Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Story Behind the Wen Quaar

OK, so I hinted at this a few days ago and here it is. One of the characters in Thunder Canyon is a thirty foot tall stone giant from a race called the Wen Quaar. Where did I get this name? Like I said, I stole it from myself. Several years ago I was stuck in New Orleans for a year thanks to the Marine Corps Reserve. After realizing that I was going to be activated for a while, I thought 'what a great opportunity to write a book.'

So I started with grand hopes and ended with dashed hopes. 300 pages into the story it all fell apart. It was an epic fantasy tale of a spy trying to save a woman spy, and her small daughter, whom he caused to be compromised. They ran from bad guys and several people died and then I just couldn't keep the thing moving. But that's not the important part.

Along the way I had them running through some mountains and thought a group of ogres would be a good thing to have appear. But after some more thought I didn't want to just call them ogres so I came up with the name Wen Quaar. The name came from a sort of free thinking combination of the Wendigo and the Sasquatch. You know, you just keep rolling the words around in your brain until something connects. I wanted something with a sense of mystery and remoteness. Something set apart, just barely, from our world. Entirely after the fact I realized that I could accomplish that with the juxtaposing of 'Men' and 'Wen' as if they were two races that diverged somewhere in the mythic past; one a shadow of the other. (And you don't really know which is the form and which is the shadow.)

Well, since that story never went anywhere I felt perfectly at ease with stealing the idea and the name and labeling my mysterious stone giant a Wen Quaar. In the story and its sequels, I play up the differences and similarities between the two races. I also refer to the Wen as 'Men of Stone' and 'Sons of the First Stone' as a way to make them more spookier and mysteriouser.

And that's How The Leopard Got Its Spots.

2 comments:

von Darkmoor said...

or the giant his stones.

er, yeah. you know what I mean ;)

Jeff Draper said...

Yes, I know what you mean. And trust me, I've had to restrain myself a few times when writing these stories. I don't mind a clever play on words that the reader might get a chuckle out of (even though the characters don't know a thing) but that's a fine line to walk.