We’re just three weeks from the release of Gidion’s Blood and my new short story collection The Deadlands: And Other Stories. Since I missed last week’s countdown post (I was sick, unfortunately), I’m going to do two stories this week, Borrowed Shadows and Waist Deep. While both are fantasy stories, they couldn’t be much more different.Borrowed Shadows was born from a simple idea: What would happen if a person was born without a shadow? The answer I came up with was that a person would need to borrow one. The story took some fun twists for me, leading to a character named Daniel Black. Daniel doesn’t borrow just any old shadow. No, he’s gotten a loaner from an ancient samurai named Feng. The tale is a young adult urban fantasy, and the relationship between Daniel and his friend Allison reminds me a lot of Gidion Keep’s friendship with Andrea in my Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter series.
In this story, Daniel finds out another borrowed shadow is coming to Richmond intent on killing him. Their beef isn’t with Daniel, though. No, the real target is Daniel’s shadow, Feng. The results lead to some life-changing discoveries for Daniel about his borrowed shadow.
One of the things I loved about this story is that it features one of my favorite places in Richmond: Carytown. This stretch of road is made up of a lot of local businesses, including some great restaurants and the Byrd Theater. This isn’t the only short story where I took my characters to Carytown. In my Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter short story Zombie Walk, Gidion has to hunt down two vampires hidden among a large group of people dressed as zombies. In fact, the observant readers will spot a nod to Borrowed Shadows hidden within Zombie Walk. While running past the ticket booth in front of the Byrd, Gidion bumps into a young couple. The descriptions of these two weren’t chosen by chance. The two people he runs into are Daniel and Allison. Could this mean Daniel and Gidion might one day share a book together? Possibly. Gidion’s tales are all about grounding vampire hunting in reality, so I suspect a story with Daniel and his shadow Feng might prove a bit too fantastic to fit into Gidion’s world. Still, it might would be fun to give it a shot.
Ironically, Borrowed Shadows is a light tale with a nice touch of humor to it. Waist Deep takes my storytelling in a much different direction. This post-apocalyptic tale is an adult story where things are grim and the main character faces a gruesome fate.Waist Deep was originally included in an anthology called The End Was Not The End, and not surprisingly, many of the contributing authors turned to Norse mythology for their inspiration. The story’s main character Dale joins with two young boys to hunt down a monstrous wolf. Though never named, the wolf is none other than Fenris. Loki makes an appearance at one point, although my take on the myth doesn’t possess the handsome swagger of Tom Hiddleston. My Loki is more monster than man. Part of what made this story stand out from its other Norse-inspired brethren is that I also took a small bit of inspiration from Dante’s Inferno. In doing my research for this story, I came across a picture of the Devil trapped up to his waist in ice. I can’t explain why, but as soon as I saw that image, I knew what I wanted my story to be. While Waist Deep takes a big departure from my usual work within the young adult market, I love how this story turned out. It’s only in hindsight that I’ve come to recognize what a big deal this story was for me as a writer, because it gave me a chance to play around with some different ideas and styles of writing.
Part of why I’m focusing on these two stories is because I’ve just released them as ebook singles. I think these two stories provide a fun way for people to sample my writing before they take the big dive into my forthcoming collection or my Gidion Keep novels. The cover art for these two stories was provided by Phillip Hilliker. Not only is Phil a good friend, but he’s a damn talented artist and writer. I love what he came up with.