Tag Archives: epistolary


Oh, Lili, you’ll never believe it:

We’ve missed our ship and are now trapped here in Orsol. They’re not letting anyone leave. I hope this letter finds you safe in Rimmik, or I don’t know what I’d do.
They burned the cathedral with the priests all inside. We are heretics, and their duty is to save us from ourselves. How could they get everything so backwards, Lili? Can they even be men?
It’s just not fair. We were so close. Mere steps away as the gangplank was pulled aboard. If it hadn’t been for that cobblestone coming loose and cracking the axle, we’d have made it. We watched the ship sail from the docks under a witch-wind, so that we could barely stay upright to gaze after it, and so we were still standing when the Enemy’s own landed. Could anything be blacker than those monstrous things? On my word, they seemed to suck the sun from the sky, and I’ve heard the Great Gate cracked at the drop of their lines. I think we’re going to die Lili, that’s truth.
When some burned the Cathedral, the Gate turned them grey as ash and they blew away. But the cathedral still burned. Their faces… It wasn’t fear, it was conviction. I don’t think their lives meant anything to them. They dare not slaughter us all, now, before the eyes of the Gated, but the Cathedral still burned… How can stone burn, Lili?
They burned a man in the streets, too; and the Gated nae even turned their gaze. You could hear the screams from the docks to the hills. Mikkat tells me he burned black as coal and there was nothing left but the white of his bones melted into the cobbles. Where is his soul now, I do not know. Has the Gate ever been shut so? We all looked, but there was nothing. Nothing rose; the Gate did not open; you could not hear the Song of the Other side. There was just nothing, Lili, nothing at all.
I’m not so afraid to die, I suppose, to escape these beasts. But to become nothing? To burn from black to white and leave nothing but bone? I cannot bear to think of it. How could nothing feel the sun? How could it see your smile?
I can think of little else to say. Please be well, Lili, and I shall write again soon.

On this side and the other,
Your most faithful Martoneu

The first letter in my epistolary fantasy WIP.  I’ll be posting one or two of these a week as I go through discovery-writing the first draft.

Oh, Lili, you’l…


Posted by on March 5, 2013 in atsiko, Love Letters, Teasers


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In This Letter Is My Freedom

I have a page, and a pen, and a well
of the blackest words;
but my memories stain
the page in splotches of iron
and salt, as my humor leaks out.

The parchment shrivels,
crackles, and my creases
are sharp and hard. Like the eyes
of a child who will not cry, though
the wind makes powder of his bones.

My husband cares little for letters,
and those of a woman, bursting,
he imagines of little
consequence, but to wipe up the mess
she makes when he’s finished.

This is my declaration, my will,
that all of me
on this earth may speak
what would break any heart,
so soft as to break my seal.

You must know, in your own time,
that a cage makes the sweetest
sound, heard anywhere,
for holding on to silence
when all other hearts would scream.

Since I’m gonna be posting an epistolary novel, I thought I’d share this poem about the power of letters I found with you.

In This Letter …

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Poetry


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Epistolary Novels and What’s Up with this Blog?!

I haven’t been posting to the Chimney much, recently.  Partly, I haven’t found any topics I found myself passionate enough and knowledgeable enough about to post on.  Partly I’ve just been busy with other things than literature, and I haven’t had the chance to read much lately.

But!  While I still don’t have much time for reading and really thinking about the state of literature, I am going to be posting here more often and more regularly.

What do I mean by that?

Well, literature posts will still be few and far between, but I am going to be posting excerpts from a work in progress for your delectation or frothing ridicule.  Normally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to post work publicly online that one hopes to someday maybe get published.  However, events have conspired to throw me in a new direction in my writing, and that direction meshes wonderfully with the blog format.

I’m talking about epistolary novels, people: my favorite new non-standard format for stories.  I think they are awesome and that we should have more of them.  So I’m going to write one (or a few), and share them with the whole internet in a serial format.  There’s going to be smoke coming out of this chimney again, and hopefully a roaring blaze of a novel to generate it for me.

Once a week–or more often if I feel like it, I am going to post a letter(chapter) from my current WIP, most brilliantly and creatively entitled: “Love Letters”.  It’s a secondary-world,  pseudo-historical, steampunk coming-of-age/YA novel with a complicated political backdrop written entirely as an exchange of letters between two male cousins of no great importance, separated by a war and an imperialist occupation, and containing no particular focus on romance.  First letter will probably be posted sometime before next Sunday.  I’m really curious to see how it pans out.

For research, I pulled together this list of the 25 best modern epistolary novels everyone should read:

1. The White Tiger
2. Love, Rosie/Where Rainbows End
3. Nothing but the Truth
4. So Long a Letter
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
6. House of Leaves
7. Up the Down Staircase
8. Last Days of Summer
9. Almost Like Being in Love
10. Eleven
11. Letters from the Inside
12. Letters of Insurgents
13. Super Sad True Love Story
14. The Key
15. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
16. Upstate
17. The Communist’s Daughter
18. Sorcery and Cecilia
19. The Nobodies Album
20. Which Brings Me To You
21. The Boy Next Door
22. Dear Everybody
23. Freedom and Necessity
24. Purple and Black

25. Voices of a Distant Star*

The last one is technically an animated short film, but it was the only real science fiction example I could find, and is also brilliant, especially for being created independently on a home computer.

Epistolary novels are those told all or in part as a series of documents, most commonly letters but also e-mails, news clippings, internal memos, IMs, social networking posts and message board threads, and many more.  They were most popular in the 1800s and have since died back, but this list tells me they are not dead yet, and I hope they never are.

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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Love Letters


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