(This article first appeared on Paperlanternwriters.com)
I am a novel writer. I like taking thousands of words to develop a scene or foreshadow the plot. My books are thirty or so chapters.That’s why when Paper Lantern Writers came up with the idea for Unlocked, I initially hesitated.
The idea was great, and I wholly supported it. The book includes an old chest that appears in all eight stories, across continents and eras. The story concept, and how we incorporated the chest, was up to us. We enthusiastically discussed how we might incorporate characters or plots from our books in our story, or make it added bonus material. In the end, though, I had to write a short story.
Recently, I wrote a short piece for Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis, an anthology released earlier this year. All of its proceeds go to support World Central Kitchen. This was an essay, though, and not a short story. As a short form, essays are much easier to organize than a story.
Although I’m not an experienced short story writer, I’m not a complete novice either. Early in my writing career, I participated in a short story anthology called A Visitor to Sandahl. A group of writers who met on The Next Big Writer, a workshopping site. One of the authors sent out very detailed information about Methanasia, the world he created for his own fantasy novels. Each of us wrote a short story based in his world. I was writing historical fantasy myself at the time, but writing in someone else’s world was much harder than creating my own world! I was thrilled to have my story chosen to be in the book. A few years later, I wrote another story set in Methanasia for the follow up anthology, Return to Sandahl.
After my initial misgivings, though, I began to consider ideas for my story. I liked the idea of tying it to one of my novels. Under the Almond Trees has three of my strong female ancestors in it. A story about one of the minor characters in that novel might be interesting. Readers have asked for a follow up to my novel The Aloha Spirit. Maybe the old chest could be something a whaling sea captain left in Honolulu? My current work in progress, Innocents At Home, features a character that appears briefly in my upcoming novel The River Remembers. I decided to write a story that bridged those two novels.
“True Legacy” is set in 1921, when Nina, the character born in The River Remembers, who stars in Innocents At Home, dies. She leaves this mysterious chest to her niece, one of the main characters in Under the Almond Trees. That’s a pretty good job of tying novels together, don’t you think?
Preorder Unlocked today so you can read “True Legacy” for yourself.
Linda Ulleseit is the award-winning author of The Aloha Spirit and Under the Almond Trees. Her next historical novel, The River Remembers, will be published in 2023. To interact with her and other historical fiction authors and readers, join PLW’s Facebook group SHINE.
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