Most of the time, when I talk about my writing here, I talk about my first publisher accepted novel, Rise: Book One of the War Witch Saga. While that is a big deal for me to get it accepted by a publisher, it wasn’t the first novel I published. It wasn’t even my first fantasy novel.
That dubious honor belongs to a small book titled “The Kingdom: The Novel”, which is a total lie, by the way, as it isn’t actually a novel. I’m not sure what it is, beyond a bizarre gathering of loosely connected short tales revolving around the same group of characters, gags, and what I’m going to call sense of humor.
Very briefly, The Kingdom is set in the mythical kingdom of Kingdom, which is officially located somewhere near New Jersey. It is ruled by the kindly King Kingdom, who is widely regarded as a good King mostly to do his major lack of doing anything that interferes with the people of Kingdom going about their business.
King Kingdom has three children. First, there is the wise, brave, and ever punctual Prince Salient, who only ever shows up to offer sage advice. His second child is Princess Easley, who has been deep in mourning with whoever she can find after the tragic loss of her betrothed, Sir Coddenpiece. The third child is Norma, also known as the only sane, reasonable, and intelligent person in the entire kingdom of Kingdom.
Yes, it’s one of those kinds of books.
Most of the short stories revolve around around Princess Norma getting caught up in some kind of misadventure, usually because the cowardly Captain of the Guard and his two bumbling lieutenants, a conspiracy theorist and a stoner, haven’t got two brain cells between the three of them.
While that might normally be enough for most writers of comedic fantasy, trust me, it was never enough for me. I’ve got this weird compulsion to just keep pushing the boundary, and even though I often end up flat on my face, I really think it’s always worth the effort.
The narrator of The Kingdom is a character as well, one that Princess Norma has a very antagonistic relationship with, since he keeps intruding on her private moments, and strong arming her into one absurd adventure after another. The worst part is, she can’t even fire him, since the King pays him strictly in tacos, which means he isn’t technically employed to chronicle their lives in the first place. It also doesn’t help that the entire thing is written before a live studio audience, and the sets are really cheaply made.
When I first started writing these shorts, the entire idea was to see just how absurd I could get with them. Back then, I was a fairly active member of the Scribd community, where these were first posted, which meant there were references to other things I had posted on Scribd. In jokes that now make even less sense than they did before, since those things have yet to see actual publication anywhere.
Chief among those are the title characters from another collection of shorts, The Adventures of Bill & Kris, a gunslinger Elf I’m building a novel around, and my zombie slaying lesbian stripper, Bunny.
So, yeah, no sense at all.
Not that anything in these makes sense anyway. In the course of a small book, Norma deals with a barbarian who accuses her of being a Jedi, a redneck Dark Elf, a Duke prone to verbose over exaggeration, and a lot of other just plain weird shit.
For real, there’s a line in this where soldiers are ordered to threaten menacingly.
Pretty much, I decided that nothing would be sacred when I tackled this idea, so D&D jokes are everywhere, The Princess Bride gets referenced way too many times, the zombified playwright Phillip King makes an appearance, the same character dies horribly several times, and that’s not even talking about the very long aside to detail the trials of a sad kettle drum playing monkey as he encounters a Monolith.
Oh, and Lou Diamond Phillips gets kidnapped at one point, for no real reason, except that I’m a big fan of Lou Diamond Phillips.
Ultimately, though, The Kingdom is an attempt on my part to show that comedy and fantasy can and do go together well, even if no one, including me, has ever really managed it in a proper way. It’s silly, stupid, and fun, which is all it was intended to be from the start.
When I got War Witch accepted, I considered taking it down out of concern that folks might not take me seriously if they ever read it. Then I remembered that I’m not a serious person, but more importantly, why do I need to be taken seriously? Can’t what I write stand on it’s own, be it an epic tale of fantasy, a dark exploration of humanity, or a comic tale that has no real point beyond making people laugh?
As a writer, shouldn’t I be able to do all of those, and still be taken seriously as a writer? Cause, if not, then what’s the damn point in the first place?
The Kingdom: The Novel is still available on Amazon in paperback, with a ebook version hopefully coming sooner or later. I’m crap with Kindle formatting, but I know someone who’s good at it, so sooner or later, I’ll get around to it.
What? Not likes it’s gonna be burning up any kind of bestseller list. I’ll get to it when I get to it. Geeze.