Stories on the edge of familiarity

Idea (The Illuminated Heart Book Launch)

First of all: Yes, you read that title correctly. The Illuminated Heart paperback is officially ready for a launch. In the days leading up to launch day, I will be posting about how this book came into existence. At the end of each of these posts, there will be a video of me reading one and then the next and then the next of the first three chapters, straight from the paperback.

Cool, huh?

So let’s get into today’s part of the creation story:

Idea, the birth of

One day, out of the blue, a friend of mine named Emily Casey Facebook messaged me:

Robert D. Marion and I are writing fairy tales with zombies in them. Would you be interested in joining us?” (This is paraphrased. We writers do like our words. :) )

Now, I’d never really been into zombies. They just weren’t something I could take seriously, even after reading and loving World War Z. So, I did the sanest thing you could possibly imagine, given the situation.

I said yes.

And I’m very glad I did.

Idea, the care and keeping of

Ideas really are a dime a dozen. It is the easiest thing to knock out about ten or so story ideas without much effort or thought. An idea can be something as simple as an image, like that of a faun standing by a lamppost in a snowy wood, carrying packages. Turning an idea into an actual story, if you know anything about the history of that particular image, is another thing entirely. And it involves the writer asking themselves a lot of questions.

So, my idea was this: A fairy tale with zombies.

This led naturally to two questions:

  1. Which fairy tale?
  2. How could zombies be integrated into the story while still keeping the fairy tale’s soul?

The first question was answered fairly easily. While I toyed around with other fairy tales, like The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen, my heart was irrationally set on my favourite fairy tale of all time, which is East of the Sun, West of the Moon. This answer, like all good answers at this stage, created more questions. I ignored them to see if I could answer the second question.

The second question did not want to be answered. It was annoying. So I turned to the questions that had spawned from East of the Sun, West of the Moon:

  1. Where will the story take place?
  2. When will the story take place?
  3. Or, more succinctly: In what cultural context will the story take place?
  4. What kind of zombies would fit?

After a little thought, I settled on 1) Iceland and 2) either the 1700’s or the 1800’s. Which would place the story in 3) a culture that had been officially Christian for a while, but still had some interesting pagan stories and beliefs to potentially play with. Question 4, though, refused to be answered, and hung around the previous unanswered question, both sticking out their tongues at me.

It was clear at this point that asking myself questions had reached the end of its helpfulness for the time being. That said, the idea had grown considerably…

Before: A fairy tale with zombies.

After: A Christian Icelandic girl goes away with a polar bear to save her family from poverty, screws up and gets the bear into huge trouble, then goes and saves him. Also zombies.

…but, try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to write it. It was time to expand my mind.

Through research, guys. Not drugs.

Geez.

But more on that next time. Until then, here’s the video I promised (and one more thing):

And Now a Big Huge Important Note That You Don’t Want to Miss, Thus the Special Font and Capitalization:

To make sure that you don’t miss any of these posts as we come nearer to Launch Day

(to especially make sure that you don’t miss a single second of Launch Day when it arrives)

(and to get some cool bonus stuff)

Sign up right here to Backstage Passes (my mailing list).

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