In the universe of the Aes Sidhe, the USA is split into two rivalling states: The Holy State of Gilead and the Republic of Cascadia. The latter later joined the unified human state, while the former remains a rogue state. I mentioned it in Pendulum, very briefly. In Emergent, one of my POV characters is an agent working for the inquisition of Gilead. Apparently, there’s a similar American dystopian future vision of the same name in The Handmaid’s Tale. I hadn’t read it, and would like to just say “great minds think alike”. But I’m not a literary author. I’m a Science Fiction writer. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. My Gilead is very different from the setting Atwood created, and Gilead is an awesome name for a totalitarian theocracy in America.
I would like to revisit Gilead, since the setting is barely explored and leaves a lot of room to work with, and I would like to do it in a series of short stories, which I’ll post here, then bundle them up at some point as omnibus. I already have a few ideas for this, and my plan is to work on them while editing my novels.
My current book is far from finished. I just passed the mid-point of Children of Gaea and reached 55k words. My stories have a tendency to grow considerably between edit one and two, before they shrink a little again when I edit for prose. This book is definitely still taking a while. If I manage to finish the first draft in 5-6 more weeks, which is possible, I’d post the short stories scene by scene, starting some time in August. That sounds about right. I’ll then stop writing shorts the moment I begin work on the next novel, which still leaves anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks, because editing is work, and it’s time consuming.
What do I hope to achieve by doing this?
The idea is to show off more of my world building. In my novels, I only explore what’s relevant to my story, and don’t explain anything my POV char doesn’t need explained or finds remarkable. If you work as a teacher and you enter the classroom, you might notice that the teacher before you didn’t wipe the whiteboard, or that the markers are worn out and need to be replaced, or that the sponge is filthy and you need a new one. What you don’t notice is the colour of your textbook, unless there’s a reason for it to be of significance (unlikely, lol), or really anything else you usually experience on autopilot, because doing mindfulness exercises while working is not something most of us can afford to do. To make my characters believable, they can’t stand there and look in awe at that guy with the implant peeking out of their skull, or that Fir Bolg on drugs, hanging in the dark corner of the nightclub. We all notice only what our brains don’t filter out, and characters in books function the same, or they suck, and readers can smell this kind of dissonance, even if they can’t always tell what’s off.
I’d like to shine light on the life of Aes Sidhe in Gilead, where the church, the ruling regime, declares them to be demon spawn, enemies of humanity. Except for when the government has a use for one of them. Where there’s open racism and hate crimes against Aes Sidhe, but people watch faerie porn without batting an eye. I’ll have to work hard to describe bigotry as well as Stephen King does, simply because he’s just that awesome at it, and he has direct experience, whereas I’ve never seen it first hand. Not that other corners of the world were any better, though. Problems just manifest differently.
Thankfully, I have the help of someone who knows what the setting I plan to write about looks like in present day America, so I can check for problems an outsider like me wouldn’t expect.
In “The Gilead Chronicles”, the main character will be an Ellyll, exiled by his (or her, not sure yet) court for (not sure yet). They live in (not yet determined) and survive by doing petty crimes, using their ability to shapeshift to their advantage. Showing their struggle in a hostile environment like this sounds fun to write, and hopefully interesting to read. With all of these stories being online for free, they’ll also be a good way to get into the Aes Sidhe universe without much commitment of time or money.
The shorts will probably a bit rougher and dirtier than the novels, because the main series will ultimately develop into a space opera setting of exploration and colonization of the galaxy, while encountering alien races and so on. The prequel novels, and these short stories, play out earlier, and these shorts work well to fill in gaps where I jump ahead in time between my books. Children of Gaea, for example, plays 20 years after Emergent, which is set 100 years before Pendulum. Only so many prequel novels I can do until the cast gets too old and the timelines merge. Novels are big adventures, after all, and how many big adventures can a human realistically have in their lifetime? Nadya is going through her second right now, and she’s 45 in this book.
Anyway, that’s the idea, and for now, I’ll focus on the novel, while letting the ideas simmer for a bit.