A large part of the plot of City of the Invaders concerns a group of teenagers who are required to put on a play. A backdrop of politics in a gangster-led city provides some action, but most of the character dynamics comes from the Wyncon EC’s mandatory theatricals. The teenagers in this little group have an acting club and when Katia moves to the city with her brother, they are forced to take part. With comic results, of course. In spite of being amateur, these Wyncon productions are presented to a wide general audience and there’s nothing funnier than having people stuck in assigned roles—which may or may not be comfortable for them— without their consent.
Frank’s audition gave me a chance for some great character interactions, and the theatrical scenes throughout the book were fun to write. When I was younger, I was involved in dance performances. I wasn’t any good and only did them because it was recommended for my feet, so I guess I turned that into a bit of a comedy. Not that any of the book’s situations really happened or are even based on anything real. But the backstage, the milling around before performances, the feeling of “I look stupid, but I have to be here,”—maybe a bit of that did seep into the story at times. And of course I had ample exposure to great plays like those of Shakespeare. I studied many of them seriously to learn good writing tricks, but if you read something enough to know it in your sleep, you’re likely to find it funny now and then too.
From this came “The Works of Charles Glassware” an appendix I wrote years and years before the story itself. I summarized plots of famous works I thought were silly, however old they were, and invented an author for them—Charles Glassware. Eventually one of these works was reused as “The Pirate,” a bombastic historical play Frank, Katia, and Co. perform. “The Pirate” is a collision of lush ancient world movies like Ben-Hur with Norse-based epic fantasy, and you can easily imagine it wouldn’t be easy for a team of mismatched amateurs to pull it off. As the director, Mr. Coughing, says, “this year’s production will be one of our most challenging, considering our cast and budget.” And many of the lines from the play are sprinkled through the story. Just fun, fun to write.
Authors are very serious real people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t write something for fun sometimes.
And there will be more updates.
It's time to dig deeper into this book. It's one a lot of you might not know anything about and it has two parts. The first story, The Birthday Present, was a futuristic idea that I actually wrote pages and pages and pages about. But it resulted in this shorter story instead. Originally I wanted to create a themed series, but I went on to other projects and this book became a stand-alone, so--no series. (But that might explain the "Homeschooler Fantasy Series Volume One" you'll see burned into one of the print editions.)
Millhaven Castle, the second story in the book, was a bit of a problem because I went through 3 different-yet-very-similar versions of this story. After sorting all my stories, I've repackaged, rearranged, or rewritten almost all of them. One of these little Alyce stories was published with The Birthday Present. I eventually created a new edition that said just "The Birthday Present" in the title, but "Millhaven Castle" somehow made its way back into it. The two stories belong together because they both talk--in different ways--about culture clash and the theme of both is bringing two different cultures together. So it makes sense to bring two different genres together to have a little culture clash of their own!
Millhaven was also in an anthology called Facets of Fantasy for ages, but I eventually cut it and put it into this book instead. It tells a great story combined with "The Birthday Present," whereas the rest of the Facets stories have lost readership over time. And "Millhaven Castle" doesn't need to appear in two different books anyway. Still not sure why having an old period-landscape painting works at all for the cover of a book with a sci-fi story, but in this case I think there's really no reason to care about that.
And there will be more updates.
I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.