Always have a Battle Plan

I have been working on the Bloodfest series for  a long time now and I feel the need to explain myself; how the series works and what the ultimate goal is.

  • Stage 1: establishing the world

At the time of this post, I have written three books: one firmly self published on Amazon while the others are in the copy editing phase (I keep referring to it as ‘post production’).

In order to rebirth the series from a long slumber, I decided to write three original stories to firstly; practise writing again, and secondly; develop the characters for a modern era. These three books are all prequels to the “main event” called Bloodfest.

Call of the Conjurer is set in the year 2003, and follows the initiation of British born “magic soldiers” Ace Mcdagger and Shimon Arkasone. They have been ushered into the secretive organisation known internally as the Hidden Government, and are to be trained up in the art of magic combat. Several other characters find themselves in the same position, and a large part of the story is about team work.

Ace and Shimon are key to the whole Bloodfest series; or at least how it begins. But for Call of the Conjurer I wanted to write a bigger story, and invented the character of Calbert Mason – a figure for Ace to look up to – along with many others for Ace and Shimon to form close ties with. Some of these characters will make further appearances in the series.

Despite the establishing set up with Ace and Shimon, Call of the Conjurer became more of Calbert Mason’s story, and this formula of multiple viewpoints continues into the next book.

Typhoon of Fire continues the exploits of Ace, Shimon, and their close allies three years later in 2006. New key characters are introduced, and life changing events will affect the main cast for years to come.

Finally The Sardonyc changes perspectives entirely, focusing away form the action of the battlefield and onto the introverted scientist Sidney Gaterling. Set in the year 2010, this is one for the geeks. The pace is different; far more technical and steady. The Sardonyc is more of a psychological thriller, with a group of characters trapped on a ship and slowly going mad. Through these remarkable circumstances, Sidney faces his own battle against a mental threat, and his story gradually ties the prequel trilogy together.

Ultimateley, these three prequel books are not essential reading to understand Bloodfest, but help deepen the main characters’ motivations and hint at future events.

  • Stage 2: the Main Event

Bloodfest is a planned saga, currently shaping up to span five books. The first one has been written completely, and I am piecing the rest together all at once. I admit it is taking a while…

BF Cover preview.png

Set firmly in 2012, Bloodfest is an expansive story about savage battle, fatalism, bloodlines and mortality.

The conclusion has been planned, and I know what kind of story I want each book to tell. The series may be one saga, but each novel has its own collection of themes and arcing plotlines. I hate to leave a story on an unsatisfying cliffhanger, and want each one to have a concluding story.

  • Stage 3: the blog

Suffice to say the overall story arc has been mapped out over a number of years. Small changes have been made over time and continue to be made, but my primary intention is to put this series out and leave a little bit of me to the world.

Not only me: but my friends who helped directly create and inspire the series. A fellow called James is the key partner in crime here; co creator of the original home movie and continued contributor of ideas. He also writes, and is already penning a side story to Bloodfest that is totally original. I have no input on his tale and I love that. Even if he never finishes it, I love the idea of an expanded universe.

More about the origins of Bloodfest can be read here. I like to elaborate, and I want to answer questions and build up a reference source for the series with further texts and concept art.

Being a writer means constant practise. Some nights on the train ride home from London, I jot down mini stories built around the world of Bloodfest and I plan to post them on the blog as little treats.

For now, I hope you enjoy the character bios and develop an interest in the series. Please stay tuned as this blog fills with information!


What is Bloodfest? (Part 2)

===Part 1 Here.===

Over the years, the models and sets got better. I cannot find the actual VHS tapes of the later Bloodfest sequels, but I do still have the models.

No longer articulate with their bendy paper clip armatures, all that remains of the Bloodfest movies is a box of body parts. It’s very appropriate really.

Damn, what a mess.

After that had all settled down, I discovered the Enterbrain RPGMaker. Oh no.

BF game screenshot 1 BF game screenshot 2BF game screenshot 3 BF game screenshot 4

BF game screenshot 5 BF game screenshot 6

Oh yes. A 2D, turn based battle RPG with midi music with a lot of the original assets heavily edited. Ace Mcdagger, Captain of a special forces unit, arrives on a secret, government controlled island to clear out a horde of the undead. Along the way Delta Squad discover the ruins of ancient civilisations; whispers of a force  known The Ultimate Evil, and remnants of a war that took place thousands of years ago.

A war that may still be going on, waiting for Ace and a chosen few to take up arms and settle it once and for all.

There was a lot of work to do, and I was more focused on making the little character sprites and drawing as many unique monsters as possible. No damn palette swaps in my game.

BF game screenshot 7

Shout out to DJ Zombie.

BF game screenshot 8

It’s not all doom and gloom.

The game was more or less finished, except for the lack of original music and the fact that nobody really knew about it. James and Aaron gave it a spin, for a bit, but they didn’t have the 50+ hours of free time to explore the sequestered Pacoven islands and find all the secrets.

Maybe this would do well as a mobile game.

Anyway, I still wasn’t done with Bloodfest. Clearly not, as the whole lot is in the works in book form. By 2003, University time, I was dabbling in 3D animation.

Ace, Sidney and Tina Cast Artwork

But to hell with re-animating this whole series like a Pixar movie. I know from being a Freelance Animator how long it takes to create a 3 minute music video or a 30 second ident, usually flying solo. Bloodfest would be impossible on the big screen, at least from my little desk all on my own.

After that, Bloodfest as a creation stayed resting for awhile. Maybe life got in the way. It still resided though. It stayed around as an idea. I kept going back to add little details into the game – new character quirks, updated dialogue, new ideas for sub-plots. I came up with concepts for expanded stories, all through the experience of growing older.

Bloodfest has always been there, but I hardly ever spoke about it. See, part of the thing about being me, is that sometimes it is nice to stay in and just be creative. I do creative things. And when I do go out, I don’t talk about it. That’s how anxiety works. It makes you feel ashamed for having a voice. I love what I do, but I won’t tell anyone about it who doesn’t know me very, very well. It’s a bit of a conundrum. I have an entire world, several even; given that I have other ideas for creative works away from Bloodfest, but they stay inside me. I want to express myself, but it won’t come out.

It’s taken many years to get this far, from the tumultuous playgrounds, heaps of coursework and the dirge of working adult life. I’ve been through bouts of depression and bereavement, and my voice is slowly coming out of hibernation All it wants to do is tell you about zombies, and super soldiers, and Super Humans, and ancient prophecies and government conspiracies and magic spells, and a group of unsung underdog heroes; all suffering with their own hang-ups and issues, who eventually succeed and save the day.

And I want to tell you a whole lot more, once I get there.

What Is Bloodfest? (Part 1)

This is a story which begins in 1996, with very hazy origins.

The main thing I remember is building a Lego church, making a hill out of books draped over with the bare underside of a Subbuteo pitch, and then covering the lot with a horde of Plasticine zombies.

We filmed the establishing shot, and then the Plasticine army show up to save the day. Some of them were holding weapons ripped from Warhammer figures. These were not mine; they belonged to my friend James; he who is co-creator / co-inhibitor for this whole thing.

I used my parents’ camera and we filmed every scene with natural daylight. Lots of nice, jumping light levels between each shot. Hey, we were 11. The camera couldn’t even record animation stills.

The second camera, for our sequel, could do. That could record in stints as short as 1/4 of a second. Animation!

DSCN1038      DSCN1041Tonight our heroes will be played by The Muppets.

Let’s recoil a bit, in horror if you must. Bloodfest really started in the classroom, when I had already made a few little films and wanted to do a horror next. James wanted to do something with zombies, and so I started designing things, building sets and characters and creatures with what little I had, all stored in the corner of my bedroom.

His brother Aaron came up with the title. Originally the film was called ‘Eternal Torture’ but it seemed too long, and I suggested ‘Slugfest’ because of the constant struggle throughout. Aaron critiqued that as being “shit” and came up with the perfect name: ‘Bloodfest’.

I remember we had a spare note book used for drawing weapons – the most ridiculous weapons you could imagine. Every one knows what a double barrel shotgun is, but a triple barrel shotgun!? Scratch that, go a few steps up. Seven barrel shotgun. Now we’re talking.

We even had a gun so powerful that would kill a person if they used it. That’s how ridiculous the set up was, inspired by a cocktail of video games, movies and many different British comedies.

    DSCN1040     DSCN1039Proto Ace Mcdagger uses one of his team mates as a bridge.

Monsters created by bad science showed up later. The Super Human army; a massive, claw shredding, building leaping, cell regenerating step up from the bumbling zombies were a real threat to the waves of hapless fodder soldiers.

In the end only a few survived… the characters we just happened to base on ourselves and some of our friends… to take on the source of all evil: the Grim Reaper! A deathly shadow who wanted to do something or other with a vortex that could open all dimensions and… I have no idea any more.

The plot was never important. It was fun, and comcially gory, and over-brimming with ridiculousness. We made several sequels, usually stretching on for six hours long because there was so much we wanted to do.

But hardly anyone ever knew about these films. Maybe James and Aaron spoke about them, but I had my shyness. Years later it became apparent that this was probably more of a crippling teenage social anxiety than anything else. I enjoyed making the films, that was the main thing. Being at home and being creative was important to me. Bloodfest was one of many film projects I embarked on with different groups of friends, but this one somehow stood out above the others, maybe because we bloody well couldn’t stop making them.* And after school was done, and I started college, I tried a different approach to making Bloodfest a thing.

That is another post for another time. I have embarrassed myself enough for now.

But you lucky people can find What is Bloodfest? (Part 2) right here.

* The only other home made film I was proud of was called “Starship” , a Sci-fi comedy about a delivery company. We made that 1997. Unfortunately, it has been thoroughly trumped.