At the end of September, Silverstring Media released Tales of the Stop, an anthology of short stories that I edited to accompany my project Azrael’s Stop. It features stories from ten different authors [including a new story I wrote] about the various people that visited the Stop during the course of Azrael’s Stop that I couldn’t get to in the main story.
I decided I wanted to ask each of the authors a few questions about why they decided to join me in this experimental journey. Today I present the first of these, a few questions with Wren Handman, who wrote This, At Least, Is My Story.
Lucas: What attracted you to Azrael’s Stop that led you to writing a story for Tales?
Wren: Writing fiction is an incredibly solitary activity, but I think one of the things that inspires many writers (certainly something that inspires me) is reading or watching something really amazing and thinking, ‘I want to be part of that; I want to DO that.’ Usually we can only achieve that in a very metaphorical sense. We can write our own TV show because we love watching TV; we can write our own book because we adore reading. But getting to dive into someone else’s world, to play in the fantastical boundaries of another person’s imagination, is a really exciting extension of that drive that’s pushing us all.
Lucas: Have you ever written content for pre-existing settings before? What was it like to do so now?
Wren: This is my first experience writing fiction in a pre-existing setting. I have done work on a very collaborative TV show whose world mostly existed before I got there, so it isn’t the first time I’ve worked with clay that’s already been fired, so to speak.
I think the biggest challenge with a project like this is the terror of not living up to what came before! You have this incredible thing to work with, and you don’t want to twist it out of shape; but you also want to bring new colours and dimensions to it, so it’s a tricky line to walk.
Lucas: How did you choose what to write about for your story? How much was it affected by the existing Azrael’s Stop story or world?
Wren: I really wanted to do something that was unique, and that the other writers involved in the project wouldn’t already have thought of. So when I read the setting package that you had given me, I was sort of looking for the blank space — the stories that were hinted at but not quite told, the shadows behind the words. I wanted it to be very much a product of what was there, but not obvious.
Lucas: Your story uses really interesting POV and stylistic writing. Why did you choose to write it like that?
Wren: One of the most exciting things about Azrael’s Stop, to me, is it’s experimental storytelling. It isn’t just about ‘here’s some fiction, there you go.’ It weaves together music, fiction, Twitter stories; it plays with form and length. So I knew that I would be able to do something here that maybe wouldn’t be allowed in a more traditional setting, and that got me really excited. To be honest the form came quite quickly from the idea of the Void, of that erasure. What would the world be like if we lost our sense of time, our ability to distinguish the ‘now’ from the ‘then’? That was a fascinating question to me, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
And I’m glad she did; This, At Least, Is My Story is one of the more innovative in the anthology and early on gave me a lot of confidence that I was putting together something really cool.
You can read it and the others in Tales of the Stop — it, Azrael’s Stop, and the official soundtrack that accompanies it are available now for digital download. [And you can read more of my own thoughts about the project at Chuck Wendig’s blog, here.]