Between November 2015 and February 2016, I went through a tough patch at my work. I first realized how serious the situation was when I stopped enjoying some of my hobbies, including writing. I found myself incapable of concentrating. I would sit down in front of my computer and try to write. But nothing would come. I decided to concentrate on completing my website and self-publishing my first story.
In February, things started to get better and my friend Gaetan suggested I write something, anything. His proposal was to write a very basic scene, unrelated to anything, to get things flowing again. It is a well known fact between Gaetan and I that I can't write anything that does not take place in one setting or another. So, I doubt he believed I would do as he asked. Yet, I tried. The initial idea was to have a young woman looking for a mentor to learn magic. There was no setting then, just an idea. As I looked into it a bit more, this idea went away and was replaced by another, which resulted in the story you see here.
The Matriarch's Remedy is a novelette and it introduces a world known as Sirion, in which there will be many more stories. This story stands on its own well, but will most likely be followed by a few other stories. I hope you enjoy it.
Given the recent challenges at my day job, I struggled to start writing this story. To my surprise, though, I had a completed draft on my hand after the second try! It was around 8,000 words. It was a surprise, because in the case of other stories, I wrote many incomplete draft before having a story with a beginning and an end. Another two revisions and the story was with my alpha reader. Three more, and I was done polishing after editing. The whole process still took over a year. The first draft started on January 2016, and the story was published in March 2017. The length of the process is mainly due to the fact that I worked on many other projects in the meantime.
For this story, I listened mostly to an old computer video game soundtrack while writing: Betrayal in Krondor. The music has a very unique atmosphere that pulls you right in. During the final polishing, I also listened to the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XII, which has one of the best soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series (and which is one of the games I enjoyed the most). I usually try to stay with the same music while writing a story, but tend to change from story to story.
For now, I continue to create the covers of the short stories I make available on my website. It took me a while to put together the cover for this story. It was a task I found a bit daunting, to be honest. I kept pushing it back. I put together a few templates, trying different layouts, fonts, backgrounds, but nothing really worked. I put it aside for a few weeks, then came back and tried a few more changes and combinations. It was a bit better, but not quite there. It took a few iterations before I started approaching something that I thought could work. In the end, I'm fairly satisfied with the cover, especially with the drawing of the mandragora, which possibly dates back to 1583. This was a pleasant surprise. I was searching for an image I could use of a mandragora and found the pencil drawing you see on the cover. It is only after the cover was completed that I tried to get more information about the origin of the drawing. Wikipedia uses it on their entries for Mandrake and Mandragora officinarum. There is very limited information on the drawing, but the date 1583 is listed.
More stories will definitely follow. I have been putting together ideas for a novel in the world of Sirion for years. That novel is currently on hold but who is to say I won't write shorter stories in the meantime.