I’d like to claim that the idea for Deathsmith came to me after hours of reflecting on Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept. For those who don’t know (and who’ll trust my paraphrasing ability) the main point of said Concept is: the hedgehog has one thing he (or she) is really good at and sticks to – curling up into a ball and poking out his (or her) quills in defense. The wiley fox on the other hand goes from skill to skill, from strategy to strategy, but will never overcome the hedgehog’s one real trick. I’d like to say Deathsmith is about a guy who’s a one-trick-pony (or hedgehog) … and milks that one trick for all it’s worth.
I’d like to claim I always intended it to be a parable about the human longing for roots, for community, for loving and being loved with an open heart.
I’d like to claim it’s a story I intentionally crafted about a fellow who should’ve heeded the old adage: ‘Beware strangers bearing gifts’ … especially when those strangers are spirit beings, or young girls.
None of those things is true.
In actual fact, the story started with the title.
The word ‘Deathsmith’ popped into my head while I was daydreaming one day. I sat down the next day and wrote most of Draft 1 in a single sitting, then finished it the next. No outline. No idea of where it was headed until it was done. The dialog and plot materialized entirely out of the interplay between the characters and their emerging backstories.
Three drafts later, little had changed but for some polishing (notably the culling of an over-abundance of adverbs, such as ‘notably). I submitted to IGMS and to my delight got that positive response all writers long for … along with a healthy reality check from editor Edmund Schubert!
Edmund expertly pointed out the major flaw produced by my lack of outline writing, and pushed me to dig deeper. And I’m grateful. Extremely grateful. Deathsmith is a far better story for his input, as is my writing generally. (Damn, another adverb!).
Thanks for reading, and to all the crew at IGMS for the fabulous spec fiction venue they’ve created!