Today (Saturday) is the day that my story Frost Patterns goes live at Fiction 365′s website. The website has free fiction daily, as the name suggests. Pop over and read it, and leave comments if you like.
This story was a cross-pollination of many things. First off was an extremely long, cold winter that left me watching the beautiful patterns forming on the slowly freezing river in the ravine where I walked the dog, and wondering if I’d ever feel warm again. Next was a writing challenge to myself to write from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. Third (and closely related to the previous bit) was the consideration that fairy stories set in today’s world would only be taken seriously by very young children (boring!) or by people with compromised mentalities. And finally, there were remembrances: of my mother’s mind-troubles after my father’s death, of my sister’s father-in-law and his slide into dementia, and of my own “foggy brain” issues before my celiac disease was diagnosed, and how that felt.
I remember explaining the premise of the story to another dog walker/new writer, and her look of shocked distaste. Then we discussed the challenges of writing from an unreliable narrator’s viewpoint–someone who you know is lying or is not viewing reality the same as most of us do–and still getting the gist of a story across. That intrigued her, and she agreed to read the story. She liked it, so I knew I’d done something right. (Since then, she’s gotten used to the strange places my ideas come from, and now looks forward to alpha- or beta-reading for me. Thanks Larissa!)
This is the route most of my stories take: a pinch of this, a spoonful of that and an electric jolt from way over there to make the whole thing boil and bubble into ‘a story.’ Cataloging the influences of each story is a journey into my mind at the time of the writing. Now I can feel that misery again, my shoulders tensed against the cold. The joy of my newly-bought Yak-Trax on the unending ice (which had theretofore left me walking like a great-granny). Also, the dogs slipping on the ice, the people slipping, and the general dog-walker mood of ‘will this winter never end!‘ when it snowed heavily in late April.
As we all survived it, and this story came out of it, I cannot look too unkindly on those days now. All the same, I’ll take the present day and this winter over another of those. And now, I think I’ll go write something set in a tropical climate–and then finagle a trip to research it. Hmm, Hawaii sounds about right….