Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Story Acceptance - Unknown Superheroes vs. the Forces of Darkness

I received a short story acceptance the other day, on my birthday in fact. It's for an anthology to be called Unknown Superheroes vs. the Forces of Darkness edited by Steve Dillon and Will JacquesWill is also illustrating. Another image here 

It will be headlined by Jonathan Maberry with a story called "The Collector." The guidelines were pretty generous on the parameters of the heroes, so I wound up writing a tale called "Side-Saddle" about a heroine in Georgian England. 

Themed anthologies are fun because they kind of lead you to pull new things up from the well of your imagination. I don't know that I would have settled at the keyboard and said: "I think I'm going to write a monster story set in roughly Georgian England" otherwise. 

Word on the forces of darkness my hero encounters will just have to wait until the antho's release, but I thought I'd use the old blogspot here to capture a few thoughts before they slip from my mind. I used to be able to remember everything in chronological detail, but I've reached that point where some of the colors fade and some things run together when you look back. 
Colonial Meal on display at Colonial Williamsburg

When I received the invite, my first thought went to a heroine I created earlier this year for a story called "Grand Tour." That was written on invite for an anthology calling for a story with a Hammer Films tone. I'm not sure of the status of that anthology, but if it doesn't see light I'll find another place for that story. 

Research such as the fact that young men went on grand tours for educational purposes in the 1700s or so coupled with an interest I've had for a while in the actual vampire legends of central Europe in the pre-John Polidori "The Vampyre" era. That all seemed to fit a Hammer mode.

Much of early vampire, and to some extent contemporary zombie traits, are seated in Serbia and adjacent regions, and I started thinking about the relative of someone like Arnold Paole, believed to be one of the first vampires in the European scares. 

What if the relative of an early, revenant-style vampire, maybe someone with ties to the Ottoman empire, felt responsible and compelled to track down a vampiric relative and any vampires he created?

I was pleased with how that story turned out, so when the Unknown Superheroes invite came along, I was still in an historical mood. 

I thought at first Andela of "Grand Tour" would be the star of another adventure. I envisioned her riding up to a British estate in a carriage, about the discover some new challenge while she visited. 

Then in research, I ran across Celia Fiennes, a real  young woman who rode across England on horseback in the late 1600s and early 1700s and kept a journal of her travels. 

Suddenly I thought Andela might ride up to an estate on horseback instead of in a carriage. 

But the more I read about Celia the real traveler, the more another character took shape, Cilla Frane, driven to travel and destined to encounter dark forces. 

I put a lot into shaping her story, and happily the tale came together, aided by a lot of research and even casual visits to spots like Colonial Williamsburg, though my tale unfolds on the other side of the pond.

I don't live far from Colonial Williamsburg's living museum these days, so dropping in to see tables spread with Colonial Era meals and visiting Colonial Era-style gardens melded with my visits to London and Scotland in years past. Everything helped to shape Cilla's world. 

It was a lot of fun to spend time in her world. Deets here when the story comes out, and if all goes well Andela and Cilla will ride again into adventures of their own. Or maybe they'll meet one day. 

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