DargonZine 12, Issue 6

Dargonzine 12-6 Editorial

By: Ornoth


Well, the first thing to talk about is the recent vote regarding whether to continue sending the announcements that precede each issue by a week. In the final tally, 30 percent of the people who responded wanted to keep the announcements, 27 percent only wanted them some of the time, another 27 percent didn’t care, and only 15 percent of people did not want to receive them at all.

 

What this tells me is that the pre-issue announcements generally don’t bother people. With that in mind, we will continue sending pre-issue “pings”, although not for issues which follow one another in rapid succession. In that particular case, sending a pre-issue ping would clutter our readers’ mailboxes, might delay getting the issue out, and would be unnecessary for us, since few readers’ accounts would have expired since the previous mailing.

 

That appears to be what you told us through your feedback. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote. We try to produce the best magazine we can, but it’s hard to know how we’re doing without hearing feedback directly from our readers. Thanks for making the effort to let us know your preferences!

 

The second topic is the 1999 DargonZine Writers’ Summit, which took place June 4-6 in New York City. Each year we encourage our writers to get together to socialize and work on the future of DargonZine. This year’s Summit was hosted by Alan Lauderdale, and was attended by writers from as far away as southern California and Aberdeen, Scotland! Our working sessions included discussion of our ideal writing environments, the things that energize or de-energize us about DargonZine, how much benefit we derive from the project and how much we help one another, and more ideas for common events in Dargon.

 

Social activities included a visit to Fort Tryon Park, which overlooks the Hudson. While there, we also stopped at the Cloisters, a medieval castle and museum, which was very interesting; highlights included several small courtyards, famous tapestries, amazing illuminated manuscripts, and lots of relics. In a less historically accurate mode, we also ate at Medieval Times, a feudal dinner theatre featuring jousts, falconry, and combats. We enjoyed the view from the top of the World Trade Center, and took part in the usual billiards, bowling, and mini-golf.

 

Overall, the Summit was great fun; we enjoyed meeting new friends and renewing old friendships, and Alan did a great job coordinating everything. If you’re interested in a more detailed writeup or seeing some of our photographs, check them out on our DargonZine Summits page at <http://www.dargonzine.org/summit.shtml>!

 

Finally, as you will have noticed if you glanced at the table of contents, this issue features the climactic final two parts of Dafydd’s seven-part story “Talisman Zero”. This series is a major work, both for DargonZine, as well as its creator, who has been with the project since 1986. I recently took the opportunity to speak with Dafydd about the “Talisman” series, and he had some great things to say.

 

What follows is a transcript of that discussion. Please be aware that this interview contains spoilers, so it is strongly recommended that you read this interview only after reading the final two chapters of “Talisman Zero” which appear in this issue.

 

DZ:

Why is your story entitled “Talisman Zero”? Are there additional parts which follow?

Dafydd:

Yes, there are. The first story was called “Talisman Zero” because that’s where the talisman is built, but the series is really about putting it back together. There’s going to be five more stories, with varying numbers of chapters in each one, and that’s where the real storyline is.

DZ:

What is the storyline about, or what’s the basic idea or theme behind it?

Dafydd:

Putting the Talisman back together! Each story, even the first story, has a different purpose and a different tale to tell in and of itself. In each of the stories after “Talisman Zero”, getting the talisman back together is more or less secondary to what the story is about. I’m hoping to make “Talisman Five” be more focused on the talisman itself, but the other four of them are their own stories.

DZ:

How did you get the idea behind the storyline?

Dafydd:

I was watching television. There’s a Highlander episode called “Methuselah’s Gift”. It’s about the Methuselah Stone, which in Highlander mythology gives the holder of it immortality. But the neat thing about it is that it was fragmented, and the genesis for the story was that when they took all these pieces that were like rods of crystal and put them all together, it became a ball, and I thought that was really cool. There were other influences as well. There was a song on the radio going around at that time where the idea of the song was two people trying to get together, but things kept happening to prevent it and they kept moving on. And so that added a little bit to it, chasing people through the ages. And there’s a series of novels called the Deverry cycle by Katherine Kerr. This series is about a wizard who commits a crime of passion, who is then doomed to live until the reincarnations of those who were wronged are able to overcome their troubles. So that was certainly another influence on the story.

DZ:

What kind of things have you learned through the writing of the series?

Dafydd:

With this whole storyline I’ve been doing more plotting beforehand. For “Talisman Three”, which I’ve just finished, I did a whole outline of it section by section, which I had never done before. It made it very much easier to write, because instead of having to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, I knew all the stops I wanted to make along the way. It was still some effort getting to those stops, but it was much easier.

DZ:

The series, or at least “Talisman Zero” takes place during what for contemporary Dargon is ancient history. Will this series ever catch up and integrate with the mainstream timeline?

Dafydd:

Yes. Because we’re following the fragments of the talisman throughout time, each successive story is getting closer and closer to present-day Dargon. Although the stories being told aren’t necessarily about the talisman, the talisman will become more and more of a driving force as time moves on. What I’d like to do by “Talisman Five” is have the talisman be manipulating events to get these people back together, because it’s tired of being fragmented. It will eventually catch up with contemporary Dargon.

DZ:

In “Talisman Zero” you’ve introduced a quartet of people in a romantic situation. But it’s far more common to see a “love triangle” than a “love quadrangle”. Why did you choose to write the story with a fourth person trying to intrude on a triad rather than the more familiar established couple with a third person intruding?

Dafydd:

Well, I didn’t think of it in those terms; it’s not where I started from. In fact, the original outline for the series had three people creating the talisman and having it destroyed and them chasing it. So the bad guy didn’t come in until later. And it wasn’t supposed to be about that conflict. In the original idea, the conflict wasn’t there. I wanted to explore a bisexual relationship, which is kind of hard to do if you only have two people, so I had to set it up with three. It wasn’t until later in the creative process that I realized that there needed to be an antagonist, and the easiest thing is like you said: having somebody trying to intrude. But I didn’t start with two people and add an intrusive third; I had started with three people and added an intrusive fourth. And that’s how that happened.

DZ:

What keeps you writing for DargonZine?

Dafydd:

It’s fun. It’s a place to write where I know people will read what I’m writing. A lot of people hand out their writing to their friends and get almost exclusively praise back from them. One of the benefits of being with the project is that while everybody is friendly with each other, they will critique your work relatively honestly. And then there’s the readership itself. I can put my stories out there and know that people have subscribed to DargonZine with the intention of reading it.

DZ:

Would you ever write on a professional level or for pay?

Dafydd:

That’s been a dream for a long time, and with all the feedback I’m getting about “Talisman”, it seems like maybe I’m getting to the level where I am publishable. But a lot of my inspiration for the kind of writing that I do comes from the Dargon Project itself. So while it would be really cool to get published, I’m not sure what stories I would write if the inspiration isn’t there.

DZ:

If you were to spell your name phonetically, how would you spell it?

Dafydd:

It’s D-A-V-I-T-H-E C-A-W-H-E-T-H-E-R.

DZ:

Is there anything else about yourself or the “Talisman” series that you would want to share with the readers?

Dafydd:

Not really. I hope they enjoy it!

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