Let me begin by explaining Hopeless Maine. It started life as a graphic novel series set on an imaginary island off the coast of Maine. There’s now a role play game, prose books in the offing and other things in planning! For people who want to get involved, there’s www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com which is currently full of dead people…
Back in August, when we were figuring out the details for Hopeless Maine kickstarter, I suggested I could do obituaries for people as though they had died in the setting. Those became early bird bonuses, and “yes,” I blithely said, of course I can write a hundred of them.
Of course I didn’t think for a moment that 100 people would get in fast enough that I’d have to do it.
I find myself having to kill a hundred people. Those slots went very quickly, and the kickstarter itself went well over target. I’ve done the maths regarding the rate at which I have to kill people and there’s a fighting chance it will all be over by Christmas.
Technically this is no more difficult than writing a rather bitty novella. I can’t write them like proper obituaries for real dead people because that wouldn’t be in keeping with the setting. Most of what passes for reporting on the island is undertaken by a chap called Frampton Jones – it’s hard to tell with Frampton if he’s intentionally deeply ironic, or totally oblivious. I like that about him. I’ve tapped into other island voices along the way already, partly to keep things fresh, partly because there are some things Frampton would never say. So I’ve got Mithra Stubbs for gossip, scandal and slander, and Doc Willoughby for bigoted misinformation.
Some of the deaths have grouped quite nicely, and I’ve had a run that I’ve particularly enjoyed, featuring members of the Martian Expeditionary Force (a real life Steampunk group). I’ve juxtaposed them with some events that occurred back when I was first writing The Hopeless Vendetta as a news-site for residents of Hopeless Maine. I’ve had a few backers killed off by Mrs Beaten – resident collar fanatic and psychopath. I’m poised to use someone who backed the campaign but missed the early bird obituaries as a suspect in a few deaths as well.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking trying to kill people off in a way that makes sense and will also amuse them. People can be expected to be sensitive about their own deaths. Thankfully, most of the early backers know me and what I do, and have taken it well. Wanted it, even. At least in a written sense. As far as I know there’s only been one person so far who was upset about their death – I have no idea what they were expecting.
I’ve written custom fiction before (in a different genre) and it is a tricky thing. I’ve yet to come up with a system for it other than desperate hopefulness and trying to be psychic. I’ve had a few death stories go well on the doing-it-by-magic front, and clearly at least one that went down like the proverbial lead balloon. Which is not a method I’ve used for killing people, yet, although I’ve got a way to go.
The good thing about killing people is it allows me to show off many of the unique features of the island. There are obvious physical hazards – falling off cliffs for example. Drowning. Being eaten by sea-monsters. There are other dangerous creatures and demonically possessed items. Some of the islanders are both mad and a bit evil. A number of backers have existing relationships with the island – having loaned us their faces for characters, contributed art to the Hopeless Vendetta, or stories, or other things I could mess about with. I’ve had a lot of fun with that.
I imagine there must be a fair few bemused onlookers, seeing fake obituaries for their friends turning up on Facebook walls and wondering what this is all about, and then perhaps reading said obituary and not being much the wiser! I hope it’s brought a few more people to our uncanny shores, and not traumatised the unsuspecting too much.
On the technical side, there’s quite the balance here to strike between inspiration and workishness. To write 100 obituaries in a timely way I have to crack on and do them. I have to actively seek out inspiration for each death, and put down the words and get it out there. I have to do that five days a week for months to come. I know I have the discipline to pull it off – I’m an every day blogger, so that’s given me the habits and the typing muscles. Hopefully, the inspiration will turn up as I go along. Mostly I’m depending on caffeine and fear to get me through.
I’m deeply grateful for all the support we’ve had during this campaign – it’s gone far better than I would have dared to imagine. And so, I must crack my knuckles and decide who to kill next…
About Nimue Brown (by Mark)
Nimue describes herself as a Bookblogger, wordherder, tree activist. Green chaos Druid Steampunk folk elf. Metaphorical tug boat. Ponderer, singer of songs, teller of stories. Hill walker, daydreamer, editor, marketing person, occasional press officer on demand, reviewer, Steampunk, Folky ,and Green activist… She also claims to have a lot of hats, one suspects this is a metaphor.
Tom Brown on the other hand describes her as ‘ A Bloody Genius’ and as he knows her better than anyone, who are we to argue…
She is one half of the creative force behind Hopeless Maine, and the entire creative force behind the druid life blog, and a creative out put of fiction and non-fiction that puts the rest of us to shame. She has so far killed 28 people by my reckoning, those waiting to be killed do so with rapt attention…
you can find more from Nimue at:
You can read my own death on Hopeless Maine here: All i can say if I warned them, but they did not not listen…