The Annals of Fear
by MRS Jeevas

I didn't have any intention of writing a sequel to 'The Mello Code'. I loved that the last line there was Matt saying, 'good fight'. However, that was already totally marred by the fact that I then wrote several 'thank you' chapters, meaning that it was no longer the last line.

Nevertheless, it took me a year to even consider writing one. The reason was that I didn't think my later stories had been as good as 'Poisoned Rationality' and 'Watari Pt 1'. In my head, they were increasingly going downhill from there, though others disagreed. I didn't want to keep writing only to find myself nerfing earlier stories by being crap in later ones.

Then I was talking with blAIRbender. She asked something along the lines of what did I want to write or what would enduce me to write a sequel. I said that I loved it when all of the OCs were there too, but I'd run out of credible reasons to include them. This is a group of people who not only hate each other, but get involved in civil wars that often end up in one or more of them killing their peers. There was no good reason why Mello and Matt would put themselves unnecessarily in danger like that. It was all labouring a point a bit.

As for why I wanted them, they were simply more people. Writing stories involving just two people is all very well and good, but it can get a little predictable. It's nice to have others for them to bounce off. It's particularly tempting to have others with a long history behind them, which can be plundered for storylines. That's the whole reason that I wanted to write with the OCs in the first place and why they are best for the job.

I also said to blAIRbender that I'd love to have the story set in Wales. This comment was half tongue in cheek. One of my bugbears is when fanfiction places the characters in the author's own country for no good reason. I can see why it's beneficial to the author. They know the little cultural and landscape details, which can flesh out the story. I also know that this bugbear is very rich coming from me, as my fanfiction habitually has Mello and Matt in Britain. I can justify that on the basis that Winchester is in Britain, but sending them to Wales is a bit out there. blAIRbender didn't think that people would mind. After that conversation, I pictured Matt in the Land of my Fathers and howled with laughter. It would be like 'Withnail and I', 'I've come on holiday by mistake.' LOL

There it all would have rested, with blAIRbender effectively saying, 'Mary-Sue this all you want and massage your OCs, we'll read it', and me laughing, then not doing a thing. But two more factors crept in. The first was me noticing that, though 'Death Note' is fundamentally a supernatural story, you rarely see that reflected in fanfiction. We're all too busy with the Yaoi, the serial killers, the civil wars and the Mafia. I've barely seen so much as a Shinigami in the stories, let alone anything else. We were all seduced by the supernatural, then ignored it for realism. Then the final enducement kicked in. I re-read Phil Rickman's 'December' for the fifth time. It finished and I didn't want it to. My grabby hands went, 'Phil, sequel pl0x', but I know he never will. If he wasn't going to write something with the same feeling to it...

December by Phil Rickman For the record, Phil Rickman is wonderful. Not only does he write great books, but his staff are fantastic. When I was asked what I wanted for Christmas this year, top of the pile were 'To Dream of the Dead' and 'The Fabric of Sin', his latest two books. Santa Claus duly delivered them. Second was the CD of tunes from the books. The Merrily series includes a musician, with the narrative giving snippets of his lyrics. A band called Hazey Jane II have taken these disparate lyrics and made real songs from them. I'd been dribbling at the monitor for weeks wanting it, but unable to afford it. Santa Claus didn't bring it. I knew that the CD was limited edition, so immediately contacted the distributor. He sent me one immediately! But, get this, I didn't have to pay until I could afford it. I paid my debts at the end of January, having got my grubby paws on the CD at the beginning of the month. How lovely was that? *happy dance* But yes, if you reached the end of 'The Annals of Fear' and need a fix of Welsh supernatural writing, please go and read Phil Rickman's 'December'. That book is mostly the reason that 'The Annals of Fear' happened at all.

So I started writing. I didn't mention it to anyone at first, but then MangaBullet had a big club launch. Striped-Tabby, who is the owner of the Mello and Matt club, Guns and Games, and I were chatting about all of the new features. One of these seemed to be a way to announce exclusive news, but she didn't have any. I tentatively told her that I was writing a sequel, then sent her the first four pages. She read them and the feedback was very encouraging.

Next to know was A-Pseudonym. She'd already provided me with authentic sounding Swedish names. I now had a situation where Mello was going to Sweden with no good reason for the ensuing conversations to be happening in English. Personally, I speak English and a bit of Welsh. I have no other languages. All non-English or Welsh languages in my stories occur because someone has translated them for me. I think that it adds a lot of realism to have dialogue in another language written in that language. Bits and pieces of it had happened before, but never a sustained conversation. This was a first.

I wrote the chapter as I usually would, with all of the dialogue in English. I then sat in messenger with A-Pseudonym, while she read the chapter, then translated the relevant dialogue into Swedish. Some, by necessity, got changed, because the English idioms just wouldn't work in directly translated Swedish. While non-Swedish speakers would be reading chapter five going, 'oh look, some Swedish', I did want it so that a Swedish reader would be getting quality dialogue too. I couldn't just repeat, 'rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb' in Swedish and hope for the best. A-Pseudonym got a co-author credit for chapter five, because her dialogue there was original. It bounced off the meaning of mine, but it was original. I then had the challenge of sitting there with the two versions open and rewriting the narrative. It had to be that non-Swedish speakers could still follow the story. It took forever to do! A-Pseudonym did comment that, if you were reading this with knowledge of Swedish, then there was a lot of repetition. She thought maybe I should just cut out much of the dialogue. I liked it though, so it was kept. A-Pseudonym then stayed on to proof-read chapters as they were written.

On a similar note, there's a much later chapter where the dialogue is all in Welsh. That wasn't half so much fun. I understood the Welsh, so I got first-hand what A-Pseudonym was saying about repetition. I didn't have the mystique of Swedish nor anyone sitting in messenger bouncing ideas with me. In the end, chapter 28 was the only one that I didn't enjoy writing. I think you could really tell, when you came to read it back. Eventually, with the submission form open on MangaBullet, I sat and rewrote that chapter seconds before it was submitted. I think the second version was much better.

I progressed at white-hot speed from chapter 6 onwards. Within a fortnight, I'd written up to part IV of chapter 22. I hadn't written that last quarter there, before I went to stay at a friend's house for the weekend. Whilst there, I stopped and thought about where the story was going. It occurred to me that my planned ending was never going to happen. That was based on knowledge that I, as a Wiccan, have. It's not something that a Catholic, a Buddhist and two Aethists were going to think about. I paused. I diverted the plot down different avenues. I tried to find something that would work instead. The story got longer.

By now, Spoiled-kitten was on board, which always helps a story progress. She's never afraid to call a spade, a spade, so she'll tell me when something didn't work. She'll call me on the plot holes. She'll highlight things that really do work. In short, she puts up with the dross, so that everyone else gets a sparkly end product. She is also the one who noticed things like me not writing so fast, so occasionally gave me the very diplomatic and gentle kicks up the backside that I needed to close Runescape and write more chapters. After writing the first half of the story in two weeks; it then took me two months to write the second half.

I did also get weekly inspiration from the BBC drama 'Paradox'. There's nothing in the story that inspired mine, but there was a character called Dr Christian King. He's a genius. He also looks like an older Century.

Emun Elliot
Emun Elliot, as Dr Christian King.

I kept watching him thinking about Century, which meant that the closing credits on that week's episode would often see me opening up my notepad and knocking out another chapter. In the series, Christian became more stressed out, ill and eventually very ill. There is absolutely no coincidence between his fate and Century's. I was writing the latter in response to the first.

By the closing chapters of 'The Annals of Fear', it started to become patently clear that, unless I was writing a novel with 100 chapters, then I was committed to a sequel. I guess I'm committed to a sequel.

Thank you for reading my stories.

Matti
xxxxx Less than three