THR Extras

Web shorts connected with The Healers’ Road:

“The Medic and the Toymaker” – After the incident at Quickwater Crossing, Keifon stumbles across one of the other market stalls, muses on parenthood, and against his better judgement, finds a new friend.

And now a few mostly-silly things about the writing of this story. There were more, but here are a few. Spoilers follow.

To Ship or Not to Ship: The first scene that was ever written, sometime circa 2009, was an awkward, self-flagellating love letter that Agna left for Keifon before skipping out of camp to help with a spring festival in Prisa. WTF? Yes. Exactly. Start at the end, sure. That can’t go wrong. More generally, that inauspicious beginning kicked off years of waffling about which direction the story should take: To Ship or Not to Ship. The pros and cons raged in my head all along, and the To Ship direction won out for a while because of something like despair: Why will anyone care about this thing otherwise? But after all three first-round beta readers gave a giant meh to the romance plotline, I took the chance of making the story about friendship instead. I’m glad I did.

White Mage vs. Bard: I love playlists.  And when you write, you don’t want to be distracted, so if you’re me, you concoct monstrously long playlists that revolve around the tone that the story wants to set. My working playlist for THR was a few hours long, with a second backup playlist of non-distracting background music. Music taste is as subjective as anything, if not more, and my choices are all anachronistic. But having a background hum of snuggly angstiness helped to keep me in the zone.

For Agna at the beginning of the story: “Miniature Disasters” by KT Tunstall
– For Keifon at the beginning of the story: “Nobody Loves You Like Me” by by Jonathan Coulton; alternatively, especially for his Kazi-obsessive practice session early in the story, this cover of “Rolling in the Deep” on a Chinese zither

Story Within a Story: The title and theme of The Wanderer is an homage to one of my favorite anime series, Kino’s Journey, with a touch of one of my favorite books as a child, The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt. In Kino’s Journey, the young narrator goes into exile and travels from town to allegorical town, staying only three days each time and learning about the human condition. It’s one of those “upliftingly depressing” titles that I  just love. (Side note, if you like anime and at least tolerated THR, please try Spice and Wolf. I can’t squee enough. It is not what it seems at first.)

More Poison? I Mean, Tea? The story topped out at 84 mentions of tea and 48 mentions of bathing before a stringent campaign began to vary up the stage business just a tad. That’s why rewriting is amazing.

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