Novellas, SFF

So You’ve Written A Mystical Pregnancy…

Vita Urbis - High ResolutionI know. I know.

They’re terrible. You think I haven’t seen them or read them and thought “What is this bullshit?” Granted, I don’t hate them as much as I hate the Magic Baby, Child of Prophecy, but then nothing comes close to the hate I have for that.

I mean, a woman’s more than an incubator, and it’s a sad fact that inflicting a character with a mystical pregnancy pretty much turns her into little more than a host organism victimised by her own capacity for reproduction. No choice, no agency.

So why did I feel the need to add another story to this pile of idiocy? I’ve just self-published my November novella, Vita Urbis, wherein the main character, Vita, gets knocked up by a city. Yes, roll your eyes, go ahead. I don’t blame you. I did as well, on the grounds of better late than never. See, this novella is based on a short story I wrote, published earlier this year in the urban fantasy anthology Twisted Boulevard. That was unadulterated mystical pregnancy for you, though my idiot self didn’t see it until far too late. Although the story was intercut with scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, so transformation and some really twisted reproduction was par for the course. (Leda fucked a swan, for God’s sake. Say what you like about Vita, but at least she’s not out molesting the local wildlife.)

So I felt the need to do a fix-it job. Hence the novella – and if it makes matters worse then hell. It’s only a novella. I can always write another one.

To improve the expanded version I did three things. First, in the Ovid intercuts, I emphasised the themes of choice and agency. The novella is set around images of reflection – the stories mirror each other, the City with its own underworld, Vita reproducing through work and womb – so strengthening the metamorphoses helped to (hopefully) strengthen the whole.

Secondly, I gave Vita more choice… and made the City an active player in giving her that choice. For example, there’s a point where she considers abortion, and the same entity that got her pregnant in the first place makes it clear that it would support her if that’s what she wanted to do. It’s actually helpful about it. I’ve done things like this to try and return some agency to Vita, to make her more than a passive receptacle.

Finally, it’s the mirror effect again. Vita, in effect, knocks up the City before it lays so much as a smoky tendril on her. An architect, Vita reproduces herself in the buildings she designs, in a deliberate attempt to recreate the City in her own image. Little wonder the City wants to return the favour… Their relationship is mutually exploitative, especially as after the earthquakes that accompany Vita’s labour, her buildings might be the only things left standing.

So, I’ve written a mystical pregnancy. For the first and last time, probably. If it sounds like something you might be interested in, get yourself over to Amazon.

You can still roll your eyes if you want to.


Birthday Challenge

So, I’m a bit slack with this writing thing. If there’s a way to procrastinate, I’ll find it. For the past few years, my go-to distraction source has been the PhD, but now that’s coming to an end (O frabjous day!) I can’t even kid myself that any future procrastination will be something productive.

One can’t very well be a writer if one is too damn lazy to write. You see the problem here.

So, I’ve given myself a challenge. Last month was my birthday, and I happened to self-pub a fantasy novella: The Life in Papers of Sofie K. Starting then, and for the next year, I’m going to try and produce a novella a month. Actually, it doesn’t have to be a novella. A poetry collection, a collection of short fic, anything that’s relatively substantial – but I reckon they’ll mostly be novellas. This isn’t because the world is in any dire need of my dulcet prose – as if! It’s more of a documented attempt to force the habit of daily writing.

Hopefully by the time October rolls around next year I’ll have become accustomed to it and my procrastination levels will have gone down. (They can’t very well go up.) And I’m sticking this on the blog because, well, public shaming is a motivating force.