My contribution, Two Days Until Midnight, to the anthology At Midnight puts the main characters in a life and death situation with an impending deadline. I love to write intrigue, suffering, and love’s triumph. But I’ve wondered lately if that kind of writing is true to myself or indicative of a generalized mood.
Two Days Until Midnight focuses on a reclusive billionaire hero and a bird-shifter whose mission is to protect her flock’s habitat from a project headed by the billionaire. As in almost every story I’ve written, the protagonists face dire situations, their own kind of hell.
Here’s an excerpt:
Tamier’s shoulders sagged. It would have been better if the spell caster had killed him too that day in the ruins. The hole in his chest where his love of life should have been had never closed. It dragged him down every day. It stole his life. On his twenty-eighth birthday, two years ago, the cheetah inside him took away everything he’d worked for and wanted.
He stood and turned to the window, staring into the woods and groves of trees surrounding his house. About a mile away, the forest and hills surrounding his home turned into prairie, with tall prairie grasses. When the cheetah inside him took him over, he was drawn to the prairie to run, wild and fast.
His home was equipped with many amenities that made living here inside the three stories of stone and glass less troubling. But it didn’t relieve the loneliness.
A memory of the spell caster’s grinning face taunted him. Tamier slammed his fist into the stone wall of his office. “I hate you!”
The familiar warning aura scratched like sandpaper under his skin. Stripping off his clothes, he ran down the three flights of stairs to the main level in his house and tore open the back door, racing the cheetah. Panting, he fought the transformation with every iota of his will. Pain shot through his bones, every one of them, twisting them into the shape of the beast. His body throbbed with each cell’s change. Helpless to stop it, Tamier watched paws replace his hands and feet, spotted fur replace his skin, and a thirst for speed bunch his muscles.
He burst into a full charge, dust churning up behind him as he sprinted through the tall prairie grasses. His ears picked up tiny sounds of rabbits fleeing, of wind streaming around his sleek body, and grass swooshing as he sliced through. None of it, not the speed and agility to run faster than the wind, or the strength and coordination of his muscles, exhilarated him. He wouldn’t, couldn’t take pleasure in any of it.
All he could do was attempt to outrun his curse until exhaustion returned him to his human form and he took refuge in the solitude of his home.
I love going into a character’s crises. It feels very real and rich there to me. But an article that caught my eye suggested a writer in a depressed mood would be inclined to write dark stories. Maybe it’s true. There are many stories of troubled genius writers. I’m not a genius and I’m not depressed. But it’s an interesting consideration to contemplate if I’m drawn to writing a certain type of story because of my interior life. I am an introvert. A deep, thoughtful story that showcases the emotional turmoil of characters is my kind of story, whether writing or reading. Now, I could cringe to think I could be revealing my psyche in my characters. I’d rather believe I’m tapping into the existential prevailing mood of humanity.
Writers tap into what’s relevant to their writing. Inspiration and fuel for stories comes from personal experience, but probably also personality and curiosity play a role as well. Is there a Write Mood? What kind of stories do you write and read? Does your mood, happy, optimism, sorrow, or fear, play a role?