Have things improved, or is Trilby Trench still in a pickle? Read A Word If You Please, chapter 2 to find out!
A Word If You Please is the first book in an online fiction series about Trilby Trench, tech writer and action hero. Don’t worry if you missed chapter 1 – you can still read it and get to know Trilby Trench. See the about page on her site. You can also subscribe to updates on the site, to make sure you don’t miss out again. 🙂
Let me introduce you to Trilby Trench, technical writer.
In her own words:
I’m Trilby Trench.
As in the hat, the coat.
The role of a technical writer is more exciting than you’d think. Sometimes things get physical. Trilby has always been lucky in a fight. Or perhaps it’s skill rather than luck. As every technical writer knows, you need to do something yourself before you can write the manual. Trilby has written a variety of manuals.
The first account of the Trilby Trench adventures is out! Try A Word If You Please.
If you like, you can subscribe to the Trilby Trench site, to receive an email when the next chapter is available. I’d love to know what you think about Trilby Trench and her friends. Share your thoughts by commenting on the Trilby Trench blog or here on this blog. I’ll be adding chapters regularly, and working on the site’s appearance.
A while ago, I stumbled across M Vera Bührmann’s book, Living in Two Worlds, and found it fascinating. My novel, Things Unseen, grew around the ideas in Dr Bührmann’s book. I wonder how often that happens: an interesting theory in psychology, or archaeology, or another discipline, opens the bud of a romantic novel or wakes the sleeping beast of a horror story.
Dr Bührmann spent a number of years working with African healers amongst the Xhosa people in South Africa, exploring the ways in which the healers look after the health of their community. These healers are often called “witch doctors”, and their powers are sometimes referred to as “magic”. Here’s what Dr Bührmann has to say:
My aim therefore is to show that much of what is called “magic” in the healing systems of the amagqira [the Xhosa word for healers] is not “magical” in the usual sense of the word but is based on sound principles of depth psychology, especially as formulated by Carl Gustav Jung and his followers. The amagqira have not thought out and systematised their methods as is customary in the Western, scientific world. They have, rather, perceived their methods intuitively, and use them in, to us, non-rational ways.
… The “two worlds” I am concerned with are the Western world which is primarily scientific, rational and ego-oriented, and the world of the Black healer and his people, which is primarily intuitive, non-rational or orientated towards the inner world of symbols and images of the collective unconscious.” [Living in Two Worlds, published by Human & Rousseau, 1984, pages 14-15.]
Xhosa traditional healers believe that our ancestors communicate with us via dreams. The word “ancestor” has a special meaning to a Xhosa person. An ancestor is a presence in your mind and in your family, who plays a very definite and beneficial role in guiding your actions and guarding you and your people.
Jungian healers believe that our unconscious communicates with our conscious minds via symbols in dreams.
I’ve billed my novel, Things Unseen, as “a combination of sizzling romance, eerie horror, and tense psychological drama”. It’s a love story. It’s also a story of African and European cultures meeting, competing, and merging to produce something new. It’s the result of careful study of African culture, language and stories. It plays with symbols from both African and European cultures.
In her book, Dr Bührmann describes the similarities between the treatment methods and philosophies of African witchdoctors and Jungian psychologists. My novel weaves a story around this theme.
An interplay between story and theory: I’d guess this is fairly common in science fiction. In fact, the inspiration travels in both directions there. How about other types of fiction – have you seen the sleeping beauty of a story awakened by an interesting theory?
I’ve just finished reading a new book called Non-Mortuus, by Zola. Are you a fan of vampire fiction, villains who turn out to be heroes or vice versa, and fast-paced action interspersed with thought-provoking otherworldliness? Then I think you’ll enjoy this book!
What’s it about? Vampires and vampire hunters. That seems straightforward. But the going gets a bit murky when you and the characters discover it’s hard to draw the line between undead and hunter.
It’s a good-sized book, coming in at nearly 450 pages. A good length to get you fully engaged in the characters and the world that the author sets up. And Zola has set up a very convincing world for you and the characters to make your own.
The book is full of detailed descriptions of locations, such as the streets of Lisbon in chapter 2, and the busy sidewalks of Calcutta (Kolkata) in chapter 25. I found these descriptions very interesting, and they add to the feeling that you’re in a real world.
Here I’d like to make a quick disclosure: Zola is a friend of mine. I bought the book because he wrote it. I read it with ever-growing pleasure.
The book is written in three parts, each narrated by a different character. The first is Aníbal Ferreira Silva, a trained hunter in the Order, and sworn to track down and kill the non-mortuus (vampires) of this world. The second part of the book is written in the voice of Eleanor, also known as Elle. She’s a non-mortuus. And the third narrator is Billy Ray, another of the hunters.
The author, Zola, is writing in his second language. His first is Croatian. This leads to an odd turn of phrase every now and then. It adds to the atmosphere of the book, especially in the first part where the narrator is Aníbal, who is also not English. I’d recommend a little more proof-reading to fix some grammatical and spelling errors, especially in the parts where Billy Ray, an American, is the narrator.
Billy Ray’s section is quite different in pace and style. There’s much more swash-buckling action as the book comes to its climax. I loved the characterisation in the book. Aníbal is very human in his foibles and strengths. Elle is cute though a little cold…
I recommend this book for its authoritative voice, sound theming, engaging characters, and good placement in geography and time. Zola cleverly introduces new plot elements throughout the book, with well-timed revelations about the Order and non-mortuus alike.
So, suspend your disbelief (I found that easy, right from the start) and enjoy the ride with Zola, Aníbal, Eleanor and Billy Ray. Let me know if you survive. Mua-ha-ha…
What’s the book about?
Dirk and Elise meet in Cape Town in the mid 1980s. They fall in love. Things happen. Well, you’d expect that! But some of the happenings are tragic, scary, or just plain weird.
Dirk and Elise bump heads with lovable rascals and with more complicated people. Evil people, supernatural beings? That’s for you to find out.
What do I think of it?
I am delighted with this book, and proud of all it represents. A love story. African and European cultures meeting, competing, and merging to produce something new. The results of careful study of African culture, language and stories.
Is there a link between African witchdoctors and Carl Jung? Read the book to see what Dirk and Elise discover. In this, I am indebted to M. Vera Bührmann’s book, Living in Two Worlds, Communication between a white healer and her black counterparts.
I think you’ll enjoy Things Unseen. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
Ryan Maddox designed the cover for Things Unseen. He’s the talented artist who created the illustrations for my technical book, Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate, a wiki as platform extraordinaire for technical communication.
I’d love to know what you think
If you read Things Unseen I’d love to know what you think of it. If you can add a review on Amazon.com, that would be awesome. Or add a comment on this blog post. This is exciting and just a bit scary!
Here are the links again: