Ground of Insurrection begins with a disemboweled body left in the middle of the village square and the main character, Ruse, has to get his wheelbarrow and cart the body away. There's blood and intestines and Ruse with his trusty shovel to pick it all up. I admit that I was a bit leery with starting the story on such a macabre note, but as I wrote and planned I realized that it was the only way for such a story to begin.
I first conceived of the idea of a village whose residents were criminals when I read LT3's Villains Inc. anthology call from a few years ago. As I began delving deeper into writing, I quickly realized the story didn't fit the call. There was too much focus on how the villains had gotten to the village and why and not enough on the evilness of the villains themselves. I knew I wouldn't be able to change and write a revised plot within the deadline, so I put the story aside to work on other things. Then LT3 added a new collection call called Devil's Land. I quickly realized that my village of criminals could fit with this call even better than with the Villains Inc. one! I pulled out the old story and started writing again.
A village full of criminals would, by necessity, have different laws than a regular city. I felt that nothing would offset that dichotomy better than the dead body that Ruse has to deal with on the very first page. Murder isn't just legal, it's expected. As is thievery and spying. The fact that all the criminals also have magic to augment their criminal activities adds yet another dimension to the village. Of course, now that villains were no longer the center of the story, I had to add in a new twist: the location. The village couldn't be a modified penitentiary or a work camp in Siberia. Rather, it is located in the inhospitable prairie borderlands disputed between two countries: Ammet and Oshe. The prairie is a living thing of sorts that doesn't appreciate interlopers, including the armies both countries have sent to attempt to claim the entirety of the prairies for their own. The prairie ate those armies. Instead, Ammet decides to send their country's criminals to colonize the prairie. No one in Ammet cared whether the prairie killed those criminals and the prairie itself was willing to allow a few to build a home there. Thus, the village was born.
As I wrote I quickly realized there was a problem: I had reached the upper limit for the word count for the collection call and I still had to write the second half. I sent it off to a beta reader and they agreed. There needed to be more to the story to make it feel complete. I ended up deciding not to submit Insurrection for any anthology or collection call. A few years went by and I slowly kept plugging away at this story. As I kept working, I found that suddenly having the freedom to write outside of the specific parameters of a call really helped the story grow. Ruse as a character became more three dimensional and the story itself became less about the blood and gore and less about the prairie, and instead became more about the relationship between my main characters and how they learned to survive in such a difficult environment.
There's a lot more to the story than that, of course, but if you want to find out why Ruse is still carting around dead bodies you'll have to read Ground of Insurrection to learn more. It comes out in just a few days, June 13, 2018, so preorder your copy now.
March 1, 2021
Mell Eight is an author writing with NSP. For more information about Mell and her writing, please visit her website: http://melleightfiction.