It’s funny how some stories just demand to be written while others are content to noodle around in the back of your brain for a while. I actually have a handful of in-process short fiction at the moment that is waiting for me to decide that a specific story really needs to get finished. But “The Language of Roses” wasn’t quite as patient. It’s also a different length than I’ve ever written before, though goodness knows, when I’m not paying attention to length, any of my short stories has the potential to turn into a novella! We’ll see what my beta readers think about the length—whether it’s about right or a bit bloated.
Oh, and it’s finished enough to go out to the beta readers! I haven’t emailed around to ask who wants to read this one yet because the pre-holiday schedule has left me as dizzy as usual. But I’m about to have a week’s vacation, so I’ll have some breathing space (in between sessions of Settlers of Catan) to get things done.
“Roses” was inspired by several sources, but primarily by watching the live-action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and having the uneasy sense that someone whose initial modus operandi looks quite so similar to an emotionally abusive boyfriend is unlikely to reform quite that easily or permanently. The second primary source of inspiration was the question: what if the Beauty-character doesn’t fall in love with the beast, not because he’s a beast, but because she’s aromantic? What position does it put her in to be pressured to fall in love with someone to break a curse, when falling in love is against her deepest nature? And especially if the person doing the pressuring considers her love to be an entitlement? What if the Beauty-character agrees to pay her father’s forfeit (not knowing about the whole curse-breaking thing) simply because it saves her from the weight of social expectations? And what does a happily ever after look like for her?
As the story evolved in my head, I braided in several other fairy tale motifs to go with the additional central characters the story needed. I kept the vaguely 18th century French feel of the setting and played around a bit with the symbolic language of flowers to add more nuance than the traditional rose color symbolism. And, as I’ve blogged about before, it wasn’t until I was working on revisions that I found the voice(s) that make the prose come alive for me. We’ll see if it works for anyone else!
Don’t expect to see this story in print any time soon. Because it isn’t tied to the Alpennia series, and because novellas are a hard length to sell over the transom, I’m going to take the opportunity to try to pick up an agent for it. That’s likely to take some time, and then even more to actually sell the story if I do get an agent. But it seemed like a good opportunity to go through that exercise.