Over the weekend, the final edition of The Absent Willow Review went live, which includes my short story, “The Last Ereph.” You can read my story here. Be sure and check out the rest, too. Some of them look pretty good. Thanks again to the AWR folks for publishing my story, and my condolences on going out of business.
That said, I thought I’d provide a little bit of background on that story.
I actually started this story out the old fashioned way, longhand. I took a pen and notebook with me to ProgDay in 2010, figuring that the rustic setting and downtime between sets would provide some good inspiration. Why I didn’t think to take my netbook, I have no idea. My handwriting is legendary in its awfulness and my hand cramps up after a few lines. Regardless, it jotted down about the first half of things in the shade at Storybook Farm, appropriately enough. The rest came together at home, with invaluable editorial assistance from K. Any particularly brilliant turn of phrase is probably due to her. Thanks, honey!
The inspiration for the story came, oddly enough for an atheist, from some sympathy for a dying religion. I read an article a while back in the New York Times about Zoroastrianism and how it was on the verge of dying out. Now, the Zoroastrians were monotheists way before it was hip, worshiping one god in Persia before even the Jews came on the scene, must less the late arriving Christians and Muslims. That being said, they should be legion, yes? Not anymore. From what I remember from the article (caveat – I could have it completely wrong), Zoroastrians don’t prosthyletize, don’t claim an exclusive in to the truths of the universe, and don’t frown on things like intermarriage with folks from other faiths.
What I took away from the article was that the Zoroastrians were disappearing because they were open minded and non-confrontational, which really struck me as kind of a shitty fate. So I decided to write about it. In the universe of “The Last Ereph,” people belong to “cult houses” like people today belong the churches. They’re more philosophical than religious, although there are those about (I guess – maybe we’ll find out sometime later?). The semi-hero, Kol, stumbles into a decrepit house of a cult with only one remaining member. Will it stay that way? You’ll have to read it to find out.
As for the perhaps most critical question, asked by my parents: “how do you pronounce ‘ereph’?” I have no idea. That’s one of the beauties of writing fantasy – I get to make up words and not give a damn what they sound like out loud. I’ll leave the film/television/audiobook adapters to worry about that. And individual readers, of course.
That's it. Enjoy!