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The story behind the story: Twenty-six seconds on Tetonia-3

This week, Futures is delighted to welcome back Wendy Nikel with her story Twenty-six seconds on Tetonia-3. Regular readers will remember Wendy’s previous stories Cerise sky memoriesLava cake for the ApocalypseThe Memory Ward and Let me sleep when I die. You can find out more about Wendy’s work — and her latest novella The Grandmother Paradox — at her website and by following her on Twitter. Here, she reveals the inspiration for her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Twenty-six seconds on Tetonia-3

This story began — as many of mine do — with a writing prompt or, in this case, a mixture of two writing prompts. Sometimes, trying to fit multiple ideas or concepts together helps me to see things in ways that I wouldn’t normally and come up with unusual combinations.

The first prompt was the painting Funeral in Chernobyl Zone by Viktor Shmatŭ. In this image, a truck hauls a casket along a path through a run-down village, with mourners following behind. A sign with an orange triangle warning of contamination hangs on the building in the foreground.

The second prompt was a song by one of my favourite bands, Sparklehorse, entitled, ‘My Yoke is Heavy’. The band uses a lot of surrealist imagery in its lyrics, which inspired things like the animals that inhabit this post-disaster world.

Once I had the world built, all I had to do was ask myself how it came to be that way and what the characters were going to do about it, and the rest of the story fell into place.


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