Letter From The Editor - Issue 65 - October 2018

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October 2018

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 world.

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 floor?

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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