I’ve done next to no blogging about “Hope: an anthology of speculative fiction” and my involvement in the anthology. Have said plenty about it on Twitter and Facebook, but have never quite got around to explaining here what it is all about.
Last November I had the honour of being asked by Karen Henderson to be a part of the charity anthology she was putting together to help raise awareness of suicide. It took me all of half a second to say yes, especially because it was for a worthy and important cause. I also had a story stewing that I knew would be perfect for the theme of ‘hope’.
Kayelle Press’s website has this to say about the anthology, due for release in October:
Youth suicide is a growing concern in Australia. Six people take their own lives each and every day. Each one of those deaths affect dozens or even hundreds of people as family and friends attempt to deal with the grief, the guilt and the nagging questions as to why it happened. Often suicide sets off a chain reaction, which causes family members and close friends to suffer depression and suicidal thoughts.
In an effort to help raise awareness, Australian authors are donating stories to the Hope anthology. All profits from sales of the book will be donated to charities offering help to those in need of it and to foundations who are conducting research into why our youth are affected in the first place.
When I said yes, I had no idea I would be sharing the space between the covers with these amazing Australian spec-fic authors (including some very good friends):
Rowena Cory Daniells
Karen Lee Field
Let me pass out, pick myself up off the floor and perhaps pass out again. I can’t believe my name is included with these authors.
In addition to the stories there will be information and essays interlaced on the topic of suicide penned by Beyondblue, and Dr Myfanwy Maple and Mr Warren Bartik from the University of New England.
My story “Blinded” is about what happens when the past and the present collide, about trust and transparency; love and betrayal; hope, redemption and freedom.
It began with a terrible dream I had back in May last year, the very first night I stayed with Jason Coggins (the night of the infamous setting off of the fire alarm at 5:30am!) The dream basically centred around parasites exploding from my stomach, andJason giving me an injection in the thigh to avoid dying (good thing to be hanging out with an intensive care nurse!) It was intended to be written as a piece of flash – as a shlock erotic come sci-fi short. But when I began to write it, it didn’t want to conform. It wanted to be something else – something more.
A review of “Your Heart Belongs to Me” on Specusphere gave me an idea for where I might want to take the story. The story also has deep roots in the Florence + The Machine song “Blinding” where it derives its name and the opening feel of the story (it was brilliant to be able to play for Jason on the way home from Byron earlier on in the week, the song which so influenced the story he helped me with!)
Since those original scriblings, the story has been gutted (very little of the original remains), fleshed out with new sci-fi elements compliments of Chris Chartrand and Jason, been through the meat-grinder (and for me down the rabbit hole of depression) trying to get it right for a YA market and in the 11th hour found scientific research to back up part of it (which had only just been released when I hit a google search during a rewrite). It still has the original secondary character of “Alan” who I named after Alan Baxter (as the first guy at the top of my Facebook list whenI went looking last year for a man’s name) and after all the support Alan has given me this year, including making an awesome acceptance speech on my behalf at the Aurelia Awards, I’m so glad that character remains, and has evolved into the character readers will experience on the page. No spoilers!
While “Blinded” is all the things I mentioned above, it is also a story about the greed of big business, about environmental protection (my partner is an environmental scientist and project manager) and rampant development, the overarching authority of the medical profession and the danger of precedents in legal cases. It somehow is also a love story as much as a rant on development and how much I hate doctors!
Amazingly at the end of the entire process, “Blinded” is a story I still very much love. A story which, as of half an hour ago when I sent my final bits and pieces through to Karen, is very much completed. My thanks goes to Jason, Chris and Rebecca Dobbie who all helped in varying degrees through the writing and rewriting of this. Especially to Jason who seems to have snared the much
feared lauded role of hand holder through rewrite hell.