Halloween I.F – “A Little Night Magic” – Author’s Notes / Story Q&A
[Author’s Notes / Story Q&A]
Thank you so much, everyone, for coming along with me for A Little Night Magic, whether you joined in or just read. It was enormous fun to write, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it as well.
The final length of this story was 53,200 words (around 125 pages in gdocs)! Once again, we managed to pull off NaNo in October! If and when you want to reread it, you’ll be able to find this story linked from my Interactive Fiction page. Feel free to check out some older interactive stories there too!
If you enjoyed the story and are looking for ways to support me and my work, you can learn more about and pick up my books over here. Read some already? Leaving a good rating or review on Goodreads or Amazon can make all the difference. I’ve also got a tip jar over at Ko-Fi if you’d like to buy me a drink! And please, feel free to follow me on social media to see what I’m up to: Personal Twitter and Book Twitter.
Okay, business aside—let’s do a story Q&A! Feel free to ask me anything you want about the story, whether it’s about what my writing process was, how I got the idea for certain events or characters, things people may have suspected but not had confirmed, other ‘routes’, etc. Wonder what would have happened if you’d done X instead of Y? Ask it here! (Lurkers are totally allowed to ask too, you don’t need to have participated to ask!).
Here’s some starting information: I got the initial idea for this after moving into a new apartment. In the elevator room in the lowest basement, I kept finding dead moths, and at one point I had a conversation with the (perfectly lovely and not-possessed) janitor, who didn’t seem to notice she was mopping up dead bugs instead of leaves. After that, when a moth got into our apartment and got hunted by one of our cats, I kept thinking, what if.
Thank you once again… and happy Halloween!
[Ask Me Some Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies]
[Completed parts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Epilogue]
That was awesome! I had so much fun! Thank you for doing this. I love the story and all the characters. ❤️
I have some questions. I hope it‘s not too many.
– In the beginnen. What would have happened if Viv gave the moth to her cat? Not that anybody would do this. I‘m just curious.
– What would have happened if we didn‘t choose to go to the Good Neighbours, but other places. Like the library, The Theatre of Dreams, or the skate park. I‘m curious. What kind of shapeshifter or being is Yasmin?
– At Good Neighbours. How would the story be different if we chose to sit in a booth, or sit at the stage? Or if Viv followed Varsha instead of playing the trivia. And what if she‘d just blurted – I want to see the band-, after the trivia. Would that‘ve made a difference?
– And what if she didn‘t offer to give Thys her energy via the link. (If the connection to the lanternfish wasn‘t cut, could it have been located through that link?)
– Could Viv had made a deal with Matthias? And what would have happened then?
– What if Thys had bound Viv to only ask her questions then and there?
– If Viv just ran as quickly as possible when it got dark while in the shower. Would she have reached Thys in time? And seen the lanternfish?
– If she’d followed the lanternfish when it said it wanted to go to the fae realm. Would Thys have died? How would the story have gone on?
– What if Viv told Dandelion everything? Even the things Thys didn‘t want her to. Or if she didn‘t tell him anything?
– What would’ve happened if Viv didn‘t tell Thys going through the gate makes her sick? Or if they didn‘t go through the abyssal territory?
– Did you have a different end fight planed out?
– What would‘ve happened if you let the shadow person go?
And thank you so much for doing this. I enjoyed it immensely! 😊
Not too many questions at all! Feel free to ask as many as you want, if you think of any more!
– If Viv gave the moth to her cat, it wouldn’t have ended up actually being Thys! Essentially, I hadn’t planned out Thys’s whole situation (why they were in town, that they had left home, etc) initially; I developed that more when you decided to spend time with them. The initial rough thought was that since I knew they were a fae noble, they could have servants with them, and had you let Beano eat it, that would have been a servant who had escaped the lanternfish’s hunt and thus failed to get news to Thys of what was happening so Thys would be unaware they were being hunted.
– The early stuff in particular was very up in the air and I built the story around where you went! If you went to the library, I’d have probably pulled in a lot more with lycanthrope politics — one of the characters from my first Interactive story in this world, Uncanny Valley, is a weredog who works at the library! So since you’d met Yasmin right away, if you’d gone to the library I’d have started having the lanternfish be a threat specifically targeting other shapeshifters for a reason that would end up having been VERY different from the story we told instead. This would have explained both the moth attack & the danger to weres. Yasmin is a werecat and the skate park is their colony’s hideout, so I’d have pulled things in there. Theatre of Dreams was mostly for Lithway & Tam (from Uncanny Valley) cameos, but obviously was a source of information on the lanternfish.
– At Good Neighbours: If you’d sat at the stage I would have focused more on the band earlier, and if she sat in a booth, she would have been joined by an octopus-woman who would have been another potential love interest (I haven’t developed her out more really, I just had that as a Possibility in mind) because there wouldn’t have been enough seats. If she followed Varsha instead of playing the trivia, Varsha and she would have probably ended up investigating the basement together and finding a corpse 😉 If she’d just said she wanted to see the band it would have played out similarly to how things actually went, just with a different narrative treatment — still backstage, and focusing on the events there.
– If she didn’t offer to give Thys her energy through the link: I probably wouldn’t have shuffled you onto “Thys’s route” for romance so fast, for sure, since Thys took that as a sign that they were destined lovers, primarily. Viv would still have helped somehow but probably be more platonic/available for other people.
– Viv could have made a deal with Matthias! That would be another way of accessing magic powers earlier/would have tied into the demon stuff more and earlier. I didn’t have a specific set plan there so much as “this is what the enemy wants, and these are the groups affected by it”, so depending on what you did with Matthias the demonic side of things could have come in a lot or a little.
– if Thys stuck to their guns about asking questions only once: Thys would not have revealed any personal details further on & Viv would be working only on the info gained from that questioning session. Thys is actually pretty proud, so Viv’s little conflict there got around that.
– If Viv ran out right after the power went out while she was in the shower: I was honestly torn on what to do in this case when I put up the previous part, actually, because I felt it was important we had a big beat/some kind of conflict or situation that Viv would have to deal with, and which would lead to an actual showdown, but I think that if the priority was to get out there at once I would have wanted to respect that. I think probably what would have happened was that I would have Viv witness the attack.
– If you’d followed the lanternfish right away: Yes, this was a key moment for sure! Thys might have died, or, if I hadn’t wanted to go with that, would have barely survived and would have split with Viv. In addition, the lanternfish was going to teleport between shadows as soon as it was outside, so Viv would have been running behind, alone and trying to find her way in the Otherworld (with no way of avoiding the sickness she felt there).
– If Viv told Dandelion everything, it’s true he would have been more likely to actively make the decision to sacrifice himself (which may or may not have been necessary depending on what else you did), but he’d also have been happier/more open/etc himself about his situation (which you guys didn’t know the details of, so it caused the thing with Ferthur). If she didn’t tell him anything, you wouldn’t have had the band’s help in the final situation.
– If Viv didn’t tell Thys that going through the gate makes her sick, she’d have been suffering throughout the entire next bit! Thys would have accepted Viv’s denials if she made them. If they didn’t go through the abyssal territory, we wouldn’t have had any scenes with Ferthur and he wouldn’t have gone to get the fae–but they would have been surrounded by fae in the fae realms while dealing with the lanternfish, or the lanternfish may have even already been accepted into their midst (depending on the number of days I had left to resolve things & what felt climactic with those changes, of course).
– Did I have a different end fight planned: I was basically winging it based on where you’d gone, who you’d brought, what situations had developed so far. So it was less ‘planned out’ and more: “Well, if they follow behind they may end up brought before the fae courts and need to figure out a way to convince them that ‘Thys’ isn’t the real Thys” and things like that.
– If you let the shadow person go, you would have had a few apparently happy days with Thys. And then, at Halloween, war would have spilled out into this world and you-as-Viv would have had to figure out how to take down this figurehead pretending to be Thys and end the fighting.
Thank you so much for answering all my questions. 😊 You are awesome!
The corpse we could have found in the basement. Would that have been Theodore?
I was thinking of one more thing. Does the name of the new play Lithway is doing – Tatterdemalion – have a specific meaning related to the story or not?
Thank you for asking them, and for being such a huge participant this year!!
Yep, that’d have been Theodore — poor man was dead before you met him :(b
Not related to the story! It’s a silly easter egg that very few people would notice because I actually ran a Call of Cthulhu tabletop rpg game in person for friends on Halloween night, and the prewritten module I used was called Tatterdemalion, so when I had to come up with a name I just used that one lol. I thought it was fitting since the game ended up getting a theme of exiles and ‘fallen’ nobility, riches to rags sort of thing, so I figured why not?
Elaine V. Ker
Thank you so much for this story !
This is not the first time I asked about her, so I must appear really obsessed : could I know more about Yasmin ? Did you have something planned for her and dropped it because of our choices ?
Did you plan for Thys to be the love interest from the beginning, or could it have been Varsha or Yasmin, depending on our choices ? (I ask because Viv found all of them beautiful, so I wondered if you wanted to keep the love interest possibilities open)
And finally… I didn’t even hesitated to say that the Lanternfish was not Thys (when Viv felt someone dying nearby), but… what if we had chosen to believe the Lanternfish was them ? And leave the real Thys to die ?
It was a great story, and I loved that it was interactive ! 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I was so happy you joined in!
– Yasmin is a rad as heck skateboarder chick and motorcyclist who is also a werecat. I had an *alternate* rough story idea in my head about the lanternfish particularly targeting shapeshifters of various kinds, so if you’d gone for werecat stuff and not really pursued the Thys stuff especially, it would have probably been a story that was more about that (or you could still have had the fae-wars story with Thys, but have had Yasmin and the werecats as allies in the place of Dandelion and the gentry). You definitely could have hung out with her and/or used her for transportation, or maybe I would have worked in a cool motorcycle fight or something in the skate park.
– You’re right that I kept the love interests open until the comments sort of angled towards one! Love interests I had originally planned out as possible were Yasmin, Varsha, Thys, or two less-likely characters you ended up not meeting by not following up on initial references to them (the octopus girl who took your booth would have shared it had you taken the booth first instead of sitting at the bar, and would have been developed; alternately, if you’d taken up the suggestion of trying to get backup with the local vampires, you’d have attracted the attention of Angelica Roth, one of the local vampire leaders). Other than that, most people weren’t available (for example, Viv’s just not Dandelion’s type), so like, other than that really, you could really only *possibly* hook up with Matthias because he’s an incubus and if pursued would certainly not say no, but I didn’t think that was going to be terribly likely. Depending which story thread was the main one, it could either have played out very differently or you could have still had Thys’s storyline but be doing it as a friend with you and your new lover helping out.
– If you’d chosen to believe the Lanternfish was the real Thys and left Thys to die, Thys …might have died, honestly. Or, if I hadn’t wanted to go with that, would have barely survived and would have split with Viv. In addition, the lanternfish was going to teleport between shadows as soon as it was outside, so Viv would have been left alone to try to figure out what to do, whether it was following “Thys” to accompany them on their new goal, or something else.
Elaine V. Ker
Thanks for your answers, it’s great to know a bit more 🙂