In the misted haze and chill of October here in Washington, I began a project. For the first time in five years, the words returned to me. Characters demanded my attention, my will, and my effort. From this was born Pumpkin the Badger, poor Whissen Foss, and the rest of the Chickenshits.
From this humble beginning on the Pacific Coast, more words joined. Stories and pieces began to fit together. Plots and names. Places and people. At this time, this work, this novel, was set in Edinburgh.
In November and December, Michelle and I (oh yeah, I got married in 2018) journeyed to the Emerald Isle. Winter storms roared across the Wild Atlantic Way, but beside a turf fire, beneath a thatched roof, more came. From 1,000 words, came 10,000 more. Pumpkin the Badger made her deal and sought freedom with the help of Aunt Mary-Go-Lightly. In this way, the words trickled in, the plot meandering along with Pumpkin en route to an uncertain future and her childhood home.
Work intervened, demanded my focus, my skills, and my wits. The trickle slowed. The creekbed ran dry, rolled stones thirsty with dust. At the end of March, as the pandemic consumed the world, I was laid off by the Pinkertons. Devastated, I cast about for meaning, for purpose, and for the future. All seemed bleak.
Pumpkin told me to shut the fuck up, put my big boy pants on, and get cracking. Instead of being the guy who reminded his friends that he was working on a novel, I decided to be the guy who finished the damn thing. Starting the day after I was cast out into the world, thrown onto the whims of an uncaring administration, and for each day thereafter unto the end of a tenday, I wrote 3,000 words per day. I finished my novel at a pace that a not-so-younger me believed utterly impossible.
This fantasy novel, tentatively titled eponymously to give my weird website’s name true meaning, was flung into the aether, seeking publication and a home. The Great Work waits, slumbering with promise. The culmination of my varied interests, it is, what I hope to be, a unique take on the fantasy genre. Elves and dwarves and orcs feature therein, but twisted and made my own. No Pseudo-European setting here, no pastiche of Scotland, I decided to write what I know, what I’ve spent a lifetime learning and observing. I can never be Scottish, or British, or a European. I am American, for good and ill and so is my book. Under the watching eyes of the Neighbors and with the full throat of my voice, my ridiculous sense of humor, Captain of Chickens will live.
Pumpkin the Badger waits to take her place on the stage of published characters. Her family saga will march with her in time with the nation she loves. The people of the Free Territory of Ascham pray for hope.
As do I.
A constellation of future stories await. I will write them.