Dracones : Blog Hop
Guest Post : Writing Dragons While on Vacation – D.K. Jerniganon
Dragons. Timeless. Heat… As I considered the call for gay dragon stories to be in Storm Moon Press’ Dracones anthology, these were the kinds of words that came to my mind, along with a realization: Just a few days before the story was due, my husband and I were planning a road trip to Las Vegas, where the heat is famed, and where so many people come and go every day, it would be easy—wouldn’t it?—for one timeless creature to lose himself there.
Of course, a man (or creature) in hiding doesn’t make for a very good story, so I had to think of a way to get my dragon back into the world. Boredom. Scorn for modern dragon stories. A conviction that he, mighty as he is, could do better. Typical immortal arrogance, right? My dragon would write the true story of dragons, cleverly hidden in fiction. And his editor would be besotted. Thus sparked the premise for my short story, “Teller of Tales”.
I didn’t want to start this story too early, since I wanted to include as much authentic Las Vegas detail and feeling as I could, so I was forced to wait until pretty much the last minute. I would have just a couple of days to write a story that I estimated would come in at around 10,000 words… while enjoying a vacation with my husband. Do-able? Absolutely!
I started the story on the drive from California to Vegas, writing for a couple of hours in the car until my laptop’s battery threatened suicide. It was a good start, and was mostly taking place within the home of the dragon and the office of the publisher, so atmosphere was less vital, though I did leave a few blanks with “Fill in more later!” marked.
Writing on vacation proved surprisingly easy. I would wake up as normal, and my husband and I would eat breakfast. Then he would stretch or read or just relax while I attacked my laptop. I wasn’t just in a hurry to get outside and enjoy the city—the sheer fact of travel and all of the new stimuli made it easy to draw from fresh inspiration, and the words flowed.
Most of our big plans consisted of shows in the evening, and neither of us had much interest in gambling, so my patient and wonderful husband was happy to drive me around during the day, checking out sites where my dragon might live and move, and what of the Strip was visible from those areas. What were the neighborhoods like? What was the chic place to live? What was traffic like? Not every detail made it into my story, but the more the writer knows about a place, the more of an authentic feel they can provide, and I hope I’ve done that.
One of our final stops was Red Rock Canyon, about twenty miles outside of Vegas. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful park where people come from all over the world to hike, climb, and admire. And it had large areas of “recovery land”, where people were forbidden to go, lest their shoes track seeds that were invasive to the gorgeous and delicate desert landscape. These no-go zones provided a great way to let my dragon, Peter, hide and recover in the desert heat without great risk of being seen.
I wrote the last part of the story on the way home from our desert vacation, mere hours before the deadline. We stopped at a convenient Starbucks somewhere along the road to give me a chance to proofread with a little coffee in my system, and then it was off, just before the deadline. The whole thing, start to finish, was written in four days during stolen snatches of my vacation, and researched with a combination of living it and online searches, and though it was stitched together pretty quickly, I think it turned out to be a pretty fun tale, and the story of how it was written may be one of my favorites so far. It sure beats out my standard method: the epic story of sitting at the kitchen table with a laptop and a cup of coffee!
Can you tell when an author goes the extra mile (as it were) to research a location? Does setting matter to you in an erotic story? Do you like hearing the history of a story, or do you want your fiction to stand alone?
D.K. Jernigan is the mild-mannered alter-ego of writer Kathleen Tudor, focusing exclusively on gay fiction. Her latest short story, “Teller of Tales”, is included in Storm Moon Press’ Dracones anthology.
D.K./Kathleen can be found on Twitter @PolyKathleen.