ve been seeking the right name, and I’d written down Yraeth, more than once, because it derives from the welsh hiraeth, which was, in one form or other, my nickname on various bulletin boards, MUDs and IRC channels. But I also knew that the isle had autochthonous names and tribes, and I wanted the name to reflect that. There are a couple of those names in the stories some of you have read. The Mishgalaveri Mountains and Old Man Maheeri, the cliff, for instance. So I worked a little on it, and found a name that made me happy, especially since it connects with the system of names I’ve been slowly building. It also connects to the Yrole Triptych. So it fits. The other latin names will remain. Domus Exsulis will always be Domus Exsulis. That fits too. But I felt the actual name of the island should reflect something older, something more indigenous to the isle and I am happy to have found it.
In all these thirteen years of growing, building these stories and making these changes, I’ve always had you in mind, dear, Invisible, Intended Reader. I trust that these changes are made in both our best interests, and I hope that in my process of writing a novel that will hopefully go somewhere, and short stories that will actually sell, I will not let you down, but instead, exceed your expectations.
Because I know for sure, that I’m determined to exceed mine.
Lots and Lots of Love,
The Ninny, the help-bogles, the watermaidens and assorted critters of Yrejveree
(Note: As of 17 November 2012, Yraveri has been changed to Yrejveree because it better suits developments in the novel as it is being drafted)