Day 3 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour. Next up is author Harmony Kent.
Hi everyone. Harmony here. I’m getting so excited about the upcoming release of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno. Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the inspiration behind my short story contribution, The Fireman.
At just 10,000 words, it packs a lot in. This is a cautionary tale that unfolds backwards rather than forwards. I’d never written a timeline backwards before and wanted to challenge myself to achieve that. Additionally, the anthology theme of Fire/Passion and the theme question of “What are the ingredients to a sustainable blaze?” grabbed my imagination by the throat and held it hostage until I’d finished the story. The result was a gripping thriller and tragedy in classic cautionary tale style with a definite modern (or futuristic) twist, all told in reverse time order.
It also gave me much entertainment to change the definition of the three elements of fire, which in this story have become:
Fuel: Someone ready to combust
Heat: The desire that must be present for a catastrophic inferno to take place
Oxygen: An ill will that blows no one any good
And the tale grew from there.
In this fun bit of fiction, we meet a character who craves the very thing that will destroy him if he’s not careful. All of this lays alongside a future world where buildings float above one another due to a housing crisis and a ballooning population … which, of course, has great implications in the event of a catastrophe.
Imagine a blaze severe enough to cause a floating apartment block to come unmoored. Now, picture yourself trapped in that inferno. You’re faced with a choice: burn or jump—what would you do?
What if you found out that the fire had been set on purpose? And then who was responsible … what might you do then? Would you want to get even?
A few well-worn “morals to the story” thread their way throughout this short story, such as, “Don’t play with fire.” And, “Revenge bites the hand that wields it.”
While I wrote, I held a question in mind: Can we rebuild ourselves from the ashes? It is my hope that I’ve answered that question for The Fireman and his friends and co-workers.
Here’s an excerpt from the tale:
Not Quite The First Act
I’m locked in. Can’t get out. No matter how hard I slam myself against the obstacle, it won’t budge. It’s solid. Immovable. Impervious to my rants and raves and assaults. Meanwhile, the flames lick and lap greedily at the door. They call to me. They scare me. They draw me. They repel me. My erection bulges. I rub at it. The smoke, which curls at the window, looks beautiful. My breath comes in short gasps. Is it the thrill? The fear? The fast-failing oxygen? I can’t tell. It doesn’t matter; I can’t get out.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped in a burning building. Likely, it won’t be my last. People will insist on playing with fire.
I’m a fireman by name and by nature. I couldn’t have found a better-suited job. I’m so fortunate.
In this wing, at least, I’m the sole survivor. Those who didn’t flee all perished. Not much I can do about that. My priority has to be me. I have a job to do. A job to finish. Until then, I can’t let go. I’m sure you understand.
Have you ever been fascinated by fire? I have. As a small child. Once upon a time, my mother set fire to a chip pan by accident. The whole house burned to the ground. We lost everything. Well, my brother and I did. Mum burned to a crisp, along with the curtains and furnishings. I’ll never forget the stench.
I suppose that’s why I became a vegetarian. Haven’t touched meat since. My brother survived, but it scarred him for life. He was a couple of years older than me, and it hit him hard. He spent the rest of his short life in an institution much like this one. That place burned down too, just like home. I always wondered whether he started it. Fire’s a funny thing, you see. It’s beautiful and comforting, but it also destroys. Talk about a two-edged sword.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about The Fireman and Inferno today. Don’t forget, the book goes live on January 14th, 2020!
About Harmony Kent
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.
Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her adorable husband, ever-present sense of humour, and quirky neighbours.
Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.
Harmony’s Books: author.to/HarmonysBooks