Writing: Andy Coffey’s Alternate Universe Is Expanding

August 14, 2014



sacred wind

Creating your own world is a blast, let’s not beat around the bush here; it’s like eating a big pie of imagination topped with the chilli sauce of creativity. It’s fun, and the great thing is if it wants to get bigger, you just let it! There are no limits – only your mind and your appetite for imagination pie (and even if you run out of the chilli sauce of creativity, you can always add a sprinkling of the icing sugar of imagination).

A few years back I started work on my first full-length novel, entitled Sacred Wind (which is now an eBook trilogy, and also a paperback). To this day, I’ve no idea where the initial idea came from. An alternate reality in North Wales, Chester and the Wirral, in 1987, populated by sheep that run pubs, conscious curries, magic cheese (that comes from mines), telepathic cats, an evil Baron, some very sexy faeries, and a Welsh Viking Flatulence Rock band called Sacred Wind. It was bonkers and I do quite like a bit of bonkers every now and again. But, just to overcomplicate matters, I decide that if this book’s going to have a rock band in it, well, wouldn’t it be cool if there were also a few songs – in fact, why not an entire album of music by the fictitious band in the book? Seriously, it was like being set free from a cage of mundanity and showered in the rose petals of inspiration. I was off and running and had very thick soles on my trainers.

So, as I’m making notes about characters, plot, history and scenes for the book, I’m composing songs such as Fart For Odin, Metal And Curry, My Sword Is My Sword and Dragon Ships And Women’s Hips. Now, when it comes to composing the music, lyrics and even vocal melodies, I’m in my element, but when it comes to singing … well, I’d rather not go there (and anyone who’s heard me sing would rather I didn’t go there either). And this is where synchronicity jumps in and gives me a quick slap on the back of the head as, via a friend, I find Olaf the Berserker (that’s not his real name, that’s the name of Sacred Wind’s vocalist in the book) living happily in Memphis in the US. Okay, I’m based in Frodsham in the UK, but what the hell, we have the technology. So, to cut a long story short, I end up with two wonderful new friends in Memphis – one a recording and mixing engineer (Dennis Cupp) and one with a voice that can topple mountains (Bernard DeSeck). And between us, over the next two years, we finish the album (hurrah!). And it sounds exactly like the debut album of a Welsh Viking Flatulence Rock band from an alternate reality should sound.

Right then, with the music happily going through its evolutionary process, I get back to the book. So, let’s see: I’ve got a lad from our reality that ends up in Llangollen in the other reality because he’s developed a smartphone that works on the principal of quantum computing, and is transported there by the Navigation app. Yep, seems fair. The land is ruled by an evil Baron, who has banned unauthorised flatulence and made cheesing sniffing a crime. Check. Wrexham is a “Currydom”, ruled by King Beef Vindaloo-Boiled Rice III and his wife, Queen Chicken Tikka-Coconut Rice. Seems reasonable. The Sheep’s Stirrup pub, in Llangollen, is run by the lovely Maurice Fluffywool, who is a sheep; oh, and his brother, Henry Fluffywool is the conductor of the Oswestry Sheep Orchestra. Yep, makes perfect sense.

But, and this is important, while creating random stuff is fun, you’ve got to back it up with some form of sense For example, how come sheep run pubs in this reality? Ah, the “Ovine Equality Act of 1952” gave them their freedom. But surely they couldn’t begin running pubs straight away? Of course not, many of them started out as glass collectors and worked their way up. So, all the craziness needs a bit of backstory, and that’s where the little drop inspiration requires many pints of perspiration.

I spent about one to two hours a day, six days a week for eight months writing the book, and the first draft was 140 000 words. Along with some kind people who helped with the proof reading, I then spent the best part of six months editing, and re-editing, and re-editing, until the final published (and much polished) version weighed in at 123 000 words. And this wasn’t simply chopping stuff out; it included re-writing, insertions and an ungodly amount of sentence structuring. I wanted it to be right, for me, and that took a lot of time and effort. But it was well worth it and the feedback from people who have read it (and who have reviewed it) has been wonderful.

So, if the book and music is finished why am I babbling on about this world getting bigger? Well, there are obviously ideas for the next book – but it’s worse than that. I was cajoled by a very good friend of mine into co-presenting a radio show about Sacred Wind. I agreed, on the condition that I could co-present in character as the manager of the rock band Sacred Wind, whose name just happens to be Oldfart Olafson. He agreed, and one year later we’re still on air. During this time, other characters have popped up during improvised chats, and other music has surfaced by some of these characters.

I’ve got DJ Brap, who’s a rapping/heavy metal/Eurovision artist, who produces raps where every line rhymes with the person’s name. Oh, and he has a song called Mediterranean Dining Pants. Plus, the world itself keeps expanding, with new lands, new places and new history (or, to be more accurate, history where there wasn’t any before). And it’s even crossed over into social media, with an interactive Facebook series called Crumpeton Tales, which is set in a village called Crumpeton, which is populated by crumpets. And some muffins (but most of them live in Muffinville, to be fair). It’s like Downton Abbey for crumpets, and it’s even more fun because all the crumpet and muffin characters are named (or partially named) after people on my friends list (which includes a couple of well-known actors and actresses who are delighted to be crumpets!). Next stop, the Warburtons sponsorship!

So, perhaps the moral of my little adventure is that there doesn’t need to be any limit on creativity. Just jump into the pool and have a good go at the doggy paddle, or the breaststroke, or the backstroke. It doesn’t matter because it’s your world and you make the rules!

To find out more about Sacred Wind, checkout the website at www.sacredwind.co.uk