Sunday, August 03, 2008

Anatomy of an Idea: Soul Siblings (reposted)

You may want to read this story ( before you read the following. There are considerable “spoilers” in here. This is actually a repost (somewhat edited) from the previous run of the story.

The Gedden (originally the Geneb) are a fantasy race I've had on my backburner for a long time. They date back to my first "epic" multiple plotline novel, a schlocky disaster which I divided into three parts (still one book) at end of February, 1997. Though I can't place an exact date on it, I would have started sometime in late 1996. I was fascinated by the idea of a literal, physical third eye, of a race of soul twins ... and the penalty for their meeting. In book two or three - I forget which, and I never wrote either - my Geneb character was supposed to be forced by the villains to confront his soul sister. He lived and hooked up with the story's token werewolf, but his opposite died. There is no direct causal connection between Kenri and Delanor and Tarivan and Evyelara.

Flash forward to a more sane and better written era. I wanted to revive the Gedden, but wanted to do a story about mages. (Tarivan was originally supposed to be a different kind of sorcerer.) So I tried to think of what kind of magic might be particularly useful with a third eye, and lit upon the idea that it might allow you to see two different things at once. This would help if you were a seer and would otherwise be "engulfed" by the vision. The general form of the plotline fell into place quickly - the siblings on the same job, the capture, the rescue, the eventual denouement ... though in my original plan, it was Tarivan who died. The situation with Quirilan was inspired by a historical precedent - I'm not sure if it was Roman noblewomen and gladiators, but it probably was.

This story sat in my idea file for a while, marked uncertain as to whether it was a novel or a short. I finally decided to write it specifically for Black Gate magazine after I received a glowing rejection for Summer in Sadria, which was essentially a fantasy mystery. I lined out the story in general terms and started writing. When I got into it, though, I realized that I had made my villain just a stereotypical evil overlord and at least wanted to provide him with a concrete desire and a reason to resist him that was SLIGHTLY unusual. Imitating a god came to mind, I decided it would be appropriate to make Tarivan devout to contrast with his otherwise rootless personality, and this conveniently provided my (somewhat) happy ending.

It found its initial home at “Afterburn SF,” and is happily reprinted in Sorcerous Signals now. Months (years?) later, I’m still quite proud of this one.

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