Note: meant to publish this a few weeks ago…but better late than never! ~Rachel
My dear friend Alexis Hunter tagged me in her blog, “The Next Big Thing,” prompting me, in turn, to answer the creative writing questionnaire that’s been circling the blogsphere. I’ve been pondering my response for a while now, and I reckon that now is the time spill my guts:)
As Mercury turns retrograde in Pisces, and I face my 30th birthday looming the day after St. Patrick’s day, I’ve taken a lot of time to be really internal. In that light, I’ve revisited a novel that I started in May 2012 called “The Two Necromancers.” I finished the rough draft a few days ago—all in long-hand, which was a rewarding experience in itself.
2: Where did the idea come from for the story?
“The Two Necromancers” started off as a short story for A Story A Day In May, but it kept digging its claws into me and I kept on writing. I have been writing about the undead for a few years now, but I think the particular spark for this piece came from a dream.
3: What genre does “The Two Necromancers” fall under?
It’s not horror. I know—usually Necromancers, the undead, and their zombie friends fall into that category, but this piece has more of a sad fairytale feeling. I’d say it’s somewhere between slipstream and surreal.
I’m terrible with knowing actors. I really am. But if I had to say something cinema-y about this piece, then I would like none other than Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle) to animate it:) And while we’re at it, Bjork can do the soundtrack!
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?
A Margaret Atwood-esque fractured narrative about an undead Necromancer who must defend her long-forgotten homeland from the dread Blood Mage—her undead brother.
Honestly, this story is weird—very, very, weird. It is really just a project for myself, though I would like to share it with friends once I edit it. If it ends up being publishable material, I’ll let you know:)
In all honesty, it’s nice to work on a project that is 100% for me. I feel like lately, I’ve gotten so distracted by the desire to be published that I’ve forgotten myself, so it’s been absolutely lovely and rejuvenating to spend time on this project.
7: How long has the editing taken you?
I plan on starting the editing process after Mercury goes direct on March 17th. But first, I have to type up hundreds of pages of my chicken-scratch handwriting, which I hope I will be able to read!
8: What other stories would you compare “The Two Necromancers” to within your genre?
“The Two Necromancers” is like the love child of “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, and “Frankenstein,” by Mary Shelley—with Grimm’s Fairytales as the fairy godmother.
“The Two Necromancers” is really about conflicts in consciousness: especially dimorphic consciousness, reincarnation, and atavism—disconnection to present time, space, and self. Most importantly, writing from the perspective of the undead is something, as a person recovering from a brain injury, that I can relate to, as strange as that may sound. I have just become more open about my traumatic brain injury very recently, and writing about it in fiction has been really helpful for my process.
Let me explain: in fiction, the undead are neither living nor dead; they are not accepted by mainstream society, and yet, it is necessary for society to address them, or in the case of my novel, for the undead to ensure the continuation and protection of society. In my own life, as I am healing from six years of chronic illness after a near death experience, I have similar feelings of displacement, and difficulty in finding a new role for myself in society. So it’s been really interesting and fulfilling to write about this kind of experience from a purely fictional and fantastical point of view.
For fun, here’s a small excerpt from an essay I wrote on the subject last May, called, “When I Was A Zombie”:
My friend asks, “Did you ever notice how lilies and crocuses are like zombies? They die back every year, then come back again.”
“Well then, all of nature is a zombie. Everything dies and lives. Lives and dies,” I reply.
My friend’s forehead furrows in thought. “Nature is a zombie,” she says.
“That would make a good bumper-sticker,” I muse, chucking rocks into the river, their ripples eaten by the rushing currents, thick with snow melt, icy and deafening. Maybe I am not so alone in living outside of time; maybe I know something that was forgotten; something buried, like bulbs and seeds.
Let’s see, we’ve got a love interest that spans hundreds of years and incarnations, many references to medicinal plants (if that kind of thing floats your boat), and lots of folks who just can’t seem to die! Everybody likes zombies…
I’d like to tag a few people in this here blog, inspiring them to answer these same questions in their own blog:
J.D. McLaughlin, of jdmclaughlinbooks.wordpress.com who is a scribophile buddy of mine
and my good friend Moira McLaughlin, esteemed blogger at dogarttoday.com, who I hope will talk about her new project!