Last spring I received an invitation to submit a story to an anthology of high fantasy. With such a tight schedule for the Collegia Magica books, I wasn't sure I'd have the time. (Still not sure I had the time!) The editor offered to send me copies of her previous two anthologies so I could see if I wanted to join in the third of the series.
The anthologies are called Lace and Blade, from Norilana Books, a small press that puts out absolutely gorgeous editions of classics, as well as some original works and these anthologies. Check out the luscious cover art for the first and second volumes.
Well, I read several of the stories in the two volumes, including the lovely novella, "The Night Wind" by Mary Rosenblum that had just been selected for this year's Nebula ballot. Not only was I impressed (and intimidated) by the quality of the stories, but I really wanted to have a story in the new one. So I told her yes. The due date would be August 1.
So, of course, the next thing was to figure out what to write. Length could be variable, wrote the editor. Write tight, but make it as long as it needs to be.
The only way I can produce short fiction while writing another book is to piggyback on one of my existing worlds. Which was quite all right, said the editor. And when I spun the bottle and got to thinking, the right project stared up at me.
Song of the Beast was not my first novel published, but I actually wrote it before Transformation. I always intended it to be a standalone, and I was happy where it ended. The primary story arc was complete and satisfying (certainly to ME!) But, in truth, I did leave Aidan MacAllister's world in upheaval. He had changed the world so dramatically that nothing would ever be the same. His personal story - a visionary musician imprisoned as his fame reached its height, released after 17 brutal years, unable to sing or play his harp or hear the voice of the god of music who had guided his musical development - led him into a wilderness where he hoped to repair half a millennium of injustice. And I never told readers whether or not he got the girl who helped him do what he had to do.
Needless to say, I heard from a lot of readers that they wanted to know what happened after. That was what I wanted to write.
But once I got to thinking about it, something unexpected happened. As I told the editor:
Like many authors, I don't believe that my heroes' and heroines' lives end on the last page of my books. Which means, of course, that when you check up on them long after the grand and terrible events are over, you occasionally discover that their futures haven't gone quite as you expected. Thus it happened when I looked up Aidan MacAllister, the visionary musician-hero of Song of the Beast. What I found compelled me to write "The Heart's Coda."
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