Aaron de Orive is a writer who has worked on several popular video games, including Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, Anarchy Online, and the award-winning Star Wars: The Old Republic. He is also the creator of the tabletop RPG Shard: World of the False Dawn. He is currently collaborating with Martha Wells on a new fantasy boook called Blade Singer.
by Aaron de Orive
It all started with an incredible duel.
It was the climax of Scaramouche, the 1952 movie starring Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer as Andreu Moreau and the Marquis de Maynes. The amazing swordplay lasted around eight minutes and ranged all across a lavish theater, ending on a stage with a shocking reveal. It’s one of my favorite cinematic moments and one of the finest sword fights ever put on film. I longed to write a story that featured a duel like that.
My love of swashbuckling films started early. Movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood such as The Black Swan, Robin Hood, Captain Blood, and The Three Musketeers (the one that starred Gene Kelly) made an indelible impression on my young mind. I’ve watched the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers (the one that starred Michael York) so many times, I’ve memorized every line of dialogue. And there are some zingers in there courtesy of Alexandre Dumas and George MacDonald Fraser (who also gave us the entertaining Flashman novels).
I suppose it was inevitable that I would write a story like Blade Singer. But it didn’t start out as a novel. My background is in film production, which I studied at the University of Texas. My focus was on screenwriting. I took very naturally to the screenplay format. Some find it overly mechanical and restrictive, but I loved it. It’s ideal for training storytellers to think in terms of scenes and beats, for understanding the narrative flow, and for achieving the maximum amount of drama with the fewest words possible. Blade Singer‘s first incarnation was as a feature-length screenplay.
A few years after I wrote the screenplay, I got the opportunity to show it to one of my favorite authors, Martha Wells. I had just finished reading her wonderful novel The Death of the Necromancer and found myself sharing a panel with her at ArmadilloCon. I expressed my admiration for her work, and then helped her prepare for a Star Wars trivia contest (I forget who won). I was fortunate enough to become her friend. When I told her about my desire to turn the screenplay into a novel she was incredibly supportive. And when I asked if she’d be interested in co-writing it with me, I was delighted (and stunned) when she said yes.
The screenplay became the spine of the novel, and together Martha and I fleshed out the setting, characters, and subplots. We settled on how we’d share the writing duties and we dug in. It was an amazing experience. Martha’s talents as a storyteller are both enlightening and humbling to witness in action. When the novel was finished, I was very proud of what we had created and was determined to share it with an audience exactly as envisioned. In this case, that meant self-publishing. And so we decided to Kickstart the novel, to cover the many costs that would insure a professional level of quality.
Blade Singer is a middle-grade fantasy novel that features faeries, swashbuckling, monsters, intrigue, ancient sorcery, and a singing crystal sword. It’s fun, it’s scary, it’s suspenseful, it’s exciting, and it’s funny. And of course it features an incredible duel worthy of the one that inspired this story all those years ago. We’re confident that if you check it out for yourselves, you’ll agree.