| Sep 27, 2012
IN OTHER WORDS
BY JAMIE THOMSON Originally from a world beyond our own, DIRK LLOYD lives in the town of Whiteshields, England, where he spends most of his time trying to get back home to his Iron Tower in the Darklands. Some of his achievements include: building the Iron Tower of Despair, raising vast armies of Orcs and Goblins, the casting of mighty spells and enchantments (including the spell that forced JAMIE THOMSON to submit to his will and record his life story), and excelling in English, science, and math classes in school.
Sep 27, 2012
Hi, I'm Jamie Thomson, creator of Dirk Lloyd and author of DARK LORD: THE EARLY YEARS. I've written a lot of choose your own adventure books and novels as well as various computer games for a good 30 years or more, all involving goblins, dragons, aliens, spaceships, creatures of the night and the like, so I've been thoroughly immersed in fantasy/SF/games pretty much all my life.
A lot of this work was with my writing and business partner, and life-long friend, Dave Morris. One of the things we've noticed over the years is how the idea of a “Dark Lord” or “Supreme Villain” has always been such a staple of our genres, but they're hardly ever explained. Why does Sauron do what he does in Lord of the Rings? Why is Voldemort like he is?
Of course, they do have back stories, but they're really not that important to the plot and therefore not explored in too much detail. It's all about the good guys. Which is fair enough of course, but why do Dark Lords become Dark Lords? What motivates them? What would it be like to tell their story, from their point of view? Or, as Dirk puts it “Why is the Dark Lord always the bad guy? It’s just not fair!”
Well, if you did it straight, it'd be interesting, but ultimately not much fun. It'd be like reading a novelized biography of someone like Hitler or something. People would end up hating your main character, and no one would read it!
So, how can you make your Dark Lord sympathetic to the reader? Well, one obvious way is to make his story redemptive. And funny. Very funny. We started with the idea of a Dark Lord exiled to modern day earth and trapped in the body of a twelve year old kid. Then the “Dark Lord sounds like Dirk Lloyd” joke, and then the idea of having him go to school. (School? NOOOOOoooooooooo!) Everything just took off from there.
Out of that, I discovered new themes and tropes. For instance, as Dirk is a powerful being in his own world, what would it be like to suddenly find yourself powerless in a new and confusing world? That got me thinking: rightly or wrongly, our school children are actually pretty powerless and highly controlled themselves, especially these days. There are all sorts of rules and lines they can't cross and places they can't go.
Dirk finds himself in the same position. To get things done, and to realize his goals, Dirk has to use subterfuge and subtle persuasion—unusually for him, as normally he'd just use force, or a magic spell or an army of orcs. He can't persuade people with threats, (though he does try of course.). He has to use other methods—kindness and friendship for instance. And that's where his journey to redemption begins. Well, sort of.
Essentially, it's a classic fish out of water/odd couple plot, but it also parodies its genre, albeit in a loving way. It lampoons fantasy, but it is also a cracking fantasy tale in itself, though I do say it myself. It's also interesting that this book probably couldn't have been written thirty years ago. Its time is now because everyone knows what a Dark Lord is, the imagery, the “trope” is everywhere. For instance, the books have come out in Germany and Spain, but they keep the English “Dark Lord” on the title. The publishers know that their readers will be familiar with the term from LORD OF THE RINGS, Harry Potter, STAR WARS and so on. And then... hold on a moment, someone's coming... Uh-oh! It's Dirk himself! Oh my, he's here... Thomson, you blubbing maggot, what are you doing? Nothing, my Dark Master, nothing... Move aside, you absurd walrus. Let me take a look... Umm... it's just... I didn't mean… What!!!! You're not still peddling this nonsense that you created me? What drivelacious goblin-snot! Everyone knows I found you penniless in the gutter, deigned to choose you as the writer of my memoir, and raised you up like a phoenix from the sodden ashes of your pitiful misery! Yes, Master. Sorry, your Magnificence, I... Silence, wretch! Who is it you are writing for? Umm... it's the— I said silence, Thomson, or it's the Iron Maiden for you! Ah, I see... It's for that lot over the water, the ones the weakling human wretches in England call “Yanks.” Teachers, eh? Interesting. Right, I'm taking over.
Now, listen to me, puny humans of America! It is I, the Great Dirk. Heed my words.
It won't be long before all the people of earth will be bending the knee to me, Dirk Lloyd, the Dark Lord, so you'd better do as I say or else it'll be the Rendering Vats for you, and you'll be turned into sausages. My Orcish legions will be requiring a lot of those, oh yes!
What you need to do is to introduce a new curriculum for your pupils. Well, I say curriculum, but really I just mean “brainwashing.” They must be filled with unquestioning obedience to the Dark Lord (i.e., me) so that when the time comes my transition to ultimate and total power will be seamless and unopposed. You can start by forcing every single last one of them to read my memoir—written by me that is, not that ghost writer and lickspittle lackey, Thomson, who is nothing but a worthless slave. Though I suppose I must admit he has been useful from time to time. Oh, thank you, Supreme Lord, thank you, your kindness is... Oh, stop your sycophantic mewling, Thomson, and get back to work, there's book three to write! In any case, I may have been over hasty in my praise. After all, as every manager knows, the appreciation of talent and the giving of encouragement only leads to complacency and laziness. No, better to use the lash.
Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, instructing the teachers of America. Your charges will enjoy reading my book where they will learn their true places in the order of things... no wait, I mean... they'll learn new words and laugh whilst doing it, where they'll be uplifted through the power of storytelling, where boys who don't normally read books will find that reading is fun, where.... Oh, who am I kidding? They'll love it, or else. And I'll get some royalties. And boy, do I need royalties. Have you got any idea how much an army of orcs and goblins costs these days? And Dragons? Don't even mention Dragons!
|By Order of the Dark Lord |
The Seal of Dirk
I, the Dark Lord, Master of the Legions of Dread and Sorcerer Supreme, the World Burner, the Dark One, Master of the Nine Netherworlds, the Lord of Darkness and the Lloyd of Dirkness, his Imperial Darkness and his Imperial Dirkness, Dirk the Magnificent, make this missive my own with this seal, on this date the 27th of the month of Misery, Year of the Dark Lord Two, in the Reign of Iron and Shadows. Jamie Thomson is the minion and slave of the Dark Lord, Dirk Lloyd. Jamie has been writing books, comics and computer games for his Dark Master for many years now. He lives in the dungeons below his Master's Iron Tower, chained to a desk, where he spends every day writing for his overlord. Or else. Jamie Thomson Dirk Lloyd would like to offer you the chance to read a teaser of his memoir, DARK LORD: THE EARLY YEARS. So click here!
© 2012 Jamie Thomson. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise. In Other Words: Brandon Mull (Fablehaven series) Believes in Heroes Character Connections: Finding Yourself in the Story