I’m hoping you’ve now had a chance to read my story for FREE on the Literary Mix Tapes website. If not, it’s still up until 11pm AEST (that’s another 14 and a half hours). There will be SPOILERS in this post.
To recap: In Part One I talked about how I was given the song ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row as my inspiration (a song I’d never heard before). I had to combine it with an event from 1989 and include a speculative fiction element to write a 1500 word story. After listening to the song I had an idea to make my main character a vampire.
Now all I had to do was tie my vampire character to an event that happened in 1989. That was tricky. I skimmed Wikipedia’s list of events from that year, but nothing really stood out. At one stage I was tossing up between Tiananmen Square and Ted Bundy. But in the end I went in a completely different direction. Instead of going with a political event, I went with a pop culture reference. There was one thing that really stood out in my memory from the year 1989. It was the movie The Little Mermaid (Hey, give me a break, I was only 7 in 1989!).
A Different Kind of Vampire
The idea behind my vampire evolved from the idea that the last image he saw when he was alive, a movie poster of The Little Mermaid, meant he had a compulsion to feed on girls who resembled the red-haired, waspy-waisted Disney Princess.
I was really quite happy with my draft. I loved my vampire, who I thought was different to any vampires I had read in the past, wasn’t romantic in the least and had ties to a more traditional form of vampire.
A Second Opinion
I sent my draft to several beta readers, made up of writer friends and fellow Eighty Nine authors (one of the great things about being involved in Literary Mix Tapes is how all the writers work in contact with each other and swap stories to critique). I took on board most of their comments and ignored the ones I thought might not work for my story, and started redrafting.
Hold My Breath and Submit
What if Jodi thought my writing wasn’t good enough and sent me an e-mail telling me, ‘Sorry, we won’t be including your story in the anthology’? Thankfully, this was not the case. Jodi loved the idea behind my vampire. Now it was time for the edits.
Pushing My Story to New Limits
Working so closely with an editor (especially one as awesome as Jodi) was such a great experience. I learned a lot and pushed my story into new realms. Every time Jodi sent me back edits and notes it sparked new ideas. It was a long back and forth process, but so worth it.
I Should Have Listened to my Beta Reader (sorry Rachel!) — P.S. SPOILER ALERT (you should really read my story first before you read this section)
One of my beta readers made this note:
I was just wondering whether it might be interesting if the girl at the end was actually his sister – maybe she looks up at him and mentions his name as she dies or something – then he really would feel sentenced to this life.
I didn’t think this would work for my story, I think I had some lame reasoning about the hair colour being too obvious and the fact he’d watched the girl for three days would mean he would have known it was his sister.
Then on Jodi’s first lot of edits, she wrote this note:
What I’d like to see is for you to take this idea and really push the boundaries of it. Rather than him imprint on the Little Mermaid – what if he imprinted on his sister, she doesn’t run away, gripped by fear she stands and watches it all happen? Which would mean he is cursed to walk the earth feeding from girls who look like his sister.
I took the idea and ran with it. The Little Mermaid was scrapped. The focus on 1989 now came from the cultural references, rather than a specific reference. Having the sister as the focus added a new layer of depth to the story.
Once all the stories were finalised, all the authors got sent a pdf copy of the book to proofread, which meant a first peek at the other stories. (It was great seeing everyone’s takes on their songs and the year 1989.)
Then we got our first look at the cover. The girl on the front cover has been affectionately named Amiga after a character from one of the stories in the anthology.
Then the nailbiting wait for my contributor’s copy to arrive in the mail. I was on a rollercoaster ride that whole week. I knew it was due to arrive, so every time I got a parcel pick up notice I got really excited. But every time I made a trip to the post office I was disappointed to find it wasn’t ‘Eighty Nine’. Then one day my husband walked in with a parcel for me and as soon as saw the envelope I knew it was finally here! Of course I flipped straight to my story and basked in squeefullness (yes, I just made that word up)of my name in print.
And that leads us to the launch! Thanks to everyone who has joined in the Facebook event so far (it’s still going, so drop and join in the fun if you haven’t yet).
You can still read stories for FREE. The last one has just gone up and the others will gradually be taken down one by one over the next 24 hours.
You can also still take part in the Amazon chart rush (and take advantage of free shipping to Australia and New Zealand if you order from Amazon UK before 31st October). Or if you buy a copy directly from the Literary Mix Tapes site you get a complimentary ebook to go with it!
To finish, a picture of me getting into the spirit of the launch last night with my copy of Eighty Nine.