Monday, July 18, 2016

"Untouched by Fire" published

Just got my contributor copies of this 2-volume anthology. Very cool artwork, and looking forward to checking out the many stories in it. All of them are fantasies set in or inspired by non-Western historical locales and cultures.

So what's my story about? A while back I was contemplating tackling a new novel and had some vague ideas about the setting, which was largely inspired by the history and cultures of India. I dug deep into learning all I could, talking to people who knew it from inside, reading many works of fiction and nonfiction. And I also wrote this short story to get my mind into the setting.

The key to this story is that the culture venerates fire, and so when a high-born girl is burned by fire, it's seen as a judgment for her actions rather than an accident. So she must deal with being suddenly an outcast, untouchable. I really liked the character, Jaritta, and she (along with her still high-caste brother) became a central character in the novel as well, a story set some 10-15 years later.

While more a fantasy than a steampunk story, it is worth noting that this was my first big work deliberately set at the cusp of an industrial revolution and shares a lot of the themes that I like to explore in more steampunk-y settings.