This is the first in a series of posts where I'll be providing a little bit of background to the different stories in Irregular Verbs and Other Stories, in the order they appear in the Table of Contents. This week it's the title story.
I don't actually have a lot to say about this story, partly because I've written about it elsewhere and also because there's just not that much to say. In a funny way this is my most Tolkien-influenced piece, because it's about the two things his work is centred on -- language and the inevitability of death. (Of course the two are not too far apart to begin with; languages are one of the few abstract things that we can call "living" or "dead.")
There is one funny little story about this piece that I haven't told yet. When I was initially sending this story out, one of the early markets I sent it to was the now-on-more-or-less-permanent-hiatus Chiraoscuro Magazine, from which acorn ChiZine Publications would eventually grow. Michael Kelly, who was slushing for them at the time, told me (quite rightly) that it didn't quite fit there. Showing tremendous kindness, however, he suggested I try Fantasy Magazine, which had just launched: I followed his advice, Sean Wallace bought it... and here it is back at ChiZine.
This week's sources:
Mark Abley. Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages.
Sebastian Hope. The Outcasts of the Islands: The Sea Gypsies of South East Asia.
Next week I'll have a bit more to say about "Another Country", and as we go on there will be a few surprises as well.