rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 31st, 2015 05:42 pm)
I defaulted on Yuletide due to illness, which was hugely depressing for me, but got somewhat better after that and ended up writing three treats! So between that and my FOUR wonderful gifts, I had a happy Yuletide after all.

Where Nightmares Live is based on a famously traumatizing novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary. It's not only quite scary in terms of horror tropes, but is an extremely visceral evocation of a number of real-life nightmare scenarios. King was inspired to write it when he barely managed to save his toddler son from being hit by a speeding truck, and then was haunted by thoughts like, "What if I'd been a second too slow? What would I feel if my son died? Is anything worse than losing your child?"

The essay in which he explains that and other real-life inspirations for the book is in the beginning of the Kindle version, and can be read for free by clicking on "Look Inside." It's a powerful essay that was particularly intense for me to read recently, because it's about what happens when you're the kind of writer who naturally integrates autobiography into your fiction, as King is and I am as well, and you're going through an extraordinarily dark time or at least have something extraordinarily dark on your mind. You write from your heart, as you always do, but what you come up with may not be what anyone wants to read. Stephen King nearly shelved Pet Sematary because he thought it was too disturbing to release, but his wife Tabatha persuaded him that it was too good to hide away and made him send it to his editor.

Pet Sematary is a book that lots of people seem to read once and then wish they hadn't. This has nothing to do with its artistic quality, which is quite high. It sears itself into your brain and leaves you deeply unsettled in a way that few horror novels do. I have read it exactly twice, once when I was about fourteen and once this year, and found that I recalled it extremely well despite the nearly thirty-year gap between readings. I re-read it after seeing the prompts for it, which were excellent prompts and for a book which asks the question that was on my mind at the time, which is "Is there anything worse than death?"

The prompts, by Raedbard and Maharetr, asked what happens to Ellie Creed, the protagonist's daughter, who is a child when the book ends. All the disturbing stuff in the book is also in my story, which is extremely spoilery for the book. Content warning for literally everything upsetting that involves death and dying.

Read more... )

The Story of the Doe Who Hid Her Kittens is my third Watership Down story. It's a story-within-a-story, a tale told in secret by a doe in Efrafa. I don't think the story works if you haven't read the book. The prompt was by Astrokath, who wrote my single favorite Yuletide letter. We share a number of fandoms and she had great prompts for all of them. I would have written for all her prompts if I'd had time.

Read more... )

To Heal A World was written for Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake, for Eisoj5, who has requested this fandom multiple times. Every year I want to write it for her, and every year I keep not having a chance. I was so happy to finally write it this year.

It's a fandom I've requested myself (and received lovely stories in, including one this year!) It's one of my favorite sf novels, a post-apocalyptic picaresque about Snake, a healer who keeps genetically engineered snakes for their healing venom. The book is about doing good in a troubled world. I think all you need to know to read my story (which is quite short) is that in the course of the book, Snake adopts an abused child, Melissa. Both the story I wrote and the story I received are about what happens to Melissa after the book ends. My story has a spoiler for something that happens about a third of the way into the book, and I'm not sure if it makes sense if you haven't read the book.

"What does it take to heal a world?" was one of the prompts, and that question is very much at the heart of the book. The novel implies that Melissa apprentices herself to Snake more because she idolizes her than because she has a calling to be a healer, and that she will probably end up doing something else, though perhaps something related. I thought about how one might heal a world without literally being a doctor. I also wanted to have snakes feature prominently, because Eisoj5 mentioned having pet snakes. My solution is probably not that scientifically likely, but hopefully emotionally satisfying.
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