The Story Behind the Stories
The Temptation of Father Francis by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
The moral of this story is that sometimes two writers are better than one.
Father Francis started out as the protagonist of a flash story. The only real-life
inspiration for that story came from the mysterious deaths of honeybees. I
imagined a solitary priest traveling in his dirigible (because dirigibles are cool)
across a dystopian West with an AI who thinks she's Annie Oakley and a cargo of
pollination bots, a.k.a. mechanical bees.
The flash was published a couple years ago to a positive response. I liked the idea
of writing more about Francis and Annie. I tried. I had a few false starts. The right
story didn't come to me. So Francis went onto a back shelf in my mind, something
to revisit to someday, when a fellow writer and friend, Nick T. Chan, suggested we
co-write stories using worlds or characters we had already created.
I knew exactly which character to use.
The addition of Nick's creative input was what Father Francis needed. Together
we came up with a story in which Francis is experiencing a crisis of faith when he
arrives in the town of Temptation. He makes his usual offer to use his mechanical
bees to pollinate the crops, but he soon discovers that he might need the people of
Temptation more than they need him.
This tale was a lot of fun to write and turned out so well that Nick and I have been
talking about continuing the adventures of Francis and Annie. Because when you
have a dirigible, the sky's the limit.
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