Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology

On Writing Excuses, we get a lot of questions that are related to how an idea becomes a story. So, we decided to demonstrate by doing podcasts that started with the raw idea going through the development process and then writing the fiction. We’ve put together a collection of four stories written by the members of Writing Excuses podcast.

Shadows Beneath

“I.E.Demon,” by Dan Wells. US soldiers in Afghanistan are tasked with testing new technology built to protect them from bombs. Unfortunately, the technology has a few bugs in it. Also, demons.

Howard Tayler’s “An Honest Death” is near-future science fiction. When an intruder appears and then vanishes from a biotech CEO’s office, the CEO’s chief of security must face a threat that looks less like corporate espionage and more like a mythological evil.

“A Fire in the Heavens,” by Mary Robinette Kowal. An epic fantasy novelette involving a tidally locked planet, an expedition to a new continent, and what it’s like to see the moon for the first time.

“Sixth of the Dusk,” by Brandon Sanderson. In a land where people use birds to grant them magical talents, a solitary island trapper discovers a plot to destroy his way of life—and maybe his entire culture.

In addition to the stories themselves, Shadows Beneath includes transcripts of our brainstorming sessions, our rough drafts, a view into the critique process, and some essays on writing the stories, and illustrations. Oh… there are some pretty, pretty pictures in there.

So for those of you wondering what happened to that story I was working on about a tidally locked moon? It’s published now.

You can buy it here, or in electronic form at your favorite ebook retailer.

Did you know you can support Mary Robinette on Patreon!

4 Responses

  1. Timothy Cramer

    Mary, I just read the final version of your story, and I’m so pleased. You really worked out all of the kinks from the draft you made available here.

    The story reads much tighter now, the pacing is excellent, the tension raises as it should, the barrier between knowing a dead, ancient language and speaking a modern, evolving one is explored believably, and the night vision advantage is nicely exploited. And the end is great: So many answers given, if hidden, and so many new questions raised.

    But the most brilliant part is the in-world explanation of the tidally-locked moon/planet stuff. You talked on WE about how difficult this is, and yet you pull it off with ease. In-world you have one kind of people who have never seen the moon, and another kind who have always seen the moon. How to explain the peculiarity of their world to us readers from Earth-That-Is? Just ask Mary! She finds a way.

  2. Gary Piserchio

    First. Great idea and great execution. I really enjoy the episodes of WE when all ya’ll brainstorm ideas into plot. Then to see the process from that to this (the finished stories) … sweet.

    Second. Very cool cover.

  3. Burt Abreu

    Hi. I just picked the Kindle version of this up yesterday. I read your short story tonight – loved it. I’m looking forward to checking out the draft version.