The Story Behind the Stories
Coachwhip and Wade by Tony Pi and K.G. Jewell
K.G. Jewell and Tony Pi chat about their collaboration resulting in Coachwhip and Wade: Hex
Tamers for Hire. Read along!
K.G. Jewell: So Tony, I was looking through our back and forth brainstorming emails and
realized I had totally forgotten how this story came together. The story ideas bounced around
quite a bit, going from Merlin's third law (For every magic, there is an equal and opposite magic)
to weird west to steamboat gambling. But the idea for a Serpentlockian creature came from your
serve in the volley. Any recollection on where that came from?
Tony Pi: I've always been interested in the Gorgons from Greek mythology, and had incorporated
aspects of it in my previous works. It struck me that the serpent-hair motif might fit in well with
the Weird West theme we wanted. I didn't want the character to be unique, which led to the idea
of entire societies of Serpentlocks that you and I explored. I definitely wanted them to be an
integral part of the Earth we built. Much of the backstory we did for the Serpentlocks didn't make
the final story, but it was fun incorporating snakes from various cultures around the world into the
alternate world history.
We ended up calling Lily and Wade "the Pair." Heroic duos are fun to write, more so when in
collaboration. We had different ideas about what Lily and Wade were like at first, but by the end,
I think our views of who they were converged. What did you think of the evolution of the Pair,
and why do you think they turned out the way they did?
K.G. Jewell: Once we'd decided that Wade wasn't just a sidekick but was a primary character with
agency himself, the characters clicked for me. I think the biggest challenge aligning our views of
the characters came in finding their voices within our voices. Dialog can be hard to write, but
dialectal dialog for characters with attitude is a special challenge. But I enjoy a good banter, so it
was worth the effort.
One concern I had to work through, given our alternate history post-civil war southern setting,
was making sure we didn't completely ignore the state of real-history race relations in the era. The
unique conflicts of the serpentlockian alternate timeline obviously was the primary focus the
piece, but there is a passing reference to the economic bonds of the post-slavery African American
population. Should we have done more?
Tony Pi: I think we did enough for the length of the piece. We could have gone really deep into
how world history changed with the Serpentlocks, and in this specific era how they influenced the
Civil War, but that would be a much longer, tangential issue to the tale we were telling. I think we
had the major pieces in there to convey that there was a Civil War, that there was still an
atmosphere of prejudice and oppression. And that, along with how the story unfolded, gave just
enough for readers to be in the right atmosphere and tantalize them with hints of a more complex
What are some things about the Serpentlocks that didn't make it into the story, or that you
thought of since we wrote it, that might be fascinating to the readers?
K.G. Jewell: I think our discussion of Serpentlockian family groups (small groups historically
avoiding humans, regional variation in language and coloration) was interesting. I don't think we
ever referenced the "rare mesoamerican feathered" serpentlockians in the story, but somehow that
was definitely a thing. What's your favorite worldbuilding left on the proverbial cutting room
Tony Pi: We made reference to this when describing Broon, that the pattern of his snake-hair
marked him from being born in the Florid Glades. The nature of a Serpentlock's hair isn't based on
genetics, but rather is determined by the variety of snakes common in the region of their birth.
That's a bit of worldbuilding detail that might be interesting to explore in a future tale.
K.G. Jewell: I think are many things left to explore in this world and these characters, and look
forward to doing so!
Tony Pi: Definitely. Here's to more tales of derring-do with the Pair in the skeersome West.
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