Call of the Wolf >> A Novella

Ancient thirst from bloodlines deep
Chafing at their lunar chains
Awoken from an umbral sleep
Unleashed now this lupine strain

I am working on a new project — writing a novella in the vein of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and Sense, Sensibility and Sea Monsters. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, PP&Z and SS&SM are what I would consider “ghost write-throughs” of the popular Jane Austen novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. By this I mean a modern person is writing his story using another author’s book as the framework.Wolf2

These write-throughs take the original novel and add new elements to change the tone and theme of the stories. A great deal of content from the original novel remains intact, while other parts are changed or embellished for effect. For example, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies tells quite a different story than its parent novel by introducing brain-eating zombies. What’s the proper etiquette when one is attacked? How will these zombies affect a lady’s prospects for marriage? It is a humorous contrast between two radically different themes.

My project is Call of the Wolf, which is a write-through of Jack London’s classic novella Call of the Wild. First published in 1903, Call of the Wild is a public domain work of fiction. While Call of the Wild is set in the late 1800s during the Klondike Gold Rush. My version takes the write-through concept used in works like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and tweaks the formula to introduce a fantasy element.

Rather than follow the adventures of a sled dog named Buck, Call of the Wolf follows the story of Mordant, a cursed dire wolf. Mordant must contend with the crown regent’s men invading his domain and enslaving dire wolves to drive their sleds to the farthest reaches of the Nordlands in search of an extremely rare ore used in the forging of enchanted weapons. It is set in a fantasy world inhabited by sellswords, harpies, giants, sorcerers, and other dangers.

Relative to the Jane Austen write-throughs, Call of the Wolf is a small venture with modest costs, making it an excellent candidate for a Kickstarter campaign. Working on this novella helps me reach toward several different goals.

  1. To work on a project that inspires me and sparks my creativity.
  2. To seize the opportunity to write fiction instead of rules, flavor text, interviews, proposal documents, etc.
  3. To continue the momentum gained from recent projects which recharged my internal batteries.
  4. To make this novella an actual, physical “thing” rather than just a concept.
  5. To generate some revenue to supplement the unpredictable nature of freelance work.

Unlike some of my other project concepts, which may be little more than some notes scribbled down on a post-it, I’ve already started working on Call of the Wolf… and getting started is usually the toughest part. Once I’ve been able to invest myself (emotionally and schedule-wise) in a project, it’s much easier to keep going. As of March 6th 2014, I’m one chapter deep into a project in which the source novella is only seven chapters long.

As an added bonus, working on Call of the Wolf has also inspired a flash of game design clarity — I’m designing a small, very simple dice game inspired by the novella.