First, a little self-deprecating, soul-scorching self-promotion:
I received a little surprise in my inbox yesterday when Fraser Ronald over at Sword’s Edge informed me that issue #18 had been unleashed unto the Internet. I’m absolutely thrilled that “The Gilded Flame” has been included in the lineup, this time around, and I think it’s the first time one of my monikers has appeared alongside Steven L. Shrewsbury’s (now, who let that happen?). ^__^
“The Gilded Flame,” for me, represents a sidestep into epic fantasy. Writing epic fantasy (or, at the very least, fantasy involving magic, elves and fantastical made-up worlds) requires an extensive amount of dedication and attention to detail—neither of which I was born with. As such, for “The Gilded Flame,” I simply did what I felt most comfortable with: I stuck my foot in the murky waters and shook it around a bit. Not the most eloquent way to write a story, but I lucked out nonetheless in that I got it finished.
So, where did “The Gilded Flame” come from? While I’ve read some fantasy in my time, I usually stick to the more contemporary stuff. Phthor was an exception (the inception, I should say, as it initially sparked my interest in writing), as were the handful of ElfQuest comics I acquired a while back. I suppose it was the comics that had the most influence here. Richard and Wendy Pini’s work was bold, daring and had a certain frankness to it that I found refreshing. A few years back, I wrote a handful of stories that took place in the “socially-liberated” (LOL) realm of Kyrth, though for one reason or another, they’ve never seen the light of day. I did want to get something about Kyrth out there, eventually; happenstance seems to have finally taken care of that with this particular story.
The basis for Alexander’s tale was Touchwood Inn itself. I thought, “what would it be like to have this sort of winter borderland, a place where it’s perpetually frigid, where weary travelers are subject to the unforgiving elements—what sort of oasis could there be in such a place?” Much like in real life, when I’ve perhaps been driving for hours along a stretch of deserted highway, a gas station or a hotel with food, cold drinks—shade (in the case of summer), a warm bed (in the case of winter) can be the most welcome of discoveries.
Touchwood was an oasis, though inn and of itself (yes, I’m smirking just a bit) it was not enough to float an entire storyline. Background atmosphere was needed, and so I wrote the pre-history involving Alexander and Min as young athletes at the Eternal Champion.
At the moment, it seems to work well enough, and I’m satisfied with the result…but if I ever write another story based in Kyrth, it’s going to be a Sticky Note Nightmare. 😉