Hunting Blackbirds

Hunting Blackbirds
This April, I set myself a goal: I am going to finish the first draft of my Hunting Blackbirds Story.

I started working on this story around the time of the protests going on in Baltimore this past summer. I started writing in a hotel in Montreal. Alyssa was there for an event that lasted the weekend, and I had to drive her there and back. The decision was that I would treat myself to a weekend in a hotel and try to write a novel in 48 hours. I didn’t quite make it, but I got a head start on a story that I’ve been pretty excited about.

I’ve been sharing the rough first draft of the story as I write it with our patrons. If you are interested, consider joining the ranks.

The World:

After global warming and an endless series of pointless wars, earth experiences a population crises. Racial differences start to get erased as the survivors work to repopulate the earth. Soon there is no group of people that would be called white.  Just because racial differences are muddled, however, doesn’t mean that racism has been eradicated.

The Prophet Adam borrows from Christian mythology, interspersed with influences from Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and others, to create a new mythology. One which puts the blame for all of humanities flaws on the diluting of pure human blood of the first man. When the soul enters an impure vessel, it becomes twisted resulting in the aberrations of disability, homosexuality, gender non-conformity, and criminality.

All people are divided into three separate classes: the Children of Adam, the Children of Eve, and the Children of Lilith. The Children of Adam are the most pure scions of the first man. Only they can handle the burden of a soul. The Children of Eve, called the tainted, are those who are too dilute to be fully human, but not as tainted as the Children of Lilith.

The soul enters the body at the time of naming. For this reason, only the Children of Adam could carry human names. The tainted children can only be referred to by object names, such as the names that Adam gave the animals.

In order to make it clear to the eye to which caste one belongs, the Children of Eve are marked with a stained lotus: a white lotus tattoo with a single drop of red, like the blood of non-man tainting the purity of humans. The Children of Lilith have to cover their bodies with tattoos, in imitation of the colourful animal kingdom to which they belong. For this reason one of the slurs against them is Squids.

Your class is determined by your birth, and your only chance to move up is the Naming Ceremony that happens in a child’s 16th year. At that time, outstanding members of the nameless castes can earn a name by demonstrating that they are purer of blood that initially expected or than their parents before them.

The Story:

Thrush is a rare child of a Child of Adam and a Child of Lilith. On her birth she is deemed a Child of Eve and the mark of the Stained Lotus is tattooed on her forehead. When her father is killed when she is 6 years old, she and her mother move in with her mother’s parents in the Domes of Eden. There she enters the world of Adamite children and the occasional Eve born to the Adamites. There she meets Lynx, the granddaughter of President Ezekiel and the black sheep of the Adamson family, direct scions of the Prophet Adam and of the First Man.

Much to her family’s embarrassment Lynx is marked as a Child of Eve when it is discovered that she has crohn’s disease.

The two girls become best friends and nearly inseparable until one day Lynx is kidnapped. Thrush figures out that her friend is most likely being held on the Island that is home to the Blood Hunt, Eden’s most popular televised event. A vicious game where Children of Lilith and Eve can volunteer to try to stay alive in the wild surrounded by other players and criminals who are trying to kill them. For every day they survive they earn money that can be applied to a dream of their choice, and for every other player they kill they earn a bonus. If you are the last player standing you win the grand prize. The game never ends, as long as there are new volunteers to join.

Can she stay alive long enough to find her friend? And if she joins the hunt, will she lose her only chance at being named?


Hunting Blackbirds

Resolutions and My Mother's Bike

For 2016, I am hoping to spend more of my time writing. I am particularly interested in working on and even finishing some various fiction projects.  I want to write more stories, both short and long, produce more blogposts, and generally get in the habit of writing a lot every day. Writing is like a muscle, it needs exercise.

Among these projects are:

1. Hunting Blackbirds: the first book in a series set in a world where people are divided into three categories and which one you belong to determines how human you are. It explores issues of racism, ableism, sexism and oppression. Total written: 46, 382

  1. The Tsarina and the Wizard: a retelling of a Slavic/Ukrainian myth about a beautiful Tsarina imprisoned by a heartless wizard. Explores queer themes, and gender bends rolls. Total Written: 687
  2. Cassandra Prophetess of Troy: a retelling of the story of Cassandra that plays with the idea of what prophecy is and what it means not to be believed.
  3. Beauty and the Beast: What if beauty was the beast? And what if there is more to the story than we really know.
  4. Book 2 of Hunting Blackbirds: Where I explore what happens after the hunt.

One of the best gifts I received this Christmas is from my sister. It is a writing prompt book make up of 642 things to write about. I plan on working my way through the book this year, working on at least one prompt a day. Some of them probably won’t generate much, some might produce stories, but some might end up as blog posts. To that effect I start with my first one, written before midnight, because why put off something good.

Write about something that was stolen:

I went to a high school that was about one and a half km from home. Deemed close enough to walk, and it was. I would walk to school every morning and walk back in the evening. Sometimes, if it was raining, or particularly bad weather, or I was running late, my parents would give me a ride to school. I didn’t particularly like walking, especially as my book bag got heavier and heavier. My joints would ache all the time, and whenever I brought it up the answer was always the same. I was out of shape I needed to lose weight. Except even when I was going to the gym regularly, I still found I had the same problem. Back problems ran in my family, so I didn’t understand why it was so impossible that there was something really wrong with mine.

Finally I came up with a solution that would work for me. My mother had an old Raleigh bike that she had had for I think something like a decade. It had come with us from Saskatoon. They had gotten me a great bike for my birthday, but were worried about it getting stolen, so they told me to take the old bike. I loved that thing. It spelled freedom for me in so many ways. Because I could rest my backpack on the seat, my back didn’t hurt as much. Moreover, because I could ride much faster than I could walk, it gave me more time to myself. I could take the long way home and have a few moments when I didn’t have to face anyone else.

I didn’t have to meet expectations, I didn’t have to perform, I could just be me alone, riding my bike. I don’t know how many stories and fantasies I played out in my mind during those rides. The benefit of the bike was so great, that even when I walked with friends, I would still bring the bike with me.

While at school, I would lock up the bike next to the cafeteria door. The lock I had wasn’t great. Sometimes it would come undone for no reason, even when I was sure I had locked it. But still, I was lucky. Even when it unlocked, it was ok. I would lock the bike next to the cafeteria, except of rare occasions when something kept me from it. A cluster of wasps that made it impossible for me to lock it there, or perhaps too many other students were there with their bikes. When that happened, the only chain-link that would work for a lock was closer to the street.

It was on one of these occasions that my freedom was stolen from me. The lock had come undone and someone took advantage of the opportunity. My beautiful red and white bike, my mother’s Raleigh, was stolen. And I was devastated.

Now years later, I don’t have a bike. I can’t ride the same way I used to. The damage to my hip is extensive enough that I would need a custom bike to make sure I didn’t injure myself. Now more than ever though, I miss that mobility. I find it harder to move more and more. The aches in my joints, not as bad as when I had my real problem, are still becoming more pronounced. I should say something to my doctors, but I’m afraid, because this time I know I’m fat. But what can I do? I go swimming twice a week as much as I can. I even have a swim buddy to stay accountable. My energy levels are so depleted between the depression, the constant anxiety over money, the increase in pain over the last several months.

I’ve started using the motorized carts at the stores. I feel guilty every time I do. I feel like I am failing somehow, like it is the ultimate proof that I’m a lazy fat-ass. But I do it, because the alternative is that I come home so depleted, that my whole day is eaten up by one errand. I can’t afford that.

I wish sometimes that I could have one of those scooters at home. Then I could spend more time, exploring my neighbourhood. Maybe it would be easier to take the dogs outside more regularly. Explore the city a bit more. I can’t afford it though, and I’m scared to ask my doctor about it, because I don’t want to hear again about how all my problems are just caused by my weight. And so, sometimes I dream of my mother’s bike.


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Resolutions and My Mother's Bike