Skip to main content

Story-notes for "What Little We Know"


"What Little We Know," started life with these two sentences: "A young man falls in love with a statue who he believes saved his life. He sacrificed everything to save and protect it in return." This synopsis is fairly typical, by the way, for my story ideas. One or two sentences about an image or concept I can't shake out of my head. There was something in this idea I felt interested me, especially after reading Thomas Ligotti's "The Medusa," which I found very inspiring for writing a certain type of 'cozy gothic.' Like the myth of Set's Coffin, the Medusa illustrates the dread of knowing someone is walking into a trap made bespoke for them. I already envisioned the statue as a monster, as something predatory.


The idea sat unused for about half a year until the Spring of 2016. I researched a few ideas concerning statues and monsters which is when the egregoi and Atlantis stuff started to accrete around the edges. I finished a draft and put it aside until the late autumn of 2016. Somewhere in that process the narrator switched from a boy to a girl, and from simply a girl to a member of a secret society. This motif of the secret society appears in a few of my stories, "Again and Again" prominently but also in my serial novel "Agent Shield and Spaceman," and a currently unpublished story called "Strays." The thin line between secret societies and cults has always interested me, as well as the sacrifices the members of these societies willingly make. 

As I went through the drafts, the central conflict shifted from the girl and the statue to the girl and the boy. The desire of the boy to know more about the girl's life, to join her life as a willing participant felt very interesting to me even as I grew certain he was not the protagonist. The story contains a kind of love triangle where the boy seeks to transform his relationship with the girl, even as the girl seeks to transform her relationship with the statue. And as for the statue? It just wants to devour the boy.

And that's pretty much it. Compared to some of my stories, I think I went on a bit of journey with this one but its destination feels very right. I'm certainly happy with the company its currently keeping in the December Issue of Fantasia Divinity Magazine. If you have a chance to read it, let me know!

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.


Novels:
I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Writing Horror

I'm wary offering advice to other writers. 

First of all I've got the whole imposter syndrome thing and whatever advice I give feels like a good way of revealing how little I know about anything. Second, what I've learned mostly relates to solving problems in my own writing. What advice does a dog have to offer to a duck on how to swim? 
However, for Arisia 2018, I'll be participating on a panel of doing just that - giving advice to aspiring horror writers about writing horror.

So, what truths can I impart?

Some advice feels absolutely true, if a bit self-evident.

You must read. If you're trying to write horror then you must read horror. Not just one novel. Not just one author. You should make a sincere effort to read everything by everyone. The more recent the better. The classics are always going to be there, but if you want a sense of where your stories could fit, you need to see what is being published out there.

You must write. I do not think you have to write …

We Have Always Lived in Haunted Houses

As my final pre-Arisia post, I'd like to tackle ghosts. Metaphorically, of course, because ghosts are intangible and also don't exist. 


I don't believe in ghosts. Not the sort of ghosts, anyway, that float around decaying old mansions or scare impressionable media personalities. Physics, at least the way I've grown up understanding it, precludes the existence of energy that cannot be detected reliably. Put another way, physicist Brian Cox stated that if ghosts existed the Large Hadron Collider would have almost certainly found one by now.

So, when I say I'm a fan of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, am I being hypocritical? Possibly, but I also think one can appreciate ghosts and haunted houses in a different way. Even though they might not exist in a 'peer-reviewed' and 'experimentally replicable' fashion, phantoms absolutely exist as a potent symbol of the past.

When we talk about ghosts what we're really talking about is that annoying…