Monthly Archives: June 2015

Creating a fantasy character similar to Colonel Sebastian Moran . . .

Colonel Sebastian Moran was a created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a henchman for Professor James Moriarty in his mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes.

Moran became one of my favorite literary characters after reading Return of Moriarty by John Gardner. This story was the first book in a trilogy where Professor James Moriarty was portrayed something akin to a gaslight godfather. The colonel was only featured in the first book and he had a small role. He died in the first half of the story.

What drew my interest to Moran was that he came from a wealthy family, privileged education at Eton College of Cambridge University, had a checkered history in the army – but attained the rank of colonel – and was forced out for reasons that were unclear, was a gambler, enjoyed fine food and drink, killed Ronald Adair, and had business and professional relationship with Professor Moriarty.

Return of Moriarty takes place after Reichenbach Falls and around the same time as the murder of Ronald Adair. Professor Moriarty has put Colonel Moran in charge of the professor’s criminal organization while Moriarty was away from London.

I considered Colonel Moran to be both a fixer and enforcer similar to Al Neri and Rocco Lampone in the Godfather books and movies.

In this blog post, I wanted to write a little bit about Colonel Sebastian Moran and how he pertains to the fantasy novellas that I write.

My stories feature criminals and criminal organizations in a fantasy setting.

When I create a character that I want to use as enforcer or fixer in one of my stories, I have always used Colonel Sebastian Moran as inspiration.

To use a sports analogy, I always think of the power or clean-up hitter bunting in baseball.

In football, the defensive tackle intercepting a pass and avoiding tackles on his way to the end zone.

To translate this notion or inspiration to a fantasy story, I am interested in a strong and brawny character that is willing to use a knife or a dagger – instead of a sword – to kill someone, preferably from behind. Same type of character that uses guile and cunning.

I am probably describing a character like Conan or Fafhrd and Grey Mouser, but I have never read any of those books. I have read books that featured characters that are small in stature, but are willing to use physical force to fight larger opponents. One character that come to mind is the Red Viper in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Red Viper is armed with a rapier when he fights in a duel with the much larger and bigger character, the Mountain.

The fixers and enforcers that I have created are nothing like Colonel Sebastian Moran, but I keep striving and trying.

Over the next few weeks and months, I will introduce some of the characters that I have created that populate my stories such as Malloy Epps, Hellers Kastenmeyer, Velo, Bear Shiancoe, Sebastian Sparrow, Miller Octeus, and Roone Davis to name a few. These characters will appear in future novellas and excerpts posted on my blog.

Thanks for reading.

Until the next time,



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Traitors in a Fantasy Story or Series

I finished reading the book Spy Among Friends by Ben MacIntyre.  The book is about Kim Philby, a high ranking counter-espionage operative in England’s MI-6, and how he had been spying for the USSR for nearly thirty years.

I found the book to be very engaging and interesting.

At the end of the book, I became very angry at Kim Philby for what he done, and to get away by defecting to the USSR, but only after he passed the vital secrets to the enemy, including the names of the Russians who were spying for England.

This is not a review of the book, but I would recommend if you are interested in spies and espionage, this book may be for you.

What this post is about is an idea I got from reading this book, and I wanted to write a story or series of stories on the idea of a character like Kim Philby, but in a fantasy setting.

When I first thought of the idea shortly after reading the book, I thought it would be ideal for an alternative history or steam-punk type of setting.  The more I thought about it the less I liked the idea of using either of these two settings. I really do not like alternative history or steam-punk stories.

I know if I want to write this type of story, then it has to be in the fantasy setting that I have working in for the last six years or so.

If this type of story is to work, then it has to be something like dwarves spying on dwarves, elves spying on elves, humans spying on humans, gnomes spying on gnomes, halflings spying on halflings. The idea of spy is someone who can operate without drawing attention to himself or herself.  A dwarf could be spying on his or her fellow dwarves at the behest of the elves or humans. Something like that could work, I suppose.

In some spy and espionage stories and non-fiction works I have read, the focus tends to be limited to the spy, spy catcher, and the spy’s handler. The main character is usually the spy and part of the story deals with the spy’s motivations  and reasons for spying, another major part of the story usually is the spy evading the spy catcher, and spy interacting with the handler.  One aspect that is not dealt as much is the consequences of the spying.

One thing that really caught my attention in MacIntyre’s book was the number of lives lost because of Kim Philby’s actions. The estimate has been from the hundreds to the thousands.

This was spurred the interest in writing a story or series of stories based on traitors.

I am thinking of using a concept of the Black Ajah from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Times series and somehow blending that with Kim Philby to come up with an idea to write.

If there is a story or series of stories featuring spies and traitor, then there has to be some sort of conflict such as a war.

One of the primary characters should be a counter-espionage operative with access to intelligence.  He or she passes the intelligence to the enemy. I think it is important to show the motivations and reasons for the character to do what he or she is doing.

I would also write a story that would feature a bit of intelligence passed the enemy that the enemy acts  on.  For example, the primary character passes along a list of names of people spying behind enemy lines. Something happens to some or all the people on the list.

Another bit would be the intelligence service and spy catcher conduct a damage assessment to determine if more assets are at risk during this conflict.  A high-ranking official from the enemy defects and has  a great deal of intelligence, including the moniker that is used by the enemy to identify the primary character.

There would be at least one story dealing with the possible or possibly aborted extraction. Another story would deal with the potential fallout of the spy’s actions.

Thanks for reading.

Until the next time,



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Hartshire Bank

Hartshire Bank is the fourth novella in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy series.  The novella is live available for purchase on Amazon.

The blurb for Hartshire Bank:

Crepier is miss and the bank he created is foundering at the start of Hartshire Bank, the fourth novella in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy novella. His disappearance sends members of Watley Greywall’s crew reeling. Crepier was the longest-serving lieutenant in Watley’s crew.

Sir Sander Guyle, a reputed crime lord who wants to be thought of as legitimate merchant, steps into the void created by Crepier’s disappearance to lead the bank. He seizes the opportunity of managing the bank to complete the evolution to becoming a tycoon.

Things become dangerous and precarious when Crepier’s dead body is discovered on the rocky banks of the Waterford River a few leagues outside of Hartshire. The cause of death was several stab wounds in the chest.

Several senior members of Watley’s crew suspect that Sir Sander Guyle was responsible for Crepier’s death.

Watley, on the other hand, does not seem to be too troubled by the murder of Crepier, her most loyal and longest-serving lieutenant.

It appears Watley Greywall is hiding something, but what is it?

Please follow the link to Amazon to purchase Hartshire Bank:

Sorry, but I do not think I can insert an image of the book cover as an Amazon purchase link.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,


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