Today is the 1st of September, 2020. On this day, twenty years ago, my cute Internet girlfriend and I faced the magistrate and became Mr. and Mrs. Hatboy. A day or so later I was deported. Good times.
I have a lot to say about the extraordinary woman I was lucky enough to marry, but I like to dress it up as other topics (this is how we keep things fresh after so long). So I’ll say a few words here about my ongoing book trilogy, Oræl Rides to War. And at the same time I will inflict, like, a lot of Chris de Burgh on you. I like to think that the amount it will enrage my wife to have her praises sung to the tune of ’80s wusspop is proportional to the amount I love her.
Oræl Rides to War is, in a lot of ways, the story of my adult life. And its soundtrack is one that was seared onto my soul as an ’80s kid with ’80s teenager siblings.
Bad Cow, the first book in the trilogy, is a bit of a hot mess (as previously discussed). I started writing it back in the late ’90s, as I was increasingly finding myself an outsider in a life that I’d never realised I could just up and leave. Which I did, in mid-2000. New Century, new me. So of course Sailing Away is a key song in that book’s makeup.
 I had started work on the urverse and mythos of my expanded work earlier in the ’90s, but the Archangel Barry didn’t connect up to it until later.
 I know it was the last year of the previous Century but three zeroes fucking means something damn it.
It’s worth noting that Moonlight and Vodka is also an amusingly appropriate song for this period of my life, because of where I moved to and the mild but all in all pretty chill regret I felt over moving (the line about the beer, though, is entirely accurate; Finland’s beer game is a solid fifteen years behind Australia’s). I didn’t move from Los Angeles to Moscow, but Perth and Vantaa are off-brand close enough.
This is why Bad Cow was a bit of a hodgepodge. It was written by a kid with no real idea what story he was trying to tell, and was only finished a solid eighteen years later.
The second book in the trilogy, Greyblade, was building on something a bit more solid. Don’t Pay the Ferry Man, of course, was referenced right there in the book and was a driving theme. Yes, Highwayman (by Jimmy Webb) is also in there very literally (or indeed literarily), but we’re doing a Chris de Burgh theme for whatever reason so let’s stick with it.
While Bad Cow didn’t really have a theme aside from lost souls finding their way through uncomfortable events, Greyblade and the Last War of Independence at its core was very much inspired by the rise of xenophobic and isolationist governments across the western world. From Brexit to the True Crims to that giant mad dumpster fire in the US, it seemed as though there was no limit to the self-destruction humanity could wreak on itself in the name of hatred of anything Other. Chris de Burgh has some darkness in him but nothing that could adequately convey that sort of dreary, squalid evil.
The third and up-coming book, The Last Days of Earth, is all about humanity’s brilliance dooming itself. It’s an apocalyptic tale, as the name might suggest, and while the climate crisis is ancient history on 37th Century Earth, that is what the story is self-evidently about (but don’t take my word for it, mine is just one opinion).
As for music, The Last Days of Earth can only be a tribute to Transmission Ends. Very much the soundtrack of my creative life. When, at the beginning of The Final Fall of Man‘s timeline, the Molran Fleet arrived at Earth and told humanity “be quiet or they’ll hear you,” it was Chris de Burgh’s alien beings I was thinking of, picking up Earth’s jabbering. I’ve known how the world ends since 1984, and now I’m working on finally putting it to words.
But in all of this waffling about myself and my journey and my silly books, where does my muse come into it? Well, the short answer is, everywhere.
For the past twenty years, there’s been another song in my head. It’s the over-arching song of my writing, and of my whole world.
And as I start feeling my way around the edges of this whole depression thing, this is a profound realisation I’ve arrived at. This is where I find peace.
Always, she is standing by my side,
She’s my inspiration, and she’s my battle cry,
And in her arms is the only place I know,
Where peaceful waters flow.
Happy anniversary, Miffle. I love you more than my ability to words.
Oh shit, and I forgot the second-most important Chris de Burgh song in my entire bibliography soundtrack!
Ponies, of course, by Mari Nuorivaara, another masterpiece to add to our collection. The characters Toffle and Miffle are from a children’s book, Who Will Comfort Toffle?. Back in the early days, Mrs. Hatboy and I used the chatroom handles Miffle and Toffle when we were dating online. The story has always had an important place in our hearts.
You included the Barry story in your saga because of just how much I enjoyed that short story and was annoyed that you hadn’t properly finished it. I refuse to believe any other possible reason.
p.s. happy anniversary to the both of you.
Hopefully I can find some small little items on the reservation that Janica can use in her hat making.
That would be fantastic! And thanks, chief.
Real talk, that was a prime motivator. You were one of the consistent readers who wanted me to finish that.