Workshop Episode 41 (Guest Host: Lauren Beukes)

The Roundtable Podcast, Workshop Episode 41, with Lauren Beukes and Joshua CordascoLauren Beukes – author, journalist, comic scribe, and storyteller extraordinaire –  returns to the Big Chair at the Roundtable to infuse this week’s workshop with the insight, experience, and vision that is the hallmark of her many works in the world. She’s joined by Guest Writer Joshua Cordasco who brings a tale of a magical power play that sees 99% of the world dead and our heroes – including a disgraced devil –  left to figure it all out. Between Josh’s fabulous story and Lauren’s keen sense of story, this is classic Roundtable goodness fraught with Literary Gold! (and there’s even MORE writerly goodness in Lauren’s Showcase Episode! It just doesn’t stop around here!)

PROMO: Equal Education… working for quality and equal education for every person in South Africa


Workshop Episode 41 (Guest Host: Lauren Beukes)

[caution: mature language and themes – listener discretion is advised]

Check out this and all our episodes on iTunes and on Stitcher Radio!

Coming up for Lauren…

  • Issues 8 through 13 of “Fairest” (in Bill Willingham’s “Fables” universe)
  • Shining Girls” comes out in May/June of 2013




A Worthy Charity…

  • Equal Education… working for quality and equal education for every person in South Africa


… and from Joshua:

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Comments (2)

The panel this week gave very good advice on how to adapt this story into a conventional urban fantasy. However that’s not what I heard in the original story pitch.

It sounded to me like Joshua was going for a more surreal/satire type of story. I’m thinking of the work of Kurt Vonnegut, China Miéville, and Neil Gaiman. In those stories plausibility is blown away or ignored. Convenient coincidences: no big deal. Too many unrelated antagonists: fine. Want to have a spaceship in a fantasy story: go for it.

That being said, the reason those authors can get away with it is: they create compelling characters, and they write gorgeous prose. So while it can be done, the bar is set very high.

Either way Joshua you need to really delve deep into what makes Frenny, Janice, & Tabitha tick to make this work.

I personally have no problem with “Janice is a grad student married to Alex, and doesn’t suspect that he is a wizard until the people start disappearing.”

*Books I am specifically reminded of: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut; Kraken by China Miéville; American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

It sounded at first like the analog Earth was created by accident, but then you say Tabitha planned to go there. I’m kinda fuzzy on how killing a whole bunch of people would somehow spawn an entire planet (where would all that mass come from?) but I’ll leave that up to you. Maybe the planet has been there all along but scientists never knew it because we’ve never sent any probes to the far side of our own sun, but through magic Tabitha discovered it. Maybe instead of killing everyone she’s just teleporting everyone to the other planet so she can rule them. And of course, not only would she leave behind the other magic-users but she’d want to leave the “invisible” people as well, on purpose. Or maybe she’s hoping to cleanse the original Earth, but all the dead people show up on her pristine planet, ruining all her plans.

This of course would wreck havoc for the devils, since all the comfy people would be gone, but that was already touched on. I would be interested in seeing just how terrestrial devils and their boss are–can they move themselves through space to the new planet? If not, what are they going to do about Tabitha? I’m particularly interested in the big boss’s reaction.

At one point there was talk about the brujos killing people. Maybe non-magical people have a sort of dampening effect on magic, so that with few non-magical people around, magic gets stronger. Possibly that is why the devils work so hard to make normal people so comfortable and complacent–they’re just a way of keeping the magic-users in check. Perhaps Tabitha had figured out how to open a portal to the analog Earth, and since there were no people there originally, her magic was hugely powerful and she was able to start her cleansing.

I like the idea of Janice being a young, tricksy homeless person. I sort of envision her in this nice neighborhood, having convinced everyone that she’s house-sitting for someone, when in reality the owners were foreclosed on. The bank who foreclosed on the house has so many properties on its books that it isn’t paying close attention, and Janice has been able to talk her way around the few people who have noticed. I think this would impress Fren (and be a good opening scene, watching Janice convince the bank’s real estate agent that they hired her to watch the house). What are the squatter’s rights like in that area?

What does Fren want? I get that he’s motivated by comfort, but what does he want? How does that change once the people start disappearing? Why doesn’t he immediately start trying to make as many of the people who are left comfortable in a way that benefits him? How much competition is there from other devils with the same idea? (ie what makes Fren different from all the other devils? Contrasting his reaction with the reaction of the other devils is a great way to show how he’s different.) What does Janice want? Contrast her reaction with some of the other left-overs who immediately start looting. What glue holds these two together as they leave home in search of (what?)?

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