Thursday, October 3, 2013

Memories of Light: A post-apocalyptic story of Bellingham 100 years in the future

I held that pose at the Spark Museum
for fifteen minutes!

This is a short serial science fiction which I participated in for the Bellingham Herald.

Chapter one by +Larry Goolsby   

Chapter six by +Robert Slater

The story:
Bellingham. 100 years in the future. It rains—a lot. The world is a bleak place, where Rocket Donuts is partially submerged and a strict council controls the city. People fear technology and the devastation it brings. Tanner is a boy running the wild streets of Bellingham, pushing the limits of the councils rules, and yet fearing the punishments of the work camps that killed his father. When he catches a glimpse of the past, he realizes there is more to living than just fear.

The experience:
It all started when I noticed that this year's summer serial in the Bellingham Herald was going to be Science Fiction. This is a serial fiction in which six writers are chosen to write six chapters of 800 words each in a specific genre, chosen each year by the Herald's Dean Kahn. I have a friend who did it the previous year when it was Fantasy, which I missed out on because I was still relatively new in town. But since last year I have made a bunch of new friends, who know what genres I like to write, and they all made sure to give me the heads up when the call went out for this year's writers. I sent in my writing sample and story synopsis, and was thrilled to hear I was accepted as one of the lucky six.

I remember back to the first time I met my new Herald Writing Buddies at Rudy's Pizza. Actually it wasn't strictly the first for all six of us meeting. One of our number had just joined my critique group, so we both had bragged about our acceptance in group at the same time LOL. Another I had met by email in my duties as a board member for a local writer's group. But that's Bellingham, if you don't know someone you probably know someone who knows them.

Our parameters were create a story based in Bellingham set 100 years in the future and try to mention B'ham landmarks and places along the way. We decided to create a post-apocalyptic dystopian future for Bellingham. We chose the order of who would write what chapter. We agreed that we would all really love for the story to have something to do with the Spark Museum and give a nod to Tesla. But other than that everyone pretty much just agreed to pick up where the last person left off, and for each one of us our chapter was our own.

It was a lot more challenging than I expected. Each of us knew our deadline far in advance but we didn't know what the other would write so we couldn't really start writing until we saw the previous chapters, and then we had just a few short weeks to come up with our own chapter. We also had to keep everything we wanted to say within 800 words. And each chapter was finalized as it came in, so we could not edit the story as a whole once it was finished.

Writing one of the last chapters was an even bigger challenge. There is no luxury of a whole story ahead of you. You have to figure out how to start wrapping it up. You have to start looking back at the initial chapters and finding something you can tie back to, so the whole thing makes sense.

The whole experience was great. I got to write a story, and have it printed in the Bellingham Herald--and then I got to do a reading at +Village Books. And then the reading went out on the radio. What a blast. Thanks so much to +Dean Kahn at the Herald for the opportunity.

©2013 Amanda June Hagarty

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