Author Guest Post: Hannah Powell-Smith
2018-04-24 · by Hannah Powell-Smith
tagged Blog / Interviews
Nine Moments in Fairyland contains themes I often return to. A protagonist who simultaneously captivates and is captivated by an ambiguous figure. A choice between mundane and extraordinary. Dusty roads. Entities so far removed from the protagonist that they are unfathomable, but with hungers that are disconcertingly human. How can a protagonist understand or interact with such a creature?
The piece began at a point in 2016 when, exhausted by outlining long projects, I was struggling to write anything at all. When I’m stuck in a rut, constraints are perfect to fire up some creative action, so I used a word generator created by my friend and fellow game designer Grant Howitt for inspiration, and restricted myself to standalone flash fiction stories, each the length of a post-it note.
After many months of the stories lying dormant, I wanted to do something else with them. At first I considered an entirely non-linear piece with many more word combinations similar to the splendid 500 Apocalypses by Phantom Williams, but quickly recognised that the scope creep would become outrageous – it would be the very definition of combinatorial explosion! If I continued on that path, I’d risk never finishing.
And so I narrowed the stories down to four words – glamour, fracture, dirt, teeth – and the combinations therein.
Interactive fiction lends itself to non-linear storytelling, and exploring how the play order affects interpretation; unlike some of my other pieces, I gave greater freedom for the reader to piece the story fragments together. My aim is that the order in which the vignettes are revealed affects how the player feels about the fae, the protagonist, or the situation they have found themselves in.
My favourite IF stories to write and play show the protagonist irrevocably changed by their experience, and the endings for Nine Moments allow a degree of interpretation too. Where is the protagonist, whether they stay in fairyland or return back down to earth? What will their existence be, now? After a brief, rarefied trip, it’s up to the player to figure that out.