I am so excited!!! This little book (well, 264 pages) has been about 9 months in the making, and it’s finally done. Good grief.
Basically, many of my friends at my undergrad university did Creative Writing with me, and for our final project we had to write a 6k word short story and 2k critical commentary - which, by the way, as someone who has done a Master’s since and written a 20k thesis, was just as hard as writing a standard dissertation. As a surprise to everyone, I sneakily got copies of everyone’s short stories by pretending I just wanted to read them and compare them to mine, and I made them all into an anthology, which I gave to everyone at graduation. It was a really fun project to work on, even though it took ages to proof read the entire thing and design the cover and cry over Word formatting. We called ourselves the Come Along Collective because ‘come along’ was kind of a catchphrase of ours and ‘collective’ sounded professional and artistic. Sue us, we had degrees in this shit.
In June last year, about 3 years after we graduated, we met up (a pretty big deal, seeing as one of us now lives in the US!) and decided to do another anthology. Without the immediate option of including our conveniently timed university dissertation equivalents, we agreed that it would be really fun if we all wrote a short story of between 4-15k words - this is actually why I wrote Here, the World Entire, which appears in this anthology in a slightly shorter form! Since I made that first anthology back in 2013 our friendship group has changed a little, and so one contributor to the first anthology isn’t in this one and we have a new contributor, but that’s OK; it kind of charts the progression of everyone’s experiences since university.
So, over the past 9 months or so, we all wrote a story each, and everyone put their all into their stories, despite being 23-25 now and not having the luxury of time that we used to have, and honestly, the stories are amazing. There’s not a single one in there that I wouldn’t read in a literary magazine. One person didn’t do Creative Writing and was really worried about their story not matching up to the others, but it absolutely does. I did a little cry when I read it because it was so good and the writer didn’t think it was (I think they are now aware that they are actually super talented and should definitely write more). That was one of the reasons I’m so happy to have this physical copy as proof that it’s done, and people who thought they couldn’t do it did do it, and they did it fabulously, because every single person wrote something phenomenal.
There was one person in the group who wasn’t able to write anything because they had a lot going on in their life, and so the rest of us prepared a SUPER SECRET SURPRISE, complete with a secret Facebook group chat (which was literally titled THE ONE THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO KEEP SECRET) in which we collaborated and wrote a story for her instead so that she would still have a story in the anthology. One person wrote a section, then handed it to the next person, and so on. It turned out to be an absolutely hilarious story involving Emily Blunt as an evil sorceress, Jez and Mark from Peep Show as couriers, and our old landlord as an arch villain. It’s pretty rad, not going to lie. That person still gets their name on the cover because the story wouldn’t have been written without them; we basically tried our best to put that person’s personality into a narrative, and that’s why it’s so weird. They are weird, is what I’m saying.
This whole thing was a massive labour of love for all of us. I was literally proof reading it on lunch breaks, and taking graphic design assignments at work so that I could practice for when I made the cover (which I think looks snazzy, if endearingly off-kilter). Everyone was hugely supportive of one another, giving each other prompts and feedback whenever anyone got stuck, and it was such a fantastic experience to make it from start to finish. I’m so, so proud of the end product, and I’m excited to see what our next one will look like!
I have also prepared a super secret special surprise of my own for everyone within this anthology, which I won’t disclose here just in case any of them happen upon this post. It’s rad, though. I’m excited for everyone to see it.
This isn’t available for commercial purchase or anything like that, but it’s a personal project that’s been taking up a lot of my time lately (in a good way!) and it’ll be kind of sad not to have this to work towards. Still, onto the next thing!
<b><p></b> <b>me:</b> Harry potter is, like, the gateway fandom. You start reading the books, and suddenly you want to climb ferris wheels instead of ride them, a ball point pen is your weapon, you have a sonic screwdriver and carry salt everywhere, you're awkwardly in love with Sherlock Holmes and you don't really know how any of it happened, but you're pretty sure it started because Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dursley of 4 privet drive were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.<p/><b>friend:</b> * takes earphones out* are you done talking about them yet?<p/><b>me:</b> *opens mouth*<p/><b>friend:</b> *bangs head on table*<p/><b>me:</b> so... as I was saying, hot vampire wizard roommates...<p/></p><p/></p>
And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well.
OKAY LOOK I FINALLY DREW THE PRETTY TWINS THAT WERE BUGGING ME.
Their names are D’or (“of gold”), and Sha’ril (“shark lord”). Sha’ril is two minutes older than his sister, but of course assumes the “if you fuck with my sister I’ll fuck with you” mentality that ‘older’ brothers tend to have. D’or is a priestess, and Sha’ril is a shapeshifter!?! Dinomancer??? HE TURNS INTO SHARKS. Well half-sharks. He goes shark-face on people. This is also their casual wear, I’ll whip up armor for them later!
He also flirts with everything that catches his fancy basically everything that breaths and D’or is frequently dragging him off by his ear (also I literally mean just flirts. He doesn’t go past that unless you REALLY catch his eye - he’s more likely to bite someone’s head off than he is to kiss them). His nails are not naturally red but he started painting them red and now no one can get him to stop. Except D’or. She asks nicely. ((Extra + story spits under cut))
“This one’s for you,” came Jyn’s muffled voice. “I’m done with it.”
He looked around from the desk to his bed, where Jyn lay on her front with her face buried in the pillow dejectedly. One arm stuck out straight toward him, waving a data pad. He raised an eyebrow and leant over to take it from her. “What’s up?”
“Three across,” was the fuzzy response. “It doesn’t make sense.” Jyn flung herself round onto her back with a sigh and folded her arms. “I’ve done all the ones that look like anagrams. I think that one’s one of the fudgy ones you’re good at.” She rolled her head to stare at him. “Also, it’s about prison.”
Cassian nodded at her in mock sobriety and looked down. “‘Imply –’ this one?” She nodded, and he went on. “‘Imply convict gets half time inside’. Eight letters.” He frowned and chewed the stylus.
Jyn flipped onto her side, propping herself up on an elbow. “I thought it could be “intimate” and it fits but it doesn’t make sense.”
“Do you understand me, wife? There need never be any rules between us. Let us be greedy together; let us hoard. Let us hit each other with birch branches and lock each other in dungeons; let us drink each other’s blood in the night and betray each other in the sun. Let us lie and lust and take hundreds of lovers; let us dance until snow melts beneath us… Forget the girls in the factory. Be selfish and cruel and think nothing of them. I am selfish. I am cruel. My mate cannot be less than I. I will have you in my hoard, Marya Morevna, my black mirror.”