In Between: Stories of the Eververse
by Darby Harn
GENRE: Speculative Fiction
Telepathic wolves. Zombie gangsters. Sentient houses. Just another day for Kit Baldwin.
Fifty years after an alien ship crashed in Break Pointe, the only protection in a strange new world is Great Power, a corporation of superhumans. If you can afford them. Most people can’t.
Enter Kit Baldwin, a young woman who helps people to help people. Except her power is the alien’s power, and she may be more of a danger to her city than she is a help.
This collection of stories and novellas follows Kit’s journey in a series that’s been called ‘the next logical step after Watchmen.’
Post Credits Scene:
“Bring my girlfriend back to life,” the old man says.
Since I got my powers, I get all kinds of strange requests. A fair number of them are curiously sexual, but mostly people ask me to do some good in the world. Catch asteroids. Cure cancer, end hunger, please and thank you. You know.
This one might go up on the fridge. Bring his girlfriend back to life? He could do with some help himself. Seventy, maybe. Liver spots. A rattle in his chest like a bad engine. Still, he got up here on the roof. He knew it was me, warming my feet with the other birds.
Sometimes, I don’t know when I’m me.
Worldbuilding The Eververse
Guest Post by Darby Harn
In Between: Stories of the Eververse provides me an enormous opportunity to build out the world of the series. As a writer and a reader, worldbuilding provides me endless joy and fascination. A question I get a lot is how do you world build? What goes into creating a secondary world with its own history, rules, and internal logic? The question isn’t as simple as you’d think, because my process is unique, like every writer’s. But this new book may provide some insight into how I create this world and how new writers can approach their stories.
The short stories and novellas of this collection contribute to the greater tapestry of the Eververse, which begins with Ever The Hero. The main character in both books is Kit Baldwin, a young woman who discovers a powerful alien object and obtains its cosmic power. Kit is intuitive, resourceful, and compassionate, qualities that inform her perspective on the world. That’s key as she narrates the stories in the first person. This is her processing the world she lives in and that’s worldbuilding; what do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear?
It’s also what you miss.
Kit is autistic and part of her experience is being very observant. Kit sees things most people don’t, a quality that provides many opportunities in the worldbuilding. The entire series hinges on Kit’s discovering the alien artifact, an event that occurs only because she sees something no one else does. Kit’s awareness contributes to her empathy for others. She sees others hurt and suffer and that makes her the hero she is within these stories.
Kit’s autism means she also doesn’t see things. Kit struggles with social cues as many autistic people do, including myself, and that means she simply doesn’t process some of the conversations or situations she is in. She misses entirely her girlfriend Abi’s early overtures, and misses a lot about Abi in general that factors in the series as it progresses. For the writer, the key to translating this into good worldbuilding is letting the reader see what Kit doesn’t.
A major novella in the new collection is “Bloodback.” Kit meets a pack of telepathic wolves living in Break Pointe after discovering one of them dead. Someone killed the wolf. It’s a mystery; who killed this powerful wolf? How? Why? Kit does well in the procedural aspect of the story, seeing clues others likely miss. She misses important ones as well, leading to the final confrontation with the killer. These missed clues should stand out in some way to the reader. Something is off; there’s a gap or seam in the story that feels discordant in some way.
“Bloodback” represents a major milestone in Kit and Abi’s relationship. Kit doesn’t recognize a lot of things about herself or Abi that create tension between the two, and even as she begins to acknowledge, still misses key things that should alert close readers. As these moments accumulate, hopefully they contribute to the reader’s experience as the story progresses. They’re able to look back and see those details and be rewarded for their diligence and the story’s.
One example in “Bloodback” concerning Abi happens when Teto, a member of the pack, comes to Kit’s apartment with information on the murder. Teto calls Abi ‘Lightfoot.’ When Kit questions why, he tells her it’s because ‘she leaves no tracks.’ Kit attributes this to the wolf’s lack of literal thinking – an assumption rooted in observation but also bias – and fails to clock the implications. This serves two functions in the story. One, the reader might become suspicious at this point in a way Kit isn’t, and two, it contributes to the greater thread weaving through the entire series. You may be asking yourself if I’ve just given away something major about the story; I’ve certainly provided the reader information Kit doesn’t have, a key to worldbuilding.
Focusing on this kind of granular detail might make it seem like I have the entire story figured out before I write it. That’s not the case at all. Some writers invest heavily in worldbuilding before committing a single word to the actual narrative. I don’t. I’m an instinctive writer, an intuitive writer, and I don’t know I need something until I need it. That most important thing I’ve learned in my process is that not knowing something is no obstruction to the craft.
Every writer’s process differs. For those who struggle with getting past certain moments or blindspots, not knowing can frustrate the process. In London, a considerate if dispassionate voices tells you to MIND THE GAP as you step out of the train in the Underground. This is the best thing you can do if you’re stuck; mind that gap.
If I don’t know something, I write I DON’T HAVE THIS YET in the story and move on. Sometimes the lack of immediate awareness forces me to consider the story, and often it leads to something Michael Piller, the writer and executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine called “zen writing.”
Your subconscious does an enormous amount of work for you. Often the dots we struggle to connect have connected, but in ways we aren’t aware of. A great thrill of writing for me is discovery. One door opens to another and the world unfolds in ways you may not consider deliberate. Not every writer works this way, and so I encourage them to allow for gaps. Dog ear the things you don’t know yet. Keep writing. Work through the problem.
Research or thinking are huge aspects of writing and they bring their own joys. If they distract from writing or you feel they get in the way, step back. Write and then backfill later. Ask yourself some questions. What does the character see? What do they know? What don’t they know? Every scene and situation is an opportunity for the character to miss something but for you and the reader to learn something together.
Hopefully readers become curious about In Between: Stories of the Eververse and want to learn more about its mysteries. And I hope some of this has been helpful for those seeking guidance on worldbuilding.
About The Author
Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/darbyharn
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Darby-Harn-255976537767428
Darby Harn will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.