As you know from reading this blog (*waves to those who are newcomers*), I’m usually quite vocal about the origin of my stories. For one, knowing a little bit about them (beyond the title), helps you as a reader decide whether you even want to bother. For two, it helps those of you who are writers answer the everlasting “Where do your ideas come from?” question.
There are authors who hate the “Ideas” question, for there is no one right answer. But I have found that if you ask that question about one work in particular, you will often be surprised at the answer. Each work of fiction DOES have an origin. It was written for a person or an anthology or a contest. It started out with a theme or an object. The research required to write it turned it in a different direction, as did the personal experiences called upon to make the characters real. These are the “Real” stories, the fascinating ones, the ones where you discover that no matter how fantastic the genre, the author really is writing what he or she knows.
My father only reads non-fiction. He is the progeny of my Nana, who insists that all fiction is a bunch of unhelpful lies and hooey. You can imagine my surprise when Mom–my first reader–handed some of my fiction over to my father for his insight. Why on earth would he want to read that? I wasn’t embarrassed or anything, I just know it’s not his cup of tea, so I wasn’t going to force it on him. So you can also imagine my surprise when he reportedly told my mother how amazed he was that “Alethea puts so much of herself into her writing.” It’s true. All these stories inside me, all these little bits of myself, are broken off and used as treasured exotic spices for whatever I plan to be cooking. I continue to live life, for better or worse, and my experiences go into my writing. There is no story I’ve written that doesn’t have some tiny personal, autobiographical circumstance in it.
And then there are stories, like The God of Last Moments, which have too much.
I have been putting off this origin entry because it is just that damn personal. But there have been multiple requests from people who have read Dark Faith for the story behind this story, and I don’t want to put you off forever. It’s been long enough now. So here it is for you in a mishmash of words, written the best way I know how.
The seeds of this story were planted on Thanksgiving week, 2007. On Monday, I joined Facebook. On Tuesday morning I discovered that the money-grubbing fiance I’d broken up with only a month before was not only suddenly engaged again, but had been cheating on me the whole time we were together. I threw up, made an appointment for a blood test, and went to work. In that order.
I don’t remember any part of Wednesday, except when Janet Lee ordered me to her house the next day for Thanksgiving because I didn’t need to be alone. She was adamant. If I didn’t show up by a certain time, Mike was going to come get me. I managed to get up, get dressed, and get over there on time. Mike was standing in the driveway waiting for me when I opened my car door. I didn’t start crying until he hugged me.
I survived the day, even smiling a few times at Mike & Janet’s boisterous relatives, and stayed long after they’d all gone. Mike’s mother was the last to go–Mike drove her home. When he returned to the house, he had the strangest, most baffled look on his face. Janet and I instantly asked him what was wrong, and he proceeded to tell us the events that had just transpired between him and his mother.
On the way back to Mrs. Lee’s house, she and Mike passed the home of a once-famous country star. (It’s Nashville. It happens.) Said country star had died in a plane crash many years before. Mike’s father had been a police officer at the time, but Mike did not know that Mr. Lee had been the first officer at the scene of the plane crash. “Oh, yes,” Mrs. Lee affirmed. “I think we still have a piece of [dead country star]’s finger up in the attic.”
Upon hearing this, Janet, Mike, and I immediately started brainstorming why exactly a person would want such a morbid keepsake. We shouted reasonable explanations one right after another, followed by the unreasonable ones. I called out, “Maybe someone could touch the item and relive that person’s last moments” followed by “DIBS!!”
All the seeds were planted, all the wheels set into motion, but I did not write the story then. I did not write anything for a while. First, I tried to sleep (that took far longer than it should have). Then, I tried to erase the image of me stabbing The Dreaded Ex through the heart with a spear. I tried to stop wondering WHY and HOW and WHY again (and kept thanking various deities that it was already over). I tried to stop putting pieces together and having epiphanies about why certain strange events had happened the way they did over the last few years. I investigated filing a formal lawsuit over the money, but decided I did not want to be tied to this person in any way, shape, or form for longer than I had to. I had paid enough; it was done. I needed to be free. That was only going to take time. I hated time.
Three people (other than Janet, Mike, and Lillie, whose shoulders I physically had at my disposal) were instrumental to me during that time: Ken Scholes, Edmund Schubert, and Mary Robinette Kowal. Ken called me every morning on his way to work, to make sure I got out of bed. Mary both emailed me and snail-mailed me hopeful, happy things to keep me afloat. And Edmund…poor Edmund. Edmund was who I called when I cried. There were other friends, too, many others, all around the world. Too many to list in this blog, but none of whom I’ve forgotten, and all of whom I will always treasure.
Mom and Dad came to visit in December. And in an unprecedented move, my sister & newly-minted brother-in-law surprised me at my house on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Eve, Janet and Mike ordered me up to their house again. The moon was low on the horizon as I drove home. I got up the very next morning and wrote “Rabbit in the Moon.” Directly after that, I started looking into the philosophy of good and evil and researching angels and demons. Thus began The God of Last Moments.
(WARNING: possible spoilers for those who haven’t read the story)
If you’ve read Beauty & Dynamite, you know why I could use no other name but Max. From the first sentence, I knew I had to write the story from Max’s point of view. Psychologically, I guess it was the only way I could put myself into his shoes and try to make sense of his madness. Rose is very me, of course, with her voluptuous beauty, ridiculous optimism, and butterfly hairpins. Why “Rose”? It’s a fairytale name, and very well could be a family name. More importantly, Rose was Doctor Who’s companion at the time. (What?? You knew I was a geek…) The Elemental Guardians who protect Rose and see her through her ascension are tributes to four of my friends, and if you know them at all, you’ll recognize them through their descriptions. Ken is Earth; Edmund is Water; Mike is the djinn of Air; Mary is the Fire woman. And this is the convention where Dark Faith was conceived, six months later. No one but Jason Sizemore, Maurice Broaddus, and Jerry Gordon could have brought this into the world with the appropriate amount of elegance.
As for the Angel…I’m not sure who she is. I don’t see her as the Princess, but some might. Perhaps she’s simply the epitome of the woman I’m still trying to become.
Or perhaps it’s just a story, and nothing more. Magical and ephemeral as the morning mist, disappearing at your fingertips and only remembered in your dreams. After all, it’s just fiction.
Bunch of unhelpful lies and hooey.