When I saw the request for submissions for Lawless Lands I couldn’t wait to try and write a story for it.
Westerns. Fantasy. Two of my favorite genres all wrapped into one. My mind started to wander. What made the west so iconic? What could fantasy do to make it different?
I started thinking about the unforgiving nature of the untamed frontier. I started to wonder how individuals could have survived in such trying circumstances. I imagined that the people that did survive it long enough would probably garner quite the reputation. And though most would call it luck, I imagined that it was something more akin to uncanny perseverance and resolve that would allow someone to keep on going when the elements kept trying to do otherwise.
From there Lucky Liza Reynolds was born.
A woman who wanders a strange, harsh land, an even more unforgiving version of the American West, eking out an existence by way of a pistol and a horse, two of the most necessary tools for any good free-gun. After being called lucky for so long, after committing all the acts she had over the years to stay alive, it was becoming harder and harder her to believe she had gotten by on luck alone.
Once I knew the story would revolve around her, I wanted to throw her into a shootout that would truly test where luck ends and the power of a person begins.
After that, it was fleshing out the world she lived in. I started to look at some of the most common sights and people throughout westerns and figured out how I could make them different. A gun that wounds the soul. A tumbleweed that talks. A tribe of centaurs who worshipped horses as gods. A town built inside the hollowed husks of cactuses… It was a blast (pun intended) to explore the west with such a weird lens and see how I could try and turn it into something new. I called it the Spindlelands, a world woven and knotted with a thousand different species and ideas, all trying to compete and make something beneath the relentless attack of nature.
I tried my best to tie it all together in the story, “Out of Luck.” A story I am extremely excited and grateful was able to be a part of the anthology, Lawless Lands.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. If you do, stay tuned to my website (www.hallwaytoelsewhere.com) for upcoming info about future stories set within this world. Eventually there will be novels exploring Liza’s past and some of her adventures. Eventually… Until then, my concentration goes into my dark fantasy stories set in the Chilongua universe, a world covered by jungle and the mayhem that persists when that many things are living atop of one another.
Thanks again to the wonderful editors of Lawless Lands, Emily Lavin, Misty Massey and Margaret McGraw, for giving this story a chance and their constant professionalism, and also to John Hartness and Falstaff Books for making this anthology happen!
I hope you have fun exploring the weird west!