Friday, September 29, 2017

My Legacy Character, Part 2 of 5 #OurAuthorGang

My Legacy Character

Part 2 of 5

Joe Bonadonna

Cover by the late David M. Stanley

Now, let’s see. Where did I last leave off? Oh, yes. Now I remember.

I first created Dorgo’s character way back in the 20th century … 1977, to be exact. There was even a 12-page and very different version of the title story, “Mad Shadows,” that I had sold to a small fanzine — amateur publications of that era — called Weird Adventures. I managed to write a book review or two for the publisher/editor, but the publication went belly-up before “Mad Shadows” could reach the public and payment could reach me. Years later, another fanzine, Orion’s Child, which had published two other short stories of mine, bought a second version of “Mad Shadows,” but they folded after their second issue, and Dorgo remained relatively unknown. So I retired his character, considered him dead to the world and thus turned my hand, and my pursuits to other things, mainly screenwriting.

In 2008, when I finally decided to resurrect and polish my Dorgo tales, and then collect them in one volume, I decided not to mold them into a novel by tying them together with a common plot thread. Instead, I linked them together with recurring characters, common elements, settings and themes, etc. The six tales in Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dorgo stand pretty much on their own, although the last story is a sequel to the fifth tale.

The opening story, “Mad Shadows,” is about gold-eating demons and the criminals who have devised a way to use them to rob the citizens of Valdar. The main themes are loss and betrayal, greed and revenge. This is the story that introduces the reader to Dorgo and his world. In this one, we meet some of the recurring characters, like Praxus the Beggar, a satyr who is one of Dorgo’s closest friends, and the sometimes meddling but always helpful Cham Mazo, a black war veteran and Captain of the Royal Constables in Valdar. There’s also a dark-skinned woman named Yaggy who almost walks off with Dorgo’s heart, and a gang of slavers that wants to walk off with his head. And almost do.

“The Secret of Andaro’s Daughter” follows next. This is my homage to The Maltese Falcon. It’s about a dead necromancer’s coffer and the various characters that will stop at nothing to get their hands on what they believe it contains. We meet Urzool Lairo, a nine-foot cyclops with a sense of humor and a heart of gold, a troll named Glack Darano who knows a magic or two, a deadly and merciless faun assassin called a Vulkina, some hell-spawned devils, and three women who have Dorgo’s brains scrambled and spinning in all directions. But no one and nothing in this tale is quite what they appear to be.

The third story, “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” is about the theft of some very unique, other-worldly jewels, two inept but no less dangerous smugglers named Urlak and Ollo Blunker, a murdered witch, a series of vicious killings, a kidnapping, a hoax, and two very interesting women. Here we meet Heegy Wezzle, aka the Big Dwarf, another of Dorgo’s cronies; he manages a minotaur named Torok the Terrible, a popular professional wrestler. This is the tale that first introduces the hypogeum — the world beneath the Crimson Sand Arena. Dorgo also receives a very prophetic message from Jeke Teuqaj, a unicorn gladiator with a nasty temper.

These three tales are what I call the “Valdar Stories,” because they are set entirely in the city of Valdar, where Dorgo lives and practices his trade. Each story has a rather light-hearted tone, in spite of all the mayhem, murder, and magic. But for the next three stories I decided to “open things up” a bit and explore my world.

“The Man Who Loved Puppets” takes place in a nearby village, where Dorgo and Praxus are visiting their friend, a tough redhead named Cerisa Yonsa, and her young daughter, Tareena. Cerisa also happens to be one of the Dowser’s former lovers. During the course of the story we meet another minotaur, a retired wrestler named Oronis, and his son, the playwright Akramius.
But it’s a witch who will do anything for her dead sister, a disgraced aristocrat named Yarlo Filp, an insane puppet master, a host of malefic marionettes, and a number of small children whose souls have been stolen that begin a cycle of darker, more dramatic stories.

“In the Vale of the Black Diamond” is an old-fashioned adventure yarn that takes place in a lost world at the bottom of a haunted canyon where Dorgo and his childhood friend, Yozinda Andovo, lead a small expedition to find a magical jewel reported to have healing powers. But they get more than they bargained for when they encounter strange, prehistoric animals, witness the horrible deaths of their companions, and encounter Shemzu Oladar, an eccentric necromancer who is the sole survivor of a lost race from another dimension. And then there’s a curious little character named Ghula Drin — one of the clones bred by the necromancer to care for the dead.

The sixth and final story, “Blood on the Moon,” is a sequel to “Black Diamond.” It’s also a grim tale of horror and family tragedy, wherein Dorgo and Yozinda return to her father’s village. We meet Yozinda’s crippled father, old Baron Jenko, her ailing brother Brid, Jinogi the big-hearted blacksmith, the gentle Doctor Kandar, and the lovely, exotic Nurse Rolka, a mysterious woman who never laughs or smiles. But the homecoming is not a happy one as Dorgo and Yozinda encounter sickness, revenge and murder, and must confront a werewolf that has been preying on the innocent and helpless villagers. Two werewolves, actually.

While the tales of Dorgo the Dowser are definitely grounded in heroic fantasy, and sword and sorcery, I like to call them gothic noir. They’re filled with dark, macabre humor — gallows humor. All my influences are in these stories: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and the first two masters of special effects in cinema, Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen. There’s even a touch of H.P. Lovecraft in my creation of the Nine Realms of Otherworlds that compose the Echoverse of alternate dimensions, one of which is the realm of demons and supernatural entities.

In the next installment of My Legacy Character I will talk discuss the various forms of magic, what I call Odylic Power, that are used in my world of Tanyime.

Until then, happy reading, happy writing, fight the good fight and don’t let the vampires bite.

Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers' Choice Award, is available in hardcover, trade paperback and Kindle editions:

Also available for Nook readers:

#heroicfantasy  #swordandsorcery  #horror  #supernatural  #paranormal  #joebonadonna