Hey, y’all! I’m super excited that I’ve been invited back to guest post on Jon’s blog and I thank you for taking the time to once again read my ramblings. And, no, your eyes are not deceiving you – it’s little ol’ me twice in a row here. Jon has been insanely busy lately, but I promise you’ll have him back very soon!

What’s the topic of the day? Well, first, I’d like to take a moment to urge you to check out all the wonderful writing tidbits that Jon has here on the site. Even though the first Songbird book hasn’t been released yet, it’s still a fun glimpse into the mind of the genius behind the series. You’ll also be ahead of the curve with extra story knowledge when the day comes for you to run out and get HUNTERS!

So, I’m sitting here thinking about the world that Jon has created and, if I was given only one word to describe it, I would say “epic.” We’ve all heard this used before in terms of books – epic novels. But what is an epic novel?  

By definition, epic used to be the word used to describe a particular type of poetry and not full books. That’s changed over the years, though, and now it covers a broad range of full-length stories.  

That may seem pretty straightforward, but let’s add to the mix that epics also typically have a minimum length of 120,000 words. However, The Wizard of Oz is considered an epic and it’s only 40,000 words. (Dontcha love it when we bastardize the English language and the definitions we thought we knew?? I’m half kidding here – The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite books and it’s a whole lotta story.) 

Based on all of this, I am definitely in the camp that votes for Jon’s books being epic novels. First, he’s well over the low end of the word count. Second, he’s done a tremendous amount of world building with multiple characters whose storylines play out in different lands and slowly, and mysteriously, link together.  

Many authors would kill to have a brain that can not only create something like that, but also organize it into a seven-book series. By comparison, my first book puts two people in one place for…one night. A far cry from what I would consider epic.

(Fasten your seatbelts here because I’m about to take a sharp turn.) 

I’ve been watching a lot of news lately, as I’m sure many of you have, and it’s kind of hard to tell the difference between reality and Independence Day. I keep waiting for Will Smith to show up in my backyard dragging an alien wrapped in a parachute. Although, with as awesome as 2020 has been so far, that’ll probably be next week.  

Now, as epic as the global pandemic has been, the US has all eyes on us, once again, as we navigate the George Floyd tragedy and subsequent protests. It’s kind of making me wonder if some writers can see the future. Or maybe it’s that humanity truly is its own worst enemy.  

We started the year by getting dropped onto the set of Outbreak and now we’re muddling our way through Contagion meets The Stand

I’m going to make a quick pitstop here to say that while I don’t agree with any law-breaking, I do fully support those who are peacefully asking to be heard and seeking change to the disgusting racism that took the life of a presumably innocent man over something as ridiculous as a $20 counterfeit bill. That never should have happened. And I hope it never happens again.  

So, here I am thinking about epic novels and screenplays and looking at the world we live in wondering what writers will conjure up next to outdo the state of current affairs. Because that’s what they do, right? However insane life is right now, they take it one (or several) steps farther so we can temporarily get lost in an alternate reality that seems impossible.  

It also makes me think that, if it’s true that writers are fortune tellers, maybe Jon knows something we don’t know since his series contains a global event called The Rising. (Don’t unbuckle yet…this’ll be happening right after Will Smith shows up.)  

Back to these (seemingly) fictional universes that find their origins in a writer’s brain… Curious about the transition from poetry to novels, I looked up the beginning of epic writing. This may come as a total shock to you, but its birthplace was ancient Greece and the great-granddaddy was Homer. What? That doesn’t surprise you? Nah, I didn’t really think it would.  

Okay, so, that answers one question, but what about the first epic novel? As razor-sharp as Google may be, multiple searches for this query returned only one thing – The Adventures of Captain Underpants. Yes, apparently Dav Pilkey of the esteemed Captain Underpants series took it upon himself to add “Epic Novel” to the title, thereby breaking any educational internet search. Thanks, Dav!      

Yes, you did, Dav. You totally knew.

In fairness, the answer is probably out there somewhere, but I can only yield Captain Underpants results a finite amount of times before I give up.  

I’m sure when most of us think of epics, what comes to mind are series like The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and maybe even Harry Potter. Does that mean they always contain elements of the supernatural? (Let’s see if Jon is going to jump in here…) Not necessarily, although the fantasy genre does seem to have cornered the market. But I recently saw Stephen King referred to as a writer of epics based on his word count.  

Here we go…

BOOM! And then Jon arrived!

There are probably exceptions to the rule, but most epics seem to contain fantasy elements. I suppose the reason for this is that the terms ‘Epic’ and ‘World-Building’ often go together in this respect!

Epic sagas usually have big word counts. Your bog standard thriller, romance or erotica, etc, don’t have to do world building to establish their settings. We all know what New York looks like. Or Paris. Or Milton Keynes. But when Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings, he had to give us the detail to build a picture of Middle Earth in our heads. JK had to give us the details of the wizarding world. And don’t get me started on the world GRRM had to communicate to us!

I LOVE that you think of my Songbird series as an epic! That is certainly what I’ve aspired to create. While my world is based on the one in which we live (which has allowed me some shortcuts), I have had to spin a new recent history for the world, a new political world order, and a smidgen of new geography!

Anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it! 😛

Thanks, Jon! xo

One thing is for sure – whether it’s the massive books that capture our hearts or the lengthy summer blockbuster films we love to watch, this classification is one of the very best places for escapism. And isn’t that what entertainment is all about anyway? It gives us something to really sink our teeth into as we devour all the details, discuss plots at length with our friends, debate one character’s worth versus another, and get lost, whether in our imaginations or thanks to the magic of Hollywood, in their respective worlds. 

In light of recent events, I can’t think of a better time to run away for a little while. As with most points on the literary spectrum, much of it is subjective, so it doesn’t seem we were really able to pin down a strict definition for ‘epic’ today. Personally, I think it’s one of those things – we know it when we read/see it.  

HBO may have annihilated GoT with the finale, but the books are still good. Pick ‘em up. Or go immerse yourself in Homer (not Simpson, although after 31 seasons, that’s pretty epic, too). Or, as mentioned, Jon’s chapters and back story are all here for anyone who wants to dive in. (The shameless plug was my idea – not his.) 

If all else fails, one thing we know for sure is we’ll always have The Wizard of Oz. For a fantastic spin on the original and one of my all-time favourite musicals, look for The Wiz with its all-black cast. If you haven’t seen it, trust me…you need to.  

As a matter of fact, this may not be a bad time to follow the Yellow Brick Road.  

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15 Comments

  1. Samantha

    Reply

    Epic blog post! This is the first one I read here. I’m crazy interested to read more about Jon.
    The Wizard of Oz is one of my moms favorites! I’ve watched the movie probably 300 times. I have to admit that I have never read the book.
    If Jon’s books are anything as exciting as Game Of Thrones or Homer, they will certainly be epic!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Oh my god, Samantha! That is rarefied air that I’m being compared to, and I’m not even published yet! Eeek!

      I’ll freely admit, though, that GRRM’s ASOIAF and JKR’s Harry Potter series are probably the biggest influences on my writing.
      I love the world building in both, the fact that both authors created a living breathing world with its own internal logic and politics. A world the reader can get lost in. Tolkien’s LOTRs is another touchstone.

      So, in respect to the world building I’ve aimed Songbird to be as in depth as ASOIAF, but as accessible as Harry Potter. I’ve got 7 books planned, so I’m planning a slow reveal of the world at large to the reader, drip feeding bits of information that allow the reader to build a picture of that world in their heads.

      That’s the plan. Nikki is better placed to let you know if I’m succeeding or not! LOL

      Thanks for you comment Samantha 🙂

      • DesireeS

        Reply

        Wow Jon, it’s great to have a “cheerleader” like Nikki in your corner.
        You are planning on writing 7 books, a series? Do you already have them all planned out? Like a beginning and an end to each one? I’m just curious as to how you figured out that it would be 7 books.
        I truly hope that the books are epic too and that you get millions of followers and makes lots of money!

        • Jon Ford

          Reply

          I always knew I was going to write an ‘epic’, as Nikki refers to it. I knew it would be multiple books.
          At first I thought it would be 4 books. That was the original plan. But then I started to plot and plan it on the Spreadsheet of Doom­™ and it quickly grew.
          So, in answer to your question – YES. I do have them all planned out.
          Now, the aim is for 7 books to wrap up the series, but I have tentatively wondered whether it’ll be 8. Pretty sure it’ll be 7 though.

          The other thing is, that the world is BIG! So I’ve also got ideas in the words for:
          A YA spin off called ‘Young Hunters’ – which would follow the kids in the Academy that Gayle and Michael are teaching.
          A prequel series of short stories called ‘The One-Three-Seven Mission Logs’ – which I planned maybe to put up here on the website. This series would be something like 25k words each and detail the exploits of the 137th Hunters prior to the events of the Songbird series.
          AND!
          Even when book 7 is done, I have a plan to push forward. The end of book 7 leaves the Songbird universe in a REALLY interesting place. It’ll change everything and I’m kind of interesting in exploring the new world afterward.

        • Nikki Anderson

          Reply

          Desirees, he’ll be a household name if I have anything to say about it! 😀
          Thanks for reading!

      • Samantha

        Reply

        Absolutely welcome. I think it’s amazing that you’re planning on putting out 7 books. I know when I’m looking for something new to read, I often go to series. I love it when you’re reading and you finish one and can’t wait to pick up the next one. I hope you don’t release them too slow though. Kinda like drip torture!

        • Jon Ford

          Reply

          I will TRY to get them out as fast as I can! In the meantime, there should be lots to see on the site.

    • Nikki Anderson

      Reply

      Thanks, Samantha! And welcome to Jon’s blog!
      I wouldn’t doubt that I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz that many times. It’s a comfort zone of a movie for me. And a book! You should read the series for the back story on all the characters. 🙂

  2. Ally

    Reply

    Nikki, it’s great to have friends like you!
    That’s impressive that you have 7 books planned Jon. I’m pretty excited to start reading them. I loved the Harry Potter books. I hope you’re books are as loved as those and I’ll be able to say – I “knew” him before he was famous!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      And I’ll make sure that I let everyone know that’s true! LOL
      “Oh, yeah…this is Ally. Yes, they knew me long before I was famous!” 🙂

      • Nikki Anderson

        Reply

        Aww, thank you, Ally! Just supporting the talent I see in Jon. ‘Cause he’s epic! 😀
        I had to laugh at knowing him before he’s famous – I tell him all the time not to forget the little people. Like me. Haha!

  3. RaeY

    Reply

    I am expecting to have Will Smith drop in my backyard too! What a crazy world we are living in right now! Riots, pandemic, food shortage – should I go on. Heck, I was just able to get my hair colored! Now if I could just get my brows waxed! Sorry, I digress!
    I can’t wait to read Jon’s full book. We’ve had teasers but it’s time to see how great it is. I’m sure it will be great. I think epic is something to shoot for!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      2020 will be one for the history books FOR SURE!
      And…we’re only halfway through it! eeek!

      (Not sure what happened to those Murder Hornets though…)

      • Nikki Anderson

        Reply

        2020 is a total facepalm, Raey. 2021 has to be better. In fact, it WILL be because we’ll be seeing the release of HUNTERS! 😀
        Jon, hush about those damn hornets! I’d rather have Will Smith and aliens in my backyard than those things!

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