Tag: the king’s huntsman

Being here

I started to write this a while ago, then set it aside until I read this post by Widdershins at the Clarion blog. It inspired me to dig mine back out. It’s nice to find that sometimes the conversations I have with myself are being had by other people as well.

Write what you know is one of those rules tossed about as either brilliantly true or completely ridiculous. On a literal level, it’s simpler to write about things you know. I find it much easier, for example, to write about the life of a midwife, even one in a refugee camp, than to write about a mechanic rebuilding an engine. It’s more than just an understanding of the process–it’s knowing the language and the intuitive responses that aren’t likely to be covered in an instruction manual.

But I’ve never hunted anything in my life, and I still wrote a novelette about a woman who lived to hunt. Everything about her life I drew from things I do know. I’ve tracked and studied animals, I’ve camped in a shelter I built myself, and I’ve worked with dogs and horses. I understand what it’s like to sleep outside at night, to explore the banks of a river, to feel a heavy rain on my skin.

Those details give me confidence when writing about something I haven’t experienced myself. Hopefully that confidence extends to the reader as well, allowing them to believe what they read, even if it isn’t a literal truth.

There’s more, of course. There’s the emotional framework of a story. The tools necessary for building that come from being alive in the world, from listening and watching and feeling. It’s what makes one story about a mechanic different from twelve other stories about mechanics–the motor that drives their particular set of actions.

Why have I been thinking about writing what I know? Because I’m a little frustrated about writing a novel about travel to places I haven’t been. Yes, I can look at pictures and read descriptions and watch videos. The trouble is that visual resources lack other dimensions, and written ones filter place through another writer’s senses. Smells, sounds, how the air makes your skin feel, the pebbles that your fingers can’t help but reach for…these things are deeply personal.

Place is a character that longs to shake your hand, to look into your eyes. I won’t have that intimacy this time around. It’s been forcing me to think about how important place is to me as a writer. My interiors are often weak–the number of times I’ve had to go back and add the contents of a room is embarrassing–but I could spend days writing about the world outside of doors and walls.

I could simply stick my protagonist on a plane or a train, or have her spend her time in chain motels. It’s not what I want for her, or for the story. I need her feet on the ground, the air on her skin. I want her to reach for those pebbles that feel right in her hands.

This will be interesting experiment.

The King’s Huntsman

“The King’s Huntsman” is now up at Giganotosaurus. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I wrote this story, and I’ll share my thoughts on it in a minute. First, I need to thank Boy One and Boy Two, my son and his friend, who diligently helped brainstorm the Quilth. Much of her appearance is due to their creativity, while her malice is mine alone.

I wrote this story when I needed to write something entirely different than what I had been working on. I think (I wrote this a while ago–my memory is foggy on some details) it was the only thing I wrote last year where the first line never changed.

Why castles and kings and hunts? I was fascinated by King Arthur when I was young. I read and reread all my books about Camelot. It was one of my favorite fantasy worlds to invent further adventures in.

The trouble with those stories was that when it came time to play, who could I be? What if I didn’t want to be beautiful, or devious, or tragic? What if I just wanted to be the one with the sword, or the bow, the one who rode off on a horse and came back wiser and stronger?

I had only two options. One, be a boy. Two, invent my own characters. “The King’s Huntsman” is for all the times I grudgingly pretended to be a boy in order to have the adventures that I craved.


It is not the end of summer, it is not the end of summer…

As those of you who like to read bios may have noted, I am a homeschooling parent. I don’t talk about it here because my children’s lives feel private to me, and because homeschooling is really a topic that deserves a blog of its own. In a nutshell: we’re secular homeschoolers, we do so because it is the right choice for our children at this time, and yes, I was also homeschooled as a child (until the age of twelve).

In practical terms, it means that my life changes in significant ways once September arrives. I pushed to finish Wren with good reason, and I’m very relieved to say I did it. That’s not to suggest there won’t be any changes to it from this point on, but the bulk of the work is complete, it’s been read or being read by the people who read for me, and I’m on to new things.

It also means that right at this moment, I’m a little adrift. I sit down at the computer and wonder what to do. It’s hard to pull your head out of something as comprehensive as a novel. I’ve started work on tailoring The Lost to match the new material in Wren, and I’ve got a short story that needs a few things added before it can go out, but I’m still in Wren a bit. Just like the summer, I’m not quite ready for it to be over.

Tomorrow “The King’s Huntsman” will be out at Giganotosaurus. I’ll post something here about the story then, along with a link. If you haven’t read anything at Giganotosaurus before, please check it out. It’s one of my favorite online venues, and I’m excited to have Huntsman there.