The Story Behind “Unfortunate Stars”

 

Four days ago, just as the coronavirus restrictions really began to kick in, I published a long short story, “Unfortunate Stars”, on Amazon. It is about 10,000 words, or half an hour’s reading and is set in 1938 and 1915 – a story of the war just gone, and the war yet to come. I wanted to see how it would get on. The results have been pleasantly surprising. OK so it’s on free promotion but still, 130 downloads isn’t bad.

This story is special to me. Publishing it is not about earning any money; had I my way it would be forever free, but Amazon don’t let you do that alas. However it will always be free to those who subscribe to my mailing list at the link above, so if the promotion is over and you fancy reading it for free, by all means give it a click. To find out why it means a lot to me, please read the afterword in the story 🙂

The background to Unfortunate Stars was that it was a précis of a much longer novel. This novel, about an ethnic German Bohemian WWI veteran who, in spite of his long marriage, falls unsuitably in love just as the next war threatens and his own country is overrun, was a beautiful mistake. A glorious mistake that I spent over three years pursuing before finally giving up. There were too many strands, too many conflicting stories, and I lacked the grand, overarching artistry to bring them together. Much of the fictional Philipp Stern’s story, in particular, is omitted here: his acrimonious divorce and his borderline unhealthy obsession with Lou Andreas-Salomé for a start. Friedrich’s background, in turn, is inspired from meeting and being transformed by someone who came from the region, a culture I had not known much about before.

But there was one scene in the abandoned book I had a soft spot for – one of the intersections with the White Feathers universe where Friedrich recalls his battlefield encounter with an already very traumatised Christopher in 1915. It’s pure geekery, high-church style fanfic on my own stuff (is that allowed? I say it’s allowed.) It was about enemies turned comrades, about finding a common language, about how everything must be done ‘zusammen – together’, as Friedrich says. About male love and friendship. I wanted to do something with that scene. And I felt it filled in that gap in the middle of White Feathers quite well – so I made it into a short story 🙃

There’s even a song for that scene – there are other songs too but the Spotify soundtrack is too long at present:

https://open.spotify.com/track/7uMSyq6oN898WlUTR3SXE2?si=5KSJmjB8QeOUgoV8KnuNSw

Download “Unfortunate Stars” from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B085RF4J34

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Unfortunate-Stars-Confession-Susan-Lanigan-ebook/dp/B085RF4J34/

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