Saturday, July 10, 2010

Joys of the Ten-novel Saga in the Age of Twitch Speed

By Lynda Williams

A ten novel saga? Come on! It’s nigh impossible to get people’s attention for ten minutes, let alone ten novels. Yet this fall I’ll launch Avim’s Oath, the sixth book in the Okal Rel Saga. Am I mad?

Maybe just a little. But at this point, I’m so committed to the project that starting something else would simply make no sense. This is the work I became a writer to write.

You know the old chestnut “write what you know”? It used to depress me because I didn’t want to write about being me. I wanted to tackle Big Issues and Big Love. Terror. Sex Roles. War and sustainability. I had literally grown up exploring my questions through the lives and cultures of my fictional universe. When most kids stopped playing, I began to write. I evolved my ideas under the influence of life experience and three university degrees. Now and then I tried to set it all aside to dutifully “write what I knew” but it never engaged me as deeply as Amel, Horth and all the rest of my favorite characters.

And then one day it hit me: Sevolites, reality-skimming, sword law and Reetion arbiters were what I knew. My fiction was a language in which I could express my questions and transport the reader to a world I have inhabited most of my life. Now, at fifty-two, as I look ahead to a new stage of life, there is no greater joy for me than hearing people talk to each other about the characters and situations of the Okal Rel Universe as if they’d been there. And to know they enjoyed the trip. And while there are thousands, not millions of such people in the world, I think sharing the Okal Rel Universe with them means more to me than sharing anything else with hypothetical millions ever could.

Because I am writing what I know, and since it’s been a lifelong project I need ten books to shoe-horn it all in. It’s about “life, the universe and everything” (with a nod to Douglas Adams) – even if that’s hard to summarize in a byte-sized spiel. You can say it’s about culture clash and sustainability in the face of over-powered technologies; you can reduce the life of a main character to a phrase like “long-suffering saint with a baggage from a childhood in the sex trade” or “unbeatable champion with social disabilities”, but I’ve never been happy with such attempts and continue to struggle with them.

My challenge, as a writer, is to learn how to invite people in. And maybe as I age and mellow I’ll get better at it. But I’ve stopped flinching at the smart advice to give up what I love because it isn’t fashionable. I guess that’s either original and inspired or stupid. But it’s my rel, as people say in the Okal Rel Universe. My mission, my burden, my purpose in doing what I do. It’s what I know and what I have to share that’s unique.


Lynda Williams has been creating the Okal Rel Universe through three degrees and at least as many careers. Now the books of the ten novel saga are rolling out from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy one a year (Part 6: Avim's Oath forthcoming in 2010). Works by both Lynda and other writers captivated by the story-potential of the ORU, are published by Edge's sister-press called Absolute X-Press. Lynda taught and worked in educational innovation at the University of Northern B.C. for fifteen years, and is currently an administrator with the College of New Caledonia.

Avim's Oath (Okal Rel Saga)
by Lynda Williams 

The Queen is dead, and two princes, Amel and Erien, are pushed centre-stage and made to vie for power that neither brother wanted. Driven by vengeful princesses, most notably the beautiful and dangerous Alivda, the brothers must prove themselves, choosing between the lives they wanted and the roles that people demanded of them.

You can find her author page here.


  1. Very good article. Knowing that there's someone else out there with such grand visions of their own world in a high speed world like today is comforting. Feels like I'm just a little less crazy.

  2. Hey, maybe the world's getting tired of 30 second entertainments and we might even be on the leading edge of a new trend. :-)

  3. Congrats Lynda. Only one book left until you're done! Horth and Amel (and Eler) will always be in my head to. Together we will infect teenagers who are ready for something more interesting than 30 second entertainment.