I started writing Guts and Sass the week I turned sixteen, while house- and dog-sitting for family friends. In the seven years since, it has survived a cataclysmic shift in my worldview, a couple of rewrites and more hours and calories of my brain-time than I can truly comprehend.
Without much conscious input from me, Guts and Sass grew an intention to be an anti-epic. It has many of the conventions of epic fantasy, but I feel that it isn’t. I’ve tried to let Guts and Sass be as true to life as it can be, considering it’s more fantastical elements and that I have never directly experienced many of the events in the story. Within you will find war, political intrigue, invasion, magic, pirates, swords, and potions. You won’t find any heroes, glorified romance, saving the day, or clean-cut answers. You’ll also find human dysfunction, illiteracy, non-civilized cultures, gender-crossing, gender-transitioning, sex that isn’t love and love that isn’t sex, homosexuality not defined by modern gay identity, and other subjects that may or may not blow your worldview. (I say this especially to my parents, who, God help me, I have told about this website).
One thing about Guts and Sass is that it is paced by life. You won’t see every moment in these people’s lives, but the moments you do see will happen at a reasonable rate. That’s a wee bit slow for many people, but I prefer it. It’s kind of like getting to know someone and savoring the sexual tension and foreplay instead of going straight to the orgasm (which has it’s own charms, at times).
Guts and Sass is about one of thirty long-term stories in my head. Once it’s done, there will be another, and another. I don’t think the bowl will ever be empty.
About The Storyteller
I am many things and many facets, but the most pertinent one in this context is storymonger. I love stories. I don’t care about medium, I want the story. Movies, books, music, plays, comics, paintings, sculptures, day to day sharing, if it tells me a story that resonates, that is my high, my drug.
I do have a predilection for science-fiction and fantasy, because I believe that these genres can give us an incredible mirror in which to examine ourselves, to see things we might not be able to see in our own context. To listen to my thoughts on the social value of science-fiction and fantasy, check out an interview with Ethan Gilsdorf on Wisconsin Public Radio. (If you want, you can skip to my comment at 41:27 and listen to me sound approximately twelve years old).
I don’t think of myself as a writer. I write. There are many better writers than me, ones with more elegant vocabulary, more graceful syntax. I write because the stories had to come out somehow, and writing was accessible and encouraged when I was a kid. Writing is to me a medium, not an end. I am a learning, growing storyteller. For a while, I thought I was going to finish Guts and Sass and have it all prettified and perfect before I started posting it. I may regret it later, but at least in this moment, I feel like I just have to go for it. I’m young, but life is still too short for perfection.
Other than that, I am stumbling along in renewing my relationship with the land, stuttering as I slowly relearn a language older than words. I have a tendency to tip over into escapism rather than enrichment in my reading, and I am on a journey of learning how to be present in my own life. I have a growing passion for foraging my own food, and I sing just to sing.
I’m of the school that believes that nothing is truly original. It’s all been done before. In that spirit, I think I’ll steal from Philip Pullman, who said two things that hold very true for me.
“I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read. My principal in researching for a novel is ‘Read like a butterfly, write like a bee,’ and if this story contains any honey, it is entirely because of the quality of the nectar I have found in the work of better writers.”
“[I draw my influences from] everything I see, every book and newspaper I read, everyone I know, everything I’ve ever thought about, every dream I’ve ever had, every momentary glimpse of a face through a window – everything.”