When Lynn Abbey decided to start Thieves' World up again, I was delighted to be invited into it. Yeah, Lynn's a good friend, but I've really never written anything along this vein before. Short stories were hard enough, but an episodic tale that interacted with other people's characters...a story I couldn't go back and edit into submission? Not to mention parts over which I'd have no control at all? That was kind of scary.
But exhilarating as well. You never know quite what you're capable of until you have to punt with someone else's "meddling."
When Carolyn and I began talking about our characters, their potential story lines just naturally, being in the same milieu, began to interweave, so we began our "interactive stories" with the very first one. Widowmaker is half Carolyn's and half mine. Legacies is half mine and half Carolyn's. They do, in fact, intersect, though that intersection is hazy at the moment.
The books did well, but not as well as the publisher wanted, and so, once again, we have orphans.
But Lynn's working to change that. There are plans for a new e-story each month and a way of collecting just your favorites into a dead tree volume! Keep your eye to the Thieves' World section of Closed Circle Books for more details.
As for the story lines, Carolyn's main character is a tasty pirate with a time-warped past. Mine is a shapechanger with amnesia...who happens to be the target of Carolyn's rather PO'd character. I'm also running a kid who gets caught in the middle of the chase.
One of my better opening lines, if I do say so myself.
MoonLover was another of those last minute epiphanies. I was deep in 'NetWalkers and just not thinking short at all. However, as the deadline loomed, my desire to be included in this very special tribute to one of the great publishing companies in history overruled the Wesser's mental interference. As this was a Fantasy anthology, I wanted to write something that would tie in with the Ring books. I began to think of the Tamshi Tales and thought that it might be fun to do a series of short stories based on those.
Moonlover is a Beauty and the Beast story, though I didn't realize that connection until I was well into it. At that point, I seriously considering abandoning it, though the words were coming as fast as I could type. You see, I'm very leery about stories based on icons. However, the story begged to be finished, and in the way of things, I found my own peace with the similarity.
Tamshi Tales, like Fairy Tales are morality plays, stories designed to teach a people how to function within society and within themselves. Form follows function. Of necessity, any Tamshi Tale would, by its very nature, echo some Fairty Tale. As an underlying theme of all my books is coming to terms with yourself, it was a natural.
Besides, virtually every culture in human history has its own version of BatB.
Moonlover is, however, eminently Tamshi. It's funny in places, quite dark in others. I'm really quite fond of it, though I've gotten vitually no feedback, so I don't know how it reads to others.
Curiously, (especially if you've read my observations on viewpoint) it came out in first person.
Never say never . . .
However, as I'd been asked several times over the years to read and react to friends' short stories, I'd sort of developed my own notions of what constituted the difference (in my own mind) between a short-story and a novel. It is ... an eclectic definition. (See a future Soapbox.) Once I began writing myself, and as I worked my way through the increasingly intricate plot threads of the GROUNDTIES series, I began to wonder whether or not I had the ability to meet my own definition.
Predictably, fate stepped in with a challenge. I was literally in the final days of the final edit of HARMONIES OF THE 'NET, with all the various plot threads of all three books booted up and running, trying to make sure I'd tied off everything I meant to tie off --- when I got a call from Bill Fawcett telling me about this anthology he was putting together, and how he had a spot that had come open and would I be interested, etc. etc. etc. Wicked person that I am, I let him explain all about it, make the offer, and then pointed out to him, as kindly as I could, that, (a) I was interested, and (b) I'd never written a short story, and (c) if he cared to withdraw the offer, I wouldn't hold it against him.
Loooong (understandable) silence. Do Bill credit, he let the offer stand. Translated that meant I had to put my computer where my opinions were! I had a two week deadline, but was immensely relieved to discover that miracles do happen! I made both deadline and word count. It's not the best short story ever written, (miracles have to draw the line somewhere) but it's far from the worst. More importantly, it's a piece that I had fun writing and in the process proved to myself (also to my great relief) that I could actually control content and information flow at least well enough to make a story fit my personal definition of a short story.
The basic "shared" premise revolves around a new god coming into the universal pantheon in the 20th Century who is being "shown the ropes" by observing the extant gods in action. The idea was to have a story where the ancient gods were interacting with 20th Century events/people.
"Upstart" is, in very short short, about yuppie gunrunners in Turkey in the early to mid-sixties. Mammon is busy tweaking appropriate stock markets and international greed, while Diana (in her earth-goddess aspect) is pursuing the allegiance of a young tour guide. Ultimately, the story is a study of the difference between who starts a war, what drives the participants, and at least a suggestion of who ultimately wins the war---any war.
It was an interesting project with unexpected highlights ... like the time C.J. Cherryh and I were sitting in one of those funky restaurants where the prices are too high, the tables too small and too close together, and the sandwiches too ... sprouty, talking about the blackmarket price of Uzies and relative firepower and usefulness of various arsenal-inmates. One does have to wonder what the three-piece-suiters sitting next to us, slowly inching their table away, were thinking.
Pot of Dreams
Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine