On the first of January this year, a fellow writer posted to the Australian Speculative Fiction Group’s Facebook page about a sequel charity anthology. The original anthology released last year and raised funds to help Ukraine rebuild after what was anticipated to be a short war. The new anthology had an alternative history/speculative theme of “ten years after the war”. It was an intriguing idea and I was tempted to write something for it, but with a publication date of the 24th February (to coincide with the anniversary of the invasion), the pressure was on to write quickly. Further complicating matters was that you needed to pitch your story first. I’m not great at writing pitches (or synopses for that matter), and it felt weird trying to sell a story I had not yet written.
To my pleasant surprise, it seems I was not as hopeless as I thought as my pitch was accepted (along with a clear caveat that the story was not guaranteed to be accepted).
My pitch was as follows: A young man is set to receive a legacy from his great-grandfather. The old man will reveal what the legacy is (a first-hand account of how Pope Leo was able to get Attila the Hun to turn back and not invade Rome) and that he had intended to use the wisdom contained within to attempt a similar cessation of hostilities when Russia had invaded Ukraine a decade before. Unfortunately, while he was out trying to find someone in authority to arrange a meeting, he left the document in his granddaughter’s home, which was bombed by the Russians – destroying the document. As such he could only reconstruct the document from his fading memory. Fortunately, the young man is able to induce what the full document likely said.The story would explore themes of wisdom, knowledge transmission, hope and peace.
Feeling inspired, I wrote the story in three days before spending a week re-drafting it and then sending it to the editor. Throughout the writing the story changed from the pitch – the protagonist was now female, the war had ended due to the legacy and the conclusion was more ambiguous. For me, there were many unusual things about the writing of this story – the pitch, responding to a set writing prompt and writing in the alternative history genre. I enjoyed researching Ukraine and historical events while writing the story. To my delight my story was accepted. Incredibly, the anthology, Ten Years Later, was able to make its ambitious launch date this week. All funds raised from sales go to the Red Cross Ukraine to assist with their recovery efforts.
You can buy the anthology here:
Leave a Reply