Author’s Notes: Pinecones

Image by bigdan, licensed via depositphotos.

Pinecones appears in Fell Beasts and Fair: A Noblebright Fantasy Anthology, published by Spring Song Press.

I like the term “noblebright” that editor C.J. Brightley coined as a response to the “grimdark” trend that boiled across fantasy. I believe that we need stories about larger-than-life moral strength just as we need stories about larger-than-life physical strength, and that readers need signals to help them find the flavor of fantasy they like.

This year I’m consciously exploring Tolkien’s idea of eucatastrophe in my short stories: that an apparent defeat is the mechanism of victory. Some pinecones only open and release their seeds during forest fires. Horrific disaster is part of their process. They came to mind immediately as an item to use.

I had some half-formed ideas about dryads and a related magic system and had been reading mythology, so adding pinecones as a central element gave me the fire-starting satyr with his thyrsus staff as my antagonist.

All artwork becomes a record of where you were at the time, and I hope that the hard work I’ve been putting in since Pinecones will show as growth in my next publication. The prose feels a bit too cautious and stilted to me, and I think that’s a direct result of over-reliance on automated editing software, a topic that I plan to write more about.

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