Publication history: Appeared in M-Brane SF #5. Happily, this issue was reviewed by Tangent Online; “Steve Kendrick’s Disease” went on to make Tangent Online’s 2009 Recommended Reading List

Genesis of the story (SPOILERS ENSUE): I’d been watching a lot of movies where everyone dies at the end, which got me thinking about a college workshop I was in where the professor decried stories where your protagonist dies as cheating. Yet these movies worked. How’d they do it? How could I write a story where everyone dies without it being nihilistic and obnoxious?

First off, I gave them a dangerous, desperate job that would land them in their particular trouble. I wanted to flash a bit of the pink behind my ears by showing how people on the fringes of existence get forced into methods of survival that are much, much riskier than what most of us have to face on a daily basis.

As a slight twist, I decided to give them advance warning they were going to die. I wanted to see how they’d react once they realized all the old rules no longer applied and they could basically do whatever they wanted in the meantime. Those pages were very, very fun to write.

But I didn’t have an outline, and the ending was killing me worse than it was killing my characters. One thing those movies had in common was their characters always redeemed themselves just before (or through) their deaths–in other words, they gave their deaths meaning. Looking back on the logic of my story, the answer suggested itself: they had to ensure what happened to them wouldn’t happen to anyone else.

I didn’t come up with the very last lines until the very end. I’m glad I did. Not only did they add a lot of resonance to the story, it gave me a technique to steal when I wrote my next novel a year later.

Share this:

One Response to Origin Stories #3: "Steve Kendrick’s Disease"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
My Book Genres