Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)
Amass a goblin hoard of priceless treasures! Will you corner the market on memories and dreams? What will you pay for true love, and what is it worth? Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is a 300,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Trip Galey. I sat down with Trip to talk about goblin markets, fantasy settings, and their experience writing them.
Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business releases this Thursday, December 2nd. You can play the first three chapters for free today.
The world of Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is so delightful. Tell me about its origins.
There is a bit of a story to this, actually, so please bear with me! The seed for what would become the world of Faerie’s Bargain was planted back in New York City in 2010. My partner took us to a show called Nevermore —The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a show with absolutely stunning visuals and amazingly evocative music in places. Central to that story is the idea of the beautiful art that can come out of a life of misery and pain. So I started thinking of Goblin Markets and how you can pay for things like incredible artistic talent with esoteric coin like a lifetime of suffering. Victorian London seemed to fit well as a setting for the thematic idea because it’s a time period of amazing industrial progress and achievement that was realized at an absolutely abhorrent human cost. One thought led to another and over the next seven years the world took shape though related ideas and characters. The Godson of Despair…Improbable technological marvels made possible by paying for them in misery…The Fog of London and its hatred for the stars was present from very early on. But it all started because one October in 2010 we thought it would be fun to go to a little-known gothic musical on Broadway for Halloween!
Why are Goblin Markets such an intriguing literary trope/setting?
I’m terribly glad you asked because I’ve actually done an entire PhD around this very subject (I am literally defending my thesis on 8th December)! I would argue one reason they’re such a compelling trope is because they encapsulate in microcosm one of the most prominent threads of the Western tradition of storytelling: a character getting what they want/need. A quest has an object or an objective. A romance has a longed-for happily ever after. The heroine of a fairy tale goes into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying. And all of these objectives take work to achieve, work and sometimes sacrifice. You can think of that as the price the characters have to pay to get what they want. In classical storytelling though, that price is drawn out, it’s hidden as part of the quest or journey. The Goblin Market takes that whole construct and distills it down. Your heart’s desire is right there on the market stall before you. All you have to do is pay the terrible price. What’s it gonna be, boy? Yes? Or no?
At the Goblin Market, that experience is purer, more intense. Characters really come face to face with asking themselves what it is they are willing to give up, to do, to become, in order to get what they want. Do you want a voice so pure and perfect people weep to hear you sing? The price is your looks, your pretty face, your beauty. Is it worth it? People do terrible and ridiculous things for fame and fortune in our world, and intangible prices (like time with your family) are paid all the time to achieve dreams. We respond to it because it’s a very real part of being human. And the Goblin Market is so much more alluring because it can offer things that we cannot simply buy in our world: eternal youth, true love, a happily-ever-after. Who among us hasn’t fantasized about having things not even billionaires could buy?
Plus they’re just incredibly cool!
What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
I think the most difficult part of this particular writing process was working linearly. My normal writing process tends to skip forward and back quite a lot. I’ll write the parts I know (though yes, often scenes end up orphaned along the way), and I tend to write the beginning and the end before joining up the middle. For Faerie’s Bargain I had to start absolutely at the beginning and follow directly all the way through to the end. I was not expecting how difficult that would be compared to my normal process and I definitely struggled a great deal in the middle precisely because I hadn’t had the chance to write the end yet. I got there in the end though! (Puns are always intended, even when they’re accidental).
So writing linearly was the most difficult part of the process for me. That and editing. Editing across so many different potential lines of narrative was murder on my poor grey cells! 😂
What did you enjoy most about writing the game?
From a personal standpoint the thing I enjoyed the most was the chance to really dig down into the Untermarkt, all kinds of different deals, and new goblin merchants. I had the most fun describing Blatterbosch’s stall, I think. He’s definitely a character that I’m carrying through into other projects. I also really enjoyed writing the Council chapters. That was something I hadn’t considered at all before beginning Faerie’s Bargain and I’m very happy that this project sparked its creation.
From a professional standpoint hands down it was having to write in such a way that considered multiple ways any given scene could go or evolve. It taught me so much about my own process and the craft of writing in general. So much of creating a story comes down to the choices one makes as an author, so essentially training yourself to think through the myriad ways a scene could break as the default way of writing? Priceless.
Do you have a favorite NPC?
This is not an easy question, at all. If I were forced to choose, no clever wordplay or dancing around the issue allowed, however, I would say The Fog of London. One of the things that draws me to stories about fey creatures is the alien ways in which the minds of such beings might work, how they differ from our own, and what that can tell us about our own shared humanity. So yes, the Fog of London (Plus, the Fog has a definite edge to it that I really enjoy writing).
What else are you working on?
I have a novel set in the same world as Faerie’s Bargain currently doing the rounds with agents. It also, as you might easily imagine, features the Goblin Market in a very prominent role.
In terms of projects I’m actively working on right now, I’m writing a queer short story inspired by all the fairy and folk tales that feature forced dancing (like The Red Shoes). I’m also in the outlining process for a new novel, a post-apocalyptic, high-camp, high-drama, glitter-explosion set in the same world as my short story “The Last Dawn of Targadrides” (available in the anthology Glitter + Ashes).
Of course, if you want another taste of the world of Faerie’s Bargain, I can accommodate as well! I’ve written a novella set in the world which includes one of the NPCs from Faerie’s Bargain, Eli Burghley (aka The Godson of Despair) and one of the supernatural ally options from the game as well (Roses). The story is called “War of the Roses” and revolves around Dafydd, a naturalist and adventurer struggling under a terrible curse. It’s a bit of a meditation on the realities of having an invisible disability, a bit of a blackmail thriller, and was a lot of fun to write! You’ll be able to find out more on my website, www.TripGaley.com!