“What’s your favorite of your stories?” is one of those dumb questions that authors get a lot. It feels a bit like a kid asking “Who do you love more, my brother or me?” (I do know someone who genuinely said, “You’re my favorite; don’t tell the others” to her daughter. NO PRESSURE THERE.)
Most of the time, writers don’t want to admit that they have a favorite. You want people to approach a story on their own terms, rather than thinking, “even the writer didn’t like that story like I did.” Also, why give an excuse to ignore your other works?
The story is a Conan pastiche/parody/deconstruction (you’ll laugh, you’ll quaff ale, you’ll go “hmm”) about a retired Conan type whose previously unknown son shows up and asks for a favor not even Cromdor The Condemned may be able to fulfill, though he will, with his trusty loincloth and sword, try.
When I first read Conan, at the age of 15, I was dimly aware that, along with James Bond films (I had just seen Goldeneye), he presented a specific model of manhood, one where being taciturn, confident and rough led to constant success in life and with women. Twenty years later, this story grew out of my reflections on who I was then, and who I am now. Despite reading the Conan stories, I am now a father, a writer, and not a taciturn dude who quaffs ale and sends panties flying with a smoldering gaze.
I’ll unpack more of this in future blog posts, but FIRST I hope you’ll go give it a listen (iTunes link here), as it’s only on audio right now, or you can leave a comment, Tweet at me, or FB at me, and I will email you a text version.
And I’ll just say these two things.
1) This story got me my first reeeelly real FAN MAIL. Squee! An excerpt:
I’ve read it 3 times and listened to it twice now… Your story did something I’ve never seen a piece of fiction do so well, and with a character like Cromdor/Conan especially. It showed me a man who is both shaped by contributes to a culture of misogyny, balancing the tragedy of it for Cromdor against the damning fact that his personal tragedy does not excuse or ameliorate the impact of his behavior on the people around him.
2) If you are a member of SFWA or Worldcon, and you’re nominating for Hugos or Nebulas next year, well… *humblebrag* *humblebrag* a few people have told me this is on their early nomination list. Keep it in mind.
It is my favorite. Just don’t tell the other stories.