Everyone is wrapping up the year with eligibility posts, so I thought I would do one as well. For the record, I don't consider my works to be award worthy. My goal is to write entertaining stories that give people relief from their everyday cares. Before umbrage erupts across the cybersphere, I don't mean to imply that award-winning stories aren't entertaining, they often are, but they also contain an extra layer or two of a message pertinent to the time in which they are written. My stories tend to move on more personal rather than universal themes if that makes any sense at all.
With all that said, my only published story in 2017 was the Los Nefilim story "Every Hair Casts a Shadow," and it was published in the anthology Evil is a Matter of Perspective.
The guidelines for Evil is a Matter of Perspective were very specific. The editors wanted a story that used an antagonist from an existing series, and the story had to be told through the antagonist's point of view. Given that antagonists are usually the silent motivators behind most stories, the task was much harder than I initially thought it would be, especially with a word limit of seven thousand words.
I considered several antagonists for the job. A lot of people wanted to see Prieto--snarky angel for the win--but I chose Alvaro, because his stakes are higher. I can't say more without spoilers, but the upshot of it all is that Alvaro lost big in the first three novellas of the series. He is a grandfather who wants his grandson Rafael to be raised in the daimons' ancient traditions. His antagonist is Diago, who wants Rafael to turn his back on those traditions.
The story is set at the height of the Spanish Civil War during the May Days of 1937. The setting was a deliberate choice on my part, because that particular conflict showed a city at war with itself, much as families can be in conflict with one another.
One thing I didn't have either the time or the words to explain in the story is a little about the events. Until this particular conflict in Barcelona, there was an uneasy alliance between the Unified Socialist Party (PSUC), the Estat Catalàt, and the Workers' committees (the Communist Party), all of whom were united against Franco's Nationalists.
For those who don't know anything about Barcelona, La Rambla is the wide avenue that divides the city. This dividing line was exceptionally important during the May Days of 1937, because the Unified Socialist Party (PSUC) and the Estat Català controlled the urban sectors east of the Rambla while the Workers' committees dominated everything to the west.
To cross from one side of La Rambla to the other placed one in enemy territory. That is why Alvaro's crossing of La Rambla--literally crossing from one faction to the other--symbolizes how important it is to him to bring Rafael to his heritage. As a matter of fact, it is in this story that Alvaro utters one of the most heart-felt lines I've ever written for him when he warns Diago: “Don’t make my mistakes. Don’t instill in him [Rafael] the angels’ prejudices against the daimons. Don’t teach him to hate the colors of his soul.”
It was the closest Alvaro has ever come to apologizing to Diago and a genuine plea for him to step back and examine his motives. So if you look at one way, "Every Hair Casts a Shadow" is a generational story of a grandfather who wants to teach his grandson about his heritage over the father's objections.
Or it's a story about an evil daimon trying to subvert a young man to the dark side of life.
It all depends on your perspective.
Special thanks to Adrian Collins and the editors at Grimdark Magazine for giving me the opportunity to write for the anthology. It was a great deal of fun to do.