How did the story come about?
On April Fool's Day 2005, everyone's avatars on the
WoW forums turned into murlocs. Fangtooth, himself a murloc,
(in real life as well, I'm pretty sure)
had his day of fun, and when we all reverted to normal things, such as
purple elves and
walking corpses, Fangtooth changed his forum
signature to "The Murloc is lonely..." from "The Murloc is" whatever he
was before. There was a thread going about his lost army of
murlocs, trying to make him feel better, and I thought, why not a story?
So I typed the first couple of paragraphs out in the
New Topic screen, and hit post, and then typed the next couple and
the next couple, and then some guy said he liked it so I typed the next
couple, and then... I'm not actually sure what happened, but somewhere
the plot got really complicated and Caydiem read it and said she liked
it and I made the front page and
some guy offered to host it
on his site, and now here I am.
How did you come up with the plot for the story?
My major inspiration, ironically, was
Guy Noir, a radio noir detective creation of
Keillor's. (It's ironic because the story ended up being
almost completely empty of noir features.) I thought, Wouldn't it
be sweet to cast Fangtooth as a gumshoe? That set the stage for
the story's setting (see below). About a paragraph in, I changed
Fang from a detective to a power broker, which set the stage for
the central mystery of Part One: What is the Law? Much of the rest
of part one was spent dancing around this question, and creating various
homages to different aspects of
the WoW forums and the
The rest of the story sort of came together on its own. At
various points, I
would have to stop writing long enough to actually hash out the
plot, and that's become something of a ritual for me between every Part.
This is not to say that I'm making it up as I go along: I haven't done
that since the middle of Part Two or so. I've got a pretty good
handle on the generalities of the foregoing, and the specifics have
a wonderful habit of working themselves out as I go.
Any questions about how I came up with specific aspects of the story
are very exciting to me, and should be posted in the
appropriate section of this site's forum,
or, if you're feeling conspiratorial, they can be
When is the story set?
The story takes place some six centuries after the end of the Scourge
War, which is one of the main plots ongoing in the current Warcraft game
universe. How long it will be before Blizzard decides to end the
Scourge War is anyone's guess, so a precise date of my story is
impossible to determine: somewhere between 601 and 800 years after the
current game is my best guess.
Some things that have changed: The Alliance and the Horde are
no more. The races are still around, but who likes whom and who's
killing whom has kind of shifted. The entire continent of
Lordaeron has been overrun by the plague. Some place-names have changed
with time, as well: Stormwind has become a modern metropolis by the name
of Storm City, and Orgrimmar has been renamed Orcmar.
Why is it called "The Murloc is Lonely"?
Good question. I told you how it got that name, and for a long
time I struggled with whether to keep it or to exchange it for something
more clearly apropos. But I've worked it in, and as it
turns out it is deeply symbolic and appropriate. The rest of the
answer to this question can be found in Part Three of Book One.
Why'd you name him "Horse"? That's... that's kinda crap.
My main at the time was named Crazyhorse (see below), and I wanted to
write from his point of view. I was feeling particularly clever
and decided that his name should be Horse because he could turn into
one. I didn't want to name him Crazyhorse, as it seemed to be
stepping on the historical Crazy Horse's toes a bit too much for my
"Horse" is a translation of the Modern Taurahe word "Tashunke", which was the character's birth name. Common has
taken over the world, and so in a fit of adolescent rebellion against
the culture he had run away from, he changed his name to Horse on his
way to Orcmar.
Who is Crazy Horse?
Crazy Horse was
an Oglala Sioux chief, and was a childhood hero of mine. When I started
in on World of Warcraft, I created a Tauren, whose culture, of course,
is based on Native Americana. I claimed the name, and Crazyhorse
ended up being my main character in the game, and, eventually, in the
story. No symbolism or disrespect to my childhood hero is intended.
Who is Albatros?
Albatros is the character I post with on my story thread on the
official WoW forums when I'm posting as myself rather than as Horse.
The first night I was posting the story, I used Albatros (selected
randomly from among my alts) to let people know that I was going to bed.
Albatros himself was originally a character I created on my boss's
server to play with him and his much-higher-than-me level friends, and I
didn't want my character to be a proverbial
around his neck. (He's currently level eight. I didn't
end up playing him much.) Since then it's developed into a regular
pen name, and I like it, and I'm keeping it. =]
Katy M... Bull or Girl?
WoW-forum regulars already know why: The character of Katy M
is based on WoW-forum moderator / "Community Manager"
Caydiem, one of the
Blue posters whose thankless job it is to keep order in that hive of
scum and villainy, and to keep us posted on the goings-on behind the
Irvine, CA. Caydiem is a girl, and her avatar is a bull.
That's all. If you try to read any more into that, you may come to
very interesting conclusions, but you'll be wrong.
We know Caydiem and Fangtooth; are there any other real people in the
story? (a.k.a. The Cameos and References Section)
Rhy and Tidus are based on a pair of guild friends of Crazyhorse's.
My boss has a cameo in Part Four: look for a drunken dwarf. His
character's friend, the big black guy, is his real-life friend's
character. Ajax the cat is based on Ajax, my cat. My mother
tells me that Horse's voice contains substantial elements of my own, so
I guess I'm in the story too. Along with Cay and Fang, the other
forum moderators over at Blizzard will be getting cameos.
I worked a series of in-the-moment forum in-jokes into the story as
well. Because the threads where they happened have long since been
eaten by the WoW forum thread monster, and so that they may live on in
immortality, I'll describe them briefly here.
In Part One, when Horse replies to Widget that "Breakfast is for the
weak," he's paraphrasing wow-forum regular Greyflank, who said the same
thing about dinner when I declared that I was done writing and posting
until after I'd eaten it.
In the middle of Part Two, Horse walks in on some orc chefs having a
word-use argument. Heloly (who seems to have broken his ellipse
addiction! cheers dude =] ) had previously and loudly
corrected me on my use of the word "burned". In context, I was
seeking to draw more attention to the fact that the object noun had had
an action applied to it previously, rather than existing in a present
state, and so I hold that I was right. =]
Some guy told me I used the phrase "twenty minutes" too much.
He was right, but I put a snarky little paragraph at the beginning of
the griffin ride in Part Two in which I referred to twenty minutes three
different ways without actually using the phrase. I meant it to be
funny, but I haven't heard from him since.
If I forgot one, lemme know.
Will I enjoy this story if I don't know Warcraft?
According to a couple of my friends (and my parents) who don't "know
Warcraft", yeah, it's still a pretty okay read. If you want a
quick primer on Warcraft stuff you should know, check out the
supplemental for non-WoWers I threw
together. It's mostly... this is what a murloc looks like type
stuff. Plus there's a picture of my cat.
How often do you post new stuff?
When it's ready, so no promises. When I'm writing, I try to get
something up at least once a week, usually towards the end of the
I toss something up on the front
page when I post, so check there periodically.
How do you have time for this stuff?
It's a hobby. Think of the crap that you do for long periods of
time with no corporeal dividend. Generally I do little bits at
work, paragraph or two per day type stuff, then I try to dedicate one
weeknight and one weekend day (usually Sunday) to writing. I also
don't watch much TV, because most TV is crap. That frees up a lot
How long is this thing going to be?
Wholly without meaning to, I finished Book One on September 29th,
2005. I have plans for three books, and as books are larger and
more flexible than parts, I don't foresee that number changing. It
is my current belief that books two and three will be shorter than book
one, but every time I've said something like that, it's turned out not
to be true.
Does it have an ending?
Does Horse survive?
Will there be a sequel?
Maybe, but probably not. The story I'm telling will be complete at the end of Book Three.
Is there a map of your Warcraft world?
Not per se, not yet. Although
things have certainly changed in the intervening centuries, the basic
layout of things is pretty similar, and the map I use to get the basic
layout of things is
Using it, you should be able to plot Horse's journey pretty much to the
Can I draw pictures of your story?
OMGYes! There's even a
dedicated to it on the forum, although so far the number of pictures is
very small. Basically, if you draw a picture of my story, you'll make
Forum any other questions you got, and if
they're asked frequently, I'll add them here.