Tales of the Stop author thoughts: Scott Walker

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 second of these, a few questions with Scott Walker, who wrote The Hammer and the Nail. You can read the first one, with Wren Handman, here.

Lucas: What attracted you to Azrael’s Stop that led you to writing a story for Tales?

Scott: With collaborative efforts, I personally find myself initially drawn to people: would it be fun to work with them?

Interest in a particular project is important, but secondary: would I like playing in that world? do I think I have anything interesting or original to contribute?

Lastly, I ask myself if I have the bandwidth to tackle the collaboration: would it be easy to contribute to this project?

In this case, I definitely wanted to work with you, I liked what you had created for Azrael’s Stop and Tales of The Stop, and it was obvious that how you structured your world made it super easy for an outside writer to step in and contribute a work that also naturally and organically extended the world narrative.

How could I say no?   ; )

Lucas: Have you ever written content for pre-existing settings before? What was it like to do so now?

Scott: Aside from some very short-lived fanfic as a kid and my own contributions to Runes of Gallidon, I contributed a short piece of fiction to Carrie Cutforth-Young’s serialized romantic comedy project, All Your Fates.

Though that project was outside my wheelhouse in terms of genre, I was interested in working with Carrie and in the challenge of writing something in that space. Finally, it was clear my story could slot perfectly into All Your Fates’ larger narrative arc.

Having been on the receiving end of submissions for Runes of Gallidon, I perhaps had a jump on constructing a story that would live nicely in All Your Fates and Tales of The Stop. That doesn’t mean my stories were necessarily better, but I approached them with a mindset of, “now, what would work best for that setting?” instead of perhaps, “Well, this story doesn’t really fit the setting, but I’m going to write it anyway” (or worse, “I’ll just write whatever I like and not even bother researching the setting!”).

It certainly helped that while both you and Carrie provided hard guidelines, you also welcomed a lot of creative freedom on the part of the contributors.

So both experiences were very similar, even though the worlds were, well, worlds apart. That is to say, I had a blast!

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?

Scott: Again, your structure was perfectly suited for rapid idea iteration (through your prior stories you established the logic of the world and how The Stop fits in with a character’s death).

In other words, I knew the shape of my story (someone wanders into the Stop right before they die), even if I didn’t immediately know all the specifics (who, when, how, etc.).

As a result, the world greatly affected what I wrote, but I didn’t have to worry much at all about the other stories, even though I had read them.

For comparison, imagine being Chuck Wendig, who just had his first Star Wars novel published. Even after scraping away the Expanded Universe content from the core canon, Disney still left Chuck with a lot of material to wade through. Imagine having to climb that mountain of canonical content before you even start writing your own story!

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