“In the land of Janaki, there exists a tall cylindrical edifice covered in alabaster that serves as both a tomb and a monastery for fertile academic minds. First built in the decades following the ill-fated Keshite invasion, it did not become a tomb until centuries later. The insectivorious King Grimmage III committed his life to quiet study in the building and when he died he left strict instructions to be buried in the structure that was from that day forth to be known as Grimmage Tower.
“Grimmage Tower developed a reputation as the most prestigious refuge for those citizens of Janaki blessed with enormous gifts of scientific, analytic, artistic or literary character. To be invited to Grimmage Tower is a great honor, and many of Janaki’s brightest lights spend years working in its catacomb cells before eventually being buried in its mausoleum. The admission of an individual working in a field heretofore unrepresented inside Grimmage signals a new respectability for that endeavor, as was the case when Prasad Venedin entered for his pioneering work in information analytics.
“Prasad usually had a drink at Alexandrine’s after work, but after receiving word of his invitation he decided to head home immediately to dress up for a night out in celebration. He wore a caerulean cape hand dyed with smashed bodies of a type of beetle found only in the rain forests of the tropical region of Janaki. While wearing the cape prior to this day had made Prasad feel insecure about ostentatiously displaying aspirations of fully joining the intelligentsia, he now felt that he truly earned its lush appearance.”
Carly Bryann Young took her hands off the keyboard and leaned back in her chair. Her mind had been focusing on three things: the text she had written, what she planned to say next, and an idea of how her as yet non-existent readership would interpret each sentence she had composed. But now as she paused from these cognitively intense tasks, anxiety washed over her. She felt nervous about borrowing the name Janaki for the imagined country that was the setting for this story. She first heard the word in a song and liked how it sounded, but she knew little about the Indian subcontinent and therefore could not determine what connotations it might carry for those that did.
She also worried about dealing with ethnicity. Yet it was an exciting worry. She had completed a 500 page hard fantasy trilogy when she was ten years old that after a generous referral from author Leonard Colbeck was reviewed by an editor at Crooked Timber Books. At fourteen, her glo-fi play almost won a national playwriting competition in New York City. Almost. She had learned to loathe the word. She had been told that in this industry (she always used the term ‘industry’) that one can die of encouragement, and she felt that was true. She didn’t need any more pats on the head. She was nineteen and way beyond that. She felt ready for the next step.
For some reason she felt that next step was to attempt to invent a new genre. She wanted to combine the otherworldly color of the work she had come to love as a kid with more realistic politics, ethnicity, and social criticism all written in a tense, journalistic prose style more often found in nonfiction. Time will tell if she succeeds.