Jinx Strange is joining us today with his weekly online serial, Silent City.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Silent City is a weekly online serial that follows the lives and affairs of the citizens of the eponymous underground settlement. Once a political and philosophical refuge from the magic-industrial city of Shaize, Silent City is now home to miscreants, outcasts and their would-be defenders.
To say that this ongoing saga of rats, plague doctors and even demon-possessed trains is non-traditional would be an understatement. From the ambitious weekly publication schedule to the unapologetic mashing-up of genres, Silent City marches to the beat of its own sickly heart:
Take a classic Victorian ballroom epic, then bind it in rusty chains to a steampunk flight of magical techno-fancy. Wrap it in burlap and sell it to a house of ill repute, and when you find it floating face-down in the Thames a week later, kick the cholera-soaked mess into the nearest open trench. Years later, you find it inexplicably standing over your bed, wearing a plague doctor mask. Then the rats come.
That’s Silent City.
So what is Jinx’s favorite bit?
It would be a filthy lie to suggest that I wasn’t desperately in love with the whole of this project, from its morally ambiguous ensemble cast, to the grimy, pseudo-historical setting, to the insistent, desperate way the story asserts itself: Silent City scratches around inside my skull like a trapped and dying animal behind a freshly laid brick wall.
There is one character that keeps emerging, in spite of my desire to keep this ensemble cast on equal footing: The plague doctor, Lavinia Strani. Oddly enough, no one has yet described her to me as their favorite, which delights me to no end, as this embodies Lavinia’s angst. She wouldn’t be recognized. She wouldn’t be anyone’s favorite, in spite of her sacrifices.
Lavinia, more than any other character, embodies Silent City’s current theme of coping with devastating loss. As a young woman, she was pressed into service to cope with victims of the Blackrattle Plague, a path which took her from promising young chemist to hopeful plague doctor.
After four years of being ravaged by the plague, Shaize eventually recovered, but left Lavinia twisting in the wind when they refused to acknowledge her as a legitimate doctor and license her to practice. Bitter and determined, she set out for entry to the mysterious, almost mythical place beneath the sewers and drain tunnels of Shaize: Silent City. This path took her from bitter plague doctor to desperate guardian.
Forever at odds with the legitimate imperial government, the reigning Duke of Shaize sent the constabulary into the sewers to find and flush out Silent City once and for all, and but for a tip, they would have been successful.
What they found, however, was only cruel, agonizing death in the choking, damp tunnels of the sewers. They died in the dark, afraid, boiled alive and gassed by the former chemist.
What I love about Dr. Lavinia Strani is that hers is the bone-weary story of a person who has only ever had the best of intentions, but who lives in a world that just won’t let her be the person she wanted to be. She’s sacrificed everything, nearly everyone she cared about, to save Silent City. She just wanted to be a healer, but it seems at every turn that her skills are only called upon to do harm.
She’s been at this life so long that it feels like everything good has worn away in this damp, stifling place, and that she has to bitterly deal with the creature she’s become. It’s too late for Lavinia Strani to have anything good.
Instead, you have a woman tangled in her own fury.
Lavinia’s story is the sad sort of affair of someone who’s lost too much, but that is strangely complemented by a heady sort freedom. After all, when you don’t have any feelings left to hurt, what do you have to fear from pain?
Characters in Silent City all cope with their loss in various ways, but readers will find in Dr. Strani a woman who is long past trying to heal. It seemss all that’s left in her is a gnawing, cancerous desire for revenge–or does she still carry a candle of hope and redemption, the flame of which is infinitely fragile?
What I love about Lavinia is that I myself don’t know. As with all of the characters of Silent City, I try not to force her into a mold of who I think she should be, but merely let her be, the product of her circumstances and experience. I’m sure we will arrive at a moment when we learn whether Lavinia’s heart is irreparably broken, or whether she will find something in the world for which to burn.
I expect I’ll be as surprised as you will.
I grew up on a steady, unsupervised diet of stand-up comedy and horror movies. I like to play with people who like to play with me. My first book was awful.(But I still love it.) Learn more about me at http://jinxstrange.com/.