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of my stories, "Again and Again" prominently but also in my serial novel "Agent Shield and Spaceman," and a currently unpublished story called "Strays."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

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

Reaction on Utopia Versus Dystopia

Are stories about utopias morally superior to stories about dystopias? By writing about futures where governments break down, resources run dry, pandemics run rampant, and zombies wolf down unsuspecting pedestrians, are we making those things more likely to happen?
Give credit where credit is due, +Robert Llewellyn asked a provocative question in his post to the the sci-fi community the other day. Does the preponderance of dystopian, post-apocalyptic (a word he doesn't actually use, but I feel fits his description of most zombie movies) come from the fears of the ruling class (predominantly white, anglo-saxon and rich)? Are these futures presented to us because that's the future the elites fear, one of rapidly reduced power and prestige? 
Robert quickly back-tracked from his question on whether or not dystopias are ever written by the under-privledged. Of course there are, from all over the world. There are also plenty of writers from conservative or elite backgrounds more th…

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 …