Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Kiss on St. Patrick's Day by Gabriel Belthir (GUEST POST)

Hello, my name is Gabriel Belthir. Thank you so much for having me here at Bending the Bookshelf. I'm very excited to present my first solo story, a post-apocalyptic journey that frames a love story between Evelyn Johns, the medic for a caravan, and Lissa, a younger girl who hitched a ride. Evie and Lissa are some of my first characters who didn't go through a standard character creation process. It was, in fact, modeled after a dream that woke me in cold sweats. However, I must not start this story with the dream, but the night before.

My partner and I were cruising through the bar district of Memphis on St. Patrick's day. Bars and Clubs, for the most part, are not my scene, but we found an Irish pub with a good DJ. I sat at a table and watched my partner wander around the room seeing his friends. I finally caught sight of a girl that just captured my attention. She barely came up to my chest, with long and curly blonde hair that had streaks of green in it for the holiday. She had the brightest smile, and a piquant little face. I watched her dance for most of St. Patrick's Day. When we decided to leave, I swallowed an awful lot of fear and approached her. "Excuse me, I hope you don't mind a compliment... but you're the most beautiful thing I've seen tonight," I said, knowing it felt stupid. She smiled at it, and replied, "Oh, honey. You're beautiful, too," and moved up on her tiptoes to plant a kiss squarely on my mouth.

I don't remember much about the drive home except rolling the window down and letting the cold air wake me up. I used a phrase in the story that kept repeating itself in my head, that she'd fried every fuse in my brain. That night, I dreamed about this desolate wasteland and these two characters, myself through Evie and her through Lissa. I watched as the world fell apart and I found her, with a ridiculous aviator's cap on that made her look like a steampunk diva. I'm fairly certain there was a Hollywood kiss and several sexy scenes between the two, but I woke when there was a last stand against what eventually became the Ravagers.

The dream was deeply important to me, and I started composing Lily of the Wastelands, which is now available from Storm Moon Press. There was a long period of world-building, throwing out what didn't work from the dream. Paula and Saoirse came into being in post-production as it were. The addition of a child into the plot was a difficult choice for me, but I found that it flowed when I decided on it. The basis of Evie's persecution by others is that she is doing nothing to further the human race in an apocalyptic setting. Through a series of events, she collects a new family. This is in line with some theories of homosexuality and evolution. One study suggests that homosexuality exists in our genetics to provide parents for otherwise orphaned members of society, that family units can still exist when tragedy strikes without having to shoehorn orphans into already procreative families. I thought this terribly interesting, and explored it. I found that Lissa rarely puts Saoirse down, and Evie is completely wrapped around the baby's tiny finger. Saoirse's story is one that has fascinated me, being a child conceived and born after the Cataclysm, and being raised by two loving mothers in a mire of criticism.

The confrontation with Baron Kalfu arose from a different dream after the writing began. His appearance is left to the reader's interpretation, and I had quite a lot of different opinions on him. Some saw him as Native American, while others saw him as South American or Haitian. His caring for his people is evident, though his society choices are more primitive than our caravan's. I saw him as an old military man, fiercely protective and intelligent. His encampment has their own stories, and may have to adapt over time due to their lack of drilling equipment and growing population.

The characters of this world popped mostly fully formed into my head, and the story flowed easily. However, it took that kiss on St. Patrick's Day to start the whole process, and I had to immortalize the girl. I don't know her name, and I'll never see her again, but it was worth telling a beautiful love story for. The best love stories start with a kiss.

Gabriel Belthir is a freelance author who lives with a husband, a cat, and a dog in Ohio. After forays into poetry and game design, zie has decided to begin exploring the worlds of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. Between an active academic life and running hir own photography business, Gabriel enjoys all kinds of creative pursuits, including graphic design and painting. Hir short story, Lily of the Wastelands is now available from Storm Moon Press.

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