Monthly Archives: August 2013

When the Hero Comes Home: Volume II

Excitement!

I’m in an anthology entitled “When the Hero Comes Home 2,” the second volume of the acclaimed “When the Hero Comes Home.” The Hero anthologies (along with “When the Villain Comes Home”) are about what happens after “ever after.” When the journey is over, the battle done, and the hero returns in victory or defeat…well, then what? Can you really come home again?

This theme is close to my heart; I got my invitation to submit only a few months after returning from New Zealand. So basically, the conversation went like this:

Gabrielle: Hey, Katie, do you write short fiction?
Me: Um…I could.
Gabrielle: You know you’re getting an invitation to Hero 2, right?
Me: I do now. (thinking) So, I totally just came home from a long adventure to the other side of the world….

I don’t usually gravitate towards writing short stories. But it’s something I’m trying to do more of, so I was really grateful for the opportunity to write something for Hero 2, especially because the theme was so meaningful to me. In the end, I’m quite pleased with the way my story (“After the Winds”) turned out. Things change while you’re away from home: not just for you, but for the people you left behind. How do you deal with the fact that you’ve all become different people who have grown in different ways, at different rates?

(And my usual rule applies: I’ll shamelessly borrow places (oh hai, NZ!), but nothing else.)

The coolest thing about Hero 2? All the other authors in there. There’s some serious talent here – I work with really cool people. 🙂

So where can you get this wonderful book? Well, it’ll be off the printer and on Amazon very shortly. In the meantime, the ebook version is available early…at a discount!

EPub

Kindle

There’s also a Goodreads page!

And more excitement! Dragon Con is this upcoming weekend, and I will be there, despite the fact that my con preparation looks like this:

Oh, yeah, Dragon Con…mmm, that’ll be fun…
Hey, what day is my flight?
What TIME is my flight?
Lalalala, writing away on a new book…
…I guess I should edit Strix more, because I’ll see Gabrielle soon…
…at DRAGON CON! When is that, again?
I guess I should pack soon.
Where am I staying again?
Oh yeah. Ok. I know where that is.
Don’t I have a confirmation number or something? Hey, when do I need to be at the airport?
What’s my name? Who am I?

If you’re around, come say hi. I’ll have a few copies of Hapax on hand to sell in back alleys. I suspect I’ll be mostly lurking by the podcasting and alternate history tracks (not on any panels, but always looking to learn things!).

See you soon!
KT

Eight Months

One of my favourite lines in Doctor Who comes right before the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration. As the Doctor is dying, Ood Sigma tells him: “This song is ending, but the story never ends.”

10DoctorRegen

Brings me to tears. Every time.

This idea of regeneration, transformation instead of destruction (and sometimes transformation through destruction), fits quite nicely with themes that crop up in Hapax and Strix. There’s a subtle difference, though. The Tenth Doctor’s song is over; the story goes on. My characters’ songs change, but they never actually end. Not really.

Broken down to its simplest level, I guess it really says, “Life goes on.”

And that is a painful, wonderful thing. Today marks exactly eight months since I lost my dad. Some days are harder than others. The magnitude, unexpectedness, and sheer absurdity of what happened shielded me for a long time. Intellectually, of course, I knew. Believe me, no delusions here. In terms of feelings…different story. My dad, have a heart attack? My dad, the healthy, vibrant athlete? No way, no how: not a thing.

Except it was a thing: a stupid, terrible thing that should never have happened, but did anyway.

The glory, the beauty, and the triumph of life is that it continues. The long, hard winter eventually passed into spring. Over the past eight months, some of my friends have had wonderful things happen to them. I’ve had some wonderful things happen to me. The mornings dawned bright and clear. New sheep were born. Our tiny little speck of a planet kept whirling through the cosmos.

It’s really easy to look at all of that and think, “Well, frak. The universe clearly doesn’t care—everything’s ticking right along even though we’re short one awesome person.”

Sometimes I wonder if that’s missing the point. Is it painful to write knowing he’ll never read it? Occasionally. Does it suck knowing he’ll never see another mist-shrouded cottage morning? Absolutely.

But the story never ends. It continues in the love my dad left us. It continues in the blue eyes I have to face in the mirror every morning. “Life goes on” isn’t necessarily a trite platitude, or a bitter cry of resentment. It doesn’t suggest uncaring. Not at all.

It suggests that as permanent and inevitable as death is, life will always find a way. Even in the darkest of times, there are still things which are good. And that can be a huge, huge comfort.

Ood Sigma looks like Cthulhu, and his voice is vaguely unsettling…but it’s weirdly comforting nonetheless.

When the Doctor regenerates, he isn’t quite the same. Different looks, obviously, but also a slightly different personality. And yet, despite the differences, he is still—inherently, always— the Doctor. The good doesn’t get through unscathed, but it does get through.

That night eight months ago was the worst night of my life. Most of the time, it still doesn’t feel real. Unless I’m in the grip of a flashback, it’s just a chaotic whirlwind of fragmented memories and sharp edges. To be completely frank, the death of a loved one sucks more than anything else in the universe. I’ve learned a lot, but I’d really rather just have my dad and skip the life lessons.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a TARDIS. I can’t go back and change the outcome. That song ended eight months ago.

But the story—of love, warmth, joy—that never ends. As painful as this is, I’m glad, at least, of that.

– KT

PS. Skip to ~2:30 or thereabouts. Get Kleenex first.

Burnout and Balance

By the way, I’m twenty-two. It occurs to me that I never did a birthday post. Mostly because…reasons. I don’t know—I was busy with Strix or something.

Speaking of Strix, the manuscript came back to me. Then I fiddled around with it some more, and tossed it back over the wall to my editor. Scripts are off to the actors for Strix-the-Podcast (you knew that was coming, right?). I’ve begun recording my narration and amassing a collection of music and sound effects. I’ve nearly hit ~10,000 words on The Victorian Dark Fantasy. The Secret Kids’ Opera Project got the thumbs-up from the artistic director and the music makes me squee. When The Hero Comes Home Volume II (I’ve got a story in there) comes out soon. I write for two blogs. There are various other projects at the “Hey, KT, wanna do X for me?” stage of things. Also, I have a dayjob, and it is an awesome dayjob.

Somehow, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not doing enough.

Looking at the preceding paragraph, I realize the absurdity of that statement. That’s partly why I wrote everything out. Nevertheless, it’s a very real feeling. There is this nagging sense that I should be doing more. I should have The Victorian Dark Fantasy written already! I should have another podcast! I should blog more! I should be freelancing and writing more short stories!

Part of me says, “Heck yes. I’m young. I can still survive on willpower, day-old pizza, and caffeine. If I’m going to be doing all of this, now is the time to do it.”

The other part of me says, “You know, there might be a reason you’re perpetually ill…”

His mistake was forgetting the pizza. Good protein in the pepperoni.
(courtesy: http://www.thecampuscompanion.com)

 

Burnout is a problem for creative types. And as my long-suffering family can attest, it’s always been a particular problem for me. Not that it’s a problem that I really know how to solve, because the answer I come up with always seems to be, “Do more work!” It’s like running laps in July to forget about thirst.

Of course, it’s also really fun. That’s the trap. The more we enjoy things, the harder it can be to draw the distinction between work and play. At which point, forget about rest. Of course, this backfires eventually….

I suspect it’s also linked to Imposter Syndrome, which is hugely prevalent among writers, actors, artists, musicians, academics, and so forth. If you’re scared that someone’s going to point out what a fraud you are, it makes sense to be trying to churn out as much work as possible. Either something will be good enough that you no longer feel like a fake, or at the very least, everyone will be too distracted to realize your fraudulence.

This isn’t a terribly effective tack, either. It’s hard to create when you’ve tapped the well dry. Really, it comes back to balance. It isn’t all “on” or “off,” “black” or “white,” “all” or “nothing.” It’s quite possible to work hard without working yourself to exhaustion. I realize the irony of me saying this…and I also realize that I’m going to be struggling with this one for a while. But better struggling with it than blithely unaware, eh?

-KT