GUEST POST: Celebrating 5 Years of Ordshaw by Phil Williams

 

Five
years ago today, Under Ordshaw was
released and the world was exposed to a unique British city with the occasional
magical/horrific twist. The series has now seen two story arcs completed with
The Sunken City Trilogy and The Ikiri Duology; two new arcs started with The City Screams and Dyer Street Punk Witches, and a host of
short stories. To celebrate Ordshaw’s anniversary, here’s a trip down memory
lane – and as a gift of
Under Ordshaw for free for the next few days (29th – 31st), available in all
major eBook stores, everywhere.

What is Under Ordshaw?

It
all started with poker player Pax Kuranes discovering a secret labyrinth under
her otherwise normal (if rough) city. Also, she discovered some very unusual,
but mostly horrible, monsters – and a community of rather offensive and violent
diminutive fairies. All this in a city otherwise rooted in reality, with
distinct, characterful boroughs and a deep, detailed history (inspired
variously by some cities I’m most familiar with, such as London, Nottingham,
Bristol and Luton (not a city, with spite)). The books mostly explore the
seedier, darker side of Ordshaw, involving criminal gangs, shady government
organisations and impoverished, rundown neighbourhoods, with some hints at the
brighter, cheerier suburbs.


The Journey to the Story

Under Ordshaw was written and released over about 18
months, between 2017 and 2018 (alongside and overlapping my dystopian Estaliabooks). Blue Angel and The Violent Fae followed in 2019 to
complete The Sunken City Trilogy (with The
City Screams
emerging somewhere in between). My plans for it emerged much
earlier, though, while frequently riding the metro working in Prague, 2008 (a
job that also inspired parts of Dyer
Street Punk Witches
).

The
bare roots of the story came together in a screenplay around 2008. I spent two
or three years revising it, taking it to producers and directors. In its
earliest form, it resembled something of the final structure of Under Ordshaw, but followed the Barton
family with no Pax in sight. At some point this warped, as screenplays do, into
an animation involving talking penguins, and there were rumours at one point of
Whoopi Goldberg coming on board. That all petered out, until some years later
when I’d got a couple of self-published books under my belt, and had a burning
desire to revive and combine a slew of older works.


A Shared Universe

I
wrote Under Ordshaw with big plans in
mind from the offset. There was to be an opening trilogy, but also a series of
independent or loosely connected tales. Blue
Angel
hints at a character in The
City Screams
; The City Screams introduces
a character from The Ikiri Duology;
and Under Ordshaw itself references
criminals discussed in Dyer Street Punk
Witches
.

My
goal was to explore different tropes and story arcs framed in one particular
Ordshaw lens: gritter action thrillers (in a vein of the emergent cinema of the
90s) with the propensity for wild fantasy twists and turns. There would be a
witches saga, a haunted house tale, a Faustian story, secular crime stories and
more. Then, there was also the opportunity for absolutely off-the-wall
adventures, as Kept From Cages introduced.

Five Years in the Open

For
all my lofty goals, Under Ordshaw got
off to a fairly inauspicious start, and really owes the spark of life it found
to Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO and the many wonderful contacts I’ve made following
that. The book was a semi-finalist for Lynn’s Books in 2018 and Lynn kindly put
me in touch with other bloggers who helped review and promote the series. It
picked up momentum through the attention of a lot of great reviewers, which in
turn has always encouraged me to keep hammering at my greater scheme. Never
mind that sales have always been an uphill struggle, and Ordshaw doesn’t neatly
fit the existing markets – the rewards are there in seeing readers’ responses
to the series.

I
have slowed down in recent years to split my focus over other projects, but
little by little, Ordshaw has spread further into the world. We’re now up to
seven novels in the series. Dyer Street has
opened up a whole new venture, while Kept
From Cages
also reached the SPFBO semi-finals and went on to give Mark
Lawrence
himself a paper cut. And the books themselves are only improving as
they go: I’ll forever love Under Ordshaw,
but it is a particular starting point, with a certain roughness to it. Each entry
that follows aims to expand and improve on that.

The Next Five Years

My
plans for the future vary between the simple (add more books to the series) and
elaborate (design Ordshaw animations and games; Ordshaw theme park?). What’s on
the more immediate horizon are a sequel to The
City Screams
, with the long-overdue return of Pax and Letty, and the sequel
to Dyer Street Punk Witches. There’s
also an interactive story I’ve been itching to write forever. Then there will
eventually be more from the Cutjaw Kids and Katiya and a couple of other
standalone tales, and I’d like to go back to where this started and produce
fresh screenplays from the books. Because the world needs more foul-mouthed
fairies, criminal jazz musicians, weird monsters and punk witches, in every
format.

For
now, though, my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s come along for the
ride, and everyone who’s yet to step into Ordshaw (don’t forget to
grab your copy for free while you can!). I couldn’t have got anywhere near as far
as I have without the support of a wonderful community of readers and writers,
and I look forward to sharing more with you.



About The Author: Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian
fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic
Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master
the nuances of English, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle. As a
long-term teacher and tutor of advanced English, he runs the popular website
“English Lessons Brighton”.

Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex,
UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.


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