What Found Me in the Undercroft
What Found Me in the Undercroft is a story written by SeishinNoUwagi. It ran in Issue 57 at http://s2b2.livejournal.com/320852.html, and is mirrored at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/what-found-me-in-the-undercroft/.
Charles Alexander Grave can take on a tentacled horror as well as the next gentleman, it's dinner conversation that leaves him shaking in his boots. What manner of inhuman creature will it take to get the man to relax? Find out in the thrilling Lovecraftian adventure: What Found Me in the Undercroft!
From fairyninjas.wordpress.com: "A creepy steampunky tale of a haunted castle, the man who lives there, the man who’s cataloging it, the creepy occurrences, and a terrifying back hallway. Among other things. Had a neat little twist at the end."
What Found Me in the Undercroft is an ode to (or a disguised fan fiction of) Sarah Monette's The Bone Key, whose main character, Kyle Murchison Booth, stumbles into horrifying mysteries and somehow maintains his sanity long enough to stumble out of them again (occasionally solving one or two in the process). The stories themselves are a mix of Lovecraft, Poe, and M.R. James influences and I highly, highly recommend them to the ssbb readership, least of all because Booth has gay leanings (and hot, yet tragic sex with an incubi). But what really inspired What Found Me was the pronouncement by Monette, which, summarized, stated that Booth was too awkward, damaged, and ill-fated to ever find love or a happy ending. This was just unacceptable, and damn the cheering literary critics and the canon both. Booth WAS going to find love even if I had to throw together a piecemeal alternate universe for it to happen in. I can't pretend that What Found Me approaches even a sliver of the brilliance of Monette's Booth series (seriously, go read it right now!), but at least in my story he gets his happily ever after.
There are several obvious similarities between Booth and Grave, but where Booth has self-esteem issues and a history of abuse, Grave suffers severe social anxiety. Some might think this a small difference, but I believe it results in a completely different kind of character. The choice was made for the sake of the plot and also to give Grave a better chance at finding love.
All of my characters are inspired by songs (to a greater or lesser degree) because the song often adds layers of complexity to the character's personality that I might not have come up with otherwise. In this case the songs ended up influencing the story setting as well. Originally What Found Me was set in the stereotypical Eastern European mountainside, but when both songs fortuitously matched each other in their celtic influences, the setting was transported all the way to the Emerald Isles. I wish I had more time to do justice to the rich supernatural culture of Ireland, but given constraints I was only able to throw in a reference here and there. Still, I think the Irish setting makes it a more interesting story than it would have been otherwise.
Grave: Viridissima Virga by Garmarna
Mouse: Mouse Jigs by Flook
I would like to thank my beta reader, Enkaiein, for her herculean editing efforts both late at night and far too early in the morning, despite the fact that she really should have been studying to stay in grad school. The character Anthony Von Werner was inspired and fleshed out by a friend. All of the man's charming idiosyncrasies were the result of his creative input.
- http://harmless-one.livejournal.com/41201.html: "a clever homage to Lovecraft and gothic stories. We've got a big, scary house in a remote place, and a mysterious man sent to catalogue the contents of said creepy house. There are mad scientists, beasties in the hallway, and mysterious, handsome gentlemen lurking about. I realy liked the setting of this one."