Lindsey Duncan’s story “Family Tree” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 21 December 2018.
“Family Tree” started as a writing prompt. I belonged to an online speculative fiction writers’ group who had weekly hour-long write-ins, called “Friday Night Writes,” even though they weren’t always on Fridays (and weren’t even always at night). One writer would post a prompt, and everyone else would get down as much as they could in that hour, then share their pieces. It was always great fun. I don’t remember what the prompt was for “Family Tree,” but I suspect it had something to do with writing from a villain’s point of view. I’ve done this in the past, but I must have been in a lighter mood, because my brain went in a tongue-in-cheek direction, considered a retired evil overlord – make that an evil overmother. The opening of “Family Tree” fell out from there, with Othri’s letter kicking off the plot. That was as far as I got during the free-write. I came back to it later to build out the story. One of the first things I decided I needed was an ally for Othri, and that brought Kebra into the story: not a willowy, timid forest sprite, but the kind of hardy creature that would spring from a ravaged forest. … and, of course, that’s how I came up with the title.
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