Origin Story: Part the First

Posted on 15/11/2011 by


So I’ve had a few people ask me: Where did this book come from? And my brain automatically leaps to the most inappropriate answer: Well, when a writer and a laptop love each other very much… *cough* Anyway… the actual answer is rather long. Mostly because this story has multiple incarnations and each regeneration is story of its own. So this is just… the first beginning.

Some stories I really can’t point to a specific place where the idea was born, but in Path’s case there are two distinct starting points and then a chain of building momentum that I did not see coming and at a couple of points tried fairly strenuously to stop.

The first thing that happened was I had this dream. Which we will not go into because it makes even less sense when I try to tell it to people than it does in my head and has very little, if anything, to do with the final story. But suffice it to say it included a guy falling out a window, a thoroughly ridiculous horse race, the sun coming up twice once morning and  a scene that for a long time was the prologue to the first book (and now will appear in book three for various perfectly sensible reasons, like I’m not a big fan of prologues).

The next morning (or possibly that night) I wrote the dream-story down, wondered a little about myself, and then forgot about it.

An indeterminate amount of time later I was at a thing. A thing that may or may not have been a writer’s festival. It was a thing with panels and workshops and speeches and so on, in any case. And there was an author there that I wanted to hear speak but on that day the only thing he was scheduled to do was give a workshop on writing about people that you know.

Which is something I hate to do. It feels kind of dirty and gives me the squicks. Maybe because I am realist enough to know that I can’t really fathom the depths of another person’s mind, I am not privy to all the tiny details that make them tick. It feels wrong to write an incomplete or inaccurate version of someone and I like to think I’m not arrogant enough to believe I could create a truly accurate representation of another living person. (Of course I am, and just framing it like that makes it sound like a challenge I want to take up… but no.) I’d also rather my friends and relatives aren’t given reason to hit me.

But on this day I really wanted to hear this author talk so I thought, what the hell. And I went. Just because I listened to him talk about it didn’t mean I had to do it.

Exploding Dog comic - stick figure with sword advances towards a dragon across uneven blocks surrounded by fire. The caption says, "I hope this all goes to plan."

The author in question was interesting and entertaining, and then, because it was, after all, a workshop, he asked us to write something. He told us to take someone we knew, who had a vivid and distinct character, and put them in a location and context that was as far as possible from their ordinary life, and see what happened.

So I chose my friend Kitty. I made her a boy, a dragon slayer, and I gave her a dragon. And I stepped back to see what would happen. And she promptly hit on the dragon. Cause, you know, that just seemed more likely.