Thank you everyone who contributed including our authors, our cover artist, and the editorial and technical staff.
I'm fascinated by transitional living spaces and the things people do to make themselves comfortable in a new home.
It's always a bit eerie, moving into a newly empty space - particularly if you know you, too, will likely have to move on from that space soon. You need to walk that line between making it comfortable for yourself, but also making it easy to pack down and leave, because you won't be staying there long.
How people go about that varies and I love the little rituals people fall into. Some people make their bed before they do anything else - including unpacking boxes. Other people make a lot of noise, change the locks, or burn scented things to chase out the remnants of the old inhabitants.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more obvious to me than in the military where, combined with natural superstition derived from the random violence of war, people get very practiced at packing down and setting up in a new living space on short notice.
I liked having the opportunity to play with these ideas in this piece.
What would nesting and a home base look like when you're very far from home? What is the first priority for settling in? What unspoken codes of conduct and coping methods would develop between people who live this way but may never meet?
And what small, ridiculous things might you cling to in order to make a place feel like home to you?
And be sure to check out all the stories tomorrow, February 28, 2018 at Electric Spec!
This is a story about feelings -- how useless I feel when I'm sad; how dangerous I feel when I'm angry; and how terrified I am that if I say something too true, that the power of the truth could destroy everything around me.
There's a scene in the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend where the main character's friends stand around her in a circle, confronting her with something they’ve learned about her past. She’s so scared and cornered that she lashes out and tears down each and every one of her friends by saying the cruelest things she can. It is the scariest thing I've ever seen in video. Watching this woman tear apart her friends felt like watching one of my literal nightmares, pulled straight out of my sleeping head and plastered on the screen.
The lead character of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is flawed and complicated and even kind of horrible, but she's the lead, and you come to love her and identify with her anyway through the magic of narrative. So many male characters are allowed to be so much worse, and yet they remain protagonists, sometimes beloved icons. When women characters go off the rails, they're written out of the show, and you never see what happens to them next. But in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the woman who went off the rails is the lead, and she goes right on with her life. When I went back and re-watched that scene, I realized that all of the cruel things she said -- they were true. They were said cruelly, but they were truths her friends probably needed to hear. A man can shoot people in the head and still be the iconic hero of a beloved trilogy of movies, but a woman must fear telling the truth, in case she doesn't do it nicely enough.
"Anger is a Porcupine, Sadness is a Fish" is a story about the crippling fear and anger that I've felt at times, and how I'm still afraid -- in spite of the healing powers of watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend -- that if I speak the wrong truth, or say the truth in the wrong way, I could accidentally destroy my entire world.
The inspiration for this story came in two parts. Part one was George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, which examines the idea that a miracle is "that which increases faith" regardless of its truth value. Part two was my long-running fascination with necromancers. At some point, I realized that a skull-and-black-robes necromancer could easily position himself as a miracle worker if he only put a Lazarus-type spin on his works. Thus, the Order of the Blessed Return was born.
Of course, that's not how the final version came about. The first draft took that premise and used it to wag a sanctimonious finger at religious hypocrisy. As fun as it was to write that draft, I'm glad I didn't stop there. If I had, this story would be much shallower and more mean-spirited than (I hope) it is now. As I revised the story and let the characters become real people, I discovered something important. I discovered that, at its core, this story isn't just about religion.
At it's core, this is a story about compromise. We all make comprises between what our hearts know and what reality demands. We do dirty things and try to soothe ourselves with clean words. We set noble goals and set to work with coarse tools—the only tools available. Personally, I don't believe anyone in the Order is evil. I believe they are people, trying their best to make sense of a frightening world.
Of course, that's your decision to make in the end, just like Brother Wynam must make his decision.
I'm excited that we also have two authors lined up for blog posts already. Check back here on Feb 13 and Feb 20 for those. Hopefully, we'll have some more, as well.
At the meeting we had a nice discussion of story themes and the current cultural zeitgeist. It's fascinating how different authors address similar themes. This time we had a lot of social commentary along the dystopian arena. We also had ...porcupines. Weird, huh?
So, book-keeping: Everyone who submitted during the relevant submission period should have heard from us. If you did not: something went awry and please submit. Everyone who was in hold-for-voting but did not make the issue has been sent an email. A few acceptances are still are their way; keep an eye out for contracts. Next steps: editors work with authors to edit stories.
Be sure to check out the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue!