The story behind the story: The Sword of Darcy

The Sword of Darcy is one of exactly two good things that came out of my attempts at online dating.
And no, the other was not TYG: A director back where I used to live saw my ad, saw that I did theater and asked me to fill in for an actor who’d dropped out. That got me back into theater after years away.
The roots of the story—now available in More Scary Kisses—go back about six years, to when I’d turned to online dating in the hopes of improving my love life (don’t mention this to my mother if you ever meet her. She hears “online dating” and translates it as “Wow, I’d sure like to meet an axe murderer!”). I signed up on and decided to try an ad that would give some feeling for me as a person. One of things I said was that I love to read and that my tastes were very diverse: “Jane Austen. Conan of Cimmeria. The World Atlas of Cheese.”
Then a little voice began whispering in my head … Conan, Pride and Prejudice, it all makes sense! I’d rewrite Pride and Prejudice with Robert E. Howard’s Conan in the Darcy role!
(Of course, this would make a much better anecdote if I’d thought to include cheese in the story as well, but astonishingly, there’s none. My bad).
My first draft was surprisingly coherent (my first drafts are usually anything but) but it was obvious something was lacking. After a little thought, I realized I’d basically shoehorned Conan (in the form of Robert Howard Darcy) into the P&P plot rather than blending sword-and-sorcery with Austenian romance. I went back and threw in wizards, demons and a monstrous toad-thing (I’m not sure why, but REH was very fond of describing hell-spawned monsters as “toadlike”) and it worked.
In a better world, I’d have beaten Pride and Prejudice With Zombies and all those other johnny come latelies into print. In the real world, however, I sent it to a magazine that was undergoing a major change of ownership and after though they took it, it vanished from their files in the course of moving. Foolishly, I didn’t bother to check until 2009, at which point I got the bad news (and their editorial style had changed so much, I didn’t think resubmitting it would prove worthwhile).
Sigh. Undeterred, I resumed sending it out, and received very nice rejections. And finally, Liz Grzyb of Australia’s Ticonderoga Publications accepted it.
I haven’t received my contributor’s copy yet, but it’s available on Amazon, and I was actually mentioned by name in the Publisher’s Weekly review. I really like this one; if any of you check it out, I hope you do too.


Filed under Short Stories, Story behind the story, Writing

4 responses to “The story behind the story: The Sword of Darcy

  1. Pingback: More books « Fraser Sherman's Blog

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