This is hard for me because I love so many of my stories for varying reasons. Most of them occur to me as an image that natters at me until I sit down to narrate it out, and few of them have anywhere near the level of fine-tuning and polishing I’d like and tend to run on… much like this sentence. Without any further ado, then, these are the ones I feel most proud of.
This is more a novella in progress than anything, but in many ways it’s my love letter to the ancient Near East. In my day job I do a lot of work with the intercultural exchanges among the peoples of Rome, Greece, Egypt, and the various regions of the Achaemenid/ Seleucid empire. Egypt has always held a special place in my heart from the moment I, as a young child, heard that they worshiped cats and decided that I would grow up to be an Egyptologist. Female rulers of antiquity like Hatshepsut, Artemisia, and Cleopatra VII were my idols, and in many ways still fascinate me. Writing Aminah gives me a chance to explore issues connected to my real life teaching and research through another avenue; I think of it as an alternate universe in which medieval Egypt is still under Arab rule and faces an expansionist Europe, but without the influence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Essentially, what would Egypt look like without monotheism? What would change, and what would stay the same? How much of Egypt’s ancient legacy would be preserved? And what would it be like for my own mini-Cleopatra to live in that society? It is also an exercise in writing a character from a culture very unlike my own in a respectful, realistic, and multi-dimensional way.
Celeveren is by now a character who lives far more in my writing than in my RP. I just find the image that inspired this piece to be beautiful; a blend of dream and reality in which lovers long separated by distance and pride have a moment of understanding and forgiveness. Bittersweet, because Celeveren, who needs so badly to have Borasvar’s forgiveness, can never know if this was a true meeting or a wishful dream.
This is an ode to two of my favorite poems and… well, pretty much what it says on the label. For me, it takes these two contradictory views of glory in war and marries both to a particular soldier’s point of view that embraces both ideas at once; the honor felt in dying to defend your people, and the anguish of facing a young death that may not be as glorious as you hoped.
A one-off for a minor character in Cel’s saga, this was both difficult and cathartic to write. I have always found the myth of Orpheus’ journey to Hades to rescue Eurydice only to lose her at the last moment to be profoundly sad and disturbing. This is me wrestling with that unhappy ending that I have always hated and loved.
In the same vein, this started off as an off-the-cuff tale told in RP but ended up written in this long form when I found myself loving the story. It borrows little elements here and there from ancient Egyptian religion and the Arabian Nights, but the essence of the tale is more original than most of the ones I concoct.
I really love this one for my own purposes; these moments from my characters’ childhoods do a lot to explain why they are who they are today. Tatharien’s is particularly resonant with me, and I might toy with it later.
This and the other Huanling stories written from a dog’s POV have been very satisfying as a commentary on the power of love between animals and humans and challenging as a POV that relies on canine senses and ‘culture’. Jack London and Terry Pratchett both provide literary models, to a certain extent.
I just think this is beautiful and perfect. I so seldom manage to say so much with few words, being a chatty writer.
The best Helvia/ Nallo bit. I enjoy writing about platonic love, and this is the most successful exploration, IMHO.