My romantic fantasy short story, “Kindle My Heart,” was published earlier this week in the online magazine Fantasy Scroll Mag. This is one of my favorite stories, and what follows is the tale of how it came to be.
I am involved in several online writers’ groups, and a few of them have occasional contests and challenges. One of the challenges that has been run at Hatrack River Writers Workshop, is the Writers of the Future trigger challenge. In it, there is a prompt provided, which is the title of one of the stories in the most recent Writers of the Future volume. In the case of this particular challenge, that title was “The Command for Love,” written by Nick Tchan.
I found out about this challenge three days before the deadline. Now, one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that nothing makes me a happier writer than a deadline, and the tighter it is, the better. I dove in headfirst, and wrote the story with hardly any time to think, listen to my internal critic’s usual litany of “this isn’t good enough,” or really do much editing at all.
Rather than follow the challenge prompt exactly, I instead approached it as “The Command Not to Love.” What happens when two people love each other, but for very important reasons are told that they must not?
Having two characters who already had an established relationship that was forced to change provided a great conflict to work with, and I loved working my way through how it could possibly be resolved.
Kindle My Heart is the story that earned my own Writers of the Future finalist. I would have loved to have been a winner–what a great story that would have been, a winner inspired by another winner–but it turned out that was not in the cards. Still, I had great love for, and confidence in, the story, and am thrilled that it has found a home and is now available for the world to read.
(As a side note, another one of my stories came from this particular Hatrack challenge. “Life Out of Harmony,” published in Perihelion Science Fiction, was written to the prompt “Twelve Seconds,” the Golden Pen prize-winning story by Tina Gower.)