I first encountered Wraeththu far later than I wish I had – 2001 was the pivotal year – but thirteen years later, I feel like it’s something that’s been with me forever.
Para Kindred is the latest of many projects I’ve undertaken with Storm Constantine, exploring, expanding, celebrating, illustrating the world of Wraeththu. From this, the latest of three anthologies, to working with Storm on her novels, to the hundreds of fan fiction stories I’ve collected or edited (and those many I have written), I am deeply satisfied by the fact this world and its characters seems to go on and on, carried forward both by its creators and its fans.
In coming up with my contributions for Para Kindred, I fell into the same pattern I had with the prior two anthologies: one story was either done before I started or came all at once in a rush, while the other was quite a bit of work, dragged out over time. So I guess it was like the mom whose first labor takes two days, an agony, and second labor happens so fast her baby is born in the car.
“Sea and Shore” was the story that came to me first and the one I started on first, but ultimately gave me some trouble. The kernel of the idea came to me when the theme was first suggested: mutants and enigmas of Wraeththu. What could have happened to some hara? What would be interesting?
I don’t want to spoil my story, so I’ll say that after I had my idea, of a particular mutation, I knew the setting immediately: coastal Maine. Not only did I grow up with that area as one of my favorite places, but only last fall I had a fantastic weeklong trip there with my mother. Images and sensations were still fresh in my head, and that helped me immeasurably when I sat down to work.
Unfortunately, having the setting and basic plot didn’t solve all my problems. My first struggle was point of view. I started out writing in the first person, which I usually do well with, but I felt like the tale was spinning out without getting to the point. Then I switched to the third person and decided I would alternate with the story of the other major character. But still it wasn’t working somehow. So I gave it a rest and meanwhile focused on all the submissions I had to edit! For this collection I edited four stories, plus Storm’s two, so it did take some effort to get through the drafts and finalize those.
But one night, when I had a pause in between edits, I sat down to start writing “Sea and Shore” over, from the beginning. Only when I started typing, a whole different story came out! The first line sort of popped into my head as I was sitting down and I typed it out and kept going. I started out with a har talking to his harling, not knowing where I was going, but within the first page, I figured it out, and four hours later I had come up with a story I was very happy with, called “Dysphoria.” This story is more about “throwbacks” than it is about Wraeththu “mutants” and meanwhile also handles issues of gender identity, one of my abiding life interests. That it came so easily was a shock.
It was two weeks after that, and with the deadline clock ticking, that I finally started up on “Sea and Shore” again. Working on just a couple of chunks a night (one character section, then alternating to the other, then stopping), I finished it up in half a week. When I sent it to Storm to edit and proof, I was worried she would find it rough and disjointed, but to my surprised she said it sounded like it had flowed out of me without much effort. This was not the case but glad it gives that impression!
A Yankee who’s been based in Atlanta, Georgia, for a shocking number of years, doing tech work, I have somehow managed a sideline as an author and editor of both Wraeththu Mythos fiction as well as non-fiction writing and other genre writing.
With Bridgette Parker, I was co-author of Breeding Discontent, published by Immanion Press in 2003 as the first Wraeththu Mythos novel. Over the years, I’ve been involved in Wraeththu in many different capacities, including editor of Storm Constantine's revised Wraeththu Chronicles, webmaster of the Inception and Forever Wraeththu fan web sites, and staff at several Wraeththu conventions. I also co-edited the two prior Wraeththu Mythos story collections, Paragenesis: Stories from the Dawn of Wraeththu (2010) and Para Imminence: Stories of the Future of Wraeththu (2012). Both anthologies include two of my own short stories, plus essays related to Wraeththu. I have undertaken other Immanion Press projects, including editing an epic fantasy and at one time working on the press’s web site.
My full time job is rather unrelated to this. I’m a web projects manager at Emory University, handling a ton of digital communications (web sites, blogs, social media, video) related mostly to medical research and discovery. Much as I actually love my job, I am completely helpless when it comes to engaging in side projects and hobbies, including photography, architecture and writing. One of my side projects is a blog about Art Deco architecture that has a legion of Tumblr fans that I never dreamt possible.
To find out more about me, a few helpful profile links: 1) social connections on my About.me profile, 2) author/editor/reader profile on Goodreads, 3) micro-blog on Twitter and of course 4) Facebook.