The Sevton Saga

The Sevton Saga (formerly Yellow Morning, Blue Afternoon) is a planned two-book series that is the oldest of Reginald Routhwick's current projects.

The Sevton Saga
A work by Reginald Routhwick
Type Book series
Topics Virtual reality, Revenge, Politics, Digital rights, Caribbean
Setting(s) Rogatia
In development since December 2005
Since this project has been long in development, details below may be incomplete or inaccurate.

Development

2005

Attempts to develop Sevton began in December 2005, when Routhwick (under his real name) drafted the first one or two pages of a book called Yellow Morning, Blue Afternoon. At the time, Routhwick was a second-year student at the Dominica State College, several hundred yards uphill from his home in Stockfarm, Roseau. The initial draft was the first overall appearance of the series' main character, a girl named Diane Spencer Prentice-Delford, in any capacity. Though its current whereabouts are now undergoing investigation, the author clearly remembers its contents as a discussion with her three classmates on what they all intended to do for summer vacation.

2007

In summer 2007, months after Routhwick moved to Waterbury, Connecticut with his family, drafting resumed in earnest. The story took the form of a slice-of-life tale set in the northeast of Dominica, particularly in Marigot and Wesley. From this phase, only Chapter 10 (dated July 21, 2007) has been located so far.

In this sample, Diane spends a Saturday afternoon at the Roseau Bayfront, where she meets a middle-aged vendor named Valerie Stewart Rickwell. (This version of the character bore no relation to Diane, but in later proposals would become her aunt, Valerie Prentice-LaClure.) Valerie is offering officially licensed Disney character art for sale, made by one Mrs. Hermoine Lindellan--recognised in Guinness World Records as the "Oldest Animator" to exist. She has three children: Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor, named after Ross Bagdasarian's Chipettes.

Later on, Diane meets her friend Marbel in Newtown, where the latter introduces fifth-grader Daria from Marigot. After asking about her summer so far, Daria is astonished that Diane has never yet ventured outside town, because her family is chronically cash-strapped. Right after, the three girls engage in a chess matchup lasting 15 rounds. When dinner calls, Daria tells Diane that she recently traded places with Marbel during a school exchange; she stayed at Roseau's Garraway Hotel, while the Newtown counterpart boarded at Marigot's prestige Sevton Estate, a piece of local history.

2008-2009

At the suggestion of an aunt of his who lived in the Bronx, Routhwick soon shifted the Sevton setting from the real Dominica to a fictional island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its name, Rogatia, derived from the term "Rogation days" which he found in the pages of the Farmer's Almanac 2008 edition.

During 2008-2009, a Sevton soundtrack was workshopped on the music-streaming site imeem. After Myspace purchased them in a December 2009 fire sale, remnants from these sessions moved over to there.

2010

The next iteration, Concertina, went so far as to have a complete draft during January and February 2010. This manuscript centred around the search for a rare shellac record, and featured new characters named Darby and Joan--a bickering visiting couple from Guyana whose behaviour defied the term's tranquil connotations.

Concertina was hastily scrapped after an MSN news item on the 20th anniversary of the Gardner heist in Boston, Massachusetts caught Routhwick's attention and gave the project a new focus. Starting out as Reflex and then Horizon/Vanishing Point in April, this attempt was aptly retitled Framed in May. This time, Diane (aged six) was visiting her great-aunt Valerie at Sevton, while yearning to find the 13 missing works and collect the museum's US$5,000,000 reward--at the expense of a few Boston Mob affiliates who secretly lurked among the locals. Marvin Krisdale, a DJ residing in Corriverton, Guyana, allegedly held the key to their recovery; one of the treasures turned up inside his home. Also in the mix were the two Gardner thieves, now reformed and living under hidden identities; no one at the FBI had turned them in yet.

That June and July, Routhwick drafted at least nine chapters of a retool that shifted the focus towards the thieves. One of them, Randy, was haunted full time both by the guilt of committing the 1990 heist, and memories of a better upbringing before then. He suffered from constant paranoia, a pet peeve of the Sevton tenants and proprietor Valerie--enough for them to consider booting him off their premises. The other one, Morris, was just as moody thanks to a recent car crash that killed his wife, to the point where he attempted suicide by drowning from a cliff and later declared asylum. (He once captained the roller-hockey team of his town, Estinde in Shropshire province.) His only child, Loretta, was better-tempered in comparison.

Marvin's arc was successfully retained and fleshed out in this phase, along with Icebox's. Diane and company, however, were nowhere in sight.

2011-2012

The project's next go-round, Asylum, was sketched out in January 2011.[1] It involved a German-born vagabond and his two adopted daughters who set out for the Sevton Estate, now in rural northern Elmshire. The vagabond, Jakob, earned his place in criminal legend as the "Pied Piper of Baltimore" after abducting 130 children from an island suburb on March 26, 1975. Now, he was at the mercy of Icebox, a Boston-based Mafia squad who was hunting him down not only for this, but also for the sake of the 13 missing items from the Gardner museum, one of which he almost acquired from a Czech mate.

An overhaul of Asylum, completely drafted out in January and February, focused more on Jakob; featured a Holland-dwelling clan of Diane's family; and discarded the Gardner angle. Nothing more came of it afterward.

Diane herself returned to the spotlight as Little Miss Marple during an early 2011 retool, in which she unwittingly qualified for a Caribbean-wide trivia tournament offering US$100,000,000 as the top prize. This iteration evolved into Lucky Guess the following year, and experimented with alternating points of view in the pattern of poetic sestas, which the installments were called. Sestas 1 and 2 surfaced at Amazon's Kindle Store, Internet Archive's Community Texts, the now-defunct Fluffyseme, and Wattpad in mid-2012. The serialised approach turned out to be rather premature to Routhwick, and further efforts were eventually tabled.

2016-present

With Unspooled taking up the spotlight from 2012 on, and with Relformaide/Tovasala competing in his priority queue after September 2016, Routhwick's enthusiasm for the Sevton books gradually waned away. On his Google+ feed "#WhatLiesAground", murmurs on their status were only occasional at best. By 2017, it was revisualised as a "[political] revenge action-thriller" in the wake of Donald Trump's highly contentious rise to power in the U.S. Congress, with no connections to Gardner. A tentative soundtrack epilogue, doubling as a sneak peek, was scrobbled on Last.fm that December. Otherwise, the hints still persisted up till G+'s 2019 public closure, and continued when "Aground" moved to Steemit and Hive. This time, Diane had a sidekick in Edward Wyorst, whose early incarnation was as a minor character and Sevtonite.

Although not announced on his social outlets at the time, Routhwick had this personal idea of a TV Guide blurb for it:

A 14-year-old Rogatian girl meets a highly targeted whistleblower on the run, and together they team up against the world's worst politicians.

along with this tagline:

We're what happens when you vote for the wrong leaders

In mid-2020, Routhwick wrote on Hive that Diane and Wyorst are in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their battle would not happen in-person. This eventually gave way to a new plot influenced by Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and its film adaptation by director Steven Spielberg, mentioned in the next section.

Story details

Diane, a teenage girl living in Trouvaille, Rogatia, has a knack for escapism. Once every often, she takes to a virtual world where anything goes, everything is perfect, and nothing is sacred. Her parents, Elaine and Joseph, are rightly worried she could become a high-school dropout before her time. One day during a three-hour session, her in-game character encounters a whistleblower named Edward Wyorst, on the run from the FBI and the European Union. After getting to know each other, and the challenges that lie ahead for them, the two team up to rid the world of its worst politicians--by way of virus zapping or otherwise.

Characters

  • Diane Spencer Prentice-Delford, Rogatian; 14 years old
  • Edward Wyorst, Diane's sidekick; 43 years old

Side efforts and spin-offs

Rogatia: Bulwark of the Atlantic

The map of Sevton's setting, Rogatia, underwent 12 years of redraws and refurbishings before its final design surfaced in April 2020. In the early days, it was attempted on Paint.NET; shortly after, Inkscape became the tool of choice. By 2014, development shuttled to the far more flexible QGIS, with SAGA GIS and J. Slayton's Wilbur terrain program serving as supplementary software late in the game.

Sevton Estate

The Sevton Manse and surroundings, at 43 Hollingsworth in Chesterfield, Elmshire, gave Routhwick a means to flex off his architectural and SketchUp skills starting in 2007. The models have never been finished, although a revision of the Estate building's floor was teased on G+ ca. early 2013.

Tovasala

Tovasala is a constructed language created and developed by Routhwick. Working notes of its earliest incarnation, Réformati, were scribbled during early 2009 as part of the Sevton package. "Exactly for what purpose in the proceedings," he quipped years later on Reddit, "I can't recall." Another attempt, which introduced agglutination to its morphology, faltered in late 2014. The Referata wiki of the third and most fruitful iteration was launched on September 29, 2016, officially divorcing it wholesale from Sevton. It began life as Relformaiké before a rebrand to Relformaide the following summer; the current name is derived from tovassa, the Itelmen word for "ten". Tovasala is also the fictional North Atlantic realm where the eponymous language is spoken, and in-universe, the etymon is a reference to its ten administrative regions.

Connections with Unspooled

  • Many of the tunes that appeared in the earlier Sevton soundtrack lineups eventually made their way into the Adanson Jukebox, a side effort of Unspooled. In Routhwick's view, these artifacts of Sevton's slice-of-life phase fit the cuter and lighter environment of the Dixwell universe better than the darker tone the older project would assume.
  • After Sevton jettisoned the Gardner angle in favour of a more serious plot by the late 2010s, Unspooled conditionally took it up for consideration in a future tale involving raccoon mascot Samson Dixwell.

Notes

  1. Misdated "2010" on some pages.