Today I have a guest post from author S.C. Langgle. She is here to tell us how her story “The Bird Below Ground” was born.
As a reader, I love exploring new worlds through science fiction, fantasy, dystopia, and more. As a writer, however, I tend to be a bit terrified of world-building—so many things to think about; so many possible places to go wrong!—and as a result most of my fiction is contemporary and realistic. It’s kind of a miracle that I managed to write a dystopian story like “The Bird Below Ground” to begin with!
So why did I choose to tackle a story set in a distant, imagined future? It happened, as so many things do, because I wanted to win something. Specifically, four shiny new hardback books. (Sorry, I know you were probably hoping for something more exciting, but for a starving graduate student, four books is a big deal!) The contest in question, which I found via a writing website I was part of at the time, asked entrants to write a short story inspired by “a photograph from the past.” Well, that’s a great prompt with a ton of intriguing story possibilities…and I immediately began thinking about how I could make my story stand out from the rest of the entries.
After hours of intense rumination (okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit…) it finally occurred to me: what if the “picture from the past” in my story was actually a photograph from our present? Which would mean, of course, that the story would take place in the future. From there, the rest of the story came together rather quickly. Being a huge animal lover, I wondered about a future in which animals from our modern world would no longer exist. I thought of birds in particular because they’re so symbolic of freedom, hope, and life; then I thought of canaries because of their incredibly vivid coloring. Canaries made me think of miners, and of how miners used to carry canaries underground with them as a warning system for when oxygen was running low. This little tidbit always struck me as both kind of beautiful in a very dark way, and incredibly depressing at the same time. And it made me wonder what it would be like if an entire society lived, like miners, underground…
I was surprised to find I enjoyed some aspects of the world-building process while writing the story. I think my favorite was actually the children’s rhyme I invented, which really surprised me and came out of nowhere. However, the story was definitely a challenge, and I think I’ll stick to realistic topics for my longer works!
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering: did I win the contest? No, I did not. However, when I saw the call for submissions for the Perfect Flaw anthology, I realized “The Bird Below Ground” might be a good fit and submitted it on a whim. So as it turns out, “The Bird Below Ground” is now available in book form, in the company of many other amazing stories. And I have to admit, I think I’d choose that over my four shiny hardback books!
Perfect Flaw by Robin Blankenship
Published by Seventh Star Press on Mar 19, 2013
Genres: Adult, Dystopia
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Readers everywhere are invited to experience adventures of a dystopian nature in the anthology Perfect Flaw, from editor Robin Blankenship! Featuring seventeen speculative fiction tales, spanning many genres, Perfect Flaw explores the subject of societies gone wrong. From “utopian” societies masking an underlying controlled state, to stories of people fighting back against repression, in hopes of a better world, the flaws that create a dystopian atmosphere are brought to light. Thought-provoking and entertaining, Perfect Flaw will be a welcome addition to any reader’s collection of dystopian literature.
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Win one of 22 prizes for the tour giveaway for the SSP Anthology Extravangza.
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