About 25 years ago, I got this idea in my head that every legend, every myth had a seed of truth. So, I thought, why not explore that? The premise of the story was that a spaceship crash-landed on a planet. There was a wandering storm, like the one on Jupiter (sort of). To protect themselves from this wandering story, the survivors of the crash would build a shield. Over the years and the generations, the storm would be forgotten, and the shield would go into disuse, until no one would remember that the shield was anything but a fairytale of sorts. Then those in power who gained power because of the shield, well, their power would be questioned, because obviously they didn’t need to be in power – because there was no storm. Obviously. So there’d be a rebellion. And then … the storm would come. They’d realize that they needed the shield, but the shield would be in disrepair. The old style of government would have to be … revised. And… uuuugh. And that was the plot bunny for a trilogy. The revolutionaries would be proven wrong. The aristocracy would be reinstated but with a kinder and better aristocracy and OMG WTAF was I thinking oh naïve one. I do know. Check out my other blog post. It was most certainly not a dystopia. And thank goodness I never finished enough to try and publish it. And thank goodness self-publishing wasn’t really a thing back then, because …. OMG … what was I thinking. I’ve kept some of this … but have thrown out most of that drivel.
Here's a brief overview of my current work in progress.
To me, writing a dystopian story is an act of hope, as weird as that sounds. There was a time when the darkness caused me too much despair and I couldn’t even look at it. For me to even write about a shitty place like this one, I have to have hope that Tessa will not necessarily be okay, but her journey will be worth it to traverse. The pain will end. There will be meaning to her story. And, there will be meaning to her story. That meaning is what gives me hope.
When I first conceived of this story, I wanted to write the story of the birth of a utopia. I’m so glad that wasn’t the story that I ended up writing. It would’ve been insipid. I hope that this story turns out okay and that people find the journey worth traveling.
I didn’t resurrect this project to be a dystopian story. It just kind of turned out that way. I think that it’s a reflection that I’m more willing to look at the darkness squarely in the face. I’m not sure though that Tessa would agree that she lives in a dystopia. At least, I’m not sure that she would think that, not even by the end of this book. She doesn’t have anything to compare her world to. Sure, the world she lives in can get pretty shitty, but I don’t think that she would say that it’s a dystopia, because I’m not sure she knows what a utopia would look like. Or anything in between for that matter. This is just the world that she lives in. It’s her world, like the world that we live in. She gets up in the morning. She has breakfast. She lives within the confines of a totalitarian government, though she doesn’t really realize it, because she has nothing to compare it to. If only she had something to compare her world to.
The inspiration for the setting is the desert. One of the places that we visit is an underground train station. Well, it’s a river train. Instead of train tracks, it’s boats tied together that is pulled along an underground river. It sounded cool in my head. Anyhoo. The inspiration for the station and surrounding town is Petra and its water system. At least the look of setting was inspired by Petra. The water system in the town in my story is based on a different technology than what the ancients probably utilized. Not that I’m particularly an expert on this, but I did do a few rabbit hole dives into the subject.
Here’s the thing. In a dystopian story, who is the antagonist? Okay, I have the obvious antagonists. You’ll meet one when Tessa debuts at the Tower, because what dystopia doesn’t have a debutante ball? (lol) You’ll meet another one when she goes off to their version of graduate school. But like I said, this is a dystopian story with complicated “palace” politics. For all you know, the MC could be her own worst enemy.
Tessa is the main character of this novel. She’s a young woman who is in her world’s version of the gentry. Her family are part of a lower ranked gentry, but still gentry. Up to this point in her life, she has been mostly ignored by her parents with a cool disdain from her mother. She’s never known why, but she’s never really questioned it, as it gave her the freedom to do what she wanted. In her world, freedom is not something that really exists. If you’re Sanctioned, this can lead to public humiliation, loss of rank (which means loss of financial resources), or worse. Tessa begins to see what the worse is. Her dream is to become a Curator, which she thinks is like what we think of as a librarian. But this is a dystopia. So … there’s some curating of the truth. Things aren’t what she thought it was. The story, for her, is about her becoming disillusioned about the world around her, but more realistic. But what do you do with that kind of knowledge? She’s not a chose one kind of a character, so this isn’t going to be a story of her saving everyone. So … what will happen?
I have no idea what the title is going to be. In the iteration from 25 years ago, it was going to be called “May the Wind” which was based on a greeting you would say to people. May the wind die at your feet, but it doesn’t make sense within context of this iteration. One person I know who is really good at coming up with titles is my friend JD Groom. Som when the story is done, I may ask her for help.
Series or stand alone?
This is definitely conceived to be part of a series. This story only gets us to Tessa figuring out one question that gets presented in the book, but more questions are raised. This doesn’t even touch what is going on in the world outside of the Tower (the seat of the central government). I also have plot bunnies for stories that are from other characters POVs. This is a world that I would really like to delve into, as a personal sandbox to explore in.
The world building that I created covers not only what is going on within the confines of Tessa’s world, but also outside of it. I’d love to see how she and some of the other characters react to those parts of the world.