The Next Adventure: Stories from Stories

Apr 15, 2024 by James D. McEwan, in Other Projects

The Next Adventure: Stories from Stories

494,854 words. Almost half a million. From a vicious bar-fight in Port Laria, to the father bonding with the child in An’Korathall. That’s how many words it’s taken to tell the story of Petra and her struggles in an elemental world. Her journey isn’t over yet, but she and her old friend have earned a rest.

Kalleron has been my primary focus for the past eight years, but it’s not the only story I want to tell. I’ve never considered genres to be a bind, and I have two other projects shuffling in the shadows. Both are manuscripts I worked on a few years ago. Similar to Kalleron, they will receive complete rewrites. What are they? The one going on the back-burner is a fantastical adventure. If pushed to place it into a genre, it would be a young adult, magical fantasy. Of course, it wouldn’t be a James D. McEwan title if it were as simple as that. It has a touch of the macabre about it. I’ll say no more.

The other title? As a genre, it’s a sort of offspring of sci-fi and fantasy. I think sci-fantasy is the best fit. I want to give nothing away, but it’s been nibbling away at me while writing the Kalleron series. Taken at face value, the story appears far removed from the intended genre. It would certainly pose problems for afficionados of hard sci-fi. But the existence of advanced technology is pivotal to the story and the development of the characters. You just need to wait for the plot to unfold and the tapestry to reveal itself to see the bigger picture.

It originated from a strange observation. A place-name on a signpost. Just one word. It was the perfect name for a character in a story. That is literally how this project began. Inspiration is a fickle master. It was 2019, and my wife and I were exploring western British Columbia in Canada. Absolutely astounding scenery. We had booked a cabin in the Bella Coola Valley for a five-night stay. We had gone there to see brown bears in the wild. On our penultimate day, we got lucky. We gave a lift to an American couple whose car had succumbed to the gradient of a rocky logging track. As a reward, they told us where to spot some bears. Good deeds are their own reward, but sometimes they pay back a little extra.

Grizzly bear with her three cubs on a grassy meadow
The reward for helping a stranger


Away from the bears, it was in the town of Bella Coola where inspiration struck again. Under a light drizzle, we were eagle-watching on the banks of the river. A tall wooden carving stands there. Not a totem, as I understand. A human figure with its hands held toward the river. On its hands there were two fish. A local woman came and spoke with us. She told us about the town. Her husband, who had passed away, was a Glaswegian. A small world indeed. The lady told us of his travels up and down the infamous route that leads in and out of Bella Coola. Known as ‘The Hill,’ it is the only means to reach the valley other than by sea or air. I found it amusing when she told of his driving and how his car left its share of ‘scratches’ on the trees along the road. A Glaswegian fond of his drink. No surprises there.

James D. McEwan and his wife with the lush Bella Coola valley in the background
The Bella Coola valley


She also told us about the carving. The fishes in its hands were Eulachon. These were the currency of the native people known as the Nuxalk Nation. They primarily used them for their grease, which had a myriad of uses. So important to the people, they became intertwined with the culture. But some time ago, the fish stopped returning to the river. Nobody knows why, but commercial fishing in the Pacific is one possibility. They are also temperature sensitive, and as the oceans warm, they are migrating farther north to colder water. Whatever the reason, the Nuxalk carved and placed the statue in the hope the fish might return.

A Nuxalk carving of a human with Eulachon fish offered to the river
Nuxalk carving


The woman’s tale and the plight of the indigenous people saddened me. It had a profound impact. A few months after returning home, I had written a first draft of a new story. It is the only project I’ve never submitted to agents. I promised myself I would make it perfect, or as close as I can. I put it aside and worked on Kalleron, honing my skills. With Kalleron complete for now, I can move on. In the next few days, I’ll sit down and start refining the plot. It is not a cultural history, nor is it a story about Bella Coola. I wouldn’t do the indigenous people any favours by fumbling around with their cultural legacy.

So, what was the name on the signpost? You’ll need to wait and see, but it’s now part of this story. One of hardship and forbidden truths, where two worlds collide with apocalyptic consequences.


Project codename… Exultation.