I've been talking about Wild Flowers, Electric Beasts a lot on Mastodon, but not everyone is there, and some of you might be curious. Before I set it all up for you, let me show you the cover! Alt-text is included.
Branwen OShea, Amelia Kayne and I are hosting a writing game on Mastodon under the hashtag #WritingWonders. Basically, we come up with questions for each day of the month. We've been doing it for a few months already, and the game has attracted a supportive community of writers who love discussing each other's work. Of course, we participate, too.
Shamelessly stealing the idea from Ryan Southwick, I've decided to gather my responses from May into a blog post. Below is the question card. As you'll see, I haven't answered all of them — I always miss some days when I'm not online or have nothing to say.
It's not explored in depth but mentioned on several occasions that if someone commits a crime, they can get "redeeming services", which is basically work for the benefit of the community and / or therapy. In the past, people were also isolated from the society, including their friends and families, but they're not anymore since it's considered harmful for their rehabilitation.
If someone is dangerous, there will be some limitations as to where they can go and maybe they'll have enforcers checking on them or they might even live in special institutions where they're constantly under observation. However, there are no limits for communication with friends, family and the outside world in general (as long as it's safe, which is decided on an individual basis). It is believed that contact with people they care about might help them change their ways.
It's totally different if someone commits a crime against an international corporation though. Without going into too much detail, there is outdated legislation that basically grants international corporations the same rights as countries, so they are free to deal with crimes committed against them on their own, and they have special services for that, and they don't necessarily follow the humane practices mentioned above.
Balika: What's a "job"?
Sammah: Experience developer. What do you mean you don't know what that is? Ohh, you don't have MindNets here. Okay, well, we have this tech, you might call it a brain-machine interface. It connects our brains to... everything else. I create experiences for that, more specifically, I'm making a mod that will allow you to experience tastes while eating bland nutrient solution. It's an interesting challenge!
Sounds in Sammah's workplace: people talking, footsteps, occasional laughter or swearing.
Scents: coffee, people's perfumes (which annoy him :), maybe some sweat if it's hot outside and someone has just come by bike and hasn't showered yet.
I think Sammah cries more often, though he has a few good laughs. He definitely chuckles and snorts in a sarcastic manner a lot. And, if I'm not mistaken, there is one occasion where he cries and laughs at the same time :)
As for Balika, I'm trying to remember, and I'm not sure. Maybe there is a sort of balance there. Her life is a tangle of pain and joy.
I know it has made a beta reader cry, so it might do it again. It deals with some difficult subjects, so it's possible. I like both reading and writing stories that can touch the readers emotionally. And maybe someone might share a tear or two of joy at the end because all the suffering the characters experienced hasn't been for nothing, and there is comfort for them :)
Balika isn't until she starts a relationship with Sailiya, but that's not her fault — people expect something that she can't give them.
Sammah isn't. He's alone and there is nothing about his prior relationships in the story, but there are hints that show that he wouldn't be comfortable sharing his life with another person.
Not really :(
Balika harbors a lot of frustration, resentment & pain about how her tribe treats her in a certain aspect, but she never tells them anything. It's not all bad — they're a tribe, & they stick together, help each other, etc., but she never feels like she belongs & leaves them at one point.
Sammah only has superficial relationships because he doesn't know how to be vulnerable with people. Adri is the only exception.
Adri [somewhere in the middle of the book]: Yeah, I trusted Sammah. Thought he was a real friend. But he... I know it's not his fault, but he did the stupidest shit ever and got me in trouble! The worst thing is that he'd been there for me before like no one else. I love this asshole, but I don't know if I can forgive him.
In Balika's tribe, attraction is easy, natural and expressed freely. Most of them are attracted to almost everyone else, and they have a lot of orgies, so naturally they are attracted to Balika too, but she is ace & sex-averse. Sailiya is attracted to her personality & sex doesn't matter to her.
Later, when she bonds with the kassilar and basically becomes a hero from the legends, I assume at least a few people find that quite attractive, but she doesn't see it, so the reader doesn't either. There is only one more person who is attracted to her, and the reader knows.
If anyone is attracted to Sammah, he doesn't notice because he keeps his distance from people and isn't looking for a relationship. I think some people are because he has a unique style that suits him (wearing all black & metal rings, long hair shaved on one side) & he has an air of mystery about him.
They'd watch me suffer with amused expressions and their arms folded and say something like, "I know it hurts, but it makes for a good story, right?" or "Yes, this is gory, but what a powerful scene!" and then high-five each other and turn their backs on my corpse to live their now drama-free lives.
No illicit substances are mentioned — if any exist, we don't see them. Generally people are free to consume whatever they want. Mind-altering substances play a role though.
Balika's tribe uses plants & mushrooms in ceremonies & celebrations. It's a part of their culture & belief system.
Sammah takes a drug at Adri's party that helps him relax & let go for a while.
He & Adri also drink a strange drink that helps Sammah to open up & brings them closer.
Adri: Sammah was there for me when fucking enforcers broke into my house & detained Tamar. He straight up refused to leave even though I kept telling him to go. He tried to help. I should have made him leave, but I couldn't. I put a brave face on, but the truth is, I was freaking out & I needed him. That's when I knew he was a real friend.
Then, there was one more thing. He took a huge risk for me, though he fucked up first & tried to make up for it. It was brave and stupid.
Green because of all the nature, purple because it's the color of the sky and the kassilar's fur, yellow and orange because it's the color of the sun, crimson because of sunsets and blood, light brown because of the sand in the desert, blue because of the water, silver and grey because of technology. Too many? xd
Not that we know of, though it's possible. There is also a scene with a conflict between some of the antagonists as one of them gives the others criminal orders. By that time, they've all broken some laws and done lots of immoral things, which none of them seems to have a problem with, but this specific thing is universally frowned upon and the laws against it are clear — they know they'll get in trouble.
Note: #WritingWonders doesn't exist anymore, however, you can check out #WordWeavers.