A Fiction Agreed Upon Hiatus!

July 8, 2020

This is going to be a weird post for me.

First, I don’t like posting about myself. It makes me uncomfortable. I like to just exist as a conduit: my creativity flowing through me to the page for your eyes. But I felt, very strongly, that I needed to explain why I am I putting A Fiction Agreed Upon on hiatus.

And because I am me and I will never make a story short if I can make into a epic (sorry, Hemmingway) here is a little bit of backstory.

I came up with the concept for AFAU in 2016, during the summer. It quickly spiraled into the version you see now, with a cast of millions, world building, themes, ect. Then the American election happened, and I ended up changing some things. You see, in the original draft of AFAU, I was going to include far more “problematic” historical figures than the cast I have planned today. For example, I was not just going to have one Adolf Hitler, I was going to have TWO, a young artist and the Furher.

This is because the driving thrust of AFAU has always been about how we (society) evaluate history and the people who make it. Would the Year Three Thousand look on a young Adolf, whose ambition is to paint, with pity? Hate? Fear? And how would it change their interactions with a Hitler who is at the end of his life, the murder of twenty million? How would that in turn affect his relationship with Napoleon and Napoleon with Robespierre and Robespierre with Machiavelli, so on and so forth.

After November 2016, this changed. I knew I could not, would not, ever be comfortable with using Hitler. How could I be when global politics was taking such a turn to the conservative right? How could I interrogate people like Hitler (never mind the actual man), investigate and question without people mistaking my intentions, thinking that I was endorsing that kind of monstrous brutality?

To be absolutely clear: I don’t and never will. Academic curiosity could never justify it in my mind. Hitler should go down as a monster in history.

So I dialed it back. I re-evaluated my ‘cast list’. I made changes in response to real life. I know there are other creative minds out there who will insisted that you should never compromise your art to modern stresses. I don’t always agree with that.

But I didn’t want to lose that angle. So, I didn’t cut all of them, but I tried to strive for balance. If I had Napoleon I needed to have Toussaint L’Ouverture. I wanted to question history and for history to examine itself.

But now…

2020 is a bizarre time to live in as a historian. I guess this is how Horace Walpole felt in 1793. You have beliefs about the world around you and then everything gets turned on it’s head and you just aren’t sure about anything anymore.

Season Three of A Fiction Agreed Upon is/was going to dramatically increase the number of Historical Figure running around. Elizabeth the First, Catharine the Great, Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea. I had/have a long subplot about the Founders and Framers of the American Constitution that was going to loop Jerimiah (the alien who met Rain in the Louvre in season one) back into the plot.

But now I don’t think I should. At least not right now.

How can I justify talking about Thomas Jefferson, who knowingly, through his whole life, was willing and eager to prop up racism and slavery?

How can I justify talking about Andrew Jackson whose legislature continued and massively increased the slow rolling genocide of Indigenous Americans?

How can I justify talking about Magpie Jones, a non-binary person, who is going to have to keep explaining their gender identity to nearly everyone they’re risking everything to help?

And the list goes on!

The White Plague, the Second American Civil War, World War Three. Debates on what goes into recorded history and who gets left out and why. The scenes of militaristic oppression and violence on a resisting population who is trying to demand answers from their leadership.

How can I justify writing any of this in 2020, when it is so fucking close to the reality we are living in?

The answer: I can’t.

I just


I won’t. It’s not the right thing to do right now.

The same reason why I would not use Hitler in 2016 is the reason I will not write this in 2020. It’s just not appropriate.

I don’t know when AFAU is going to come back.

I do think it will eventually come back, mostly because it’s a keystone project to the rest of the Extended Universe, but it won’t be the same. I must do a lot of rigorous thinking about my approach.

It is heartbreaking to post this. I’ve put a lot into A Fiction Agreed Upon. It’s important to me. But it’s still not as heartbreaking as what a lot of black, queer, immigrant or indigenous people are suffering today, right now, in 2020.

And this is why AFAU is going on hiatus.

Thank you for understanding.

  • Elaine.

P.S. This is not to say that I won’t be posting. I’ll post essays, reviews, short stories or flash fiction. Maybe previews of one of the other million projects I’m working on. Just not AFAU. Not for a while.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part Four.

The be-damned hound was still following him, right up until Richard closed the door of his room. To his surprise, she didn’t whine or bark. He wondered if he was going to end up tripping over her when he left his cramped room in the morning. He didn’t know if Rain had set the dog to trail after him or not, but couldn’t help to feel uneasy by the canine shadow.

He wasn’t sure if that was he own prudence speaking up or if he was over reacting. His whole body felt battered and his mind tender, as if it had been smashed in the face of his new reality.

Richard sighed and ran his hands through his hair, frowning.

But Lord, how he missed Anne. There had been many times in his life when Richard had no one by his side. When he and George had been sent away for their safety after their father was killed, Richard would sometimes ache from the crushing isolation that bore down on him. After George tried defecting to Warwick and Edward was bending over backwards to please the Woodvilles and his new wife, Richard had felt very alone in the London court. He hadn’t even had Lovell there.

Anne had often been able to sympathize with his feelings, having spent her own time away from her mother and sister, trapped with Henry and Margaret D’Anjou. Then again when George had trapped her, trying to steal her inheritance. Richard had known that with Anne by his side he would at least always have a steadfast companion, despite her sex.

But then after Ned and Anne had died, Richard knew that he’d lost his best connections to others and his isolation had been complete. Not even Catsby or Francis could ease the loneliness at the end. His solace had been in the thought that one day he’d meet them again in Heaven with the Lord.

Richard sat down on the bed very slowly.

But something had gone wrong, and now he was stuck here, still breathing, made up by some mad witch, and with Leonardo, the Italian who he couldn’t parse yet, and Robespierre who he already did not like. He scrubbed a hand over his face, the stubble of his beard scratching his palm.

He was beginning to tire, and very slowly laid down on the mattress, legs still hanging half off the bed. He closed his eyes and fell asleep almost at once.

Run faster, run faster, run faster. His heart was pounding and there was red blood splashed on his bristly white fur. He charged through the thick dark undergrowth, trees leering over and rose bush’s thorns adding to his scratches.

Behind Richard, he can hear the thunderous roars, the crackling of fire, and the hurricane like whooshes from wings. He was running like the wind, panting harshly, but he’s not going to be able to run forever. Even as the hunting beast bares down on him, Richard spun and instead charged fearlessly at his enemy.

Much larger than he, and filling the entire sky it seemed, was a red dragon, wings rending the stormy sky behind it. On it’s back was Henry Tudor, bearing a sword. Richard knew he could gore him, if only he can get close enough. He’s not afraid of a child, of a puffed-up traitor. He’s going to kill him and bring an end to all this suffering.  

But it was never going to be enough, because even as he raced to his foe, the dragon reached down and snatched him off the ground, teeth tearing into his side. There was a disorienting moment before the dragon closed his mouth that Richard could see out, into the sky, but then the beast swallowed and Richard was dropped into darkness.

He landed, squealing in shock, anger, and pain, in the sick of the stomach. Bile engulfed him and Richard paddled furiously to stay afloat in the foul liquid.

Around him he could see the bones and tusks of his family. His father’s head, crowned in a ring of white roses and thorns, his brothers, Edmund, Edward, and George, and sister, Margret. His son, like him but in miniature, flesh melting off his bones and flesh seared red.

Anne, throat torn out and eyes closed, was bobbing in the red sludge. Richard paddled harder, but the thick liquid was wearing him down and he knew that soon he would not be able to hold himself up any longer. He moved over to where Anne was, and slowly allowed himself to stop swimming.

Richard woke with a start, painfully banging his foot off the metal frame of the bed. Curing, Richard rolled over and grabbed the injury. Thankfully the pain chased the worst of the fog of the night terror away. By the time the ankle stopped throbbing Richard had nearly gotten his heart beat under control.

He laid back down and clapped a hand over his eyes, frowning grimly.

In that moment, he was eight years old again, homesick and mourning his family all over again.