Upcoming Anthology Entry

Just before the brutal schedule and editing process for my first novel, Winter’s Trial, I found an anthology call  on my soon-to-be publisher’s web site for Torqued Tales, a retelling of fairy tales.

As a kid in private Christian school, we had to do some lame project where we essentially wrote up Fisher Price’s My First Criminal Profile for our best friends and presented them in front of the class. (Imagine the public shame if you picked someone as a “best friend” who did not do his/her report on you.) The rest of the class had to guess who we were talking about, as if a class of 15-20 students in an incestuous, insular private school was also profoundly retarded and didn’t know who was friends with whom. Pointless busy work, potential public humiliation, and a quiz show whose answers depended solely on not being totally blind and otherwise damaged. All for a grade.

While I was distracted making up lies about my home life for any potential interview questions, I distantly heard our teacher suggesting questions and topics. “This person likes sports, this person has brown hair, this person was responsible for the massacre of Jesus Christ, this person is part of a Russian drug cartel, this person likes video games, this person eats flies, this one likes fairy tales…” At this last one, the whole class groaned and said my name, “Daaaaaaaaren.” They giggled, totally without malice, and even our curmudgeon of a teacher laughed, which was like watching stone split and chuckle. Terribly, terribly frightening.

Frankly, I was shocked. I didn’t realize that I liked fairy tales and fantasy, and certainly not that it was so obvious. I just read what I read. It was this weird, defining, self-realization moment, and it has held true my entire life. What I read coincidentally before, I began to search out.

So, when I saw this anthology call, I thought that I should try for it. I did, but I had never successfully written a short story. Everything becomes longer or falters. Usually, it grows. This story was mostly narrative, little dialogue, and was okay. I submitted it at the last possible moment and it was rejected. I was asked to run it through a beta reader and send it back, not for the anthology, but for a stand alone short story. I never did.

That anthology was called Torqued Tales and was so popular that they decided to do another one. I had no intention of submitting anything, as the story I had submitted had (of course) grown and changed, and if it is ever written will likely be a novella with passing resemblance to the original fairy tale.

For the second one I had no intention at all of doing anything for it. Randomly, about 2-3 weeks before the due date, I got inspiration. I decided to revisit The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, just for the hell of it. If it was good, I would submit it. If not, I would have fun writing it.

It turned out better than I expected. I could feel it trying to grow and become something out of control, but I didn’t let it get into the actual story. Consequently, several people have back stories that didn’t really contribute, nor did they fit into the word count allotted.

It was fantasy in a way that Winter’s Trial, while dealing with werewolves in the current world, did not. It felt right, like home. I know that as a potential fantasy writer I need some work, but wonder what my version of The Snow Queen would have been like if it had been allowed to expand.

Still, I liked it quite a bit, as did my beta readers. In fact, I created these odd gremlin-spider hybrids and named them Mutop. They wish for nothing more than the degradation and petty pains of mankind. One of my coworkers/beta readers and I now refer to certain vituperative, abnormally hateful people as Mutop. My other beta reader wanted to know more about them, as she said it seemed like I spent a lot of time and thought on them.

Quite the contrary — I didn’t think the trolls from the original fairy tale would be clever enough to build a mirror with that kind of magickal power. I thought about horror and what would creep me the fuck out, and the Mutop were born. I thought about how the Mutop, clear abominations, could come into being, and I decided that a giant spider and a gremlin would never willingly mate. So, I thought about who or what could have created them, and I got the thread which connected the whole story together.

I already had the clues in the story and sitting in my head, but the creator of the Mutop, even though briefly mentioned, is what brought it all together. It reminded me of Stephen King’s theory that stories are artifacts waiting to be uncovered. Maybe for him, but never for me. Yet it happened with the Mutop and once before in Winter’s Trial with the connection between two antagonists.

The original fairy tale The Snow Queen has inspired many, many fictional characters, novels, movies, and full books/series and I hope that my own spin on it is well received, and I hope I did well.

The second Torqued Tales anthology will be available on April 23rd, 2014 from Torquere. My story will be sold separately, as well as with the full anthology itself. I will post a snippet and blurbs another time.

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~ by Darren Endymion on March 17, 2014.

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