Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
The Story Behind the Stories
  IGMS Authors Share How Their Stories Came to Be
July 2015

Evermore, I Told the Raven by Ken Scholes and Marshal Latham

Marshal

Things have a way of coming back around. Way back when, when Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show online magazine was new, I liked reading a column by John Joseph Adams where he talked about news in fiction. John introduced me to the concept of a fiction podcast. He pointed me to Cory Doctorow, who was posted readings of his works in progress, and also to the little known, failed attempt, underrated, paid subscription podcast Mech Muze. These gateway experiences led me to become addicted to fiction podcasts, including the prominent Escape Pod.

Escape Pod introduced me to the wonderful fiction of Ken Scholes, starting with the charming tale of "Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk." I became an avid fan of Ken, reading many of his stories and his Psalms of Issak novel series.

Eventually, I started playing around with producing audio fiction myself, cutting my teeth on the amateur fan podcast Dribblecast (a companion to the Drabblecast), and then moved on to larger full cast audio for the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. Ultimately that was not enough either. I wanted to choose the stories; I wanted to be the host; I needed my own podcast. Thus, the Journey Into . . . podcast was born.

One of the things I wanted to do was add some old-time radio shows into the mix. Another was to feature some classic fiction as well. Having always been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I eventually developed a full month around his stories, as well as a contest where I asked entrants to write stories based upon a title from the works of Poe. It was fun; and I got some interesting tales.

For this year, I thought it would be extra fun to get a story from a professional author, so I ran a Kickstarter to make that possible. But which author should I choose? Why not shoot for one of my favorites? Ken agreed; the Kickstarter funded; and now here we are about to unveil this Poe-inspired tale from Ken Scholes. What could be any better?

Actually, to put a bow on top, Ken informed me that Intergalactic Medicine Show was also interested in running the story, the publication that introduced me to podcasting in the first place, and without which I may have never heard about Ken Scholes.

I love it when fate brings things around full circle.

Ken

I remember chatting with Marshal back and forth a bit as he was putting together the podcast for "Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise." I'd loved what he'd done with "The Boy Who Could Bend and Fall." So when he started talking about his work around Poe and asked if I'd be interested in writing something original for his Journey Into . . . podcast, my ears picked up.

You see, after reading Bradbury's essay "How to Keep and Feed a Muse," and discovering that I indeed had to grow up and be a writer, I took his words to heart. Read poetry every day. And the first poet I fell in love with was . . . Poe, of course. And the first of Poe's poems that I fell in love with was . . . "The Raven," of course. There was never really a question which work of Poe's I would pay tribute to.

It was a hard, dark time. My close friend Jay Lake had died just months earlier and I knew - just like I knew which poem - that the story would center heavily around that loss. What I didn't know was just how hard this story would be to land. Still, I said yes, I signed my contract, I waited and watched as the Kickstarter funded quickly, and then I got to work.

Typically, my short stories come slipping into the world over the course of a week or two. And normally, there's just the one take. I sit down to start the story and I finish the story I started with. Then I revise it to taste and send it to its new home.

Not so in this case.

"Evermore, I Told the Raven," resisted me at every turn. Or I resisted it, more accurately. Early on, I thought I would draw from the well of nostalgia so I went home to the Buckley-Enumclaw Area that I grew up in at the foot of Mount Rainier. I spent a few days saturating myself with old friends and the towns and woods I used to wander. I brought my leather-bound collected works of Poe with me. It was a good trip. I put down a few paragraphs about a brother driving home for a funeral.

And then it all got crazy. The story I was finding didn't feel right. So over the course of the next four months or so, I found myself starting and then tossing not one or two or three but seven different starts. AI. Virtual SF. Colony SF. Near future post-apocalyptic. All with the raven flying through their midst. Even Eddie Poe and his Raven-class scout ship searching for the lost cruiser, Lenore. None of them felt right.

In hindsight, I really just needed to accept that nothing was going to feel right or be good enough when it came to honoring my dead friend. Because in the end, the tribute was more about Jay than Poe though Poe became a great focusing point, especially in that first poem of his that I'd read and loved, the one about looking for "surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore."

In January 2015, I returned to Chicago for the PTSD treatment I talk so much about. And with the monkeys quiet, this story settled down, too, and in April I found myself going back to the first attempt. A brother driving home for a funeral. And over the course of the next three weeks or so, "Evermore, I Told the Raven" took shape. I finally wrapped it and turned it over to Marshal to start production, grateful that he liked what I had finally delivered.

Of course, that left the print rights available and a brand new story in need of a home.

It was serendipitous that I bumped into Ed online about that time. I'd not published with IGMS since 2007s "The God-Voices of Settler's Rest" and I had this shiny new story. I had no idea of IGMS's influence on Marshal, that the column he'd read in IGMS had eventually introduced him to my work over on Escape Pod. So imagine my delight when I learned about this circle we're now completing. I love it when a plan comes together.

So this one is for Jay. And for my other pal, Edgar Allan Poe. And, of course, for you. If you enjoy it, I hope you'll go check out Marshal's brilliant audio version over at the Journey Into . . . podcast. And hey, read poetry.

Read poetry every day.

Read more of The Story Behind the Stories


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