The Midgar Blues

This is a review of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, but I’ll be writing a non-spoiler { NON-SPOILER } take followed by the spoiler review. So when you see { SPOILER } and you haven’t finished the game that’ll be your chance to leave this post.

I’d look worse if I ran up 59 flights.

{ NON-SPOILER }

In the summer of 1998 one of my brothers got Final Fantasy VII for PC. Yes, you read that right, PC. Ironically it was released on my birthday in 1998, but it was Jimmy who got it later that summer. Despite this injustice, a game we had…and then it ruined our family computer…a number of times…because this was 1998 and that little Dell computer tried its hardest to give us what we wanted: MOTHER FUCKIN’ FINAL GODDAMN FANTASY VII! *eventually we got the PlayStation version which we played the hell out of*

Yes, I was serious about the PC port.

Sitting in the basement with Jimmy playing this game, and in a more real sense, watching him play it, has always been a fond memory. Back then we played all sorts of what I consider to be the Golden Age of JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) like Legend of Legaia, Wild ARMs, Tales of Destiny, Chrono Cross, you get the point. We played these all day every day filling multiple memory cards on that old PlayStation, not least among them was Final Fantasy VII, but I digress.

After many years of waiting, an E3 presentation showing off the PlayStation 3’s graphics featuring the opening sequence which at the time they should have known would have started an uproar of a remake, more waiting, a 2015 trailer with the official announcement, and 5 more years of waiting…*phew*…we fuckin’ got it. We finally got the goddamn game…and it is glorious. This isn’t just the ramblings of a giddy man-child, this is a love letter.

A love letter to the slums of Midgar

Final Fantasy VII: Remake plays like a dream in all the right ways while giving us the essence of the beloved original. There are a few hiccups throughout, sure, things that can easily be overlooked, like there’s some poorly rendered pieces here and there. What this game gets right it fucking gets right. The combat is so fluid even when time slows when selecting an action with the new ATB system. I truly believe this will forever change the way modern RPGs will play, this new system is truly a work of art and the learning curve is within the first chapter of the game.

However beautiful and fully realized the game is, as I said before, there are some issues within. The weapon leveling system is a little bit of a headache. Sure, it’s straightforward and does allow for auto-spending your SP (weapon points) on the various skills, but it just becomes tedious over time and halts everything for you to go through each character because everyone gains SP for each weapon at the same time. So before you know it you’ve got a stack of SP for each weapon for each character each requiring a new menu filled with a submenu to unlock things like higher Attack, or Speed, or linked Materia.

Speaking of, Materia is such a fantastic system. It was in the original and is also present in the remake. Materia are special orbs made by the planet imbued with magical powers like lightening, healing, or summon a Fat Chocobo to bounce and roll around dealing devastating damage to any foe unlucky enough to go against a giant fat yellow bird-thing.

It really is a giant fat yellow bird-thing.

Materia levels up on its own when attached to equipment, but this means any Materia sitting in your inventory won’t see any of those tasty AP points, but the trade off is Materia levels itself up and automatically gives you the newly acquired skills. Fire becomes Fira which then becomes Firaga, each more powerful than the other, same goes for HP Up Materia increasing your Hit Points in percentages so the higher leveled the Materia the stronger it becomes. Now, there are *some* issues with Materia. First, it’s difficult to acquire. You find them naturally throughout the game, and the more interesting and powerful are that much more difficult to find in the world. This leads to the second issue with Materia, it is expensive as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Any shop in the game that sells this stuff want thousands of Gil (game-world currency) for something as simple as Fire, I think about 2000 Gil for a simple non-leveled Fire Materia. It feels like a lot considering money isn’t just thrown at you in this game, so you have to consider what you spend your cash on, and Materia ain’t one of them. Thankfully when taking part of the Intel Reports Chadley will sell you the specific Materia for 100-200 Gil, but for only one of the specific Materia tied to the Intel Report. So for the love of everything, keep your Materia. Don’t sell it. Don’t buy it.

My final issue is the pacing of the game. At times it’s super fast-paced and exhilarating, but it will halt just as quick. Stopping for cinematics never bothered me, I expect that in a game like this, but when the gameplay also just grinds to a halt? When these moments happen it really removes you from the game, because now you’re just aimlessly walking around completing mostly arbitrary side-quests. Some are really fun, especially towards the end, but about 60% of those earlier ones were just boring filler. The side quests could have been so much more, things that expanded on lore, or involved the plot a lot more, but there was one where you have to walk around and find a little kid’s cat. It’s *meh*, not bad per se, but it does take you out of the sense of the game. This is most apparent when the story says “we must do this now because it’s urgent and time sensitive” but in reality it isn’t any of those things when there’s 8 side quests that tack on another three hours of gameplay. The side quests overall are great though, so don’t let that detract from the experience too much.

Sweet glorious distractions

I put about 42 hours into it thus far, and you also have the option to replay the entire game or just individual chapters for those of you who missed out on some items or trophies. I will be revisiting Midgar soon, that’s for certain.

All in all I highly recommend Final Fantasy VII: Remake, it was well worth the waiting for this experience.

{ SPOILER }

Final Fantasy VII: Remake is a gorgeous masterpiece. Truly it is. From the new story additions, and yes even the changes, this game hits on so many levels.

The story doesn’t deviate too much from the original, but that’s where this game really sets itself apart from its source. To remind us all of these deviations we’re introduced to entities called Whispers. These Whispers pop up every so often to ensure that the plot of the original game stays the same, but there are times when Cloud and co. are able to drive them off and alter things. This is more apparent when we get to the Sector 7 plate support beam’s destruction. In the OG this is where AVALANCHE’s Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie die trying to stop Shinra from destroying the support beam and dropping the upper plate on top of the Sector 7 slums, home of Barrett’s AVALANCHE, but in Remake Wedge survives the fall from the beam, Biggs survives…well…that whole thing dropping on his fucking head, but Jessie, as far as we can tell, is dead as should be.

Inside Shinra HQ

The fun additions to the three’s stories and lives brought a freshness to the lore of VII, and it’s nice seeing fleshed out characters residing in Midgar. The rest of the game plays out fairly the same, the reactors are blown up but with the twist that Shinra was allowing them to do it and even helped them. The Whispers pop up here and there to ensure characters like Hojo aren’t on the other end of Cloud’s gigantic sword, that isn’t a euphemism.

Getting those Midgard Blues thinking about killing Hojo

The real change, the biggest change, comes from the final couple of hours of the game when you finally reach the top of Shinra’s tower. You’re met with President Shinra who is about to fall off like in the OG, but then when Barrett escorts the man in he’s suddenly met face to face with Sephiroth. The man takes one look at Barrett and runs his massive sword, Masamune, through Barrett. No, it’s not a euphemism.

FF VII loves massive swords. From the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Barrett slumps over and is seemingly dead as the Whispers surround his body, and Sephiroth transforms into Jenova (It’d take too long to even explain what she is and why this is weird) and now Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith supported by Red XIII who isn’t a playable character in this game have to fight the tentacled monstrosity which deviates from the OG. After you defeat it it turns into one of the numbered experiments you met earlier in the game and who appear in the OG trying to do “reunion” and Sephiroth appears and carries him off. Barrett is resurrected by the Whispers and Cloud runs off to see where Sephiroth is going and is met with some SOLDIERs and Rufus Shinra, the VP of Shinra and son of the now dead president making Rufus the de-facto world leader.

About to fight Rufus Shinra

This fight is only between Cloud and Rufus and did happen in the OG. Rufus escapes via helicopter as the rest of the team attempt to escape via elevator. The team are greeted by a still living Wedge who communicates with them via FaceTime or whatever it is about escaping Shinra HQ, but then the elevator carrying the team is attacked and begins to plummet to the ground. They’re saved by the Whispers from sudden death, but Wedge is carried off as the screen goes black and the sound of glass shattering is heard as Wedge thinks if he made a difference. His fate is still unknown, but I’m assuming he’s dead just as the Whispers tried doing back when the plate fell and to keep in the timeline of the OG.

The elevator group are met by the elevator boss from the OG only this time it’s in a large room, and plays out a lot like the scorpion mech fight from the first bombing mission. After this it’s on to the motorcycle chase on the highway that plays out like the OG, only this time the boss is fought only on the highway and not at the end of it.

It’s the same truck from the OG

Once you’ve reached the end you’re face to face with Sephiroth who talks about destiny and wanting it changed and opens a portal. Cloud and co. go in and you have to fight several mini-bosses all tied to the Whisper arbiter which apparently means Remake can now safely deviate completely from the OG.

A fight with Sephiroth happens and slowly each team member shows up to help Cloud out, and after the fight Cloud and Sephiroth are standing in some weird dimension as Sephiroth explains that they can now change their destiny as another scene of Zack carrying Cloud plays, only instead of collapsing and dying like in the OG he survives.

The game’s story makes it abundantly clear that they want to deviate from the OG plot, but maybe the Whispers represent the lore’s gatekeepers who refuse to accept the changes, and undoubtedly have been screeching on the internet about how this game “ruins” the OG game since launch. When you play this game you need to go into it with the thought of this being its own thing, we can’t hold this game up to the past with all its horrific polygons that makes it look like the entire planet has some sort Popeye arm deformity, and chip tunes that would give anyone a migraine today. Final Fantasy VII: Remake is its own game that pays homage to the source material, but we need to remember that it is a different game, which it needs to remain otherwise we’ll continue to be disappointed by a brand new game that’s being unfairly compared to something from 1997.

Yup, this is the superior game.
This is the Switch “remastered” edition.

What this means for the future of the VII franchise who knows, but I’m excited to see what further changes they make, and reconnect with a familiar world and characters.

The gang is all here, or at least the gang so far.

Xenochrist – Chapter One “Paint My Spirit Gold”

Before we get into the chapter itself I do want to express that this is still just the rough manuscript version. There’s still some editing and whatnot to be done here, but I’m pretty excited and decided to sort of jump the shark a bit by showing this. I hope everyone enjoys, and by all means leave a comment with your thoughts. Without further ado – Xenochrist, Chapter One “Paint My Spirit Gold”

Flashbacks of the evening raced through Kravac’s head as he relieved himself. He remembered a woman and how she danced in the middle of the living room with various people. A celebration, his memory was slowly coming to him. The unconscious bodies laid about his penthouse, snoring, and clinging to bottles. Stale pizza, sweat, and booze-filled Kravac’s nostrils as the thrills of last night came flooding to him. The image of the woman dancing flashed again in his mind. “Pen…” is all he could manage to utter. Some bottles rustled as one of the bodies began to rise, “Yes?” the shadowy figure let out in a raspy voice. “Yes, Kravac? Did you need me? the woman asked. “Last night is a bit of a blur, I must admit.” Kravac began nervously laughing. “Half lights, please.” he commanded the room.

The penthouse curtains opened and the soft lights began to glow. Kravac squinted trying to adjust his eyes when he noticed the woman standing up now. “It’s Saturday, October 13th. The time is a quarter past ten. Good morning sir.” the disembodied voice cheerfully said.

“Good morning, H. Could you prepare my agenda and send it to my room, and send something for this hangover will ya? Kravac ordered. A soft chime rang as the various machines began preparing a fruit and vitamin mix. Wasting no time Kravac began moving towards his bedroom. The woman began to speak up “Uh…well, I guess I’ll be seeing you at the office on Monday? I have a ton of work to do so I’m gonna head over there for a few hours if you don’t mind.”

Kravac stopped mid-step and spun around to face the woman, “Oh, yes that’s right. I’m sorry! I hope you enjoyed the party yeah?” “Absolutely! How could I not?” she said as her face become red, “It was incredible. Look, can I call you later?”, “Uh…well, yeah just speak to Pen at the office. She can arrange a time or something, ok? I gotta run though. Take care!” Kravac sounded unusual even to himself. “What the fuck happened?” he thought when he suddenly realized he had told Pen to speak to herself to set up a meeting time.

“Begin the agenda, please.” Kravac requested as he entered the bedroom. His deck flickered on and the whir of the fans began to fill his ears.

“Yes, good morning sir. As you know today is Saturday, October 13th, 2503 and may I say Happy Birthday, sir.”

“Thanks, Hauer. I’d rather not think about aging at this moment though.” Kravac replied laughingly. “Now, let’s see what’s going on, kay?”

“Yes, sir. Tonight you’re having dinner with Wixspin in Sector 7 at 20:15 regarding [REDACTED]; otherwise, your day is your own. May I suggest taking this supplement with the smoothie I’ve prepared and perhaps relaxing for a bit until your dinner?”

“That sounds like a plan, H. Send it to my door will ya?”

Kravac opened his door to a small robot waiting for him. The bot was maybe 1 ½ meters tall sporting a screen with a cartoon looking smile. Holding the drink and supplement it greeted Kravac with a cheerful purr. He took the items from the little bot and thanked it as it gleefully let out a chirp and went back to its waiting station in the kitchen. Kravac downed his supplement and began feeling slightly better, his headache was subsiding and the nausea was dissipating.

Suddenly his guests started to wake and gather their things thanking Kravac for the party.

“Hey, thanks, everyone. 27 has started right, so I appreciate y’all. Make sure you activate Auto before leaving, don’t need anyone crashing on the expressway!” Kravac exclaimed while holding the cold beverage on the back of his neck. He knew he sounded exhausted, and why shouldn’t he be he thought. The empty bottles of beer and various liquors peppered every surface available, empty and half-full pizza containers covered the kitchen to compliment the booze. He couldn’t help but to feel excited that everyone was leaving, he needed to relax and get ready for that night.

Remembering why Wixspin needed a face-to-face conversation, Kravac was dreading the dinner. He knew Volz was getting in too deep, and after these past few months, something needed to happen with her. An intervention or something else entirely, they both knew she needed help. Pushing those thoughts to the side, his mind flashed back to Pen and the party, and with that Kravac slumped back on to the couch and drifted to back to sleep.

The room was empty and dark, and Kravac was standing in the middle of it. He walked over to the open windows, he didn’t recognize anything here. There was no city and no sprawl as he tried to look into the nothingness. Lightning flickered in the void illuminating absolutely nothing; it was as if the darkness absorbed the light when suddenly a large cylindrical shape illuminated in the distance just as the void melted around him and suddenly he was standing in front of the large silo.

“You do not understand how to paint your spirit gold.” a voice rang out from behind. Kravac spun around to see a woman floating in place. “This is no fiction; we’ve arrived at the end. All the worlds, the Deep, and the Dark have fallen.”

Kravac stared at this apparition in confusion, “What in the actual fuck are you talking about? Where is here? Where’d the city go? Where’s the fuckin’ sprawl?!” he began shouting.

“Kravac, this is THE End. This is where you must go. Remember this always. The end of all ends. The place beyond reason. The conflagration of life. You must be here. They are waiting.”

Kravac suddenly leaped up from the couch clenching his chest. Sweat was pouring down his forehead as he tried catching his breath. “What the fuck was all that?” he thought, “I think it’s time for calibration.” he said aloud as he lightly smacked the back of his head. The dream was the least of his worries as the computer chimed in, “Good evening, sir. It is currently 18:03, and if you’ll remember you must be at your dinner appointment with Wixspin by 20:15. I’ve prepared a suit appropriate for the restaurant and have taken the liberty of preparing a pocket square, watch, shoes, and cuffs to compliment your attire. Would you like me to start your shower, sir?”

“Shit. Yes please, Hauer. I’m sure your selections are fine. Set the water to 35 degrees, ok?” mumbled Kravac.

“I’ll get right on that, sir. Enter when you’re ready.”

Kravac let out a deep sigh as he wiped the drool from his mouth, struggling to get himself out of the couch. His legs felt like rubber while walking to the bathroom, the steam from the hot water spilling out of the shower. He felt relaxed already; his beard had dried food and alcohol in it so he was ready to feel clean after the night he just had. “What the hell was that dream?” he kept thinking as he showered.

The hot water felt like small needles piercing into the grime of a hard night of substances. It seemed like years since Kravac had enjoyed a shower this much, but all the same, he needed to rush. “Hey, H? Have the clothes laid out for me, please. And get the Lykan ready will ya?”

“Sir, the recommended route I’m plotting has the least amount of traffic. May I suggest Auto for this trip? I can avoid any unnecessary checkpoints along the way.”

“Look, Hauer, what’s the point of owning the damn thing if I don’t get to drive it myself? How ‘bout I Link, ok? You can give visuals along the way. It’s a win-win yeah?”

“As you wish, sir. The Lykan will be ready for you in Dock 2.”

Nearly ready Kravac inspected the cufflinks laid out for him. “Hmph. You cheeky bastard, H.” he chuckled to himself. The blue diamond cuffs, a gift each given to Kravac, Wixspin, and Volz for their hard work in establishing ProgKVW as the top programming firm in the sprawl. He couldn’t help smiling as he thought back to the night Reygard Julius Svetlo VII himself had presented the gifts, thanking them with a handshake. Kravac’s disdain for Svetlo-Zeme was no secret to anyone on the net; his many audio snippets and interviews over the years have been highly publicized regarding his thoughts on the company. A de facto government with its military never sat well with him, and now that they essentially have their own department in the EUN it seemed futile continuing his rants against them.

Kravac pushed these thoughts to the side as he finished grooming his beard and straightening his suit out.

“Fuck it, let’s get this over with.” he thought to himself as he moved towards his front door.

The Lykan sat at Dock 2 just as Hauer said, its sharp exterior made it impossible to not notice. The low hum of the motor began as Kravac walked closer. The driver’s door opened up and he could hear Hauer, “Ready for Link when you are, sir.” the AI said through the car’s speakers. He never really cared for linking to his cars, Kravac felt slightly queasy whenever he did it and was not looking forward to it now.

As he pulled the cable from behind his right ear the AI began starting the various systems, “Initiate Link, H. Send all relevant data through, but don’t get too flashy here. I’m trying to drive, not play Space Invaders.”

The dash popped up in his eyes, Hauer was transmitting the route to him. Kravac began rubbing his eyes trying to adjust to the sudden invasion in his sights all the while he kept thinking about how annoying this was.

“Kay, H. Let’s hit it.” Kravac shifted in to first, the pale headlights suddenly turned on as he quickly zoomed out of the garage. “Sir, the recommended speed is 15kph through the garage!” Hauer frantically was advising Kravac as he sped through at 65kph.

“H, I swear I gotta add F-U-N to your programming.”

“I apologize, sir, but fun sometimes doesn’t equal safe which, as you know, is in my programming and you cannot switch that off.”

“Well if you’re gonna be in here just be my GPS, otherwise I think the new oven could use an AI.” Kravac quipped back.

The Lykan shot out of the garage exposing the landscape ahead, Sector 5 of Hoshiko. The multicolored neons lit up the towering buildings and crowds below on this clear-skied night as the vehicle tore through the expressway. Weaving in and out of traffic Kravac couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the skyline was tonight; he’d seen it many times over the years, but tonight seemed especially pretty. It calmed him to see the flashing lights of the eateries below, the people scurrying from place to place, the vast windows covering the skyscrapers and mega-towers blending into the sky. Halfway up the towers, Kravac could just make out the hover-adverts floating around the sector displaying some new eye cream, weight loss supplements, vacations on Tau Ceti F and so on. It was peaceful. It was home.

Kravac pulled up to the restaurant in Sector 7, “Millennium” lit across the entrance. “You would pick this place, Wix.” Kravac mused to himself as he disconnected his Link, “Alright, Hauer, play nice with the valet.”

Fixing his suit as he walked into the restaurant Kravac could see the displeased look on Wixspin’s face. Kravac had always been envious of Wixspin’s height, being roughly 30cm shorter than Wixspin it was usually a point of contention for him. Wixspin’s wavy light-brown hair perfectly styled matched his personality; straight-to-the-point attitude yet clever, Wixspin was never one to flash wealth or importance, his looks usually won over anyone he was speaking to.

Kravac approached their table fixing his cuffs, “What? You look like you need a nap, dude.”

“You literally will never change, will you?” Wixspin said with a hint of annoyance coming from his voice, “I specifically said 20:15, right? Because I’m fairly certain you said, and I quote, ‘Oh for sure, my duderino.’ So I’m not really sure why you’re late…as usual.”

“I’d say you shoulda just said 20:30 or 45 but then I’d just be here by 21:00!” Kravac laughingly blurted out.

“Regardless, you’re here, you’re late, and we need to order because I’m hungry. So if you will…” Wixspin said now motioning to the chair adjacent to his.

“Nice cuffs by the way, either you’re finally learning to dress yourself, or Hauer pieced it all together for you.”

“I mean, you wouldn’t be wrong with the last one there.” Kravac quipped back, “But I’m not here to talk about some shitty gift we got, am I? You didn’t drag me across two sectors just to admire literally the same thing you got.”

“Agreed. Where’s Volz?”

“Well, I’m assuming you didn’t invite her.” responded Kravac.

“Jesus, Krav. No. where is Volz? She’s been MIA all goddamn week, and then this morning I find out she’s been transferring giant sums of creds to various banks across the EUN, and not just planetside either.” You could hear the shakiness in Wixspin’s voice.

“And? Look, we’ve all sent some stuff that could look fishy, but it was always our cash, not company related.”

“Have you seen her? She looked like a goddamn zombie a few weeks ago. I know she’s had her problems in the past, but this is bad. I just know it, Krav. We’ve got to do something here; do you agree to that much?”

The words kept ringing in Kravac’s ears, “…we’ve got to do something…” he kept thinking to himself. He knew that “…but how do you approach one of the best minds alive that you suspect them of being a junkie…again”, he thought aloud. 

“Krav,” began Wixspin, “we’ve known her a long time now. She’s been so important to this company, to the world even! Look, how do you feel about the three of us meeting at the tower on Monday? It’ll be a safe environment for her, no pressure at all, and we can just let it all out: We’re concerned.”

“You’re right, ok? I’m on board. I’ll send an email tonight and see what’s good. I mean, regardless we’ll see her at the office later on, right?” Kravac said in agreement.

The night went on as the two men enjoyed the evening drinking vintage liquors neither of them could pronounce, the lights in the restaurant now dimly lit reflecting the mood with soft jazz from the early 2000s filling the room.

“Kay, Wix. I’m headed out, yeah? I’ll shoot that text over on my way home and we’ll go from there.”

“Alright, man. Thanks for meeting up despite being late. Catch ya’ Monday!” an intoxicated Wixspin replied.

The Lykan purred as it pulled up to the entrance, “You didn’t ‘Ferris Bueller’ the car did ya’?” Kravac jokingly asked the valet. “Sir?” she replied, confused from the reference. Kravac now laughing loudly “Oof. It’s alright. Have a good one!” Kravac said as he tapped his cred chip on hers. “Sir,” chimed Hauer “I hope there are no objections, but I’ll be driving us home tonight. Please sit back and enjoy yourself. Any particular genre of music or perhaps the news?”

“Play some Casket Robbery and crank that shit!” Kravac commanded the AI, and with that came heavy guttural screams blaring through the speakers set to down-tuned guitars, blistering blast beats from the drums, and a wall of sound resonating throughout the car. “LET’S FUCKIN’ GO, H!” Kravac shouted, and so the night went on.

“Get your Rad pills ready, folks, we’re looking at high levels of rain throughout the Sectors. If you forgot your dose be sure to head to your nearest Daikoku for the recommended dose; only $20 creds through the weekend while supplies last. That’s Daikoku, serving the greater Hoshiko sprawl and former Japan since 1964! Now back to Biggs for Sector News.”

“Volume 10, please.” Kravac said, slurring his words. “Ok, so…what am I gonna say?”

“Sir, if I may?” the eager AI chimed, “If you’re attempting to reach Ms. Shimmel regarding your recent appointment with Mr. Atlicke might I suggest sounding informal and relaxed? If you attempt to demand from her she may feel threatened.”

“True. Can you get something together that’ll sound like me? Show me before sending though; I don’t need some garbled shit being sent.”

The AI went silent for a moment as it processed the request. Suddenly on the windshield display, the message came up, “Sup, V! So hey, we got a meeting coming up Monday at 10. We’re gonna need you to talk smart to these chumps, sound good?”

“That…actually looks great, go ahead and send it H.” and with that a soft chime came through the speakers acknowledging the request. “Alright, sir. It’s been sent to Ms. Shimmel. Shall I inform you once she’s read it?” “Please and thank you. You’re the best.” and with that Kravac slumped in his seat staring out into the night.

So there we have it! That’s chapter one of Xenochrist in it’s rough manuscript form. I hope y’all enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it! I’m 22 chapters in, so I’m not too sure I’ll be releasing more before the book officially releases it, but I hope this helps give you SOME idea of what I’m aiming for. This is a planned 100,000 worded novel, and I cannot wait to give you all Xenochrist in the coming months. Again, thank you so much for reading.

From Hell

know I said I’d be writing a lot more often, but I’m a liar. This week has been pretty busy now that my students (I’m a teacher, remember?) have started back up and I made the rookie mistake of somehow thinking I’d be able to do both work and write coming off the heels of a long vacation. But that’s neither here nor there…until tomorrow…

So first up I’ve decided to upload the rough manuscript version of Xenochrist‘s fist chapter “Paint My Spirit Gold” tonight! I think it’s ready for some readers now, and I’m looking forward to hear everyone’s thoughts on it. I don’t know if I’ll continue to upload chapters since I’m planning on selling the book once it’s finished (a common theme for me; the book is so close to being done ok?!).

So why’s this blog post titled “From Hell”? Well, it plays in to my need to seem clever when naming chapters, but I’ll tell everyone now. “From Hell” is the title of a song (big shocker) by my friends in Casket Robbery! How does this tie in to my announcement? Because I name-drop Casket in my first chapter, a band our protagonist, Kravac, asks for by name to be played. [ insert It’s All Coming Together .gif ]

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for that post!

Cheers – NHW

Reshaping the Multiverse

Is it weird that I name my chapters before writing them? I’ll sit at my computer for some time with my headphones on just listening to my Spotify playlist as I find the right emotions a song will give me that I then correlate with the new chapter. I then homage to the song by incorporating either a lyric or the title itself as the chapter. For example, the prologue for Xenochrist is called “I Am Hell” which, if you’re a fan of death metal, is a lyric to Thy Art Is Murder‘s song “Reign of Darkness” or Chapter 5’s title, “Two Princes“, which is a song by Native Daughters. For me music is very much a part of the book, so once it’s finally released I think people will have some fun finding the music inside.

Through my journey of writing this novel I’ve spoken with other writers, especially in length on formatting and who to publish through (self-publishing), and the general consensus has been to not sign exclusively with KDP which seems like the best route for me. I want to get my work out there as far as possible and I’d rather not rely on ever-changing algorithms to keep me relevant.

Maybe I’m overthinking everything; there’s no guarantee this will go anywhere once I publish, and that’s fine too. I’ve spent so many years developing and redeveloping, writing and rewriting I just want to finally have this out already! The original manuscript was actually finished around 2013/2014, but I was embarrassed and didn’t want to put myself out there like that. It wasn’t until I moved here to Mexico that I finally sat down with it and realized the entire thing was 100% shite! I couldn’t believe just how poorly I’d written it, which is why I decided to use the OG as a reference and just completely rewrite it.

There’d been some world-view changes in my life, some growing up, and I desperately needed to rewrite it to better fit me now. I think who I am now is a much better version than the one back then; I’m like a Nathan 2.0 now. I think the me from back then would appreciate it but also groan at having to put in the work years later!

Either way, I’m so excited to be nearly done with this, and I cannot wait to share Xenochrist with all of you. Don’t forget you can find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram where you can see more of me (or at least my thoughts in small doses), just follow the links!

Cheers – NHW