Travel: Essex – April 2015

Tracking down the Gavigan Estate – potent location in the classic Call of Cthulhu campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep

March last year I was in Morocco with my lady, Miss G: visiting Marrakech, Essaouira and Atlas Mountains. Whilst there we made friends with another couple. They were from Essex and told me about a place there called the Dengie. It includes a petrified forest dating back to the time of the Doomsday book.  They invited us over to visit.  Lots of things appealed to me about this trip. For one, I used the word Dengie for the name of a synthetic bio-engineered bodyguard (monster) used in the novel Broken Fury (work-in-progress). It has a creepy connotation. Also, the idea of seeing trees that had stood through so much of English history.  I wanted to see them. And finally, this part of Essex, a stone’s throw from the location of the Gavigan Estate – used in a CoC campaign that is very dear to my heart, the epic, world-spanning Masks of Nyarlathotep.  Here’s a few images from the trip. Starting with one of the petrified Oak trees that was mentioned in 1086! It boggles the mind.

Petrified oak tree Part of the Dengie, Mundon, Essex, The oak forest in Mundon is first mentioned in the Domesday book - photo David J Rodger

Petrified oak tree / part of the Dengie / David J Rodger

Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall.  Our friends took us to a remote stretch of landscape. A moderate walk along an lonely dust road. There, on a windswept bluff of grassy land was a solitary structure. This is the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall. The tree above was documented in 1086, 20 years after the Norman conquest of England. This chapel was built in AD 654! Continue reading

Personal blog: Man Flu and Future Ways

¦ dialling in from the sky bunker ¦

Got a feeling like my head is packed full of cotton wool. Not entirely unpleasant, just hard to think. Am making good progress with 3rd edition, feel like I shrugged off that feeling of going slightly mad that dominated April. I think meeting up with people during the day on a regular basis helps to offset what happens to your brain when you spend every day working in a fantasy world.

I did a hike through Goblin Combe with Miss G this weekend. I’ve not been there since 2004.   Interesting to go back, comparing  the “who I was then” to the who I am now. Lots has happened in the last 11 years. Goblin Combe is also a location for one of the novels slowly simmering in the background – Sunder Gloom, which features a return of the some of the horror that first surfaced in Bristol in the novel Living in Flames. Continue reading

Personal Blog: After the Launch

¦ dialling in from the Sky Bunker ¦

Arctic weather front has brought the temperature right down today. Life support on full blast up here in my study.  Gold sunlight sloping in through the glass canopy. Lovely.

Very productive day yesterday – good progress on the overhaul of Yellow Dawn as I work on the 3rd edition. Looking forward to a slightly easier pace today – got an interview this afternoon regarding some fiction I was commissioned to write, and meeting a freelancer who is (hopefully) going to handle layout and typography for YD3e.

Played Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene downstairs this morning, during the first mug of tea ritual. Such a great sound. Evocative. Memories of 1989 and early 1990, Osborne Avenue, working on 1st draft of Oakfield. Adam / Grassy / Richy – the whole Jesus Mound Village Vibe. The novel is doing exceptionally well. Thanks to everyone who has been bigging it up and boosting my signal. Much appreciated.

Crazy to think how long that book has taken to write.  How much has happened. And how we have all changed – but glad to say I still know the key people who were a part of my life back then.  Some pics above showing me, Adz, Richy and Grassy, plus the room I had in Osborne Avenue (another roof conversion!) where I wrote the bulk of Oakfield first time round.  It’s been pleasing for them to see me finally finish it.  Oakfield ties a lot of things together.

David J Rodger reading from Oakfield at launch party, April 2015

David J Rodger reading from Oakfield at launch party, April 2015

So where are we now? April 2015.  I’m due to start work again at the end of July. Just over a year out.  I don’t think I’d have been able to pull of a 3rd edition of YD, with all the artwork and re-engineering core systems, on top of finishing Oakfield, editing and launching, if I had been holding down a career at the same time.  It has been fantastic, edged with moments of personal darkness – me, getting lost inside my own head, day after day of working in fantasy – fiction and games. A weird existence, eh?

The plan now is to get a first draft of the YD 3rd edition finished by end of May. Get a cheeky copy without formating printed up and let the game guys play test it on our weekly Tuesday night sessions. Work on any tweaks, allow the artists to finish their work, put everything together and then start engaging with Mike Mason at Chaosium and Chris at Modiphius for the final review / editorial process. I’m really excited by the alliance with CoC7e: fantastic engine for quick narrative style roleplaying and it adds to the Yellow Dawn experience rather than taking anything away.

That’s it.

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Tonight’s Launch Party is a Big Goodbye

¦ dialling in ¦

Thursday morning. I am sitting in a cafe on the harbourside, sunlight painting stonework that has been selected to fit in with the historic structures that linger here. I am working on the 3rd edition of my RPG Yellow Dawn. Tonight is the launch party for my new novel, Oakfield. My 9th book but one that has taken me 25 years to write.

This book is important. Probably the most important book I have produced to date.  Because it represents the first in the series. Because It is my beginning, as an author, and in some way it represents an end (of this phase). Continue reading