Fred D. Shutts Talks Sorrow Earth

So why Sorrow Earth?

Miya's Assault Front Cover

I’ve been asked how I came up with the world of “Sorrow Earth” a few times. I had to sit back and think about this because chronology of events is not necessarily clear. This world I put together only began to solidify in the last two and a half years. So I never really had given much too any thought about how it came together till I wrote this very article.

The easiest place to start is what my influences are as a writer. These are the first authors in science fiction and fantasy I ever read. Among them are; Keith Laumer, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, David Drake, and Anne McCaffrey. I enjoyed many more but these really stick out in my mind. In those stories I rode aboard massive self aware battle tanks and watched as worlds burned. I watched the discovery of an animal remarkably like a dragon that was bred to become a very real fire breathing dragon. I watched gods muck about in mortal affairs, and heroes fight and die for what really counted. And I watched as a woman with a cat becomes the best naval officer imaginable.

Then I discovered anime; it was love at first sight. I can’t really pin down exactly who influenced me in that wonderful pile of awesome. Giant robots, epic battles between god like martial artists, and art that made my heart flutter. And to this day I still watch, and I laugh, I cry and I cheer following series that go two hundred episodes and more. Still look forward to the next week’s episode. Most importantly in regards to my very young universe; I discovered Nekos.

Nekos are barely restrained balls of fury and mischief and they always make me smile. Nekos are hybrid creatures usually consisting of a person with cat like features (tails, and their ears on top of their head) and the abilities and sometimes short comings of a cat (fast, agile, strong, in addition to being silly and air headed sometimes). I instantly liked them and rank them right up there with elves, dwarves, and dragons. Now with the back ground set up let’s move on to the birth of Sorrow Earth.

Like many creations this started out with bored people with zilch to do; with way too much time on their hands. I looked at my good friend Dustin and said, “Wouldn’t be cool to do an American take on Anime.”

Dustin replied, “Would be cool but way more money than we could ever generate.”

This led to a discussion on the subject that ended with us drinking a couple beers, him leaving still chuckling, and me falling asleep with visions of an epic cartoon playing out in my head. The next day however I had really began to think on the subject. I knew it would be way too expensive to do an animated series, but what about audio drama? I had a new interest in this form of media driven by a lot of recent works that I had heard.

Then about two and a half years ago I began to spin Sorrow Earth in my head. But how did I come up with this world? It’s actually pretty simple. I had become tired of universes full of hopelessness where human kind was dying out because of (insert horrible disaster here) had ruined everything. But I still liked the whole cataclysm idea. So what if you had the disaster, but instead of falling into the stone age, humanity put in the effort and heart to fix their world and become better for it.

So Sorrow Earth and the city-state of Sorovaste were born. But what would I fill them with? Well fill them with heroes of course! I had always loved stories in which a hero from the past comes back to set things right sometime in that hero’s future. I thought about that for a while and came up with Miya. Instead of a shining knight I would have the last of an entire species bred for war; a human cat hybrid called a Neko-Soldier! Then came the Black Watch, which was inspired by a British military unit. If you get a chance after you read this look the Black Watch up, they are really interesting.

So over time I began piecing a story together and building characters to populate it with. I had attempted to write a book before but lost interest and moved on. But with this I jumped head first into writing a script. And building a story bible that is so big it takes up, count it…, two, three inch binders. Then an unexpected event happened that changed my whole plan, and to a lesser existent, my life.

I had entered a contest months before. The prize was a publishing package, and I received an email that informed me that I had won. I was astounded and almost but not quite bounced. But what would I write? I went through lots of stuff over the next couple of days looking for the right thing to write about. Then looked on my desk and saw the story bible for the Black Watch Chronicles, and I had it, and why not there was a ton of stuff there and a passion. I have no idea why I didn’t think of it on the spot. But I’ve heard a saying that the best place to hide something from someone is right in front of them.

As far as the characters, sans Miya, every one of them is based on a friend’s personality. Miya was created out of an amalgam of different ideas and people; Big Cat is her own woman. And as I wrote I revised my story bible, and the story has grown and matured into something that I’m very proud of.

So there you have it. This was not glamorous or earth shattering just an evolution of an idea, bringing me a lot of joy. And I hope you will enjoy reading Miya’s Assault, and hopefully many more tales to come.


Guest Blogger: Fred D. Shutts author of Miya’s Assault.


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